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  • More about Medium Chain Triglycerides: The Saturated Fat With Benefits!


    Contrary to popular thought, not all saturated fats can lead to heart disease and obesity. That’s because they’re not all created equal—Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), for example, are saturated fats with many health benefits, including support for metabolism, energy and beauty. (Learn more about the beauty benefits of MCTs and coconut oil here.)

    What Are Medium Chain Triglycerides?

    Medium Chain Triglycerides are saturated fats naturally found in coconut oil and palm kernel oils (and in lesser amounts in whole milk and butter). Long Chain Triglycerides (LCTs), on the other hand, are the most abundant fat in nature, and the source of 98 percent of our dietary fat.

    Medium and Long Chain Triglycerides are named based on the length of their carbon chains, and as you would suspect, LCTs have longer carbons chains than MCTs. This structural difference affects how each fat is metabolized—LCTs pass slowly through the digestive tract, requiring bile salts and enzymes to break them down, then entering the lymphatic system and ending up mostly in fat stores as conserved energy. Conversely, MCTs are metabolized by the liver—bypassing the lymphatic system and the need for bile salts and enzymes—making them available for quick energy.

    MCTs for metabolism and weight management

    By replacing common LCTs with MCTs in your diet, you reap many metabolism- and weight-associated benefits. First, MCTs provide about 10 percent fewer calories per gram than LCTs. Consuming MCTs also slows down accumulation of fat over time, since MCTs are not stored in fat deposits the way LCTs are. MCTs may also suppress appetite.

    To get started, try cooking and baking with coconut oil to get more fat calories from MCTs and fewer from LCTs. Palm kernel and coconut oils are also great for cooking because they are stable at high temperatures, unlike vegetable oils such as canola oil.

    Other healthy benefits of MCTs

    Energy – As we’ve established, MCTs provide quick energy because they are so readily metabolized by the liver. This makes them great for endurance athletes, bodybuilders or anyone looking for a quick energy boost.

    Heart Health – MCTs promote normal blood platelet function, healthy cholesterol levels and prevent plaque build-up. Worth noting: Pacific Islanders—whose diet features a whopping 30-60 percent coconut content—show nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease.

    Brain Health – MCTs may also be helpful in supporting cognitive health. Here’s why: The brain regularly uses insulin to convert glucose to brain fuel. When insulin response is compromised (e.g. through poor diet or diabetes), the brain can starve of the glucose-converted energy it needs. But MCTs can be converted into ketone bodies or ketoacids, an alternative form of fuel for the brain. In this way, the body treats MCTs more like a carbohydrate than a fat, turning it into quick brain fuel.

    Immunity – The fatty acids in coconut oil (i.e. capric, caprylic and lauric acids) have many immune-benefitting properties, including anti-microbial actions.

    Ways to get your MCTs

    Ready to improve energy, boost immunity and brain power, manage weight and beautify your skin and hair? Pharmaca carries a variety of great products containing MCTs.

    NOW Foods’ MCT Oil – A blend of liquefied pure coconut/palm kernel oils.

    Nutiva’s Organic Red Palm Oil – A buttery, MCT-rich oil that’s great for sauces, sautéing and baking. (Note: Red palm oil is not to be confused with palm kernel oil that has a richer amount of MCTs.)

    Nature’s Way’s Liquid Coconut Premium Oil Made from pure, expeller-pressed coconuts, and formulated to maintain a liquid form wither refrigerated or at room temperature. A great alternative for vegetable oil in cooking, or adding to dressing, sauces and dips.

    Jarrow Formulas’ Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Made with organic, non-GMO, cold-pressed coconuts. Try the easy-to-take pill form, or the solid form that’s great for cooking, baking and for use topically on the hair and skin.

    Nature’s Way’s EFAGold Coconut Oil – Another great option made from certified organic, non-GMO, extra virgin coconuts. Cold pressed, hexane-free, unrefined and non-bleached.

  • Easy Switches for Naturally Healthy Teeth & Gums

    Good dental healthYou know the drill (or how to avoid one!) for good dental care: Brush, floss, rinse. But ingredients like fluoride or alcohol in many dental care products are potentially harmful. Here are a few natural ways to take care of your teeth and gums—and keep you smiling!

    No to: Fluoride
    Yes to: Xylitol

    Fluoride is added to dental products (and many public water supplies) because the American Dental Association says it helps remove the plaque that causes gum disease and tooth decay, and it helps strengthen tooth enamel. But there is a downside: according to the Fluoride Action Network, it has been linked to several illnesses, allergies and compromised thyroid functioning. Alarmingly, the FDA requires a “poison” label on fluoride toothpastes, due to its toxicity if even small amounts are ingested.

    Xylitol is a natural sweetener (look for xylitol made from birch bark), that actually stops the production of tooth-decaying acids and helps recalcify tooth enamel. Try Xlear's Spry Fluoride-Free Toothpaste with Xylitol that combines xylitol with bacteria-fighting aloe vera. For flossing, single-use Xylitol Antibacterial Cranberry Floss Sachets from Radius amp up protection from cavities with both xylitol and cranberry compounds that help stop bacteria from attaching to teeth.

