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“Coconut oil contains large amounts of lauric acid, a powerful anti-microbial fatty acid that protects the immune system of the fetus and newborn. Pregnant and nursing mothers should eat coconut oil to increase the quality of the womb environment and breast milk”
- Dr. Claudia Pillow
Have you ever noticed how much a coconut looks like a female human breast? (Insert immature schoolboy snicker here.)
Probably not, but think about it - these miraculous fruits given to us by nature resemble the human breast for a reason. They contain life-giving properties for nursing mothers and their infants. Now, I know that not all mothers can successfully breast feed, but for those of you who have breastfed before, lets admit it: it's HARD WORK!
The sore nipples and the painful engorged breasts, not to mention the aftermath - for those of you who have breastfed you know what I’m talking about here - the post nursing “droop." All the pain and “droop” was worth it, but I wish I had known back when I was nursing how I could have supplemented my diet with coconuts to give my baby even more nutrition and protection.
There has been a lot of research lately discussing how the environment of the womb can affect the long-term health of the baby with respect to autism, allergies, asthma, food sensitivities and other chronic conditions. Coconut oil provides pregnant moms with a vital combination of vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins that are so good for their babies. That's also why infant formula usually contains coconut oil.
According to Claudia Pillow, PhD:
"A healthy diet contains mixtures of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The unique composition of human breast milk contains about 45 to 50 % saturated fat, about 35% unsaturated and 15-20%polyunsaturated. Lauric acid and capric acid comprise about 20% of total saturated fatty acids found in breast milk. Lauric and capric acid have potent antiviral, antibacterial, and parasiticidal (kills parasites) properties that support the immune system. These fatty acids offer the nursing infant protection from illnesses, viruses such as herpes and HIV, protozoa such as giardia lamblia, and bacteria such as chlamydia and heliocobater.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat (but not cholesterol since it is from a plant) containing about 50% lauric acid. Other components of coconut oil include capric acid, caprylic acid, tocopherols and tocotrienols. (Vitamin E lipids that act as potent anti-oxidants that can help maintain healthy cell structure and function). A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that lactating mothers who eat coconut oil and other coconut products, have significantly increased levels of lauric acid and capric acid in their breast milk, creating milk rich in health promoting nutrients. Coconut oil is easy for an infant’s immature digestive system to absorb and utilize. It also provides energy in the form of medium chain fatty acids to help the baby grow and develop properly.
According to the research, when a lactating woman adds foods rich in lauric acid to her diet, the amount of lauric acid available in her breast milk increases substantially to levels three times the original level and nearly double the amount of capric acid. A single meal of coconut oil can significantly affect the breast milk fatty acid compositions for 1 to 3 days with the maximum increase occurring during the first 10 hours. This data supports the hypothesis that diet directly affects the quality of human milk and possibly the womb environment.
Pregnant and nursing females store fat to assure successful lactation. Any lauric acid and capric acid in the diet becomes part of the adipose fat stores. The milk fat of a lactating mother is made up of these stores as well as her current diet."
What this means is that a mother's diet while lactating directly affects how quickly she sheds pounds once she stops breastfeeding. And since nursing mothers especially need fat in their diet, the trick is making sure it's the right kind of fat. Coconut oil is an excellent source of fat since it is a medium chain fat as opposed to animal fat which is long chain and much harder for the body to break down. Long chain fat stores will linger a lot longer on our thighs and hips than medium chain fats like coconut oil, which quickly convert to energy.
This is why it's so important for pregnant and nursing women to eat a healthy diet- one based on whole foods: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean protein and raw coconut oil!