What are the coconut oil thyroid, adrenal, and energy effects?
Biochemist Mary Enig, PhD writes in
Eat Fat Lose Fat,
"While no studies have investigated how coconut oil affects the thyroid
gland specifically, the fact that it raises body temperature and causes
weight loss indicate that it supports thyroid function."
More information about coconut oil weight loss.
Most attention has been given to coconut oil's normalizing of low thyroid function, but she also notes that coconut oil can also help normalize an overactive thyroid. According to physiologist Ray Peat, PhD (referenced below), coconut oil restores thyroid function under the conditions of the Western diet, and he explains how.
It appears that:
And that it may do this because:
Coconut oil, with its unique medium chain fatty acids, raises both energy level and metabolism, prevents both low blood sugar and high blood sugar, and normalizes weight.
Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) comprise 64% of coconut oil (more information here on
coconut oil nutrition).
These fatty acids, found in large quantities only in coconut oil and palm kernel oil, are responsible for many of the
coconut oil benefits.
MCFAs (and thus coconut oil) are unique in how they are used in the body. Unlike other fats, MCFAs go directly from the stomach to the liver where they are used for energy. Unlike sugars or other fats, MCFAs pass through cell membranes, to be used as fuel, without the need of insulin. Once inside cells, MCFAs also enter and feed the mitochondria (the energy-producing structures of the cell) without the need for special enzymes.
This is how coconut oil is easily digested, improves nutritional status, and is easily used for energy.
The most common fats eaten in America are derived from corn and soy. Coconut oil is now rare in American processed food.
Corn and soy oils are unsaturated oils composed of long-chain fatty acids. Coconut oil is almost entirely saturated and is composed of medium-chain fatty acids.
Corn and soy fatten livestock (and people).
Ray Peat writes that "unsaturated fats suppress metabolic rate" and that this has been known since farmers experimented with the fattening of farm animals. He describes corn and soy as antithyroid.
These unsaturated fats, for example in corn oil and soy oil, inhibit thyroid function in multiple ways:
They lower blood cholesterol in what Peat describes as a toxic effect: the liver retains cholesterol. This prevents the body from using cholesterol to make hormones.
They lower blood sugar by
In contrast, when coconut oil (which is almost entirely saturated and contains medium-chain fatty acids) is consumed:
With coconut oil, blood cholesterol is normalized as cholesterol is being used properly. And, blood sugar is normalized, preventing hypoglycemia and other blood sugar problems.
The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife - Introduction to coconut oil.
Coconut Cures by Bruce Fife - All about coconut oil.