Zinc--a critical element for autism

Zinc is detrimental in the nutritional healing process of autism, ADHD or other behavioral condition.

It is known to play a vital role in neonatal development and is involved in countless metabolic and signaling pathways within the body.

One of the many critical roles of zinc is in gastrointestinal function and gut-brain interaction. There is indication in some research that zinc deficiency among mothers during pregnancy can play a role in the development of gastrointestinal functions of infants/children.

Zinc is critically important for neurotransmitter production, thyroid function and hormone balancing.

Zinc has been found to improve cognition in children with autism and ADHD as well as lessen hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Zinc has also been found to play an important role in sensory integration as well as taste and smells with food. Because of this, zinc supplementation can sometimes be very beneficial in getting extremely picky eaters to try new foods.

Having zinc and copper serum levels checked are proving to be very helpful in knowing the right amount of supplementation to acquire. Zinc and copper ratios have shown in research to be a major indicator of severity of autism.

Studies indicate that zinc and copper have a huge impact on GABA neurotransmitters as well as mercury accumulation in bodily tissues.

The highest amounts of zinc are found most abundantly in oysters, lentils, and green peas. Absorption from food is typically only about 33% in healthy adults, which makes supplementation necessary in many individuals.

Zinc supplementation is also typically necessary to pull someone out of a deficient state. The recommended daily dose is 12-15mg for healthy individuals but may need more depending on signs, symptoms and nutritional status.

Speak to your healthcare provider or Clinical Nutritionist to have a better understanding of yours or your child’s individual needs.



Shawna Kunselman, MSACN

Contact me for more information






Bjourklund, G. , The role of zinc and copper in autism spectrum disorders,Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2013;73(2):225-36.,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23823984

 Guillermo Vela, Zinc in Gut-Brain Interaction in Autism and Neurological Disorders, Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 972791, 15 pages

Babaknejad N, The Relationship between Zinc Levels and Autism: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis., Iran J Child Neurol. 2016 Fall;10(4):1-9.



Nutrient Deficiencies are typically the Root Cause of Behaviors. Get the list of Most Needed Supplements for Behavioral Conditions!

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probiotics for optimal health


Probiotics for Autism, Autoimmune and More

Probiotics (good, healthy bacteria needed for gut and digestive health) are being recognized for helping in many conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), depression, anxiety, autism, ADHD, and many autoimmune conditions.


Front and center, gut health plays an important role in overall health and immune function. And now researchers are realizing that gut health is very important for brain health and function as well.


It is known that 70-80% of our immune system lies within the digestive tract, and up to 90% of serotonin levels are produced there. Serotonin is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter which is derived from tryptophan and Vitamin B6 is also needed to produce this. Serotonin is what most medications for depression, ADHD and anxiety work on. So keeping our gut health as healthy as possible is crucial to keep this neurotransmitter producing!


Many kids on the autism spectrum have problems related to gut health ranging from acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal bloating and pain. These physical symptoms are another area in which probiotics have been found to be very beneficial.
Many of these kids also have immunologic and metabolic problems which effect their behaviors and emotional health.


Taking care of some of these underlying issues can many times lead to improvements in behaviors and symptoms associated with autism, ADHD and sensory conditions.

In a small study published in Nature medical journal, results showed that when infants were given a specific strain of probiotic (lactobacillus rhamnosus strain), there were zero cases of autism and ADHD, whereas, in the placebo group, 17.1 percent had developed autism or ADHD.

Refer to the list of additional references below which show connection between autism, ADHD and probiotic need.
Additionally, probiotics and the gut microbiome (balance of good/bad bacteria) have been found to play a role in allergies and specifically food allergies. One particular study looked at lactobacillus rhamnosus  given to children with a positive IgE (skin prick allergy test) to peanuts. There was an 82% reversal of the peanut allergy from continued use of this probiotic (tested under close medical supervision). Digestive health matters!


There is even new implication in regards to gut health and childhood Type 1 diabetes and indication that new treatments for this condition may lie within gut function and probiotics.

Every one’s probiotic needs and dosages are different; feel free to contact me with any questions.














