Anyone with diabetes knows it’s a serious disease and requires a close connection with healthcare advice. Working to manage your blood sugar is difficult for most Americans let alone someone with an insulin dysregulation. Yet, there’s great research on reversing diabetes with diet, exercise, and supplementation. Below are some easy tips to help the body heal and function optimally on the road to balanced blood sugar levels.
Slowly increase fiber
Getting off the sugar rollercoaster slowly and allowing the body and more importantly the gut, to catch up is important. Every other suggestion is for you to increase fiber, however, it may not be appropriate to go high greens right away. If you’ve been eating a diet void of raw veggies for most of your life, you may have a tougher time adjusting to adding in things like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and similar greens. The trick is to help heal the gut with the right fats, pre- and probiotic foods and add digestive enzymes. Start by adding a small portion of cooked veggies that you like. Add as much fat as you need to make it taste good for you. The fat is needed for a couple of very important reasons. In order to assimilate the vitamins in the veggies and absorb them fat must be present. Also, fat helps you feel full and is very satiating. Increasing your fat intake slowly as you go and this will help you become fat adapted later on. See how you respond after a couple of days and increase to larger portions and different veggies. Try getting in different colors and notice how you feel after the meal.
A high-fiber diet will support detoxification and healthy blood sugar levels. Fiber-rich foods are imperative to level blood sugars. Include the obvious green leafy vegetables, but don’t forget the rainbow-colored veggies, nuts, and seeds like chia, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts.
Drink water, add fiber
We all know we need to increase our water intake throughout the day. In fact, if you just pound some water in the afternoon you’ll feel a better jolt of energy than the afternoon 3-shot macchiato. Adding fiber to that afternoon water creates a win-win situation. The problem is that water can be boring and therefore the last-choice beverage. However, if you add some fun, clean flavors and fiber you’ll have a tendency to get it down and crave more.
Easy and portable…Chia seeds are a superfood. They’re an amazing source of an important type of fiber that helps to improve your digestive health, boost metabolism, and adds another source of healthy fatty acids to your diet. Plus they give you a sense of being full. If you’ve ever seen chia seeds in water, it forms a gel-like substance that many people use to make great tasting puddings. Start by adding a small amount to your flavored water and drink… it’s that easy! Enjoy!
If you’re having a hard time losing weight, it may be time to switch things around. You’ve probably heard of the high-fat diet or the Ketogenic diet and you may want to give it a try. You may not want to go full Keto right away; so, just by adding fat slowly into your daily diet will allow you to experiment and become fat-adapted. Here are some easy tips to ease into a lower carb/higher fat diet.
Adding fat has many health benefits
Adding healthy fat to your diet has a lot of superior benefits like waking up in a better mood, tighter and refreshed skin, improved gut and brain health, better cellular function, fired up metabolism, more satiety from food, fewer wrinkles, and a greater libido…just to name a few. However, adding in a large amount of your total caloric intake in fat may cause havoc on your system.
Add fat to your morning to jump start fat burning
Many people have had good luck adding a fat to their morning coffee. For example, try replacing high sugar creamers for coconut oil, milk or coco butter, ghee, MCT-Oil, or use the recipe for bulletproof coffee. By starting off your day with fat; you are boosting your fat metabolism right away. Most likely the small amount of fat you add will get your system used to digesting it, especially if you’ve been following a lower fat diet.
Don’t like veggies? Try adding butter
Butter is useful for two reasons. One because it gets you to eat the veggies because they taste good and two because we need the fat to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins we get from the veggies. Make sure you are using real, grass-fed butter only.
Use nut butter as a snack
Need something to combat that afternoon crash? Try keeping nut butter in your desk at work and having a teaspoon or two. Hint: Peanut butter is not a nut butter…try using cashew, almond, sunflower seed, or blends. The afternoon fat will help you feel satiated and help you eat less at dinner.
Even though scientists long ago decided to call all of these MCTs, biologists now understand that the cheapest and most common of the MCTs, C12 or lauric acid, is a pseudo-MCT.
Lauric acid is an excellent food source, but it acts like an LCT which means long chain triglyceride, not an MCT, so when consumed, you don’t get the fast ketone energy from it that you can get from C8 or C10.
