As people are learning more about the health benefit of nutritional ketosis, the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have become increasingly popular. This is achieved by replacing net carbs with high amounts of healthy fats and moderate amounts of high quality protein. MCT oil is a more concentrated source and tends to be more appropriate for clinical uses. Coconut oil has some of the health benefits that relate to the MCTs. Some clinical uses are:
- Appetite reduction and weight loss
- Improved cognitive and neurological function with possible implications in neurodegenerative diseases.
- Increased energy levels and improved athletic performance
- Improved mitochondrial function and subsequent reduced risk for diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases and epilepsy
- As part of a specialized dietary therapy for the treatment of epilepsy
- Prevention of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Small amounts of MCT can be found in butter and other high-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows and goats, as well as coconuts, coconut oil and palm kernel oil. Do not confuse the extremely unhealthy industrial versions of coconut and palm oils with organic, virgin and unrefined oils available as “health foods.
You can divide MCTs into four groups based on their carbon length:
- 6 carbons (C6), caproic acid
- 8 carbons (C8), caprylic acid
- 10 carbons (C10), capric acid
- 12 carbons (C12), lauric acid
The shorter the carbon chain, the more efficiently the MCT will be turned into ketones. These are an excellent source of energy for your body. MCT oil contains close to a 50/50 combination of C8 and C10 fats, in most commercial brands. Straight C8 converts to ketones far more rapidly than do C10 fats, and may be easier on your digestion. Neither bile nor pancreatic enzymes are needed by MCIs. Once they reach your intestine, they diffuse through your intestinal membrane into your bloodstream and are transported directly to your liver, which converts the oil into ketones. Your liver then releases the ketones back into your bloodstream, where they are transported throughout your belly.
They also have a thermogenic effect, which has a positive effect on your metabolism. Instead of being store as fat, MCTs are readily used by your body for energy, and helpful for ridding your gut of harmful microorganisms like pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You can consume MCT oil every day however it is recommended taking no more than 1 teaspoon of MCT oil to start. Possibly take the oil with a handful of nuts or as one of the oils in your salad dressing. Then increase slowly to 4 tablespoon of MCT oil per day.
Since MCTs have a heating effect, your body can use ketones as fuel for energy instead of carbs. By burning more body fat and producing more ketones, MCTs provide you with effects that are similar to what you would get from a ketogenic diet, but without having to reduce your net carbs. MCTs are not a miracle cure, but are part of a healthy diet. They are a superior brain fuel, and promote brain and heart health. MCTs have been found to help lower your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. They also appear to be the preferred source of energy for those affected by diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and maybe even ALS.
–Dr Fredda Branyon