  • Custom Probiotics, Autism and Probiotics, http://www.customprobiotics.com/autism.htm
  • The Gut:  Our Second Brain, Documentary, Amazon Video, 2016
  • Wu H-J, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14. doi:10.4161/gmic.19320.
  • Grossi, E., et. al,Unexpected improvement in core autism spectrum disorder symptoms after long-term treatment with probiotics, SAGE Open Med Case Rep. 2016 Aug 26;4:2050313X16666231., March 2017
  • Navarro, F. Can Probiotics benefit children with autism spectrum disorders?, World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec 14;22(46):10093-10102. March, 2017
  • Partty, A,a possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood: a randomized trial, Nature, Vol 7:6, June 2015
  • Mimi, LK, Administration of a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy: A randomized trial, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol 135:3. pg, 737-744, March 2015
  • Gareau, MG, Cognitive Function and the Microbiome, Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:227-246, March, 2017
  • Aleksandar, D.,The Dynamics of the Human Infant Gut Microbiome in Development and in Progression toward Type 1 Diabetes, Cell Host & Microbe, Vol. 20, Issue 1, p121



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MTHFR- What You Need To Know

Methylation deficiencies and a defect in MTHFR are linked to many conditions/symptoms, including:


Frequent miscarriages


Hashimoto’s or Hypothyroidism

Delayed Speech


Bipolar or manic depression

Heart disease


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Autoimmune Conditions


MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrafolate-reductase) is a much needed enzyme in the body. It’s required for processing methylation and converting folic acid/folate in to an active form that the body can use. MTHFR is needed for many functions of the body including: repairing DNA, switching genes off and on, processing chemicals, hormones, building the immune system, producing energy and maintaining cells.

Not to be confused with the enzyme, the MTHFR gene provides the instructions for making that MTHFR enzyme—therefore, “triggering” the production of the enzyme. A mutation in the MTHFR gene may therefore affect enzyme function.
MTHFR gene mutations are thought to affect up to about 60% of the population.

Researchers suspect there may be at least 30 different types of this gene mutation with C677T and A1298C being the most studied and tested of these mutations. {This number and letter sequence refers to what is known as a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP (pronounced “snip”).}

Having a gene with a mutation does not mean that the gene is defective or nonfunctioning, only that it is working with an altered efficiency.

Although mutations can occur at any time during our lifetime, it is most likely that we are born with these mutations and will have them throughout our life.

This may provide an explanation as to why certain traits or diseases "run in the family".

Although we cannot change our genetic code, we can change how our genes are expressed.

Research has determined that our gene expression is not only distinguished by hereditary factors, but it is also influenced by our diet, nutritional status, toxic load and environmental influences or stressors. This phenomenon has been termed "epigenetics".

MTHFR dramatically affects Homocysteine- an amino acid linked to a wide range of health problems, and is an independent risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease. It is naturally formed in the body, but gets broken down by L-methylfolate (active folate). Due to MTHFR restricting active folate, homocysteine is significantly affected by this gene mutation.

MTHFR mutations don’t directly make you unwell.

Rather, they may cause an exaggerated response to poor diet or environmental factors that others can “get away with”.

If you lack vitamins and minerals as result of a poor diet, digestion or absorption, it limits the body’s ability to have proper methylation.


Because these nutrients are needed to help make the most active form of folate in your body known as methylfolate. There are several of the B vitamins that require activation before they are useful to the body.

This is why dietary considerations are so important for certain MTHFR mutations.

For instance, when people with an MTHFR genetic mutation are exposed to certain environmental factors (chemicals, food, poor air quality, vaccines, medications, etc), they have a harder time getting rid of them, which can cause immune dysfunction leading to many chronic conditions.

One of the ways the MTHFR gene mutation can make you susceptible to certain conditions is by lowering the body’s ability to make glutathione. People with MTHFR irregularities typically have low glutathione, which makes them more susceptible to stress and less tolerant to toxic exposures.

As the saying goes, “Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.”




Shawna Kunselman, MSACN



Bjelland I, Tell GS, Vollset SE, Refsum H, Ueland PM. Folate, vitamin
B12, homocysteine, and the MTHFR 677CT polymorphism in anxiety
and depression: the Hordaland Homocysteine Study, Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2003;60:618-626

Boris, M., MD, et.al, Association of MTHFR Gene Variants with Autism, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 9 Number 4 Winter 2004

Rosenblatt D. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase., Clinic of Investigative Medicine 2001;24:56-59

How to Fix Leaky Gut!

This is Part 2 of the Leaky Gut series. Check Part 1 out here which explains what Leaky Gut (Intestinal Hyperpermeability) is and why you should care!

As previously explained, up to 80% of our immune systems lie within our digestive tract. If it is out of whack, we will not have optimal health. This is the case with ailments from acne to eczema and arthritis, autoimmune conditions to autism, and even cancer,  heart disease and diabetes.