From a scientist’s perspective, the lauric acid should be considered an LCT; unlike the biological MCTs, lauric acid gets processed by your liver. This is important because your body metabolizes MCTs differently than LCTs; MCTs get very quickly converted into energy to fuel your brain and body instead of requiring a pit stop in the liver for processing.
Chemists found the number of carbon chains and then decided what medium was. Lauric acid is a chemical MCT, but it is not a real biological MCT, this is because our bodies do not treat it as a conventional MCT. Almost every study about the human and animal uses of MCTs you’ve ever seen does not measure lauric acid for this reason.
Since your body reacts with lauric acid differently from the beginning, so, therefore, it deserves to be treated on oil marketing labels too! Hopefully, chemists will eventually change the classification to be more accurate. Lauric acid is not an MCT.
What is MCTOil?
The Official List of MCTs In Coconut Oil
Several main types of fatty acid oils are found in coconut oil, but the first three below are the only ones that behave in your body as real MCTs. Which means that they bypass the metabolic burden of processing in the liver, so they quickly become energy in your brain and muscles.
Caproic Acid, C6:
There’s not enough of it to make a difference in straight coconut oil, it tastes bad, and it often results in stomach/gastric upset, but it converts extremely quickly to ketones. If your MCT oil makes your throat burn or has a not so good flavor, and one reason may be because the distillation did not remove enough of the C6, but there are other reasons that this can happen too, which is covered below.
Caprylic Acid (C8): ~6% of coconut oil
C8 has potent anti-microbial properties which are much stronger than lauric acid, also to help you maintain a healthy gut, and it is the fastest to metabolize in the brain. Your liver doesn’t need to process this rare type of MCT, and it only takes three steps for your body to turn it into ATP, which is the cellular fuel you use. To put it into perspective, sugar takes about 26 steps. This is why Brain Octane is so good at suppressing cravings and is the most potent oil to put in Bulletproof Coffee. You would need 18 tablespoons of coconut oil to get just one tablespoon of Brain Octane.
Capric Acid (C10): ~9% of coconut oil
The second shortest form of MCT, which is also very rare. It is a little slower to turn into energy but is much more affordable than C8. XCT Oil is triple-distilled in a non-oxygen atmosphere without any solvents ever used and contains C10 and C8 because they are the only two MCT oils that turn into ATP without the liver. You would need around six tablespoons of coconut oil to get one tablespoon of XCT oil, that’s how strong it is.
Lauric Acid (C12): ~50+% of coconut oil
It requires a stop in the liver rather than getting immediately converted into energy like the other MCTs. This is why it is described as an LCT, not an MCT like marketers claim. It can raise cholesterol more than any other fatty acid, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It also is commonly cited as having antimicrobial benefits, which it does, except for the shorter chain, MCT oils are more effective against aggressive candida yeast and even gonorrhea and chlamydia (as a monoglyceride).
It is a little confusing since coconut oil researchers imply that lauric acid is the same as monolaurin, an extremely potent antimicrobial that is derived from lauric acid. Given how common and cheap this stuff is, it’s no wonder that companies are tempted to sell it as a straight MCT. Two years ago, I looked into making a more affordable MCT oil contains lauric acid. I’d have made a killing selling what is coconut oil as something special, but it only doesn’t work, and it’s not just marketing.
C-14 and above:
These are widely recognized LCTs, or long chain fatty acids in coconut oil, which are mostly saturated, including stearic acid (C18:0), oleic acid (C18:1), and linoleic acid (18:2). The exact percentage of each depends on the region the coconut is grown, time of harvest, and other evolving variables. They are useful as a fuel source, but they are also widely available in other oils, and you won’t benefit from eating a lot more of them compared to eating straight medium chain fatty acids.
Molecular weight analysis of milk from different species showed that while milk fats from all studied species were primarily composed of long-chain fatty acid (16 and 18 carbons long), approximately 10–20% of the fatty acids in milk from horses, cows, sheep, and goats were medium-chain fatty acids.
