When I recently found out that my daughter had food sensitivities I was not thinking about coconuts. My family has been reaping the benefits of eating coconuts for a few years now and it never occurred to me that someone in the family would develop an intolerance. However to start with it looked like it was just the cream and the milk as that’s where the proteins are contained. Then it was the flour as it was too fibrous. And then it was the oil. At this point I was a little perplexed as so much of my cooking used coconut oil, but all was not lost……
Are Coconuts the same as Tree Nuts –
The short answer is no. Coconuts have been classified under two different headings 1) belongs to the palm family – which is not related to nuts or peanuts and 2) is a “drupe” a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed. You can read more of an explanation here. Because of this there is no real risk for people who have tree nut allergies to avoid coconut.
But it’s not allergies that I’m dealing with – it’s sensitivities or intolerance to food molecules and chemicals.
Coconuts and Salicylate Sensitivity –
The benefits of coconuts are endless and they have become known as “the fruit of the gods”, or “the fruit of the garden” and are on the top of the list of many Paleo and raw vegan diets. You will find many recipes and articles on this site about the amazing health benefits of using the oil, cream, milk and the flour or the dried coconut flakes or shreds. As a long time sufferer of food intolerances including salicylate sensitivity, there was a time when I could not tolerate coconut in any form. Unfortunately coconuts including the oil are very high in Salicylates.
“When in doubt, eat fruits and veggies.” Might seem like good advice except for the fact that fruits and vegetables are not only high in carbs but also contain all-natural phytochemicals known as salicylates. As with other plant foods that bite back, salicylates evolved to fight predators. And organic fruits and vegetables seem to have more of them. Weston A. Price
How to Recognise a Salicylate Reaction –
People sensitive to salicylates may suffer from asthma, hives, nasal polyps, chronic swelling and a wide variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, including irritable bowel. Salicylates are also linked to a long list of physical and mental symptoms, including— just for starters—acne, bedwetting, restless leg syndrome, tinnitus, tics, styes, hyperactivity, headaches, anxiety, hallucinations, weepiness, blurred vision, fidgiting, bad breath, body odor, and even constant hunger! Obviously, there are many other risk factors for these complaints, but 2-4 percent of outpatients attending allergy clinics, 2 percent of those with Crohn’s disease, 7 percent of those with ulcerative colitis, and 15-20 percent of those who attend ear, nose and throat clinics are salicylate intolerant. Weston A. Price
In my own experience a salicylate reaction starts with my throat and than travels to across the bridge of my nose and behind my eyes. If the dose of salicylates is very high or I have accumulated too much in my system, I will than develop headaches, dizziness, slurred speech and hallucinations. Most of my sinus episodes have been because of salicylate sensitivity. As I have cut back more and more in my diet I have noticed a significant change in my health and especially with my sinuses.
So how did I Introduce Coconuts into my Diet –
Sensitivities unlike some allergies are not always for the duration of a lifetime. You can “grow out” of sensitivities. Working with sensitivities usually involves limiting many of the foods that cause the sensitivity and eliminating the really troublesome foods. Generally you will follow an elimination diet to remove all the irritant foods and then set food “challenges” over a course of time indicating whether or not you can introduce that food back into your diet. It’s this process that will allow your system to build more tolerance to foods that you have a sensitivity to.
Precisely that’s how I introduced coconut oil into my diet. At the time I was in recovery from a severe systemic Candidiasis Infection and was advised that coconut oil would be great for it’s anti bacterial, antiviral, and anti fungal properties to deal with killing off the candida. Knowing that I had salicylate reactions I was advised to introduce it slowly – 1 teaspoon every couple of days and usually in cooking. While it’s been 5 years now since I started taking coconut oil in my diet – it’s only been in the last 2 1/2 years that I have been able to take the oil in higher doses – up to 3 tablespoons a day.
In the last 2 years I’ve introduced coconut milk and cream, then the flour and dried coconut. While all seems well, I do still have the odd day where I’m reminded that I’m salicylate sensitive.
Can you Develop Food Sensitivities as an Adult? –
Short answer – Yes. Food sensitivities are usually the by product of damaged gut lining caused by inflammation or a yeast/candida overgrowth. Treating you gut and intestinal health first will usually eliminate long term food sensitivities. If you are dealing with food sensitivities than consult with a health professional before too much time has passed. I also recommend the following book if you suspect your may have a salicylate intolerance.
Coconut Sensitive? Doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of coconut oil.
My amazement with coconut oil really began when I replaced all my body lotions and started using the oil. My skin irritations and sensitivities were reduced and eventually non existent due to my changes in diet, killing off the candidiasis and using coconut oil as my primary skin care product.
While you may not be able to take the coconut oil or cream/milk orally, there are many ways to use coconut oil and reap almost the same benefits as if you were eating it.
Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) found in coconut oil are the secret ingredient. MCFAs are food for the cells both inside and outside the body. When MCFAs penetrate the cells of the skin the energy produced power up many biological functions.
There are so many things that you can do and use coconut oil for without you ever having to swallow it.
Check out these links –
How about you? Intolerant? Sensitive to food in any way? Leave a comment or a question below.