Aging and The Brain

coconut oil, fats oils, essential fatty acids

Our brains are 60% fat. In light of what we know of brain function and the essential fatty acids that are responsible, the term “fat-head” could now be a complement. Since our brains are in charge and require the right fats to run our thinking machinery, our first priority is to make sure we add the right ones into our diet, the omega 6s and omega 3s. They are essential and get the job done. First – let’s review some of the basics.

Fats and oils can be divided into two densities and two levels. The densities are not unlike the SAE oils, the Society of Automotive Engineers who organize the oils for our autos. But it is better to skip the details at the moment and divide them in two categories “thick” and “thin”. Fats are the thick ones and oils are thin, actually runny. It’s quite good to divide them in this simplistic way. The confusion about what we eventually eat is all over the lot and besides, our cells and membranes organize fats and oils as partners with each having a precise role. The membrane does not work without both, thick and thin, sluggish and active. We can begin with the ones we use in our kitchens because they wind up in our metabolism whether we like it or not.

You can think of the thick ones as butter or lard. We tend to look down on lard as being out of date. We regard it as a thing of the past. Our grandparents and great grandparents certainly didn’t think so. As cooking oil, lard has been with us for some time. It’s been a staple for centuries, probably hundreds of centuries, and we’ve survived and even flourished. It’s part of our evolutionary history. Those thick heavy oils were skimmed off the top of stews and saved, collected from roasts of pork, lamb, goose or turkey. It was regarded as valuable stuff. Before the light bulb, making candles was a basic part of life so the rendering of fat in the kitchen was universal. The plain fact is that lard is OK for cooking. However, just reminiscing, not pushing lard today.

Butter and olive oil are both excellent cooking oils, however, coconut is also marvelous for cooking. It’s not exactly a thick fat, for as you know, it quickly gets thin as the temperature rises. Castillo et al 1999, reports that “Supplementation of coconut oil produced a significant hypercholesterolemia after 7 days of treatment. However, supplementation of menhaden oil induced a significant decrease in total cholesterol after only 2 weeks of treatment”. The raising of cholesterol may sound sacrilegious; however, notwithstanding the loud din of media anti-cholesterol noise, there are those who have difficulty in doing just that – raising cholesterol. Cholesterol is an important fat for our cell membranes; it metabolizes up to our gonadal hormones — think sex. No necessity in elaborating on that subject. It’s also a precursor for our adrenal hormones, which produce our life saving impulses for fight or flight, and bile acids which shepherd the fats and oils around in the blood stream. Without further ado — cholesterol is necessary.

Castillo creates an interesting picture of coconut oil, or butter, as you prefer, and the essential oils that are part of our diet. By itself, coconut can raise cholesterol, but by introducing menhaden oil, it just as quickly reverses and lowers it. This feature of menhaden oil, basically an omega 3 essential fatty acid (EFAs), to lower cholesterol, is also duplicated with the omega 6 EFAs, and there is abundant research that corroborates it. We can regard all of the omega 6s and 3s as “thin oils” and cholesterol, when grouped together as a very “thick fat”.

The lesson here is more than casual. We need the thick ones and we desperately need the thin ones. The thin ones keep the thick ones from collecting to the degree where we tend to get into trouble that comes with aging, such as atherosclerosis, heart disease. In just these two words, thick and thin, we have covered half of all Fatty Acid biochemistry in human metabolism. But it may be just too simple to be looked at with the respect that it deserves. You may spend a third of your life getting a medical degree and half again practicing medicine, but if you do not see this simple relationship you will also retire as a failure from your chosen field of medicine.

Coconut used to be the preferred oil for making popcorn, but ADM and the other large oil producers chased it out of the movies over 30 years ago. It’s a shame we lost it. It was much healthier eating coconut oil than what is currently in use today. Most of the oils used for popcorn and fries are PUFAs, they are thin and should not be heated. They quickly degenerate and become partially hydrogenated and/or oxidize and become rancid.

Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils you can buy. It does not turn rancid easily. It does not attack your arteries. In fact, coconut oil was one of the foods Dr. Weston Price studied when he traveled the world searching for healthier people and their lifestyles. In his journeys he discovered that the coconut was considered a medicine food by the local populations. He found that those civilizations that consumed coconut regularly had no knowledge of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes.

There are few other choices for cooking unless you think of the new GMO oils like high oleic soybean, sunflower or safflower oils, Canola also fits into that group because it was one of the first GMO oils to be converted. Canola contains erucic acid, a very long chain saturated fat. It is unhealthy for our membranes, it’s too long and slows the fluidity of the membrane. Think of erucic as a gawking fat blocking our healthy fats from doing what they want to do, running quickly in our membranes managing our cells. Please avoid canola. We simply do not like GMOs for anything we eat.

The thin oils, the PUFAs, come from seeds, nuts, and grains like olive, sunflower, corn, walnut, etc. They harbor the essential fatty acids which play a vital role when the time comes for them to reproduce new versions of themselves. Oils like olive are mostly Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs), and are OK, but do not stack up with the likes of the omega 6 and 3 PUFAs, the very healthy FAs. These Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids, with more than one double bond, are the stars in our choices of foods. They are predominantly made up of the essential oils, the omega 6s and the omega 3s and are exclusively made by plant seeds. They are important for life and especially the brain. When we use the term essential, we mean that the body cannot function without them. They are essential for life, our life. They hold the secret to Brain health, which we will delve into on Aging and the Brain: Part 2.

To learn more about one of the most important EFA discoveries of the last century, the ratio of 6s and 3s, which is 4: 1, 80% omega 6 (linoleic) to 20% omega 3 (linolenic), go to

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Spices Cut the Fat

Antioxident SpicesMany spices are known for their antioxidant potential, that is, they are able to prevent the breakdown of other substances by oxidation.  In this case, we are the other substance.  Eating a diet beautified with spices, such as cinnamon or turmeric, reduces the body’s negative response to eating high-fat meals.  Such dining experiences may have a cumulative toll in elevated triglyceride levels, a marker for increased risk of heart disease.

Penn State University researchers, under the guidance of Professor Sheila West, found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride (TG) response by thirty percent, compared to a similar meal without spices.  The team was looking for influence on postprandial cardiac markers by adding, “…14 g of a high antioxidant spice blend to a 5060-kJ (1200 kcal) meal…” wondering how and if plasma antioxidant status and metabolism would be affected.  In a cross-over study, healthy overweight men were enlisted to eat either a control meal or a spiced meal.  They swapped diets after a week’s hiatus between testing sessions.  It was learned that, “The…oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of plasma…was increased by spices,” and that, “The incorporation of spices into the diet may help normalize postprandial insulin and TG and enhance antioxidant defenses.”  (Skulas-Ray. 2011)

Just because this is welcome news doesn’t mean we should jog to the fast-food joint and fill up on burgers and fries, and then swallow half an ounce of cinnamon candies.  The detriments of high-fat meals are real and absolute.  There’s no way to escape them, but it appears they can be mollified.   And even then, we need to tread carefully.  Prior to this report from Penn State, the U of Maryland was performing its own work on high-fat meals, looking into the ameliorative effects of fruit and vegetable phytonutrients, learning ultimately that the outcomes are favorables if consumed regularly before eating a fatty meal.  This study, performed eight years earlier, concluded that daily use of a fruit/vegetable concentrate is able to reduce the immediate effects of a high-fat meal on the activity and function of blood vessels.  (Plotnick. 2003)  It added that taking a high dose of the antioxidant vitamins C and E immediately prior to a high-fat feast could blunt the effects, as well, although the scientists were more interested in the power of foods than in the power of supplements.

The danger of taking this good news to heart (no pun intended) is the accidental consumption of too many calories, which, themselves, are deleterious in high numbers.  The inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, is grossly insulted by a fat attack, and the response happens so fast that it can be documented a couple of hours after eating.  Blood vessels act abnormally after high-fat meals and fail to dilate in response to blood flow.  This activity is attributed to oxidation and the immediate accumulation of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.  (Plotnick. 1997)

To the culinary purist, the general term, “seasonings,” might be more applicable, since spices come from the harder parts of a plant (seeds, roots, bark) and herbs come from the softer parts (leaves) and may be dried or fresh.  Spices are more common to the Eastern and tropical countries; spices to the whole planet.