Many conditions lead to leaky gut including food sensitivities, pesticides in our foods and medications we take. As I have said before, our bodies are absolutely amazing and can heal themselves when given the right components and the right environment. Let’s take a look to see what can be done.

Functional medicine likes to refer to this as the “4R” approach. Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair.


  • We need to remove offending foods, alcohol, medications, and stress. Yes, I know this does not seem easy! But, once you start feeling better and optimizing your health, you will wonder why you waited so long to take this approach.
  • The most inflammatory foods tend to be gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, sugar, and corn. Are you asking yourself “What will I eat?” Try to focus on the foods you can have! There are many! Refer to my Getting Started Guide to see the best approaches to take and the most nutrient dense foods to eat.
  • Don’t remove any medications without speaking to your doctor! But, ask him/her which ones you may be able to get off. Once implementing a whole foods diet and removing offending foods which are causing inflammation and reactions in your body, most people find they are able to get off medications such as PPI (prevacid, Nexium, etc.), Statins, and NSAIDS. All of these wreak havoc on the digestive tract and therefore, the immune system. They inflame the gut lining and they prevent critical nutrients from absorbing.
  • Stress---Who doesn’t have it?! We all have stress…but we have to learn to effectively manage that stress. Take time for yourself; get a massage, go on a long walk, pray/meditate, do yoga, get out in nature. Nature in itself is truly healing. Find what you love to do and make sure to do it!



  • We need to replace the agents needed for optimal digestive support. Years of all of the above ↑↑ has diminished enzymes in our gut which is crucial for it to be at optimal performance.
  • Consider a short course of pancreatic enzymes and in some cases Betaine HCL; your Clinical Nutritionist or Functional Medicine practitioner can advise further in this area.



  • The good, friendly bacteria must be replaced. Antibiotic use wipes these healing bacteria away. Replenish them with a probiotic supplement including Lactobacilli and Biffidobacteria. These friendly bacteria in the colon produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide that keeps the growth of bad bacteria in check. They have been found to improve diarrhea in those taking antibiotics and have been found to be helpful in reducing the growth of yeast (very common in many ailments but especially autism—more on this in another article). These amazing bacteria also help support the integrity of the lining of the intestines. Fermented foods such as Bubbies Fermented Pickles and Sauerkraut are also awesome ways to get these good bacteria.


  • Pre-biotics---These feed the probiotics! If you are taking your probiotic in supplement form make sure it has FOS (fructooligosaccharides) added. Otherwise, you can eat bananas, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, asparagus and garlic to help feed the supply! 🙂



  • Now we have to repair the mucosal lining….remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Unfortunately, it is not an overnight process. However, the results are well worth it.
  • Regular aerobic exercise can help with this. Stress induced enzymes which disrupt the GI barrier is greatly reduced just with exercise alone.
  • Additional supplements may also be needed to further repair the gut lining, depending on the severity of leaky gut. Your functional medicine practitioner or Clinical Nutritionist can help guide you in this area.



If you have any questions or would like to set up a private consultation, Contact Me.


Good luck on your transition to optimal health!

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Favorite Autism Resources

When we first decided to change the way our family ate, it was challenging.

This was such a big change and it was something completely foreign to us. My husband was not on board with it in the least because we were literally taking out the only things in my son’s diet that he would eat. His diet was extremely limited and we were already facing the struggles of a diagnosis of autism.

We could not imagine trying to change this aspect of our lives at the moment. I did so much research in this time and needed to know *why* I was going to make the change. Understanding exactly how this was going to make a difference was so important to me and it would be easier to explain to and convince my husband if I had some real understanding.

Through time, I will continue to add to my blog posts to give you the same guidance and understanding. For those of you that like to look at the science , I will provide that. So much incredible research has been done over the last few years and is continuing to be done.

It seems that every month there is a new research article released discussing the benefits of gluten free diet with autism (and autoimmune conditions) and how vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well as the health of the gut microbiome (good vs bad bacteria in digestive tract) dramatically affect the symptoms while also showing some guidance toward further research looking for causal factors.

Through our journey, I read so many books and went to so many different websites. Here, I am listing some of the ones that were the most helpful in our journey. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like further guidance on this topic.



  • GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD


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6 Surprising Signs Your Child May Have Digestive Issues

As published on Zhou Nutrition

All disease begins in the gut”—Hippocrates.

