Coconut oil health benefits….going mainstream, part 1 of 2

Thanks to a GSG reader for sending this New York Times article. A lot of the things I’ve been teaching for a long time are starting to go mainstream, about the power of coconut oil–which I believed only when I found a dozen miraculous health benefits of it for myself. This blog entry isn’t about me, but here’s one of my personal health benefits: I used to have circulation problems (cold hands and feet all winter) and that COMPLETELY disappeared when I started using coconut oil.

I read a case study by Dr. Mary Newport recently, about her husband, an accountant, who tragically began showing signs of Alzheimer’s in his early 50’s and was quite debilitated by age 58. Dr. Newport, a neonatologist, studied drug trials, including one drug in development called Ketasyn that leverages MCT, or medium chain triglycerides. That is a compound found in very few foods but abundantly in extra-virgin coconut oil.

Dr. Newport discusses many of the health benefits of MCT oil as documented in the scientific literature, including benefits for weight loss, epilepsy, cancerous tumors, and brain recovery after oxygen loss (newborns through adults). What these nutritional-deficit issues have in common is that cells can use compounds in coconut oil for fuel in the absence of carbohydrates. This makes it a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) disease.

She discusses the same thing I often say, that the liver metabolizes coconut oil not precisely like a fat, but more like a hybrid between a carb and a fat. Those who are insulin resistant may function much better with these medium-chain fatty acids in their diet in significant quantities.

(Dr. Newport is awaiting the testing and the approval for the DRUG using coconut oil’s MCT. On a logic level, I can’t comprehend why you’d want to synthesize a component of a real food, when the food itself is nourishing in ways that science may never be able to understand because of the complexity and interplay of so many synergistic factors in the whole food.)

Dr. Newport’s case study paper references 23 studies, including some on how infant formula attempts to mimic human breast milk. Breast milk is also high in medium chain triglycerides including the powerful immune support LAURIC ACID. This is a GSG theory, and you’re welcome to dispute it, but those isolates, in formula, are never going to be as good as the complete source they came packaged in, in the first place. (If so, God would have created the separate parts rather than the complete source.)

So then Dr. Newport reports on the “obvious marked improvement” of her husband’s cognitive functions. She shows his drawings of a clock, the day before starting coconut oil, two weeks after, and 37 days after. The first one is completely disorganized and resembles a clock in no way. A few small circles and four random numbers on the page. The second one has the lines in place and the numbers in the correct places. The third one is clear and organized.

Moreover, she documents the improvements in daily life as she observed her husband’s communication, gait, and ability to work and organize himself.

More tomorrow.

Does your heredity dictate whether you get cancer?

I saw my friend Glenn at the gym yesterday, hadn’t seen him in a long time. He’s a former BYU Marriott School of Management colleague (he’s still there–I’M former). His daughter has been Tennyson’s girlfriend since first grade even though they broke up for a few months in fourth grade when he decided she was “bossy.” Their only kiss was once when my kids and I were at Glenn and Angela’s house: Anna wrestled Tennyson to the ground and managed to fire one off on the top of his head.

I stopped to chat with him about Ten at the biggest game in Marriott Center history the night before–when Jimmer Fredette scored 43 points to help BYU beat #4 ranked San Diego State. I’d asked Ten, “What do you think it feels like to hear a sold-out crowd chanting, ‘YOU GOT JIMMERED!'” And Ten shrugged and nonchalantly said, “I dunno. I’ll tell you in a few years.”

(LOL! Maybe some “bossy” could do the kid some good!)

So Glenn said to me, “Hey, I’ve got a bone to pick with you! My wife went to your class last week and now I’m eating all this weird stuff! Green drinks! Seriously?!”

I said, “It’ll do you some good! Now you’re tenured, life is good–stick around for a while to meet all your grandkids and travel the world!” Glenn shook his head and said, no, my family is LOADED for cancer. All his grandfathers dead in their 50’s. (Interpretation: I’m screwed.)

I hear this a lot. It’s defeatist. I believe the China Study documents for us that risk factors we can do nothing about are only a small piece of the puzzle. Cancer is far from a foregone conclusion, even if your family, like mine and Glenn’s, has a lot of cancer. That is, it’s not foregone if you’re willing to change your diet and lifestyle.

My dad didn’t even wear a mask, spraying MALATHION in his grandfather’s cherry orchards as a teen and young adult. Sometimes he got accidentally sprayed full in the face, by his brother, with that deadly pesticide banned long ago in the U.S.! Why does my nearly-70 father still run 4 miles a day and has no cancer or any other health problem? (And his brother DOES have cancer.) I theorize it’s his long history of a 95% plant-based diet. My parents do kefir, alkaline water, grow their own produce, and eat very little sugar/white flour.