Antioxidant herbs were given a hierarchical order in a study parallel to the one at Penn State, where curries (curry chicken), Italian herbs (bread), and cinnamon (biscuits) were used.  Superoxides are pro-oxidants that  need to be attenuated.  Herbs with such capability include, in descending order of efficacy, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, cumin, savory, basil, thyme, fennel, coriander, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).  (Kim. 2011)    Though vitamin C is not exactly in the category, it is the frame of reference for antioxidant activity.

Since obesity is growing faster than your money market fund, you’ll still want to control calorie intake.  Control portions and balance the meals.  But if the occasion introduces high fat content, now you know how to handle it.


J Nutr. 2011 Aug;141(8):1451-7. Epub 2011 Jun 22.
A high antioxidant spice blend attenuates postprandial insulin and triglyceride responses and increases some plasma measures of antioxidant activity in healthy, overweight men.
Skulas-Ray AC, Kris-Etherton PM, Teeter DL, Chen CY, Vanden Heuvel JP, West SG.

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2003 May 21;41(10):1744-9.
Effect of supplemental phytonutrients on impairment of the flow-mediated brachial artery vasoactivity after a single high-fat meal.
Plotnick GD, Corretti MC, Vogel RA, Hesslink R Jr, Wise JA.

JAMA. 1997 Nov 26;278(20):1682-6.
Effect of antioxidant vitamins on the transient impairment of endothelium-dependent brachial artery vasoactivity following a single high-fat meal.
Plotnick GD, Corretti MC, Vogel RA.

Int J Mol Sci. 2011;12(6):4120-31. Epub 2011 Jun 21.
Antioxidant activities of hot water extracts from various spices.
Kim IS, Yang MR, Lee OH, Kang SN.

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Jan;51(1):13-28.
Spices as functional foods.
Viuda-Martos M, Ruiz-Navajas Y, Fernández-López J, Pérez-Alvarez JA.

Before you eat that burger stop and think…
Just one high-fat meal can alter proper blood vessel functioning, according to a UM cardiologist

Dr. Gary Plotnick

Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. Vol. 24 (2001) , No. 10 1202
DPPH (1,1-Diphenyl-2-Picrylhydrazyl) Radical Scavenging Activity of Flavonoids Obtained from Some Medicinal Plants
Masafumi OKAWA, Junei KINJO, Toshihiro NOHARA and Masateru ONO

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Oct;50(9):822-34.
Cinnamon and health.
Gruenwald J, Freder J, Armbruester N.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Hot Dog!

Processed MeatsAre we knowingly jeopardizing our collective lives? Common more to developed countries, colon cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed form of the disease. The risk in the United States is about 7%, but is based on certain factors: family history, colon polyps, and age among them. At the 2009 All-Star Game, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) posted a 48-feet-wide billboard on the highway near Busch Stadium in St. Louis proclaiming the causative nature of the lowly hot dog in colorectal disease. Why? Because processed meats have been convincingly linked to colorectal cancer.

The physicians hoped to persuade the baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, to put a warning label on hot dogs, similar to that on cigarette packs.  In fact, the billboard portrayed a handful of franks posed inside a cigarette pack, which was labeled, “Unlucky Strike.”  Krista Haynes, a dietitian for the PCRM’s Cancer project, stated that, “Baseball stadiums need to be frank about the cancer risk posed by hot dogs and other processed meats,” adding that, “Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps baseball fans and other consumers understand the health risks.”

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council projected that more than 21 million hot dogs would be sold at ball games that year.  Two years earlier, the American Institute for Cancer Research published a report showing that just one 2-ounce serving of processed meat ingested daily increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%.

To add salt to the wound—if not to the hot dog—the PCRM filed lawsuits in New Jersey against Nathan’s, Kraft/Oscar Meyer, Sara Lee and other processors for failing to warn consumers that hot dogs increase the risk of colon cancer.

Hot dogs were probably chosen because of their ubiquity.  Colorectal cancer is not the only disease linked to processed meats.  So, too, are pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.  In past years, conventional medicine blamed the saturated fat content of processed meats for risk of disease, but it ignored what are probably worse offenders:  toxins in the fats and, more importantly, additives.

Fats accumulate whatever toxins to which they have been exposed over the lifetime of an animal…or person.  Considering that a cow eats tons of grass in its lifetime, it collects and concentrates toxicants that fell in the rainfall, were sprayed on crops ten miles away (or farther), or that showed up in its man-made supplemental feed.  Heavy metals, pesticides, and even PCB’s have been found in meat, and not just from cattle.

The additives in processed meats include substances that are identified as being carcinogenic, especially the nitrites.  The stuff that meat packers put into sausages and hot dogs makes a list much too detailed to be addressed in this epistle, so attention will be put on what is most likely to cause colorectal cancer.  This does not necessarily apply to red meat—meat from four legs—that is unprocessed.

Nitrites and nitrates historically came into use as naturally occurring contaminants in salt.  People found that meats cured with these contaminants tasted better than meats without them.  After they were identified, nitrites and nitrates (synthetic, of course) were added on purpose.  Both can be toxic, and have to be used carefully.  Natural nitrites come from the breakdown of plant material, particularly from root crops and leaves.  Celery provides a natural source, and is deemed safer than the man-made material, which is cheaper.   Besides adding flavor, they act as antioxidants to prevent rancidity, and they stop bacteria from taking residence in your canned ham.  Think botulism.  Nitrates are not as effective as their cousins until they are broken down into nitrites by micro-organisms.  The problems surface when nitrites form nitrosamines in the digestive system and get into the bloodstream to raise havoc with internal organs.  The government tried to ban this ingredient in the 1970’s, but succumbed to the pressures of the meat industry, which cried that there was no alternative.

Proteins naturally break down into amines and they will mate with nitrites under the right conditions to make nitrosamines.  Such exists in the environs of human stomach acid.  The high cooking temperatures of frying can enhance the formation of nitrosamines.  Ascorbic acid, aka vitamin C, controls the production of this compound, and has been added to some processed meats for a few years.  Canadian cancer scientists discovered that adding salt to processed meats at the table further intensifies the carcinogenic nature of the initial product.  In this case, the list of affected organs expands to include the stomach, bladder, kidneys, and blood (leukemia).  (Hu. 2011)  The possibility of stroke and coronary heart disease are other additions.  (Micha. 2010)

Though it seems that simple red meat is blameless, its cooking process makes a difference.  High-temperature cooking and excessive charring, especially in well-done meats from the grill, add to the burden of cancer risk.  (Sinha. 1999)  This means that nitrite-laden hot dogs need to escape the charring that many people find alluring.

Hot dogs and most other sausage-type meats are normally gray, just like fresh kielbasa or Italian sausage.  People associate the color of their food with quality, red in the case of hot dogs. Nitrates are color fixers besides color enhancers.  Since the USDA and other agencies seem more interested in promoting the interests of industry than the health of the public, we are responsible for assuming our own safety strategies.  Taking vitamin C, and maybe even vitamin E, prior to a nitrite meal is a protective strategy that prevents the formation of nitrosamines.  (Tannenbaum. 1989)  (Tannenbaum and Wishnok. 1991)

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.  Aug. 2009
Hot Dogs Strike Out at All-Star Game and in New Jersey

Eur J Cancer Prev. 2011 Mar;20(2):132-9.
Salt, processed meat and the risk of cancer.
Hu J, La Vecchia C, Morrison H, Negri E, Mery L;
Canadian Cancer Registries Epidemiology Research Group.
Collaborators (8)Paulse B, Dewar R, Dryer D, Kreiger N, Whittaker H, Robson D, Fincham S, Le N.

Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl. 1989;30:109-13.
Preventive action of vitamin C on nitrosamine formation.
Tannenbaum SR.

Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1 Suppl):247S-250S.
Inhibition of nitrosamine formation by ascorbic acid.
Tannenbaum SR, Wishnok JS, Leaf CD.
SourceMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2010 Jul;3(7):852-64. Epub 2010 Jun 8.
Meat processing and colon carcinogenesis: cooked, nitrite-treated, and oxidized high-heme cured meat promotes mucin-depleted foci in rats.
Santarelli RL, Vendeuvre JL, Naud N, Taché S, Guéraud F, Viau M, Genot C, Corpet DE, Pierre FH.
SourceUniversité de Toulouse, ENVT, INRA, UMR Xénobiotiques, France.

