COCONUTS, NUTRITION AND THE
IMPACT OF HEALTH IN ASIA.
IMPACT OF HEALTH IN ASIA.
In the 1930s Canadian Dentist Dr Weston A. Price toured the world and examined the impact of diet and nutrition on dental health. In 1939, he published “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” detailing his worldwide travels showing how less developed societies had healthier teeth and fewer overall disease issues than those in the West who enjoyed a diet primarily featuring sugar, flour and processed vegetable oils. Foods that caused nutritional deficiencies unknown in the poorer regions where he visited. In the past, people who lived in countries like Sri Lanka enjoyed a mainly rice-based diet. It was supplemented with a little basic protein like fish and chicken and a plentiful supply of fresh fruit and vegetables whilst the ubiquitous coconut played a prominent dietary role.
Today the story is very different. The degree of obesity which was seldom seen in the past is now staggering. Yes, fruit and vegetables are still easily available but the one thing that has changed is “wheat flour “. In the past, it was seldom seen but now starchy carbohydrates in the diet have skyrocketed. Why? Because in 1977 the biggest flour mill in Asia was built in Trincomalee. The facility was owned by a Singaporean based company named “Prima”. They managed to get some attractive tax concessions from the Sri Lankan Government, then using aggressive marketing strategies, they were able to introduce previously alien foods like noodles to significantly alter the local diet.
Yes, Western Fast Foods Chains have also established a foothold in the country. Now, the result is too many people are overweight and diabetes has exploded to epidemic proportions. The reason points strongly to the dietary changes introduced in the past 40 years.
Dr. Ian Prior and his team reached similar conclusions in their study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau Island studies. 
They took the inhabitants of two remote Pacific Islands, Tokelau and Pukapuka administered by New Zealand.
Tokelau Atoll in the Pacific
The study began in the early 1960s. The inhabitants of the islands lived on a high-fat diet derived mainly from coconuts. At the outset, the researchers gave the islanders a clean bill of health. Better than they expected to find and considerably better than those living in New Zealand itself. The people were slim and healthy and relatively free of chronic disease. Sixty per-cent of the calories in the diet of the Tokelauans and Pukapukans was derived from saturated fats. This is double the recommendation of the American Heart Association. In spite of this, the islanders had cholesterol levels ranging from between 170 to 208 mg per decilitre. The inhabitants were subsequently tracked when they migrated to New Zealand. Dietary fat intake decreased from 60% to around 43% and the islanders began to eat more wheat products in the form of white bread as well as rice, meat and other foods peculiar to a Western Diet and much less of their favourite coconut-derived delicacies. Soon the average cholesterol level shot upwards and people began to gain weight. Arteriosclerosis which was practically unheard-of on the islands began to increase and overall health decreased all because the people were eating more supposedly healthy polyunsaturated trans fats, more wheat, more sugar and generally enjoying the benefits of what was taken to be a supposedly healthy western diet.
Coconut oil has had a bad rap which does not really have anything to do with science but more to do with marketing. It seems many of the so-called scientific principles that have come out over the years are cobbled together by the copy-writers in the offices of advertising agencies. The American Soy Growers Association wanted to make their product top dog and so they promoted it as a health food and decried anybody who laid any claim to their market.
America’s answer to coconut oil
They certainly played a big part in the demonisation of the Superfood which is the coconut. I. tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil in your morning juice or smoothie is definitely a good and healthy move, but don’t overdo it.
Earlier we talked about Dr. Weston Price. Here is a dental tip using coconut oil, but it doesn’t come from Dr. Price. It has a much older provenance.
Oil Pulling or Kavala
This is a recommendation from Ayurvedic Medicine, which is very, very old.
Take a couple of teaspoons of extra-virgin coconut oil and swirl it around your mouth for longer than 10 but not more than 20 minutes. After the 20-minute maximum, you spit out the oil which has by now lost all of its viscosity and has become like water. Don’t swallow it as it is has absorbed all the toxins in your mouth and upper respiratory tract. Coconut oil is a bacteria killer. After 20 minutes it has broken down the bacteria in the mouth. It kills Streptococcus mutans which are the villains known to cause dental decay. The coconut oil helps whiten the teeth, drains the sinuses, stops gingivitis dead in its tracks and eliminates bleeding gums. Moreover, it can also help with a plethora of different health issues ranging from migraines to chronic fatigue to asthma and allergies. Don’t believe me? Then give it a try. You need to oil pull every morning and don’t expect immediate results.
 I A Prior, F Davidson, C E Salmond, Z Czochanska | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 34, Issue 8, August 1981, Pages 1552–1561, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/34.8.1552 | Published: 01 August 1981