Campbell’s team injected groups of mice and rats with aflatoxin, a well known carcinogen. Only those who ate 20% animal protein got cancer. Those who ate 5% animal protein didn’t. (Remember, those eating 5% were injected with the deadly mold, too!)

Then his human study in China, tracking 6,500 people, showed very similar results. Those who ate 20% animal protein (like the average American) gained weight and acquired the modern diseases. The usual suspects: cancer, heart disease, auto-immune diseases. Those eating meat “sparingly” (5%) were lean even if they ate 200 calories per day MORE than meat eaters–and they didn’t get diseases.

In the rodent studies, the researchers switched the diets and watched fat, cancerous mice switched to a low-animal-protein diet get lean and TUMORS SHRUNK AND OFTEN DISAPPEARED.

My point? There’s always hope. Starting now, you can radically change your health. (I love repentance. Don’t you?)

more M.D. reaction to the China Study

I went to a baby shower, at a restaurant,  for one of my tennis teammates this week. I got to chatting with Sherston, whose husband is the orthopedic surgeon recommended to me recently on facebook. When I posted about my podiatrist wanting me to undergo surgery for my running- and tennis-induced plantar fasciitis.

(After reading that on facebook–thank you Becky, whose M.D. husband’s practice hosted my class recently–I told Sherston. Without my even asking, she  dialed her husband up on her cell phone after our workout–he has a 3-month wait list!–and put me on the phone with him to ask my questions.  Wow!)

Anyway, I loved Dr. Faux, because he advised heavily against surgery even though that’s what he does. (I wasn’t really considering it anyway, but that’s interesting when a surgeon says that the rate of complications for foot surgery is enormous, and suggests I do at least six months of physical therapy first.)

So back to the baby shower–Sherston saw what was on my plate and said, “Are you a vegetarian?” I answered, and  she said, “My husband [Dr. Faux] read The China Study and now he won’t eat meat or dairy products. I make it for dinner and he just skips it.”

I love when medical professionals are health-oriented, acknowledge the risks of very invasive procedures and drugs, and undertake lifestyle changes to prevent disease and promote health.

Response of an M.D. / PhD to the China Study debate

Are you sick of debate on the China Study?

Remember how Mercola said his D.O. experience is more valuable than a PhD nutrition researcher’s?

If you’re not too sick of reading opinions, here’s a comment by a reader  that was buried deep in the comments on my blog, by an M.D. who also has a PhD. I think it’s important to note that while Mercola’s reported experience eating fruit for breakfast, and his triglycerides increasing (he implies these things are linked), is rather isolated.

(With anything that falls in the “case study” category, at best, I have this reaction: “Hm, interesting–but I’m putting no stock in that without more compelling evidence.)

Dear Robyn,

I want to respond to your message here as relates to The China Study and Dr. Mercola. Generally, Dr. Mercola is well respected in the health food industry; however, I think his analysis here is flawed. He is correct that The China Study is an observational study, but so are many studies. It is a very extensive, well designed study done by a top notch team of researchers

over many years.

They studied 6,500 people over diverse parts of China and came up with over 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet and disease.

I do think he may have generalized a little far from the associations found with casein, the major milk protein, and all protein. Nevertheless, it is hard to ignore the results of this study and the associations between high protein diet and diseases ranging from cancers to a wide range of autoimmune diseases.

I also found Dr. Mercola’s experience of moving some fruit into his breakfast and supposedly that causing him to have triglyceride levels of 3000 a little hard to believe. I have done hundreds of lipid panels and have never seen a triglyceride level even remotely close to that, not that it couldn’t happen.

There may be familial illness in his case but even those people generally don’t have levels approaching that. Another point is that high-protein, meat-based diets have for the most part been shown to be often quite harmful. Even the American Heart Association agrees with that. Dr. Atkins would probably also agree if he were still alive.

I do agree that one needs to listen to one’s body, but people are often fooled due to the very strong addictive qualities of our modern food industry. A great resource for that is Dr. Kessler’s book, “The End of Overeating”. People are very fooled into what they think they need and want, food-wise.

Dr. Mercola’s Nutritional Typing test asks a series of food preferences and how people feel with various food selections. How can one answer those questions realistically if they have no concept what true organic food is and how it operates in the body? Of course, more people are

going to associate with the higher protein diets, that is what they have been eating all their lives and that is what they think they need and feel best on. They have never been detoxified from those foods and been in touch with what they could feel like if they only knew.

Keep up your good work Robyn!

Sincerely,

Tim M., M.D., Ph.D.

Robyn’s response:

One thing I agree with in Minger’s critique (and what you say here) is that it’s a stretch to assume that because casein (milk protein) caused havoc in the laboratory, that all animal protein causes the same problems. I found Campbell to be honest about this, however, when I attended his lecture.