Circulation. 2010; 121: 2271-2283
Expand+Epidemiology and Prevention
Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus  A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Renata Micha, RD, PhD; Sarah K. Wallace, BA; Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Blood Pressure And Body Fat

sphygmomanometerIf you’re in the upper part of your normal weight range or are outright overweight, you might want to do something about it, especially if you’re getting up there in age.  The relationship between being overweight and having high blood pressure is well-established.

The upper part of the normal blood pressure range can be a danger zone for heart attack and stroke.  Investigators at Kaiser Permanente, in Portland, Oregon, looked at almost 600 men and women who were ten to sixty-five percent above their ideal weight, and who had slightly elevated blood pressure.  All were given weight reduction counseling, and later were compared to a like-sized group who received no such guidance.  It was found that a ten-pound weight loss effected a drop in diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure by 2.7 mm of mercury, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but which is significant.  For those who dropped twenty pounds, diastolic pressure dropped by 7 mm of Hg.  During this 3-year study, those who managed to keep the weight off also managed to keep their blood pressure under control, as opposed to the control group.  “Clinically significant long-term reductions in blood pressure and reduced risk for hypertension can be achieved with even modest weight loss” is the conclusion.  (Stevens. 2001)

Though a decade old, the cited study is pertinent.  The dietary habits of Americans are paving a road to dereliction by creating serious health concerns that include obesity, diabetes, CVD, and hypertension.  For every pound of fat above your ideal weight, you might be adding miles of blood vessels.  Although fat doesn’t need the vasculature that muscle does, it needs to be fed nonetheless.  If you were to add another hundred feet to your garden hose, you’d notice the water dripping out the end instead of flowing with purpose.  Unless you have a pump, you’ll not likely increase water pressure.  Your heart, on the other hand, will notice a need for increased pressure to get blood to the other end of the line and will do just that—increase the pressure.  If this goes on for too long, it just might start giving you trouble.

The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) has been deemed an effective management tool.  Lifestyle modifications and salt reduction, along with a diet filled with fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, eliminating / limiting saturated and trans-fats and empty calories, was found to be effective in reducing blood pressure by considerable margins.  Those with the highest blood pressure realized the greatest benefits.  (Kolaska.  1999)  Exercise alone can lower blood pressure, but it’s not going to happen until you do it.  Combined with a behavioral weight loss program, even a modicum of exercise will show an enhanced effect.  (Blumenthal.  2000)  Health of the entire cardiovascular system is at stake, and the rewarded decrease in ventricular mass and wall thickness should be motivation enough to get an overweight hypertensive guy movin’ and shakin’.  The improvements in peripheral vascular health are also measurable, and conditions such as peripheral arterial disease may be forestalled.  (Bacon.  2004)

The development of obesity causes significant changes inside the body, things you can’t see.  Extra blood vessel formation is one such change.  And the accumulation of fat around the middle and the accompanying elevation in blood pressure may change lifestyle in an unwanted direction.


Stevens VJ, Obarzanek E, Cook NR, Lee IM, Appel LJ, Smith West D, Milas NC, Mattfeldt-Beman M, Belden L, Bragg C, Millstone M, Raczynski J, Brewer A, Singh B, Cohen J;
Trials for the Hypertension Prevention Research Group.
Long-term weight loss and changes in blood pressure: results of the Trials of Hypertension Prevention, phase II.
Ann Intern Med. 2001 Jan 2;134(1):1-11.

Kolasa KM.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) in clinical practice: a primary care experience.
Clin Cardiol. 1999 Jul;22(7 Suppl):III16-22.

Blumenthal JA, Sherwood A, Gullette EC, Babyak M, Waugh R, Georgiades A, et al
Exercise and weight loss reduce blood pressure in men and women with mild hypertension: effects on cardiovascular, metabolic, and hemodynamic functioning.
Arch Intern Med. 2000 Jul 10;160(13):1947-58.

Bacon SL, Sherwood A, Hinderliter A, Blumenthal JA
Effects of exercise, diet and weight loss on high blood pressure.
Sports Med. 2004;34(5):307-16.

Lijnen HR.
Angiogenesis and obesity
Cardiovasc Res (2008 May 1); 78 (2): 286-293.

Blumenthal JA, Babyak MA, Hinderliter A, Watkins LL, Craighead L, et al
Effects of the DASH diet alone and in combination with exercise and weight loss on blood pressure and cardiovascular biomarkers in men and women with high blood pressure: the ENCORE study
Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jan 25;170(2):126-35.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Medium-Chain Triglycerides Effect Weight Loss

less-weightMedium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are a unique kind of dietary fat that lend a wide range of positive health benefits, weight loss among them. MCT’s have a fatty acid chain length that varies between six and twelve carbon atoms, which is only one characteristic that distinguishes them from the more familiar long-chain fatty acids, such as the highly-celebrated fish oil. MCT’s are transported through the blood by the portal system, which bypasses the usual route of digestion and sends them directly to the liver.

Medium-chain triglycerides do not require the modifications of long-chain and very-long-chain fatty acids.  Neither do they require bile salts for digestion.  These qualities enable them to be less susceptible to hormone-sensitive lipase and to deposition into adipose (fat) tissue storage.  A study from England’s Oxford Brookes University in 2010 announced that, because of their particular character, “MCT’s have been researched for both benefits to exercise performance and health.”  In the former application, MCT’s may be “a means to maximizing an athlete’s ability to maintain their glycogen stores so they can be more competitive.”  From the health angle, these substances “increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure as well as reduce food intake and beneficially alter body composition.”  (Clegg. 2010)

If you watch the lose-weight ads on TV, you might be driven to buy one of the untested, unproven, and maybe even unsafe products that promise the physique of champions.  Read the small print to learn that exercise and diet are part of the program, and your dreams of Roman god-hood (or goddess) are shattered.  Back to the chips and dip, right?  There might be something that’s been tested, and found to be safe and effective for at least a little drop in weight.

Because MCT’s don’t need energy for absorption, utilization or storage, they’ve been used to treat malabsorption conditions.  But weight management has evoked more interest.  The milks from humans, dogs, and guinea pigs contain mostly long-chain fats.  Those from goats, cows, and sheep are primarily short-chain.  Horse milk has lots of medium-chain fatty acids.  Data suggest that the milk of all species depends on a partial resynthesis of pre-formed glycerides. (Breckenridge. 1967)  (Since horses run faster than cows, their milk is hard to bottle, and because they have only two spigots, it takes longer to get it.)

Decades ago, MCT’s had been studied for body fat management in obese persons without diabetes, but more recent work has focused on those with Type 2 diabetes.  The findings showed that a diet containing MCT’s at 18 grams a day (about 2/3 ounce) brought about a reduction in body weight and waist circumference, a decrease in insulin resistance, and a drop in serum cholesterol concentration.  (Han. 2007)  Compared to the subjects ingesting long-chain fatty acids, the results are significant.  The MCT users also enjoyed increased dietary satiety, meaning that they felt full sooner, so they ate less.  Still another welcome benefit was realized by a cohort in 2009, when Chinese investigators noted a significant decline in serum triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol, both markers for cardiovascular complications, in those ingesting 25-30 grams (there are 28 grams in an ounce) of MCT’s a day. (Zhang. 2009).  (Xue. 2009)

The fast rate of oxidation of medium-chain fatty acids leads to greater energy expenditure—almost without doing any hard work.  It’s impressive that such can be the case, especially where weight gain is reduced and the size of body fat deposits diminishes.  Note that fat cells are not normally lost once they appear; they merely shrink in size.  They are, however, prepared to expand again at the drop of a hat.  (Xue. 2009)

Since the 1960’s MCT’s have been advocated for use in weight control.  Back then the research entailed other factors as well, including  the balance of energy intake, the nature of the diet, the ratio of MCT to LCT (long-chain triglycerides), and duration of the protocol.  Nonetheless, the presence of MCT’s as part of the regimen made a difference.  Although the exact mechanism hasn’t been fingered, MCT’s are able to increase energy outgo, hasten satiety at the table, and facilitate weight control when consumed as a replacement for fats containing LCT’s.  ( St-Onge. 2002)  Increased heat production, known as thermogenesis, is one of the activities by which MCT’s burn fat. (Baba. 1982)

Palm oil and coconut oil are major food sources of medium-chain fats.  The fact that these are saturated fats means little because all sat fats are not created equal, displaying differing cholesterolemic effects.  Therefore, when you see them listed on an ingredient label, have no fear.  The less weight you need to lose, the faster you will see results, so it’ll pay to get started now. (St-Onge. 2003)


Clegg ME.
Medium-chain triglycerides are advantageous in promoting weight loss although not beneficial to exercise performance.
Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Nov;61(7):653-79.

