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The Basics of Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil

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Introduction

With the advent of the Internet, the general public has become much more knowledgeable about the specific chemicals that our in our food and other consumable items, such as CBD oils. But with as much information that is out there and with it coming from so many sources, things can get a bit confusing. Some experts may say that an ingredient in a food or CBD oil is healthy, while another scholar may point out some of the health hazards of the same ingredient—Medium Chant Triglyceride oil (MCT) is one such element commonly found in foods and some CBD oils. Studies have shown that diets rich in MCTs are beneficial to people with digestion problems, irritable bowl syndrome, some food allergies, and possibly even more severe ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease and autism. With that said, there are also drawbacks to increased MCT consumption. Since triglycerides are fatty acids and MCTs are specifically saturated fats, increased levels of MCTs in the body can result in a deficiency of necessary unsaturated fatty acids and some fat-soluble vitamins (Łoś-Rycharska et. al. 2016).

This article will briefly examine both the benefits and drawbacks of MCT consumption by reviewing a number of academic studies completed on the subject. The published works indicate that overall MCT oils are beneficial to the human body, but there are some potential pitfalls you should consider before embarking on a MCT rich diet. In the end, though, it will be shown that MCTs are extremely beneficial for an array of health maladies and that the ailments they address actually overlap with those that are often alleviated by a CBD oil regimen. 

MCT Background Facts

When it comes to understanding the importance of MCTs, knowing about essential fats is critical. MCTs are simply oils that contain medium length chains of fat, as opposed to Long Chain Triglyceride (LCT) oils. The shorter length of MCTs means they are easier for the body to digest and metabolize, which can help with a myriad of ailments, which will be discussed later in this article. MCTs are most commonly found in coconut oil and palm kernel oil and used as a food supplement or additive (O’Brien 2018). Since MCTs are saturated fats, there has been a tendency by many to view them negatively, but the reality is that fats are an important part of most normal diets.

Without diving too far into more arcane academic discourse, it is important to know how MCTs form in the human body and some of the effects they have, both positive and negative. When food is consumed by a person, fatty acids and monoglycerides from foods rich in MCTs undergo a process through which they are transformed into triglycerides. The MCTs are then metabolized and since their shorter length makes them easier to digest, they are transformed into energy that much quicker (Łoś-Rycharska et. al. 2016). Therefore, foods and oils with high amounts of MCTs are a good source of quick energy. But besides giving the consumer a surge of energy, MCTs can also help alleviate a host of health ailments.

Studies have shown patients who suffer from energy deficiency and digestion problems, which includes Crohn’s disease, have benefited from MCT rich diets (Łoś-Rycharska et. al. 2016). Other studies indicate that MCTs can prevent alcohol-induced liver injury by inhibiting the activation of the Kuppfer cells (Kono et. al. 2003) and regular supplementation of MCTs in obese patients’ diets have been linked to reduction in comorbidities associated with obesity, including heart and cardiovascular problems (Rial et. al. 2016). A well-regulated diet rich in MCTs has also been shown to reduce obesity and aid in weight loss.

One study has indicated a diet in MCT rich foods is conducive to weight loss, even more so than foods rich in olive oil, which is normally considered to be one of the healthiest oils (St. Onge et. al. 2008). Of course, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in many places throughout the world and is the primary factor for a number of health ailments known as the “metabolic syndrome”, which is a coalescing of the five health conditions of central obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high serum triglycerides, and low serum high density lipoprotein. The same study shows that a group of patients with obesity who were given a diet rich in MCTs showed a reduction in the overall metabolic syndrome, especially in their blood pressure (St. Onge et. al. 2008).

One of the primary factors behind MCT rich foods’ contribution to weight loss is due to the fact MCT oil has about 10% fewer calories than LCTs, which are abundantly found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados (O’Brien 2018). Also, as discussed briefly earlier, MCTs are digested quicker and passed to the liver where they are turned into quick bursts of energy, which can be used in exercise and other activities that aid in weight loss (O’Brien 2018). Clearly, MCT oils possess a number of positive attributes, but, they also have a few drawbacks one should consider before adding them to a diet.