    No to: Alcohol
    Yes to: Oxygen & Coconut Oil

    Mass-marketed mouth rinses rely on alcohol to fight bacteria in our mouths, but long-term use of these alcohol-based products has been linked to oral cancer. A safer way to keep acid-forming bacteria at bay is with oxygen, in the form of hydrogen peroxide. Essential Oxygen's Organic Brushing Rinse is free of alcohol, fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate to keep gums healthy, teeth white and breath fresh.

    Another way to rinse: “oil pulling," an ancient Ayurvedic technique that’s been in the news lately. Take 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth for 10-20 minutes, then spit it out. Fans claim oil pulling draws harmful bacteria away from your teeth and gums and cleans much better than brushing alone.

    No to: Teeth Whitening Strips and Trays
    Yes to: Activated Charcoal

    Teeth whiteners often contain high concentrations of bleaching agents that can cause extreme tooth sensitivity—especially systems that use trays or strips to keep bleach on the teeth for 20 minutes or more. Instead, try brushing your teeth with activated charcoal. Take ½ teaspoon (or one capsule) and dissolve it in a small amount of water or coconut oil, then brush your teeth gently for 2 minutes. Your teeth will be black when brushing(!) but after spitting it out and rinsing you’ll see brighter teeth and tannin stains (coffee, wine, tea) gone.

    No to: Sugary & Starchy Snacks
    Yes to: Apples

    Granulated sugar is a leading cause of tooth decay, and starchy foods mix with saliva forming an “acid bath” in our mouths that erodes tooth enamel. Instead, reach for an apple (nature’s toothbrush!), as it increases saliva flow and its astringent qualities help reduce the build-up of cavity-causing bacteria.

  • Your Body: A Well-Oiled Machine

    Want the dewy, glowy look of hydrated and nourished skin? Turn to these versatile oils, many of which can be used inside and out, to smooth, heal and repair skin--and keep it glowing for years to come.

    Sea Buckthorn Oil (Internal & External)

    Over the centuries many populations have used sea buckthorn for a variety of medicinal purposes, as it contains palmitoleic acid, an omega-7 fatty acid, along with potent antioxidants like carotenoids and phytosterols. (In Russia, sea buckthorn is clinically prescribed for inflammation, circulatory disorders and cellular regeneration, among other things.) "It's one of the hottest things right now," says Joan Shure, esthetician at our Pacific Palisades store. "And it can be beneficial topically for reducing stretch marks, too." Internally, try New Chapter's Supercritical Omega-7, or smooth on Weleda's Sea Buckthorn Body Oil externally.

    Fish Oil (Internal only)

    Experts agree that omega-3s are key to healthy, moisturized skin. They can help reduce inflammation (which can deprive the skin of nutrients), and are involved in the production of phospholipids and ceramides, which contribute to overall skin health and moisture. "The glow factor is really big with omegas," says Joan, adding that fish oil can help reduce wrinkles and boost elasticity. She likes fish oils from New Chapter and Nordic Naturals.

    Vitamin E Oil (Internal & External)

    You may not know it, but vitamin E is actually a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body. Maybe that's why it's so helpful in healing scars and other skin damage. And since our bodies can't produce it, we have to get it through diet or supplementation. Pharmaca's Vitamin E capsules can be taken both internally, or broken open to apply topically.

    Tea Tree Oil (External only)
    Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and a cleansing agent that rebalances oiliness on the skin. Tea tree is a member of an extensive botanical family that releases powerful essential oils, and has long been used by Australian aborigines for its healing properties. "It's a great spot treatment for blemishes," says Erin Alden Velez, esthetician at our Sonoma store. But because it works as an antibacterial, Erin says, it can dry out your skin if you use it all over. So make sure you hydrate afterwards! Try Pharmaca's Tea Tree Oil.

    Coconut Oil (Internal & External)
    This tropical fruit is filled with medium-chain fatty acids such as lauric, capric and caprylic, all of which serve special health functions. It's ultra-hydrating when applied topically, and its antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties can help balance digestion--a key to good skin health--when taken internally. "You can use it in stir fries, bake with it, anywhere you'd use olive oil," says Joan. For topical use, Joan recommends applying it as a moisturizer right out of the shower, when your skin is still damp. Try Nature's Way's EFAGold Coconut Oil for either application.

    Argan oil (External only)
    Packed with essential fatty acids, this oil has long been valued in its native Morocco for its nutritive, cosmetic and numerous medicinal properties. Argan oil helps fight lines, repair imperfections, minimize scars and stretch marks, restore texture, elasticity and tone, and reduce inflammation. You can even massage Acure Organics Argan Oil into hair and scalp for balance and shine.

    Speak with a Pharmaca esthetician about other oils that can help keep your skin glowing.

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