W. C. Breckenridge and A. Kuksis
Molecular weight distributions of milk fat triglycerides from seven species
The Journal of Lipid Research. September 1967 (8): 473-478.

Han JR, Deng B, Sun J, Chen CG, Corkey BE, Kirkland JL, Ma J, Guo W.
Effects of dietary medium-chain triglyceride on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in a group of moderately overweight free-living type 2 diabetic Chinese subjects.
Metabolism. 2007 Jul;56(7):985-91.

Zhang YH, Liu YH, Zheng ZX, Wang J, Zhang Y, Zhang RX, Yu XM, Jing HJ, Xue CY, Wu J.
[Medium- and long-chain fatty acid triacylglycerol reduce body fat and serum triglyceride in overweight and hypertriglyceridemic subjects].    [Article in Chinese]
Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2009 Sep;43(9):765-71.

Xue C, Liu Y, Wang J, Zhang R, Zhang Y, Zhang J, Zhang Y, Zheng Z, Yu X, Jing H, Nosaka N, Arai C, Kasai M, Aoyama T, Wu J.
Consumption of medium- and long-chain triacylglycerols decreases body fat and blood triglyceride in Chinese hypertriglyceridemic subjects.
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;63(7):879-86.

Marie-Pierre St-Onge and Peter J. H. Jones
Physiological Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides: Potential Agents in the Prevention of Obesity1
J. Nutr. March 1, 2002; 132(3): 329-332

Baba N, Bracco EF, Hashim SA.
Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeeding with diet containing medium chain triglyceride
Am J Clin Nutr. 1982 Apr;35(4):678-82.

St-Onge MP, Jones PJ.
Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue.
Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Dec;27(12):1565-71.

Clegg ME.
Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Nov;61(7):653-79.
Medium-chain triglycerides are advantageous in promoting weight loss although not beneficial to exercise performance

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Protein Zaps Belly Fat

abdomenIn a sedentary, over-fed, yet undernourished society, the dissolution of abdominal fat with a magic bullet is an incessant quest.  First, we cut out the junk food.  Then we try to eat a balanced diet, the definition of which seems elusive.  After that, we add the foods we think are good for us.  Still, we can’t burn the belly.  Next, we look closer at the ads for products guaranteed to get rid of excess adiposity.  Only after these promises fail do we notice the small print that says the results you see are not typical, and that it must be accompanied by diet and exercise.  Oh, no, I have to work at it.  What happened to the magic bullet?

To be realistic about losing fat, we have to do something actively, not passively.  But that might be as simple as upping the ante on protein.  However, it just isn’t plain, old protein, but the quality of the protein that makes the difference.  Actually it’s the amino acids, the protein building blocks whose chemical properties determine the biological activity of the proteins of which they are a constituent.   Proteins catalyze many of the reactions in living cells—enzymes, hormones, antibodies.  The folding of proteins into three dimensional structures depends upon the information in the amino acid sequences.  Although several hundred kinds of amino acids have been found in nature, only twenty or so apply to human peptides (two or more aminos joined together) and proteins.  Low levels of certain amino acids telegraph as specific problems that include hormone imbalances, lack of concentration, irritability, and even depression.

Based on their individual characteristics, amino acids may be classified as essential, non-essential, or conditionally essential.  Essentiality does not bespeak importance, but acquisition.  The essential ones need to be acquired from diet because they can’t be made by the body.  Here’s a quick rundown of the essential amino acids, with some of their features:

Leucine — a BCAA (branched chain amino), is used for tissue repair after surgery, to build muscle mass, to balance blood sugar, to de-stress, to manufacture HGH (human growth hormone), and for protein synthesis.  It helps to maintain healthy bone, skin, and hemoglobin.

Isoleucine — a BCAA (branched chain amino), addresses mental disorders, tissue rebuild after surgery, energy, muscle, endurance, and blood hemoglobin.

Valine — a BCAA (branched chain amino), is used for mental and emotional disorders, for glycogen production, and in alcohol and drug recovery.  It’s used in muscle metabolism, where it contributes to the structure of proteins.

Lysine — absorbs and conserves calcium and maintains nitrogen balance.  It helps to make collagen, to manage cholesterol and triglycerides, and bolsters the immune system.  (People use this for fever blisters.)

Methionine — has been used to address schizophrenia, and the muscle weakness of Parkinson’s.  It helps to detoxify heavy metals, to form collagen, to prevent brittle hair and nails, to protect against radiation toxicity, and to control histamine levels that may affect cognitions.  Additionally, methionine is a strong antioxidant.

Phenylalanine — addresses chronic pain, helps to make endorphins, assists the manufacture of norepinephrine to direct nerve signals in the brain, promotes alertness and elevates mood, and has been used to treat arthritis, depression, migraines, and Parkinson’s disease.

Threonine — helps to maintain proper protein balance, is important to collagen, elastin, and tooth enamel, aids wound healing, may prevent fatty liver, and assists assimilation.

Tryptophan — is a natural relaxant that helps to alleviate insomnia.  It stabilizes mood, fights migraines and fibromyalgia, and may aid in weight control by reducing appetite.

Histidine — is conditional in adults, but deemed essential to infants and children, and is the immediate precursor to histamine (and carnosine).  Histidine is abundant in hemoglobin, and has been used in the treatment of arthritis, gastric disorders, and the maintenance of the myelin sheath.  It protects against heavy metals and radiation, and aids in the manufacture of red and white blood cells.

The remaining amino acids are non-essential, and are produced from the breakdown of proteins or from the essential ones.  They and a few of their jobs are:

Alanine — (the other component of carnosine) transfers nitrogen from peripheral tissue to the liver in glucose metabolism and guards against the buildup of toxins when muscle tissue is broken down to meet energy needs, as occurs in serious aerobic exercise.

Arginine — is considered the natural Viagra, relaxes blood vessels, supports thymus immunity activity, helps to neutralize ammonia, assists the release of growth hormones, and stimulates the pancreas to release insulin.

Aspartic Acid — from asparagine, is used to treat chronic fatigue and depression, aids the elimination of ammonia, rejuvenates cell activity, and helps to move minerals across the intestinal lining into the bloodstream.

Cysteine — (and cysteine) works as a potent antioxidant and protects against radiation and the toxins of tobacco smoke.  It promotes recovery from burns and promotes the burning of fats. Cystine is formed from the oxidation of two cysteines, but has the same character and activity.

Glutamic Acid — is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is called glutamine after coupling with ammonia, which is carried to the liver for disposal.  Free glutamic acid is important to the metabolism of fats and sugars, and helps to carry potassium into spinal fluid.

Glutamine — is structurally akin to glutamic acid.  It’s the most abundant amino found in muscles, which it helps to build and maintain, where it is useful for those confined to bed for long periods.  It helps to maintain acid-alkaline balance, and might be able to reduce cravings for sugar and alcohol.

Glycine — participates in the biosynthesis of hemoglobin, improves glycogen storage, and is part of the purine component of genetic material.

Ornithine — could be classed with “other” amino acids, helps to release growth hormones, which promotes the metabolism of excess body fat.  It detoxifies ammonia and may help insulin to function as an anabolic agent.  It’s formed from arginine.

Proline — improves skin texture via formation and salvation of collagen.  It works with vitamin C to promote healthy connective tissues.

Serine — is needed for the metabolism of fats and fatty acids, and for participation in the biosynthesis of genetic compounds important to RNA and DNA.

Taurine — is also among the “others.”  It boosts the heart muscle and vision, where it helps to deal with macular degeneration.  Taurine is a key component of bile, and may prevent cardiac arrhythmia.

Tyrosine — is important to overall metabolism, and is a precursor to norepinephrine and dopamine, which regulate mood.  It may suppress appetite and helps to reduce body fat.  Tyrosine affects thyroid hormones.

