It is so fantastic that more and more people are starting to use coconut oil, and are breaking free of the misconceptions that FATs are bad and that low-fat dieting is healthy.
Sometimes when you are just starting out, you may feel a little unwell :(
Many people notice no adverse effects, but I often receive feedback from my followers that eating coconut oil upsets their stomach or makes them feel sick, sometimes they think they may be allergic...
Choosing to use coconut oil in your diet could be one of the most important things you ever do for your health! There are so many benefits from brain-boosting power to weight loss to clear skin, but it is important to know, however, that if you have previously eaten little fat in your diet, or have never used coconut oil before, your body will need time to get used to it. So start slowly!
The recommended 'dose' for adults is 3-5 tablespoons, and children is 1 tablespoon. More may be indicated if there is a particular health challenge occurring like dementia, heart disease, behavioural or hormonal problems etc. When starting out try just a teaspoon per day and slowly increase over time.
The most commonly reported reaction to using coconut oil (or increase in any fat) is diarrhoea. This is your body's response to the higher level of fat consumption. Just like drinking more water often makes you go to the toilet more often as your body is not used to being more hydrated. Your body will take time to accept the higher fat intake and start using it efficiently.
Also common is an initial reaction such as an unsettled stomach, or a break out of acne, often a sign of the body detoxifying. Coconut oil can cause this reaction due to the effective anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties in the MCFA. This may pass after just a few days of consistent use and gradually introducing it into the diet usually bypasses this.
A reaction known as die off, or a Herxheimer reaction, is thought to happen when toxins from dying pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites, candida, etc.) overload the body faster than it can clear them out. A person’s body can become overwhelmed with these endotoxins which, in turn, can cause a wide range of flu-like symptoms, emotional disturbances, skin breakouts and more. Some people may mistake this reaction as an indication that they are getting worse, when in fact it means the exact opposite. The degree in which you shed toxins will depend on how many toxins you need to get rid of. To avoid severe detox or die-off symptoms, start slowly, especially if you are new to coconut oil and eating real foods in general. Those new to a higher fat diet should start with one teaspoon per day and work up the amount consumed over weeks. Try and listen for the subtle cues of the body and if you feel some flu-like symptoms give your body time to heal, rest, eat well and wait for the toxins to shed.
Although considered rare, some people may be allergic to coconuts or coconut oil. Coconuts belong to the fruit family and have less potential for allergic reactions after ingestion, more from skin contact. People with fructose malabsorption will not be affected by coconut oil as it contains no fructose and researchers say that children with tree nut allergy do not have a high risk of coconut allergy. Allergic reactions are very rare but may occur including rashes and hives as well as anaphylactic reactions such as itching throat swelling, difficulty breathing and other life-threatening symptoms. Appropriate medical care must be sought in these unlikely circumstances.
So there you have it... coconut oil can definitely make you feel a little unwell when you first start consuming it! But persist for a few weeks to give your body time to acclimatise to the new healthy fat intake and you will then be healthier than ever!
Coconuts and sunshine
Dr Nat x