Monday, May 11, 2009

Timesonline on Coconut Oil, People in the Tropics have Bad Breath?? NO ,they DON'T

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Timesonline on Coconut Oil. People in the Tropics have Bad Breath. NO, they DON'T

Healthy living is a main focus of my life. I thought I'd offer you this little titbit. Googling for coconut oil I was surprised to find right on page one an article in Timesonline, in which a questioner is advised to Shy away from Coconut Oil

The article was something of anomaly just about every other link several pages deep was couldn't praise the stuff enough. The Times article seemed light-years away from the research

It is a prime example of what happens when a journalist - even an otherwise sensible journalist, and from a respected newspaper - relies on hearsay and her own prejudiced assumptions instead of on hard facts for her ‘information’, while at the same time masquerading as an expert ‘in the knowi and dispensing what to the uninformed seems like wise advice.

The article also shows exactly how easily a myth is created and can become ‘fact’. Don't be surprised in the coming months if you suddenly hear rumours that coconut oil ‘causes bad breath’ and ‘depletes calcium’. It was Ms Jane Clarke, the author of that article, who started these rumours; in fact, she made them up. On reading the article I immediately wrote the following letter to the Times

Dear Timesonline Editor,

I am writing in response to an article I found after a web search for coconut oil. As someone who has used virgin coconut oil for almost 2 years with best results, I was very disappointed at how glibly, how almost mockingly you dismiss the “coconut diet” – as if it’s just another fad diet on the market. It’s not.

In fact, coconut oil is fast becoming known as a health food of almost revolutionary importance – not yet in Britain, but in the USA - and I hope that soon Britain’s media will rise to the challenge of reporting its myriad health benefits - substantiated by scientific studies, many of which can be found on the Internet. It has enormous potential to help us out of the health crisis we are in – not just for losing weight but for a host of other problems. I suggest you research the subject seriously – there’s enough information on the internet, and many books.

As for the book you refer to, Cherie Cablom’s the Coconut Diet – I am the Sharon in that book whose account of weight loss is recounted on page 66. Yes, I did lose 20 pounds immediately after I switched all my oils for coconut oil – this after decades of trying to lose weight, and nothing working. And yes, at the same time my daughter, now 13, lost 10 pounds – without dieting, simply because she was eating the food I cooked in coconut oil. (I have before and after photos to prove it)

You say that coconut oil should be viewed with caution because “ Coconut oil has been lambasted as a baddie because it contains huge amounts of saturated fat.

Here’s a challenge to the Times Who did the original lambasting, and to what purpose?

In fact the whole hullabaloo against saturated fats, and especially against coconut oil, was mostly the result of a billion-dollar marketing campaign carried out by the producers of polyunsaturated vegetable oils, so that we would switch to their products. As a result of this campaign even people in the tropics now use unhealthy vegetable oils (which you praise and recommend) – and their rate of heart disease has shot through the roof (in Kerala, it tripled)

I do advise you to read more books on the subject, especially the newly released “”Eat Fat Lose Fat by Dr Mary Enig (one of the world’s most respected fat scientists) and Sally Fallon (President of the Weston A Price Foundation, www. as well as The Coconut Oil Miracle, by Bruce Fife, and Eat Fat Look Thin,also by Bruce Fife.

To address another of your quibbles, a coconut diet is not solely about replacing all fats with coconut oil. It is a whole food plan which requires an entire lifestyle change, a return to the natural foods nature supplied us with.

Lastly: coconut oil does not produce ketones. I beg you to research the subject thoroughly before jumping to such conclusions! If Cherie Cablon says so then she is in error. ( I have not read her book completely, just flipped through it.)

And it does not produce bad breath; it helps cure bad breath as it is antimicrobial and destroys the germs that cause bad breath.

And it does not deplete calcium. It helps in the absorption of calcium and other minerals.

High quality Virgin coconut oil is readily available in Britain over the internet. I do suggest you try it and see if you don’t become hooked – as so many of us have. It is so light, so clean, so delicious – and I swear I look seven years younger than my 54.


Sharon Maas

I received the following reply to this letter

Dear Sharon,

Thank you for your letter, which has been forwarded to me as T2 Health Editor.

Jane Clarke did mention in her piece that there had been a certain amount of "mudslinging" by other oil producers - the worse they can make coconut oil sound, the better their products will look - so politics is shown, yet again, to influence the message we consumers receive..." I am not sure that you and she are in disagreement here.

Jane's response to your point about ketones is that "it is a well-known fact that using medium-chain triglycerides in the diet can cause the body to produce ketones, Ketones can make the breath smell bad. - it is known as pear drops breath in the industry."