In a weight management study described in the January, 2012, issue of Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers were able to determine a relationship between the amount of quality protein ingested and central abdominal fat.  They especially paid attention to the number of times that approximately ten grams of essential amino acids (EAA) were consumed in a meal.  Noting that the dietary reference intake (DRI) has no specific recommendations for the types of dietary protein consumed or the distribution of protein throughout the day (Layman, 2009) (Drewnowski, 2001), these scientists drew their conclusion based on maximal stimulation of muscle protein synthesis, thereby arriving at the ~10 gram level, adding that greater amounts do not improve the outcome. (Loenneke, 2012)

Calculating the amount of essential amino acids (EAA) in a meal requires more labor than many of us are able or willing to perform, mostly because we lack the immediate resources needed to find out the base levels of each food in the meal.  There are books and websites that can help with this venture if you are so inclined.  However, eating a quality protein at each meal should do the job.  That usually includes meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, which are complete proteins, meaning that they have all the essential amino acids.   (Egg whites are excellent protein foods.)  Because grains and nuts lack lysine, and legumes lack methionine, it’s a good idea to combine them, as in rice and beans.  Combining essential aminos is not necessary at every meal, but it is in the course of the day.

Whey protein has been shown to stimulate a considerable rise in muscle protein synthesis and results in greater muscle cross-sectional area, especially if combined with a little resistance training—and it enhances recovery after exercise.  (Hulmi, 2010)  Older people show a decreased anabolic sensitivity to essential amino acids, probably because of declining intramuscular expression and receptor activation that are associated with slower anabolic signaling.  (Cuthbertson, 2005)   Among the countermeasures under investigation is regular resistance exercise, regardless of intensity or duration.  In physiological studies at the U. of TX, it was found that the only difference between young and old is the rapidity of the positive response to EAA’s.  (Drummond, 2008)  Timing of EAA ingestion for exercisers makes a difference.  Consume them afterwards.

Stimulating muscle protein synthesis is important to body composition.  If you multiply your body weight in kilograms (2.2 pounds) by 0.8, you’ll arrive at the number of grams of protein you need every day.  (You could also multiply pounds by 0.37.  Why didn’t we say that in the first place?)  More than 30 grams of protein in a single meal does not enhance protein synthesis.  This translates that 113 grams (about 4 oz.) of beef is enough, at 220 calories and 30 grams of protein.  (Symons, 2009)  Therefore, that 12-ounce steak from your favorite eatery isn’t doing much more than filling you up.  While you’re at that restaurant, skip the simple carbs if you’re looking to lose a few inches.  There’s a positive association between girth and consumption of potatoes, refined grains (including alcohol) and simple sugars, but a negative association with protein.  (Halkjaer, 2006)

Protein intake has added benefit—satiety.  If you feel full longer, you’ll eat less and, therefore, consume fewer calories.  Protein increases satiety to a greater degree than fats or carbohydrates (although fats beat carbs), and higher-protein diets result in thermogenesis, which augments energy expenditure.  And, if you have high triglycerides (from eating too many refined and starchy carbohydrates), complete protein is able to attenuate that while you change body composition to something more desirable.  (Clifton, 2009)  (Clifton, 2008)  Don’t forget to choose lean protein, to remove visible fat from your steaks and the skin from poultry, and to add legumes to your regimen.


Clifton PM, Keogh JB, Noakes M.
Long-term effects of a high-protein weight-loss diet.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):23-9.

Clifton PM, Bastiaans K, Keogh JB.
High protein diets decrease total and abdominal fat and improve CVD risk profile in overweight and obese men and women with elevated triacylglycerol.
Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Oct;19(8):548-54.

Cuthbertson D, Smith K, Babraj J, Leese G, Waddell T, Atherton P, Wackerhage H, Taylor PM, Rennie MJ.
Anabolic signaling deficits underlie amino acid resistance of wasting, aging muscle.
FASEB J. 2005 Mar;19(3):422-4.

Drewnowski A, Warren-Mears VA.
Does aging change nutrition requirements?
J Nutr Health Aging. 2001;5(2):70-4.

Drummond MJ, Dreyer HC, Pennings B, Fry CS, Dhanani S, Dillon EL, Sheffield-Moore M, Volpi E, Rasmussen BB.
Skeletal muscle protein anabolic response to resistance exercise and essential amino acids is delayed with aging.
J Appl Physiol. 2008 May;104(5):1452-61.

Fujita S, Dreyer HC, Drummond MJ, Glynn EL, Volpi E, Rasmussen BB.
Essential amino acid and carbohydrate ingestion before resistance exercise does not enhance postexercise muscle protein synthesis.
J Appl Physiol. 2009 May;106(5):1730-9.

Halkjaer J, Tjønneland A, Thomsen BL, Overvad K, Sørensen TI.
Intake of macronutrients as predictors of 5-y changes in waist circumference.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;84(4):789-97.

Hulmi JJ, Lockwood CM, Stout JR.
Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein.
Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Jun 17;7:51.

Layman DK.
Dietary Guidelines should reflect new understandings about adult protein needs.
Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009 Mar 13;6:12.

Loenneke JP, Balapur A, Thrower AD, Syler G, Timlin M, Pujol TJ.
Short report: Relationship between quality protein, lean mass and bone health.
Ann Nutr Metab. 2010;57(3-4):219-20.

Loenneke JP, Wilson JM, Manninen AH, Wray ME, Barnes JT and Pujol TJ
Quality protein intake is inversely associated with abdominal fat
Nutrition and Metabolism.  Jan, 2012; 9:5

Paddon-Jones D, Westman E, Mattes RD, Wolfe RR, Astrup A, Westerterp-Plantenga M.
Protein, weight management, and satiety.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1558S-1561S.

Sites CK, Cooper BC, Toth MJ, Gastaldelli A, Arabshahi A, Barnes S.
Effect of a daily supplement of soy protein on body composition and insulin secretion in postmenopausal women.
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Symons TB, Sheffield-Moore M, Wolfe RR, Paddon-Jones D.
A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects.
J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Sep;109(9):1582-6.

Tipton KD, Gurkin BE, Matin S, Wolfe RR.
Nonessential amino acids are not necessary to stimulate net muscle protein synthesis in healthy volunteers.
J Nutr Biochem. 1999 Feb;10(2):89-95.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Milk – It Does A Body Something, For Sure

milk-carton-glassMost advertisements try to float the reader / viewer to the side of the river that hosts the heralded product. You’ll unlikely see a car salesman tell you there’s a better deal across the street.  If you know someone who tells the doctor what medications to Rx based on TV blurbs, you know the story.  It’s all in the power of the ad, truth or not.  You probably don’t know that the dairy industry has a champion called the International Dairy Journal, a highly-respected periodical that doesn’t exactly promote good old dihydrogen oxide, the most abundant molecule on the planet.  In January of 2012 there appeared in this publication a piece that addressed dairy foods and cognitive decline, commonly known as dementia, declaring that study participants who consumed dairy products at least once a day performed better on measures of cognitive function than those who rarely or never consumed dairy.  (Crichton, 2012)  What?  Did you expect something less stellar?  At least, the study candidly admits that the causal mechanisms “are still to be determined.”  Maybe there’s more to dairy than we know about if something needs to be determined.

Two years prior to this study, the same authors told us that drinking low-fat milk improves social functioning, stress and memory.  Maybe this proclamation means that low-fat milk can make you a better dancer and that you won’t worry about it if you think you are, but really aren’t, whether you forget or not.  Funny thing, whole milk has no such benefit.  (Crichton, 2010)  Yet, there’s the admission that the jury is still out.  Neither report had a definitive conclusion.  Both of these studies took place in Australia, but that shouldn’t make any difference because Australian and American cows speak the same language, except the Aussies add “mate” after “moo.”

Not to pop the milk drinkers’ balloon, despite the pleasure it might bring, but an in-between 2011 investigation performed by the Agricultural Research Service section of the USDA found that milk was less effective than meat for improving cognitive function and physical activity, but this time in a child population.  (Allen, 2011)  What this boils down to is that the stuff in meat is the same as the stuff in milk, but there’s more of it.  That would be iron, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and the rest of the nutrients for which animal products are hailed.