Some studies have shown that MCTs can help in the process of excess calorie burning, thus weight loss. MCTs are also seen as promoting fat oxidation and reduced food intake. Interest in MCTs has been expressed by endurance athletes and the bodybuilding community. While health benefits from MCTs seem to occur, a link to improved exercise performance is weak. A number of studies back the use of MCT oil as a weight loss supplement, but these claims are not without conflict, as about an equal number found inconclusive results.
The body has two primary energy sources; it burns glucose or ketone bodies. The majority of people consume glucose primarily because they are always supplying a regular form of sugar, starches, and proteins that can be turned into blood sugar. When one either facts or goes on a low-carb, moderate protein and high-fat diet they switch their energy source to fat.
Specifically, the fatty acids are broken down into ketone bodies. The primary three forms of ketones that are produced in the body include Acetoacetate, Acetone and Beta-HydroxyButyric acid. They are released into the blood from the liver when insulin levels are low and hepatic liver metabolism is increased.
Ketones as a Preferred Fuel For the Brain
Ketones are a very different energy making molecule that is made from fatty acids. The human body can make Ketones from stored fat or MCTs. They feed all of our cells of the body, but specifically, they are a preferred fuel for the brain.
Studies have demonstrated that MCT Oils can readily cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and be oxidized by the brain. Which means MCTs provide a direct and indirect brain fuel source via the generation of ketones. This is incredibly important for everyone and those in particular with type 1 diabetic patients as it gives us all a strategy to preserve brain function during hypoglycemic episodes without raising blood glucose levels.
Ketones activate specific regulatory proteins in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic growth factors (BDNF). BDNF works to repair, protect and enhance the role of the brain cells and the neurological networks. BDNF also excites the growth of new, healthy neurons that take the place of older, dying cells. The failure to regulate dead or dying brain cells is a risk factor for neurodegenerative disease processes.
This is the smallest chain MCT at six-carbon chains. There is a profoundly small amount of this in our healthy food supply. It has the potential to cause digestive difficulties including diarrhea and throat burning.
This eight carbon MCT is located in only 6% concentration in coconut oil but is thought to be the gold nugget of the MCTs. It has the most potent of anti-microbial properties that help to destroy harmful bacteria and yeast. Caprylic acid is easier than lauric acid in the result of cellular fuel. In fact, it only takes three steps to turn it into cellular power (ATP). Sugar takes 26 steps to produce cellular energy and is therefore highly metabolically rich. The more concentrated an MCTOil is in caprylic acid, the more mitochondrial strengthening the product will be.
This ten carbon chain fatty acid is also a mighty MCT that turns into natural energy within the mitochondria of the cell without any work from the liver. Capric acid has also been shown to have significant anti-microbial effects against bacteria such as P Acnes, E Coli and Candida albicans.
Research has also demonstrated that capric acid helps to reduce inflammatory activity against bone tissue. This provides evidence of its benefit in preventing bone loss and osteoporosis.
This is a 12 carbon chain fatty acid that makes up around 50% of the fatty acids within coconut oil. The metabolism of lauric acid is different than the other three MCTs. In fact, even though lauric acid is considered an MCT, it acts more like a long-chain fatty acid. It depends upon liver bile to be efficiently metabolized.
Lauric acid is an effective anti-microbial, but research has shown that caprylic and capric acids are more effective than lauric acid and infectious organisms such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Caprylic acid is a common supplement used in anti-yeast protocols and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth protocols
Health Benefits of MCT-Oil
MCTs Lower Blood Sugar
MCTs raise up ketones and lower blood sugar naturally. They have a stable blood sugar stabilizing effect that helps to reduce inflammation and improve brain function.
After a single oral dose of MCTs, a slight drop in blood sugar develops. It is caused, apparently, by a decrease in the liver output of glucose and not by an increase in the bodies utilization of glucose.
MCTs significantly improve carbohydrate tolerance and inhibit the production of fatty acids in adipose (fat) tissue.
Increased Nutrient Absorption
MCTs, improve the absorption of calcium and magnesium in premature infants. One study looked at 34 pre-term infants. The children were divided into three groups and fed various formulas.