I hope this answers your queries/ Once again, thank you for your comments.

Yours sincerely,

Justine Hancock.

I wanted to make absolutely sure about the ketone business. I am not an expert on coconut oil, though I have read almost all there is to read on it over the past two years, and have never once come across the information that it produces ketones, or even the "well-known fact that using medium-chain triglycerides" produces ketones.
So I wrote to Sally Fallon, co-author of the book "Eat Fat Lose Fat" and president of the Weston A Price Foundation. If anyone knows about coconut oil then Sally Fallon and Dr Mary Enig).
This is Sally's reply

She has it wrong about ketones being formed. The body uses coconut oil for energy and does not store it as fat, but it does not form ketones from it unless the diet is also very low in carbs. I have not heard anyone using coconut oil say it gives them bad breath. You might recommend she look at our book for a more balanced approach, one that includes many other types of fats. Best,


I replied to the Times as follows

Dear Ms Hancock,

Thank you for your letter of 8th February, I’m still not satisfied with your conclusions about coconut oil.

It is true that Ms Clark mentioned the mudslinging by “other” oil producers in her article – but she neglected to mention that these “other” oil producers were in fact the very makers of the supposedly “healthy” unsaturated oils she recommends at the end of her article: which rather negates her earlier statement.

Regarding ketones: I enclose an email from Sally Fallon which clears up the matter, at least for me. Coconut oil does not form ketones. Ms Fallon should know; she is an internationally recognised nutritionist and author of several books, and has researched coconut oil for many years, along with Dr Mary Enig, one of the world’s leading oil experts.

Like Ms Fallon, I have never noticed bad breath in anyone who uses coconut oil regularly or heard of any such complaints. And don’t forget that coconut oil has been a diet staple of millions of people all over the tropics for centuries – in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, South India…. Do these people all have bad breath? I think not

It’s an easy mistake to make. Two years ago I also believed the myth that coconut oil is bad; I believed this simply from hearsay, as most people do, and never bothered to check the research. The unjustified witch hunt against coconut oil resulted in the collapse of the entire coconut industry, and destroyed the livelihood of thousands of coconut farmers all over the Third World. I am myself from a tropical country, and I was delighted to find out just how healthy coconut oil is. The growing demand by Westerners is a fantastic development for coconut farmers and for the economies of these poorer nations. They have my entire support.

Coconut oil is far too important as an up-and-coming health food to be dismissed publicly by cute headlines and yet more negative hype. It has so many health benefits - of which weight loss is just one – that lipid experts such as Dr Enig, Dr Jon Kabara and Dr Ray Peat are calling it “the health oil for the 21st Century”. In this respect I highly recommend the book “The Coconut Oil Miracle” by Bruce Fife.

I myself experienced these benefits when I replaced all my usual cooking oils – mostly sunflower oil – with coconut oil two years ago and promptly lost 20 pounds – not bad for a 52 old woman who had been overweight for over two decades! My overweight daughter, just by eating the coconut oil based food, lost ten pounds. Just think of the implication for Britain’s obesity crisis, especially among children

In their newly released book “Eat Fat Lose Fat” Ms Fallon and Dr Enig in fact blame the prevalence of unsaturated fast and trans fats – along with junk food and processed sugar – for the obesity epidemic.

This little exchange emphasises once again how important it is not to take what you read in the media at face value, no matter how reputable the source. Your health is too precious to be placed in the hands of pseudo-experts; myths abound and the journalists often simply repeat what they have heard somewhere, sometime.

As for coconut: do your own research and find out for yourself.

Does it really matter

Actually, it does. The negative press about coconut oil a few decades ago destroyed the world's coconut industry and the livelihood of poor coconut farmers all over the Third World. It was one more example of First World greed stomping all over the Third World. At the same time, the health of millions of people were put at risk as they replaced their healthy, home-grown oils with imported unsaturated fats. Meanwhile, in the industrialised world, unhealthy fats are contributing to the rise in degenerative diseases and obesity at an alarming rate. Coconut oil could be one of the answers.

Where can I find out more about coconut oil

Articles on Coconut Oil

A few decades ago, the media went into a frenzy giving coconut oil a bad name, without once checking the science. We won't let this happen again; this time we have the internet and all the information at our fingertips.

Sorry, Jane Clarke, this time you got it wrong.

Where can I buy coconut oil

You can get cheap refined coconut oil at most ethnic stores, and more expensive Virgin coconut oil from most health shops, or over the internet. In the UK, I recommend:

Coconut Island

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