There is, however, another side to this coin. (Maybe “dodecahedron” would be a better metaphor because there are a few sides.)  That milk contains about four hundred different fatty acids makes it the most complex of all natural fats.  These fats come from one of two sources—the feed or the microbial happenings in the cow’s rumen.  In the olden days, back in the 1940s and early 50s, these fats floated on top of the milk because homogenization either wasn’t used or didn’t work as planned.  The kid who was the first to rise in the morning could retrieve the glass container from the front steps and eat the cream from the top of the bottle, leaving the low-fat remainder for the rest of the family.  Little did he or she realize that the goodness of butyric acid, a salutary short-chain fatty acid, was accompanied by the not-so-goodness of saturated fat and a little trans fat.  A small fraction of the beneficent essential fatty acids is in the mix, but hardly enough to make much difference.  However, there are other things in milk.  Among them are somatic cells, which some people equate with pus.  Aww, they wouldn’t allow that, would they?  Note that the job of the USDA is to promote agricultural interests, not yours.  In fact, clever inventors have devised ways to measure the somatic cells in your milk bottle with amazing precision (Tsenkova, 2001), with each state in the nation setting its own allowable levels based on regional variables.  ( and

Where does this stuff come from? The milking machine.  A cow’s udder is treated with iodine prior to being sucked dry, and both the iodine and a few of the cow’s body cells end up in the milk.  Doesn’t pasteurization kill germs?  Some.  But the dead cells are still in the milk, and besides, pasteurization is not sterilization.  The latter is intended to kill everything.  The former is intended to achieve a reduction in the number of viable organisms, reducing their number so they are unlikely to cause disease.  Milk can be pasteurized by heating to 145° F for half an hour or to 163° F for fifteen seconds.  The thermoduric bacteria that survive are held in check by refrigeration. To add insult to injury, the iodine may induce thyroid or dermatological issues over time.  That’s another story, though.

The casein in milk protein yields peptides called casomorphins, with different breeds of cattle offering different peptides, totaling about thirteen variants, each of which is divided into categories known as A1 and A2.  A1 caseins contain the amino acid histidine, essential for the growth and repair of tissue, but also responsible for manufacturing histamine, the stuff that makes your nose runny in an allergic reaction or that makes you itch after a mosquito attack. Although concentration-dependent, this state of affairs is uncomfortable at best, and is blamed specifically on beta-casomorphine-7, “…a naturally occurring product of cow’s milk with opiate-like activity…” (Kurek, 1992).  A2 caseins contain proline, a non-essential amino acid that is a component of cartilage.  That casomorphins have opioid activity matters little in light of the discovery that particular A1 casein can become glycated and promote adverse immune effects (Elliott, 2006), among them diabetes.

So, what is glycation?  It’s the result of a sugar bonding to a protein or a fat without the watchful eye of an enzyme, such as might happen in a frying pan or even in the body after ingesting a sugar, resulting in a haphazard process that impairs cellular function.  This is not to be confused with glycosylation, an enzyme-controlled process aimed at a specific molecule to enable its particular function.  Glycation forms advanced-glycation-end products, or AGE’s that are implicated in neurodegenerative diseases (Li, 2012) and mitochondrial dysfunction (Hashimoto, 2003).

About 8% of infants under age one are allergic to cow’s milk (Constantinide, 2011).  This might account for the crankiness of the child who is unable to define the earache or the gastric distress that cause discomfort and pain.  Yes, a child may outgrow milk allergy, only to be bombarded with symptoms decades later, most of which arise from reactions to the foreign protein that is casein, a material once used to make paint.  Casomorphin from type A1 is believed to play a role in ischemic heart disease, while that from type A2 encourages neither heart disease nor diabetes (Kaminski, 2007).  Are you expected to test your milk to find whether it’s higher in one or the other variant?  Type A1 Beta-casomorphin-7 is implicated in several human miseries, and is especially hazardous to those with leaky gut syndrome, to this day a questionable diagnosis to the traditional medical community.  Nonetheless, BCM-7 affects GI motility and mucosal immune function (Elitsur & Luk, 1991).  Now that it’s been established that type A1 is the bad casein, here’s the list of cattle ranked according to A1 casein content, from bad to good:  Holstein (much more A1 than A2); Jersey, Ayrshire and Milking Shorthorn (these three have almost equal levels);  Brown Swiss (more A2 than A1), and Guernsey (almost a 100 x A2 than A1).  The next time you get milk from the supermarket, the neighborhood convenience store or the gas station around the corner, be sure to ask the dairy manager/clerk from which breed of cow the milk was pumped.

There is much more to deny a cow its center stage, ranging from mineral imbalances to disease promotion via shared hormones with humans, items to be addressed another time.  But if there’s cognitive benefit to be derived from milk, it comes from phospholipids (Schubert, 2011) (Lopez, 2008), the structural and functional cellular components that are better obtained, without unwanted tag-a-longs, from non-dairy sources.  Milk phospholipid and fat content depends on what the cow is fed.  Cattle feed high in flaxseed, for example, will produce milk higher in polyunsaturated fats and lower in saturated ones (Lopez, 2008).  Regardless, only about 1% of milk lipids are phospholipids.  Even if there were a higher percentage, the heat of pasteurization that destroys enzymes (It takes only 120° F to deactivate an enzyme.) also would oxidize the phospholipids to uselessness.

Cow’s milk does a body good if you’re a calf.  The ideal for humans is, well, breast milk.  If breast feeding is out of the question, there are alternatives that supply the fats an infant needs for development.  Hemp milk is one of these, but it’s expensive.  It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and potassium, and enough vitamins to meet the need.  Omega-6 fats can be fortified with sunflower, safflower or evening primrose oils, and phospholipid needs can be more than satisfied with real, honest-to-goodness phosphatidylcholine.  After age four, a tot can switch to alternative milk, but the supplementary essential fats and phosphatidylcholine should stay because they definitely do a body good…all the way into old age.  It is not common for animals to drink the milk of another species.  Who chose cattle to be the source of beverage,  cavemen?  “Hey, Charlie, let’s yank on that thing hangin’ down under that animal and drink what comes out.”  One more thing:  what milk does to a prostate gland shouldn’t happen to anyone (Schmitz-Dräger, 2011)  (Tate, 2011)  (Torfadottir, 2012).


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Cie Li Ska A, Kostyra EB, Kostyra H, Ole Ski K, Fiedorowicz E, Kami Ski SA.
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Clemens RA.
Milk A1 and A2 peptides and diabetes.
Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;67:187-95. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Constantinide P, Trandafir LM, Burlea M.
The role of specific IgE to evolution and prognosis of cow’s milk protein allergies in child. 
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Crichton GE, Murphy KJ, Bryan J.
Dairy intake and cognitive health in middle-aged South Australians.
Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(2):161-71

Crichton GE,  M.F. Eliasb, G.A. Dore, M.A. Robbins
Relation between dairy food intake and cognitive function: The Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study
International Dairy Journal. Volume 22, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 15–23

Elitsur Y, Luk GD.
Beta-casomorphin (BCM) and human colonic lamina propria lymphocyte proliferation.
Clin Exp Immunol. 1991 Sep;85(3):493-7.

Elliott RB, Harris DP, Hill JP, Bibby NJ, Wasmuth HE.
Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and cow milk: casein variant consumption.
Diabetologia. 1999 Mar;42(3):292-6.

Elliott RB.
Diabetes–a man made disease.
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Federal Milk Order Marketing Area, 2011
Somatic cell count of producer milk

Hashimoto M, Rockenstein E, Crews L, Masliah E.
Role of protein aggregation in mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
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Høst A, Halken S, Jacobsen HP, Christensen AE, Herskind AM, Plesner K.
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Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2002;13 Suppl 15:23-8.

Kamiński S, Cieslińska A, Kostyra E.
Polymorphism of bovine beta-casein and its potential effect on human health.
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Kurek M, Przybilla B, Hermann K, Ring J.
A naturally occurring opioid peptide from cow’s milk, beta-casomorphine-7, is a direct histamine releaser in man.
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Kurek M, Czerwionka-Szaflarska M, Doroszewska G.
Pseudoallergic skin reactions to opiate sequences of bovine casein in healthy children.
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Li J, Liu D, Sun L, Lu Y, Zhang Z.
Advanced glycation end products and neurodegenerative diseases: Mechanisms and perspective.
J Neurol Sci. 2012 Mar 11.