And he spoke, I spoke to him in person about whether any of his research could indicate whether kefir or yogurt–enzyme- and probiotic-rich raw milks with proteins broken down by fermentation–are a problem. He said, “I don’t know. We didn’t study that. It’s possible.”

this is Dr. Campbell’s response

Tomorrow, on to other topics. Today, here is T. Colin Campbell’s response to Mercola’s missive:

Dr. Mercola raises so many questions that it would take me at least several weeks if not months to answer. He invents clever sayings and makes serious innuendos that are total nonsense–indeed slanderous. His questions are rhetorical, with meaning, and no matter what I say, the questions will always remain–without my answers.

But here are a few general comments that strike me as main points:

1. Dr. Mercola’s main mantra (business model) is Nutritional Typing. In some way (maybe with paid phone assistance from his staff), we are supposed to listen to our body to determine which of three dietary types best suit us. He then becomes more specific as to the importance of eating foods in the right order and of the right type. These recommendations, he claims, are science based.

This is a clever strategy for positioning his company in the marketplace. He casts a broad net to capture as many customers as possible for his many products that he sells. According to him, we fit within one of these three diet groups, ranging from 1) the high carb-low fat types vs. 2) the low carb-high fat types vs. (3) those in-between, thus capturing for his company a much larger customer base.

I deeply respect our personal freedoms to do as we wish (as long as it doesn’t harm others). But given the complex environment within which we choose foods, I cannot understand how we can reliably determine what dietary patterns and order of eating foods is best for our long-term health. I know that some people can recognize specific food allergies, but I also know that we tend to choose food for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is convenience, avoidance of pain and sense of ‘pleasure’ or gratification (read the little gem of a book, The Pleasure Trap, by Lisle and Goldhamer to see how so many of us continually choose foods not in our best interests). His method defies common sense. He says that this is based on science but, if so, I want to see the evidence. I see none. To say that we can determine, with any certainty, which nutritional type, based on our personal but very nebulous assessment of our metabolism is hocus pocus.

On his claims about science, Mercola is out of his element–way out. He excuses his failure to document his professional experiences in the scientific literature because he (and his compatriots like Dr. Eades) don’t have time in their busy practice of medicine, as if public documentation of evidence is a bit of a luxury that is not really that important. This is an extremely lame excuse, exposing his fundamental misunderstanding of what scientific validity really means. Scientific evidence, as accepted by virtually everyone, is that which represents proper scientific experimental design and subsequent publication in the peer-reviewed literature.

Doing and reporting on peer reviewed research may not be a perfect solution for establishing truths (nothing is) but it is far better than listening to someone only telling us what he/she does or believes while giving us no way to evaluate such claims. Peer-review, the main engine of scientific validity, means that our research findings are subjected to the critique of professional colleagues before it is published in the professional literature. Even more to the point, in order for us to get the funding to do the research, especially from institutions like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF), we are required to undergo a most serious and somewhat protracted exercise of defending our hypotheses before committees of professional peers that may include as many as 15 members (I know this, having been on several of these panels). The chances of successfully obtaining funding is, on average, only one in six. In short, peer review is rigorous both in getting the funding and in publishing the results. Anyone, like Mercola, who claims scientific validity for his personal/professional observations is really at liberty to say whatever pleases them–and their wallets. This opens doors wide for snake oil ‘science’.

2. He relies on the bogus idea that it is our individual differences in “metabolism” that makes it possible for us to determine which foods please our metabolism and guard us against future ailments.  He has no idea what is metabolism. It changes and responds continuously and it is an enormously complex system of digestion, absorption, transport, enzymatic synthesis and breakdown of intermediates and distribution, excretion and storage of metabolites, all in an effort to maintain homeostasis. Reducing this concept to a simple phenomenon of energy use, which we can assess for ourselves is more superficial than adjectives can describe.

Read the rest of this report here.

I just interviewed T. Colin Campbell

Normally I blog in the morning. Not this morning, because I got Mercola’s newsletter lambasting T. Colin Campbell, PhD, of Cornell University, and his massive study known as the Oxford/Cornell China Project.

I threw everything on my schedule to the wind today and have spent hours writing a response to the Mercola newsletter. We will invariably deal with hundreds of emails about it so I want to respond to it immediately. I hope to have that blog entry and newsletter ready to go out by morning.

In my research, I spoke at length with Dr. Campbell on the phone.   Apart from the details and questions we discussed, all of which will be reflected in my report tomorrow, I learned something interesting.

A venerable Hollywood group with very prestigious directors has produced a movie called Forks Over Knives, about the careers and research and lives of Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., and Colin Campbell, PhD. Both were raised with meat-intensive diets on farms, and their long and lettered careers intersected early on.

The pre-screenings have been sold out. I would fly to a screening if given a chance! It comes out in theaters next March. If we haven’t all been able to see it, maybe I can arrange a screening at the GreenSmoothieGirl retreat April 21-23.