Research over the past 2 decades is finding that many chronic health conditions begin with the health of our digestive systems. In fact up to 80% of our immune systems is set within our digestive tract.

If the GI is not well maintained it can lead to a host of health issues. Supporting our digestive tract is fundamental to health. 

The GI system digests nutrients from foods to use for energy growth and cell repair. Nutrients are broken down into carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are carried through the blood to cells throughout our bodies. A balance of good bacteria in the gut influences the intestinal immune responses and is critical for maintaining metabolic balance. Healthy digestion is crucial for making these steps play out.

Parents are surprised to learn that many of their child’s symptoms can actually be contributed to inflammation within their digestive system.

Some of These Symptoms Which May Be Traced Back to Imbalanced Digestion Are:


Inattention can be a result of food intolerance’s, hypothyroid or digestive inflammation. Determining the underlying issue is critical for determining the best treatment.

Trouble Falling and Staying Asleep

It is estimated that 20-30% of children have problems sleeping. Medications can be dangerous and throw off the body’s natural hormonal imbalance. Many times sleep issues can be related to a food sensitivity or imbalanced cortisol levels which can be related directly back to the health of the digestive tract.


Anger and irritability are some of the most common reasons parents seek help for their children and are among the most common reason for psychiatric hospitalization. The symptoms are typically treated with medication, but there is an underlying cause remaining. Up to 90% of serotonin is made in the gut and specific microbes and vitamins such as B6 are needed and necessary for this to occur efficiently. If there is an imbalance, serotonin production is not adequate which will then lead to many mental health issues.

Trouble Gaining Weight

If there is inflammation in the digestive tract, nutrients will not be properly absorbed and growth can slow.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is all too common in children and adults. This can lead to vomiting, heartburn and stomach and chest discomfort. PPI’s, which are the typical treatment, can cause many other problems including significant vitamin and mineral deficiency leading to many other health issues. Finding the underlying cause (which is typically an intolerance to a specific food) is key to getting reflux under control.


This can almost always be related to a food intolerance or inadequate intake of essential fatty acids. Many times, the food that is most intolerable with eczema is gluten.

If you are concerned that your child may have illnesses or a depressed immune system that could be leading back to proper and adequate digestion, it is best to have them sufficiently tested for food sensitivities and allergies. Once removing the problematic food, the body is able to begin to heal itself.

Nutrition should be individualized to promote the best optimal health.

Brandão-Neto J, et. al, Zinc acutely and temporarily inhibits adrenal cortisol secretion in humans. A preliminary report., Biol Trace Elem Res. 1990 Jan;24(1):83-9
Paddock, Catharine, Gut microbes important for serotonin production, Medical News Today, April 2015,
Bonciolini V, et al. “Cutaneous Manifestations Of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: Clinical Histological And Immunopathological Features. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26389946
Campbell AW. Autoimmunity and the Gut. Autoimmune Diseases. 2014;2014:152428. doi:10.1155/2014/152428.
Holzer, P, Neuropeptides, Microbiota, and Behavior. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:67-89.
Maqsood R, The Gut-Brain Axis, BDNF, NMDA and CNS Disorders. Neurochem Res. 2016 Nov;41(11):2819-2835.

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autoimmune, nerves, diet, nutrition, autism

Are Autoimmune Conditions Reversible?

Autoimmune Conditions Result From Chronic Inflammation

Many times when someone has an autoimmune disorder, they will eventually be diagnosed with another autoimmune condition. So someone may have Rheumatoid Arthritis and Hashimoto’s and/or Multiple Sclerosis.

This is because autoimmune conditions are a malfunction of the entire immune system --which is a complex system which should work together. When it fails to work properly the body begins to literally attack itself.

Severe inflammation from a combination of genetic factors, dietary triggers, food intolerance's and environmental toxins keep the immune system in overdrive which eventually causes the body’s tissues to attack themselves and settle in specific organ system.

Typically, a person will see a separate doctor for each condition and be placed on multiple medications for each condition without the doctors ever conversing with each other over the conditions. What is missing with this way of the thinking is what exactly is causing this inflammation and what can be done about it, rather than just covering the symptoms?

Can we find what is causing the inflammation and remove it from our life as much as possible to reduce the inflammation and possibly even the autoimmune condition? The answer is quite possibly, yes!