Christelle Lopez, Valerie Briard-Bion, Olivia Menard, Florence Rousseau, Philippe Pradel and Jean-Michel Besle
Phospholipid, Sphingolipid, and Fatty Acid Compositions of the Milk Fat Globule Membrane are Modified by Diet
J. Agric. Food Chem., 2008, 56 (13), pp 5226–5236

Månsson, Helena Lindmark
Fatty acids in bovine milk fat
Food Nutr Res. 2008; 52: 10

H.D. Norman, T.A. Cooper, and F.A. Ross, Jr.
Somatic cell counts of milk from Dairy Herd Improvement herds during 2010
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, Md

Schubert M, Contreras C, Franz N, Hellhammer J.
Milk-based phospholipids increase morning cortisol availability and improve memory in chronically stressed men.
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Schmitz-Dräger BJ, Lümmen G, Bismarck E, Fischer C; Mitglieder des Arbeitskreises Prävention, Umwelt und Komplementärmedizin.
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Tate PL, Bibb R, Larcom LL.
Milk stimulates growth of prostate cancer cells in culture.
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Torfadottir JE, Steingrimsdottir L, Mucci L, Aspelund T, Kasperzyk JL, Olafsson O, Fall K, Tryggvadottir L, Harris TB, Launer L, Jonsson E, Tulinius H, Stampfer M, Adami HO, Gudnason V, Valdimarsdottir UA.
Milk intake in early life and risk of advanced prostate cancer.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

The Skinny On Skin: Zap The Zits and More

fighting-pimplesIt seems to happen just when the prom is a week away, or on the day before your date with the most popular gal or guy in school.   You get a pimple big enough to get its own name, like Everest or Matterhorn.  What can you do about it?  Could it have been prevented?  If you’re a teenager reading this, and suffer from acne, read closely as there may be an answer to your dilemma. If you’re a parent, maybe you could pass this on.

Acne has a bunch of names, but we bet you could add your own.  Basically, it’s an inflammation of the sebaceous glands, those that make sebum, the stuff that acts as a lubricant for the hair and skin and offers some protection against attackers like bacteria.  The “stuff” consists of fat, keratin, and cellular material that ooze from the follicle, the hair tube to which the sebaceous gland is attached.  As skin cells lining the follicle die off, they are pushed out by a growing hair.  Sometimes too much keratin interrupts this process and the dead skin cells stick together, clogging up the works.  This is how acne starts.  That thing we call a zit or blackhead is known as a comedone.  This word has nothing to do with comedy—there’s nothing funny about it, especially if it’s yours.

Acne is considered a normal response to abnormal levels of the male hormone testosterone.  Women may experience moderate acne due to hormonal changes associated with female health issues that include pregnancy, the use of birth control pills, and menstruation.   Not that this will make you feel any better, but four out of five people between ages twelve and twenty-four will get acne at least once.  As with most horrendous teenage afflictions, there are risk factors for acne, including some you can control and some you can’t.  You might be able to control bacterial growth by frequent and careful washing and rinsing.   You most assuredly can avoid using steroids to bulk up for a sport, and you can avoid skin irritation from scratching or the constant contact of a telephone against your face.  Genes and overproduction of sebum and hormone activity are not under your direct control.  Stress may or may not be, depending on whether or not you share living space with the Wicked Witch or the kindly Wiz.

Treatment for acne is generally based on reducing skin oil production, hastening skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection, or all three at the same time.  Topical treatments can do that, sometimes over-the-counter, sometimes by prescription.  Antibiotics, either rub-on or by-mouth, require an Rx.  For acne that fails to respond to other treatment, there’s an oral drug called Accutane, which is the atomic bomb of acne treatments, with a list of precautions, interactions and side effects long enough to choke a giraffe.  Recently, a slightly less offensive medication, a topical formulation called clindamycin phosphate, was matched head-to-head with an all-natural preparation made from vitamin B3 (as nicotinamide) and phosphatidylcholine (PC).

Remember, previously where we said keratin can clog up the works?  That’s termed hyperkeratinization.  That unwelcome activity was found to be reversed and normalized by using topical linoleic-acid-rich PC combined with nicotinamide’s anti-inflammatory character.  Contrasted to clindamycin in a 12-week, double-blind, randomized study, the PC/B3 compound was better tolerated and slightly superior in outcome (Morganti, 2011).

For more than a few years science has been concerned that bacteria are learning to become resistant to medicine’s barrage of chemical agents.  Concurrently, it’s been accepted that natural villains do not generally grow immune to natural heroes.  In the matter of acne, this was realized about nicotinamide more than a decade ago.  The emergence of resistant pathogens led researchers to look in a direction away from systemic and topical synthetic antimicrobials in the treatment of this condition.  Topical nicotinamide as a 4% gel was discovered to be a potent anti-inflammatory agent without the risk of bacterial resistance and, in fact, showed an 82% symptom improvement rate over clindamycin’s 68% (Shalita, 1995).  But wait, there’s a whole lot more to this.  In order for topical treatments to be effective, they have to get through the skin’s horny layer, the stratum corneum, without causing damage to tissue.  What natural substance can do this without unwanted side effects?  Phosphatidylcholine!

The prime phospholipid from which we are made, phosphatidylcholine renders cell membranes vibrant and alive, an activity lacking which we’d all succumb.  But it’s not only a stanchion; it’s also an escort.  PC helps desirable materials to permeate the skin’s stratum corneum and deliver healing, whether all natural or man-made, the former being preferred.  The higher the concentration of PC, the higher the efficacy of the escorted material (Kim, 2002).  While this holds true for nicotinamide, it also holds for drugs.  Indomethacin is an Rx non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to address the discomfort of arthritis, tendinitis, and bursitis and like conditions.  It’s usually taken orally, but an Indomethacin topical gel made with liquid paraffin and mixed with PC was found to be considerably more effective at crossing the skin’s horny layer than the product that omitted the PC (Fujii, 2001).  Compared to conventional petroleum-based carriers of topical interventions, PC-based carriers improve the effectiveness of drugs used for skin cancer, as well (Romagosa, 2000).

PC as an oral supplement has long been known to attenuate serum cholesterol. In combination with niacin therapy for elevated cholesterol, PC is astounding.  No one ever dreamed that it could pass through the skin and have a similar effect.  The University of Miami’s School of Medicine looked at PC through a creative eye, and applied it topically to the shaved backs of rabbits that were bred to develop hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerotic lesions.  After two weeks’ treatment, investigators noted reduced levels of serum cholesterol and LDL, accompanied by less severe signs of atherosclerosis in the aorta (Hsia, 1996).

The incredible characteristics of real phosphatidylcholine—the kind that forms a liposome—are easier to realize than you might think.  Check out for more PC facts.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Cholesterol Limbo: Can You Go Too Low?

good-and-bad-cholesterolFor many years cholesterol has been denigrated as a factor in heart disease, when all along it was only a spectator at the scene of the accident. Although it’s been the topic of many conversations throughout its public life, cholesterol is misunderstood by many people… who don’t really know what it is. Because it isn’t soluble in water, but only in organic solvents, cholesterol is classified as a lipid. It’s the major steroid in the body, with the greatest concentrations in the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves and in the plasma membrane that encircles each of the trillions of cells from which we are made.  In the membrane, it prevents deformation and decreases permeability to small water-soluble molecules. Without cholesterol, such as in a bacterium or plant, our cells would need cell walls. Beyond its stability-inducing structural role, where it sits parallel to the phospholipids that afford both structure and function to the membrane, cholesterol exerts its character in the manufacture of several hormones, including cortisol, cortisone, and aldosterone in the adrenal glands, and in the formation of the sex hormones progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Without it, the body can make neither vitamin D from exposure to the sun, nor the bile made by the liver for the digestion of fats.

Though cholesterol may eventuate cardiovascular entailments for those so susceptible, as would be such for people with existing coronary disease, heavy smokers, those with a family history of CVD (Cardio Vascular Disease), or those who have already suffered a cardiac episode, it is a generally benign molecule that supports membrane function and fluidity. That cholesterol which exists outside the membrane as an extracellular entity may contribute to the cascade of events that leads to the cell proliferation characteristic of the early stages of atherosclerosis.

