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How Delicious Coconut Milk Can Improve Your Health

How Delicious Coconut Milk Can Improve Your Health

Have you tried coconut milk yet? No?

Well, if you’ve been using it for awhile, you’ll be happy to see why you should keep doing so. If it’s new for you, you’ll definitely want to get on board.

What Is Coconut Milk?

Coconut milk is different from coconut water, as the milk comes from the grated meat of the brown coconut. The water is what you drink out of a young green coconut with a straw on a Copacabana beach while wearing a speedo.

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The grated meat is then mixed with water and the grating process can be done by hand or by modern grating machines. We are mostly going to find it in canned form, which combines thick and thin milk together.

The rich flavor and creaminess of coconut milk comes from the high oil content — a large component of the milk is saturated fat. This fat is one of the healthy fats that should be part of your diet.

So, what are the health benefits that can come from consuming coconut milk? I’m glad you asked!

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1. Its Fat Comes From Beneficial Short- And Medium-Chain Fatty Acids

If you’re concerned about the saturated fat issue, these are the types of short-chain fats that are digested in a different way in the body than the long-chain ones. The medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed and transported directly to the liver, where they are burned for energy. They are not stored as fat and can actually have a fat-burning effect, called thermogenesis.

2. It Is High In Lauric Acid

Lauric acid makes up a large part of the fat in coconut milk. Lauric acid has some interesting health benefits, including anti-bacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Lauric acid has a disease-fighting ability, as well as being able to boost the immune system.

Lauric acid can also have the effect of making the blood vessels more elastic and help keep them clean. This is important for lowering the risk of things like heart disease and atherosclerosis.

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3. It Can Help Lower Cholesterol

If you eat a lot of packaged or fast food, you can be pretty sure you are consuming some pretty awful trans fats. These types of fats are used in manufactured foods in order to give the “foods” an improved texture, firmness, and mouthfeel. They also increase shelf life, which is likely the main reason why these things went into the products in the first place. It’s like a deadly preservative.

People who switched to foods containing lauric acid, like found in coconut milk, showed a favorable improvement in blood lipid profiles.

4. It Is Good For The Hair And Skin

The fats and vitamin E in coconut milk is what helps in making it effective at moisturizing the hair. Fresh coconut milk can help nourish the hair and promote hair growth. It also has the ability to help clean out your pours by removing dirt. It keeps the skin well hydrated and moisturized, and even has a slight exfoliating effect by being able to remove dead skin cells.

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And you even get to smell like a pina colada all day, without having to hear Jimmy Buffett sing.

5. It Is High In Fiber

The common high fiber choices are usually centered around grains like wheat bran, oat bran, and psyllium husk. Coconut milk can be included in here as it contains 2.2 grams of dietary fiber in a 100-gram serving. Soluble fiber can help promote healthy cholesterol levels, as well as combat heart disease. The other key thing is that the high fiber content helps promote feelings of fullness for longer, which can help in avoiding overeating.

Wrapping It Up

Coconut milk is something that’s very easy to use and really elevates dishes like soups and curries. It adds a creaminess and unique flavor to anything it’s added to and is great for those who need to avoid lactose. So, give it a whirl and feel free to share any ways you love to use it in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Pedro Cardoso via flickr.com

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Jamie Logie

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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