Autoimmune conditions in many times can be reversible or in the very lease, symptoms will dramatically improve while you feel your best and get your body to optimal health! Yes, it takes dedication and work, but through elimination diets, monitoring inflammatory markers, removing offending environmental toxins and supporting the body with nutrients that are lacking, the body can begin to heal itself!

eczema, nutrition


So many people suffer from eczema! If you have ever had it, you know how irritating it can be. Eczema is a dermatitis condition caused by an allergic inflammatory response.Eczema can stand alone or be common with those who also have autoimmune conditions or children with autism spectrum or ADHD.

Symptoms can range from very mild to very severe. There are many possible triggers to eczema but one of the most common is gluten and/or dairy.

In one specific study, it was found that the eczema in the group of patients was not improved with standard medical treatment (corticosteroids), however, “showed prompt resolution when GFD (gluten free diet) was introduced”.

Corticosteroid medication, the typical treatment for eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions, can come with many side effects including deficiencies in the following nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin D, Calcium, and Phosphorus.

Lowered immunity and adrenal problems are common potential risks of taking corticosteroids.

The food/eczema connection has been established and should be considered when looking for treatment options.

Also, be on the lookout for other signs of leaky gut/gut dysbiosis, such as digestive issues, other allergies, and behavioral conditions. Tune in to what specific foods he/she consumes most often/or craves- -many times these are the foods which may be problematic.

Some other areas of assessment which can be considered are Allergy Antibody Assessment, looking at both IgE and IgG levels as well as assessing for fatty acid imbalance.

Many times, essential fatty acids such as Evening Primrose Oil or Fish Oil can also help dramatically with skin conditions such as eczema.

Bonciolini V, et al. "Cutaneous Manifestations Of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: Clinical Histological And Immunopathological Features. - Pubmed - NCBI". Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26389946

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apple, autism, digestion, autoimmune, nutrition

Why is Digestive Health so Important?


Research over the past 2 decades is finding that most chronic health conditions begin with the health of our digestive systems. An unhealthy gut contributes to disorders such as diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis. There is growing evidence that our gut microbiome (balance of good and bad bacteria) can even contribute to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well.

So, what makes the Gastrointestinal (GI) system so crucial?

The GI system digests nutrients from foods to utilize for energy growth and cell repair. Nutrients are broken down into carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are carried through the blood to cells throughout our bodies. This bacteria influences the intestinal immune responses and is critical for maintaining metabolic balance. Vitamins and Minerals are cofactors for enzymatic reactions and metabolism and all of these nutrients are precursors to neurotransmitters. In fact, the greatest concentration—up to 90% of serotonin (the neurotransmitter that stabilizes our moods) is in the digestive tract. Just as a small example, most B vitamins (which the majority of people are deficient in) is mandatory for the body to produce serotonin. The GI tract is now being referred to by many experts as the “second brain”, as it contains hundreds of millions of neurons—even more than the spinal cord peripheral nervous system.

70%-80% of our immune systems lies within our digestive tract. It is our physical barrier of defense against harmful bacteria, viruses, etc. With this close link between the digestive tract and our immune system, if the GI is not well maintained it can lead to a host of health issues and multiple auto immune diseases. Intestinal permeability (or leaky gut) is recognized as a leading contributor to multiple diseases such as autoimmune, cancer, autism, diabetes and even heart disease.

What is Leaky Gut?

As mentioned, the intestinal wall is a first line of defense for the immune system. If the cells of the intestinal wall become weak, waste and foreign matter (toxins, yeast, bacteria, etc.) are able to pass out of the bowels and into systemic circulation. The damaged microvilli inhibits specific digestive enzymes from breaking down foods for needed nutrients in the body. Undigested foods also “leak” through the intestinal wall. This increased permeability of the intestinal wall leads to the escape of specific materials which then triggers an inflammation. This chronic inflammatory reaction is what eventually leads to disease.

What are some of the symptoms of leaky gut?

Symptoms of “leaky gut” (intestinal permeability) vary from person to person. The chronic inflammation can settle in various places throughout the body causing an array of different symptoms. Common symptoms associated with leaky gut are:

• Multiple food sensitivities—a sign that your body is creating a response to everything you are eating.

• Multiple nutritional deficiencies—a sign that there is improper breakdown and absorption of the foods you are eating.