Although all of the current studies about MCTs indicate they bring the consumer more benefits than harm, their use is not entirely devoid of potential problems. Most of the health benefits associated with MCT dietary supplementation take place over the short-term and experts warn that a long-term diet high in MCTs should be avoided (Łoś-Rycharska et. al. 2016). Despite MCT rich diets being conducive for weight loss, they can also stimulate the release of hunger hormones over the long-term. A study conducted on anorexia patients determined that MCTs increased the release of two hormones that stimulate appetite—ghrelin and neuropeptide Y—which is good news for anorexia patients but bad news for anyone planning to follow a MCT rich diet long-term for weight loss (O’Brien 2018). A long-term MCT rich diet can also possibly lead to fatty buildup on the liver, which is also something that needs to be considered (O’Brien 2018).

MCTs and Medical Treatments

Overall, the evidence supports MCTs as being good for one’s health when used properly. Besides aiding weight loss and mitigating health problems associated with being overweight, MCTs can be a useful weapon to combat a variety of series health problems. A 2003 study revealed that using MCTs could be a good way to protect the liver and intestines from endotoxemia, which is the presence of toxins in the blood (Kono et. al. 2003). Endotoxins can lead to septic shock and in the intestines they can cause alcoholic hepatitis, so protection against them is vital for patients fighting diseases that lower the body’s immunity to blood borne infections. Along with protecting the intestines from endotoxins, MCTs contain fatty acids that fight yeasts and bacteria, allowing for good intestinal health (Rial et. al. 2016).

Although most of the studies relating to MCTs and medical treatments are fairly recent, some have indicated that MCT rich diets, or using CBD oils with an MCT carrier oil, may also help alleviate the symptoms of a wide range of other health ailments and diseases. People afflicted with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and, autism may all benefit from MCTs in either their diets or CBD oils (O’Brien 2018). The research is still in its infancy, but there is little doubt even more medical benefits of MCTs will be discovered in the coming years.

Conclusion

Medium Chain Triglycerides are little known by most people and have just recently been given serious attention by academics and health care professionals. Because they are saturated fats, MCTs have been thought of somewhat negatively but, thanks to some new studies, we are now aware of some of the health benefits you can get from a diet rich in MCTs or, a CBD regime which uses MCTs as carrier oils. MCTs can help you lose weight and have been shown to mitigate the symptoms of some pretty serious health ailments.

References

Kono, H., H. Fujii, M. Asakawa, M. Yamamoto, M. Matsuda, A. Maki, and Y. Matsumoto. 2003. “Protective Effects of Medium-chain Triglycerides on the liver and Gut in Rats Administered Endotoxin.” Annals of Surgery 237 (February).  Accessed November 24, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12560783.

Łoś-Rycharska, Ewa, Zuzanna Kieraszewicz, and Mieczysława Czerwionka-Szafarska. 2016. “Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) Formulas in Paediatric and Allergological Practice.” Przeglad Gastroenterologiczny 11 (July). Accessed November 23, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209465/.

O’Brien, Shannon. 2018. “7 Science-based Benefits of MCT Oil.” Healthline.com. May 14. Accessed November 30, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mct-oil-benefits#section1.

Rial, Sabri Ahmed, Antony D. Karelis, Kar-F. Bergeron, and Catherine Mounier. 2016. “Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals.” Nutrients 8 (May). Accessed November 30, 2018.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882694/.

St. Onge, Marie-Pierre, Aubrey Bosarge, Laura Lee T. Goree, and Betty Darnell. 2008. “Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil Consumption as Part of a Weight Loss Diet Does Not Lead to an Adverse Metabolic Profile When Compared to Olive Oil.” Journal of American College of Nutrition 27 (October). Accessed November 26, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874191/.

 

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