Group 1 had corn oil, oleic, and coconut oil (39:41:20); Group 2: MCT, corn oil, and coconut oil (40:40:20); Group 3: MCT and corn oil (80:20). The infants fed MCT-containing methods absorbed significantly more calcium than the control group. Magnesium absorption was substantially improved in the 80% MCT group.
These same groups were then analyzed for protein absorption and nitrogen content. The 80% MCT group had substantial improvements in nitrogen absorption and amino acid sparing. This means the body will be more efficient at preserving and building lean body tissue when using MCTOil.
The production of ketones has important anticonvulsive properties in the brain that have long been used as a treatment for individuals with epilepsy. The classic ketogenic diet which is LCFA based that is used for anti-convulsive benefits is made up of 87% of the calories from fat. This is extremely hard to follow, and agreement is often minimal.
The use of MCTs, which as described are highly ketogenic, makes it much easier to get into and stay in ketosis. An MCT based nutrition plan only depends upon 60-70% of calories from fat which allows one to handle some solid nutrient sources of carbohydrate and protein. The variety of the food provides more micronutrients, has greater range and is more enjoyable.
Improved Athletic Performance
MCTs are an elite fuel for athletes or anyone who is performing some physical exertion. This is due to their fast rate of absorption through the digestive tract, active metabolic conversion into cellular energy and their high energy density.
Many athletes find significant performance benefits using MCTs both pre and post workout. They are the best form of fat to use right before (within 2 hours) and directly after exercise due to their quick mobilization and use for repairing muscles and blocking the catabolic breakdown of proteins after rigorous training.
Appetite Control and Weight Loss
Research has shown that MCTs suppress the appetite which helps individuals who struggle with intense cravings and overeating. In a 14 day study, six healthy males were put on three different unlimited diets: a little MCT diet, a medium MCT diet, and a high MCT diet.
The study authors found a significantly lower calorie consumption for those on the high MCT diet. The scientists explained how substituting MCTs for other fat causes can limit excess caloric intake and resulting weight gain.
Some studies had also revealed that when overweight and obese people were put on higher MCTOil diets, they were able to lose more weight and had better energy even though they were consuming fewer calories.
MCTs or Medium Chain Triglycerides are fatty acids of a particular length, as the name implies. MCT-Oil is an oil built up on one or more of these medium chain triglycerides, and it is a clear and tasteless liquid at room temperature.
Medium Chain Fatty Acids vs. Long or Short Chain
All fats are made of carbon and hydrogen, but they vary in length. By definition, “Short Chain” fatty acids have 5 or fewer carbons, medium chains have 6-12 and long chain fatty acids have more than 12.
Medium Chain Triglycerides are viewed to be readily absorbable and beneficial fats, and rather than being metabolized through digestion like most other foods, these fats are processed in the liver. MCT Oil provides fast and lasting energy and are quickly absorbed by the body.
The fatty acids below are all classified as Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs):
Caproic acid also called hexanoic acid (C6-six carbons)
Caprylic Acid, also known as Octanoic acid (C8-8 carbons)
Capric Acid, also known as Decanoic acid (C10-10 carbons)
Lauric Acid, also called Dodecanoic acid (C12- 12 carbons)
MCTOil can be a mixture of one or more of these types of MCFAs and is typically extracted from coconut or palm oil, which are both abundant natural sources. MCFAs are also found in human breast milk, goats milk, cheese, butter, and other types of dairy.
Whether consumed in the whole form from coconut or palm oil or in a concentrated MCT form, these triglycerides have any benefits.
MCT Oil Benefits
The unique structure of medium-chain fatty acids make them beneficial in many ways:
Easier to Digest
MCTs don’t need bile salts to be digested and can pass straight through the digestive system to the blood stream without being changed by conversion like long chain fats. This makes it easier to digest and utilize than long chain fatty acids. Because they are so easy to absorb and use, MCTs are often a good choice for those who struggle with digestive problems, fat absorption or lack a gallbladder.
Excellent Source of Energy
Since MCTs are processed in the liver, they are absorbed quickly and provide fast and sustained energy. MCTs, move indifferently via the hepatic portal system to the liver without the need for a longer digestive process. Unlike nearly all other foods, MCTs do not require energy to be absorbed, stored or used in the body, making them an almost perfect source of natural energy.