• Skin rashes—your body is trying to dump the released toxins through your largest organ—your skin

• Chronic diarrhea and constipation—signs of inflammation of the intestinal walls

• Frequent illness—poor immune system resulting from your body being in constant immune response with its own body and unable to tend to the constant bacteria and viruses encountered day to day

• Headaches, brain fog, memory loss and chronic fatigue—signs of inflammation and toxin buildup

• Cravings for sugar (carbs), gas, bloating and anxiety—signs of Candida (yeast overgrowth) in the gut caused by the leaky gut

All of these symptoms can lead back to one thing---a constant inflammatory state in the digestive tract which is allowing the flow of undigested particles through the blood stream. If leaky gut is not taken care, chronic disease as mentioned earlier can erupt.

Refer to Article #2 in this series to learn how to fix leaky gut.

1. Campbell AW. Autoimmunity and the Gut. Autoimmune Diseases. 2014;2014:152428. doi:10.1155/2014/152428.
2. Wu H-J, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14. doi:10.4161/gmic.19320.
3. Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 2008;153(Suppl 1):3-6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x.
4. Mayes MD. Epidemiologic studies of environmental agents and systemic autoimmune diseases. Environ Health Perspect. 1999;107 Suppl 5:743-8.
5. Lerner A, Matthias T. Changes in intestinal tight junction permeability associated with industrial food additives explain the rising incidence of autoimmune disease. Autoimmun Rev. 2015;14(6):479-89.

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coconut oil benefits, autoimmune conditions, heart disease, nutrition

Coconut Oil!

The health related questions I get asked most frequently are about coconut oil. “How do I use it?” “What are the benefits?” “How should I add it to my diet?” “What about the saturated fat content?”

There are many amazing health benefits to coconut oil!

It is loaded with antioxidant properties and is a great source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs are easily digested and can be used immediately for energy production. Coconut oil also does not produce any spikes in insulin which makes it a great source for a quick energy burst. It is sent straight to the liver for energy production and can boost metabolism. Coconut oil has high amounts of lauric acid (over 40%) which is also found in human breast milk and provides many outstanding benefits including boosting our immune systems. Our bodies convert the lauric acid to monolaurin which has been found to destroy viruses such as influenza and measles, and when combined with oregano oil can even attack bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in in vitro studies. Coconut oil has amazing antimicrobial benefits and can also be used effectively on athlete’s foot and ring worm.

There has been some concern in the past regarding the high saturated fat content of coconut oil. These concerns have been put to rest as study after study have shown there are cardioprotective effects of coconut oil. It has been shown to increase HDL’s (the good cholesterol), decrease LDL’s (the bad cholesterol) and lower blood pressure. The high lauric acid content of coconut oil has been shown to be effective in helping to prevent atherosclerosis. There is even research about its protective qualities against Alzheimer’s.

Amazingly, this oil can also show improvement in focus and concentration in those with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. It is fantastic for thyroid health and can help increase bone strength because of its ability to assist in better absorption of calcium, Vitamin D and other important nutrients. Because it is sent directly to the liver for immediate energy use, it is not stored as fat and can actually help in weight loss.

We use coconut oil for literally everything in our house! We cook with it, bake with it, use it on sunburns, use it as a diaper cream. It's also fantastic for rashes, bug bites, as a makeup remover, facial cleanser, moisturizer, overnight hair masque, lip balm, shaving lotion, and toothpaste. I even blend it in my coffee (Bulletproof Coffee :)).

This fabulous oil can be used in replace of almost any cooking oil and it has a high burn temperature so it is really one of the best oils for cooking at high temperatures. I use it to scramble eggs and sauté vegetables. Additionally, we will add it to our smoothies (blended) and oatmeal. I’ll add a tablespoon to soups and stews which also helps aid in the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and various minerals in the vegetables.

This oil even has useful benefits around the home including getting gum out of hair or fabric or being used on squeaky door hinges. It is a very versatile oil with many benefits!

Chen CH, et al. 'An Innate Bactericidal Oleic Acid Effective Against Skin Infection Of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus: A Therapy Concordant With Evolut... - Pubmed - NCBI'. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
Fernando WM, et al. 'The Role Of Dietary Coconut For The Prevention And Treatment Of Alzheimer's Disease: Potential Mechanisms Of Action. - Pubmed - NCBI'. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
Feranil AB, et al. 'Coconut Oil Is Associated With A Beneficial Lipid Profile In Pre-Menopausal Women In The Philippines. - Pubmed - NCBI'. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
Babu AS, et al. 'Virgin Coconut Oil And Its Potential Cardioprotective Effects. - Pubmed - NCBI'. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
Yeap SK, et al. 'Antistress And Antioxidant Effects Of Virgin Coconut Oil In Vivo. - Pubmed - NCBI'. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

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