Easy diet hack: Eat more coconut oil

Spoiler alert: I came across an article the other day about a scientific study that was published this past June that looked at coconut oil and its benefits for reducing inflammation in Crohn’s Disease…

Our bodies are massively complex, beautifully-orchestrated machines. Some people say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, my digestive and immune systems are broke and because I’ll never know a fraction of everything there is to know about either system or Crohn’s Disease, it’s important to me to always keep searching and experimenting with ways I can further enhance my life, improve my health, and hopefully keep Crohn’s in remission. So far, the list includes diet, fermented foods, exercise, rebounding, yoga, essential oils, and wine–I have to have one vice 😉

Some of you have probably heard me mention the “protreats” I make as a dessert-like snack (although my sweet tooth and cravings for sugar have drastically gone down now that I’ve eliminated sugar and carbs from my diet, I still desire something sweet once in a while–I’m only human!). My protreats (the name is actually credited to Jeff, who shortened my title of “protein treat” to protreat, though at the time I think he was making fun of me…) are simply a scoop of coconut oil (about a tablespoon), a heaping teaspoon of glutamine powder, and about a tablespoon of KetoBROTH protein powder by Ancient Nutrition (it’s the only protein powder I’ve found that doesn’t upset my digestive system; no bloating, no cramping, and minimal ingredients). Mix it all together, put it in the fridge to set and harden, and enjoy…I like to pretend it’s a sugar cookie without frosting (imagination helps)…

I started making these almost two years ago because I wanted to find a way to include more of both the coconut oil and glutamine in my diet…without eating the coconut oil directly from the jar (bleh!). Why? You might be asking…because every time I Google what supplements are important for people with Crohn’s disease, glutamine is at the top of the list. Glutamine helps repair the intestinal lining, heal/close the tight junctions that lead to leaky gut, and fights intestinal inflammation. Coconut oil is also anti-inflammatory, it’s commonly touted for boosting the metabolism, kills bad bacteria and improves gut health, and is soothing to the intestinal tract. Sounded like two things I needed more of 🙂

So, back to the real reason for this post. Last week, I stumbled across an article in Science Daily, “High fat diet reduces gut bacteria, Crohn’s disease symptoms,” about a research study that was done using mice to look at the effects of “good” fats (coconut oil and cocoa butter) on Crohn’s Disease symptoms. The study showed that, based on the feeding of coconut oil and cocoa butter, there was a beneficial change to the gut microbiome that resulted in less inflammation. According to the article, “Mice fed even low concentrations of coconut oil or cocoa butter also had less severe small intestine inflammation.” Yes, it’s a study on mice and much more research is needed to see what might come of it, but it’s enough for me–for now–to continue incorporating coconut oil in my diet.

It is exciting to see so much new research being done on the gut microbiome and how it plays a role in many diseases, not just Crohn’s. This study, done by researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, is said to be one of the first that identifies specific changes in gut bacteria associated with Crohn’s Disease. According to the article, “It is also the first to show how high fat diets can alter gut bacteria to combat inflammation.” Just a few months ago I actually sent in a sample to be part of the uBiome SmartGut clinic research and testing and received results that showed my gut microbiome did indeed contain certain bacteria that are only seen in Crohn’s patients. To me, it’s just more evidence that our gut bacteria play a significant role in good health. It will undoubtedly be interesting to see in another 10-20 years where all this microbiome research leads.

My protreats may have started off as a way to alleviate my sweet tooth, but they are now an important staple in my diet (which, as a side note, has evolved into a ketogenic diet–high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbs). From now on, along with my sauerkraut and kefir, I’ll be sure to not miss a day of one (or two) protreats 🙂


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