Since fats are needed for proper hormone creation and balance in the body, MCTs may offer unique benefits for those struggling with hormone imbalance. There is also research implying that medium chain fats may be beneficial for sustaining a healthy weight by helping balance hormones and improving insulin sensitivity.
MCTs have antiviral plus antibacterial qualities, and there is some evidence that they may help balance gut bacteria and combat pathogenic bacteria. They also offer the digestive method a break because the body so readily utilizes them. When used with a healthy diet and other ways to support gut bacteria, MCTs may help improve gut health over time.
The same antiviral and antibacterial features make MCTs beneficial for immune as well. Healthy fats are essential for the proper immune role, and since MCTs can be more easily used by the body, this may be especially beneficial for those who have trouble absorbing fats and who struggle with immune function.
MCTOil vs. Coconut Oil
This is where things get interesting. MCTOil is obtained from Coconut oil and Palm oil, which is considered excellent natural sources of Medium Chain Triglycerides.
With the emerging demand of MCTOil, many coconut oil companies possess that coconut oil is naturally high in MCTs, but there are some important caveats! MCTOil companies like to boast that their products are “more concentrated” than coconut oil (which is also true), yet it also doesn’t include one useful form of MCT.
Here’s the deal
It depends on the individual type of MCT that you are trying to consume. Coconut oil is high in certain types of medium chain fatty acids, while straight MCTOil is a better source of others.
Maybe you’ve read that coconut oil is 62% MCTOil. It is, yet not necessarily in the same form, you would find in MCTOil. That 62% is made up of a combination of the four types of MCFAs posted above. All of these forms are beneficial, but when a person buys an “MCTOil,” he or she is typically trying to apply Capric acid (C10) and Caprylic Acid (C8) to there diet.
The MCFA composition of coconut oil is largely from lauric acid (C12), which some biochemists argue is not a real medium chain fatty acid since it acts differently in the body. It is also tremendously beneficial, but for different reasons.
Lauric Acid: The Real Story
Lauric acid is the idea that coconut oil organizations claim that coconut oil is better than MCTOil. It is also the reason that MCTOil companies argue that MCT oil is better than coconut. And they are both right, but for different reasons.
Oils ended as “MCTOil” contain either a combination of Capric and Caprylic acid or just thought Caprylic acid, making them a faster and more valuable source of energy. They often don’t include Lauric Acid (C12), which acts like a sequence long chain and medium chain fatty acid in the body, making it slower to digest.
The governing fatty acid in coconut oil, on the other hand, is lauric acid, which contains 50% of the entire fat content. Coconut oil also contains a very nominal amount of Caproic Acid (C6), about 6% Caprylic Acid (C8) and about 9% Capric Acid (C10).
So coconut oil is an excellent source of MCFAs, but the amount depends on if you think Lauric Acid (C12) a medium chain triglyceride or a long one. If you ask a chemist, and you may be told it is a medium-chain fatty acid. If you ask a biochemist, and you may be told it is a long-chain fatty acid. Either way, it’s beneficial.
Lauric acid is naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral. It is wonderful for the skin, and it has even been considered for its possible ability to help with critical acne for this reason. Coconut oil is the richest natural source, followed by human breast milk, which contains up to 20% of its saturated fat content as lauric acid. Also a side note to nursing moms: some studies have shown that consuming coconut oil helps improve the lauric acid content of milk produced.
While in digestion, lauric acid is converted monolaurin, an essential element for optimal immune function. MCT’s doesn’t contain lauric acid. While the Caprylic and Capric acids in MCTOil have some antiviral and antibacterial properties of their own, they don’t include lauric acid and won’t help the body produce monolaurin.
Long story short
To have fast and lasting energy concentrated MCTOil is more beneficial
For Lauric acid and its immune benefits, coconut oil is the superstar
Coconut oil and MCTOil are both useful in their ways, and I use them both in different ways. Coconut oil is typically cheaper and supports the immune system, while MCTOil is tasteless and provides faster energy.