Like many food trends, there is solid science behind the use of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), but it’s helpful to really break down the functions and uses for these nutriceuticals to understand the best way to incorporate them into a healthy diet.
⇒ MCTs are most frequently extracted from coconut oil, and there are four different types of MCTs, which all have unique effects of the body’s health, caprylic acid being an example. MCT oil is easily digested and promotes the release of two hormones that are associated with the feeling of satiation in the body (those hormones are peptide YY and leptin). MCT oil has about 10% fewer calories than long-chain trigylcerides, which are found in olive oil, nuts and avocados.
⇒ An interesting study found that the use of MCT oil reduces the build-up of lactate acid in exercisers, which can improve athletic performance. This same study found that the athletes using MCT oil used more fat instead of carbs for energy, although it’s difficult to say whether this effect would hold after the exercise has ceased.
⇒ Promising early studies have indicated that MCT oil is very powerful in reducing yeast and bacterial infection. Coconut oil can reduce Candida Albicans by up to 25%, and a test tube study indicates that MCT oil can inhibit the growth of C. diff bacteria, which is often quite serious in sick and older people.
While it’s not wise to go out and coat all of your food in MCT oil, there is good evidence that moderate use can be incorporated into a healthy diet. Of course, there are cautions with all fatty oils and certain people should talk to a qualified nutritionist before adding coconut or MCT oil to their diets. But we have seen that many cultures and cuisines use naturally occurring fats, with little or no widespread heart disease. The most unhealthy diet that I see in the Clinic is the client who is fixated on everything they eat; or conversely, one so exasperated by all the conflicting data about food, that they just eat for convenience. Natural, whole food is so full of vibrancy and wonderful flavors that joy is part of its health-giving nature. Enjoy some rich, silky coconut oil on a homemade curry -- that nourishes your senses and your cells!