But low cholesterol may also be a concern, where a disturbed balance between the uptake of cholesterol from lipoproteins and cholesterol efflux may cause the formation of foam cells, which can accumulate in the linings of arteries and cause additional accretion of platelets and other components of blood that can form an atheroma, or plaque. In Chapman’s work it was noted that massive foam cell formation by tissue macrophages may occur despite the absence of lipid accumulation in the vascular wall (Chapman, 2008). Outside the realm of cardiac episodes reside pathologies attributable to hypocholesterolemia (low cholesterol). Such is the case with endotoxic infections that occasionally accompany critical illness and contribute to capillary permeability and fever. This latter condition may arise following the death of a (usually gram-negative) bacterium that gets broken down in the body. In the attempt to rectify the matter, healthcare workers are advised to correct hypolipidemia by administering a reconstituted high-density lipoprotein preparation as both prevention and treatment (Gordon, 1996). Additionally, a correlation has been made between low cholesterol and the presence of immune markers called interleukins, which are regulatory proteins released by cells in the immune system (Gordon, 2001). Herein lies the inference that cholesterol has immunomodulatory properties (Miguez, 2010) (Bukrinsky, 2006).

From other perspectives, cholesterol levels below 160 mg/dL are associated with all-cause mortality other than cardiovascular disease, especially with cancer, respiratory and digestive diseases, violent deaths that include suicide, and hemorrhagic stroke, leading researchers to question the validity of prescribing anti-cholesterol drugs for those persons without additional CVD risks (Meilahn, 1995) (Nago, 2011). In the Honolulu Heart Study, it was noted in six thousand subjects that falling levels of cholesterol were linked to an excess risk of liver disease and cancer, but that stable levels were not (Iribarren, 1995). Previous work identified low cholesterol as causative of early death, where it was concluded that women in particular experience no relationship between high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular events, but that the opposite may apply to most men, leading to a decision not to treat females unless there exists active coronary disease (Hulley, 1992). Hemorrhagic stroke risk may increase by twofold in males with cholesterol levels below 160, but higher values may be protective against cancers of the lung and the lymphatic and hematopoietic systems, and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) (Neaton, 1992). From these and other studies, we may infer that any prolonged treatment with statin or other drugs be closely watched, especially in light of the indication that low cholesterol levels are also associated with suicide and depression (Atmaca, 2008) (Lester, 2002) (Partonen, 1999). Basically, then, control of cholesterol levels needs consistency for cell signaling mechanisms to function at peak efficiency, else the machinery deals with faulty information and results in sickness.

The Canadians have decided that cholesterol intake is not a concern, since dietary cholesterol, as found in eggs, for example, does not become part of serum cholesterol, and even if it did, influence is insignificant. Simultaneously, saturated and trans fats instead are deemed to be primary determinants of serum total cholesterol and troublesome LDL (McDonald, 2004). Life exists at the cellular level. Without cholesterol, membranes would be too fluid. Like the masts that hold a circus tent erect, cholesterol maintains the architecture of the cell and keeps phospholipids far enough apart to prevent them from clumping and becoming disorganized. In this way, everything walks to the beat of the same drummer.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Coconut Water: Is It What It’s Cracked Up To Be?

fresh-coconutWhether or not Robinson Crusoe was sustained by it, coconut water—not coconut milk—has gathered a following among those fitness fans looking for an all-natural alternative to sports drinks. However, it just might not be good enough for all athletes.  The liquid endosperm of young coconuts, coconut water is considered one of the world’s most versatile natural products. To enhance that image, science has found evidence to support the role of coconut water in health and medicinal applications. One of the traditional uses of coconut water is as a growth supplement in plant tissue propagation and culture, but a wider application can be justified by its unique chemical composition of sugars, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytohormones. The last category holds a few welcome surprises, since soy genistein has hogged the spotlight for years.

What’s The Big Deal?
Coconut water is the liquid endosperm and is served directly as a beverage to quench thirst, while coconut milk is the product obtained by grating the solid endosperm with or without additional water to get a food ingredient useful in traditional recipes. Coconut water is more than 90% water; the milk about 50% water, but also containing fat and protein (Seow, 1997). Coconut water is a clear isotonic solution plentiful in young coconuts. (Isotonic means that the tonicity, or tension, of a solution is similar to that of a body fluid and exerts basically the same pressure on both sides of a membrane.) As the coconut matures, its chemical composition and liquid volume change. The liquid may exceed half a liter at nine month’s maturity (Jackson, 2004).

Coconut water is touted as being high in potassium, one of the electrolytes essential to muscle function as the body’s predominant intracellular cation. One cup of coconut water (240 gm) carries about 600 mg of potassium, which is a fraction of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended 4700 mg ( Of course, 8 glasses will put you over the top. The concern is that potassium needs to be balanced with sodium, the electrolyte first lost to heavy sweating. This is where coconut water falls short as a sports beverage. Sodium content of one cup of coconut water is about 250 mg, not enough to aid recovery after a hard workout that spent eighteen times that by sweating more than a day’s worth of suggested intake. There’s more sodium in a glass of vegetable juice. If you have an interest in electrolytes’ role in human health — and you should, really — check out this site for a cogent explanation:

What Good Is It, Then?
In an era of anti-aging curiosity, coconut water seems to be able to hold its own.  The vitamin content of coconut water is insignificant, although considerably better than the zero of plain water, but its phytonutrients, cytokinin and its analog kinetin, have demonstrated appreciable impact as anti-senescent agents. Isolated more than half a century ago, cytokinin has a potent biological effect on plant cells and tissues that influence gene expression, cell cycle, chloroplast development and biosynthesis, stimulation of vascular architecture, and delay of senescence. This characteristic was extrapolated to humans and cell membrane lipid peroxidation (Mik, 2011). Against placebo, in a randomized, double-blind, controlled study, a combination of topical cosmetic ingredients that featured kinetin and niacinamide was found to induce a reduction in spots, pores, and wrinkles and to re-establish evenness after eight weeks (Chiu, 2007). Additionally, age-related changes attributed to lipofuscin, an indicator of damage represented as brown pigmentations from oxidized fats, were delayed (Rattan, 1994).

Cytokinin and its analogs were found to induce cell death and to inhibit cell proliferation in diverse cancer cell lines (Vermeulen, 2002), where researchers were surprised to find anti-cancer effects that extended beyond the original discoveries (Voller, 2010). An item of interest is that these studies were conducted outside the United States, but not necessarily where coconuts are native. There is a modicum of protein in a cup of coconut water (less than 2.0 grams), but when part of a more voluminous coconut protein product, it is sufficiently influential to contribute to an increase and a strengthening of the immune cells that are born in bone marrow (Vigila, 2008). All the while, non-malignant cells are left alone, as cytokinin and kinetin are selective in their inhibition of cell proliferation (Dudzik, 2011).

To Use Or Not To Use?
Though not quite as balanced as serious electrolyte replacement beverages, coconut water has a place in health promotion and disease prevention. To some, it is the darling of India’s Ayurvedic medical practice, where the coconut palm is labeled “Kalpavriksha,” the all-giving tree that provides antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, hypoglycemic, immunostimulant and hepatoprotective properties (DebMandal, 2011) (Preetha, 2012).   To overcome coconut water’s sodium shortfall, some formulators add salt and other enhancements to their drink and then market it as a complete sports beverage. There’s a lot more to learn about what’s in the marketplace, since adulteration is common and can ramp up calories from the basic 46 per cup.

Oral rehydration using coconut water following bouts of diarrhea, especially in children, can forestall the need for intravenous therapy in those who are amply nourished prior to the onset of the infirmity. It is contraindicated in cases of dehydration for lack of electrolyte balance (Adams, 1992). The absorption of coconut water is far superior to that of soft drinks, too, which are often used as fluid replacements by those who are unaware of the options (Chavalittamrong, 1982). The problem with this application, however, is the variability of sodium and glucose content of the coconut fluid at various stages in its development (Fagundes, 1993). A legitimate coconut water purveyor will have analyzed his product before packaging, and will put that data on the label.  Coconut water costs about fifteen cents an ounce. A quality electrolyte replacement concentrate, making four gallons of sports beverage, costs about four cents an ounce…and has the right balance of potassium and sodium, the two important players in muscle contraction and relaxation.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.