Licensed Massage Practitioner
The Fluid of Life
The Fluid of Life
“The coconut was the milk bottle on the doorstep of mankind”
Hugh C. Harries 1979 – Principes 23, 143-148
Since coconut water has been a lifesaver for many of mankind in the way of providing a source of the only drinking water available in some areas, and for its many noted health benefits, it has been referred to as the “fluid of life”.
Young coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk, is one of the highest energy foods on the planet and found in green (unripe) coconuts, along with young “pudding like” coconut meat. In Hawaii this delicious delicacy is called “spoon meat”, as it can be scraped off the shell very easily with a spoon.
Endosperm is the tissue produced inside the seeds of most flowering plants, around the time of fertilization, surrounding and providing the “embryo” with nutrition. Wheat endosperm is ground into flour, barley endosperm is a main component in the making of beer, and the endosperm tissue of the coconut fruit is the edible portions – coconut water and coconut meat. At first, the cellular endosperm of the coconut is translucent and “pudding like”, then hardens at maturity to fleshy white coconut meat. Nutrients in coconut water come from the seed, and are transported into the coconut meat.
Coconut trees grow on soil that has been enriched with minerals from volcanic ash and seawater, giving coconut water its high mineral content. Plants transport nutrient rich water from their roots to the endodermis. Young coconut water is rich in magnesium, calcium, and especially potassium, along with trace elements such as zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, and manganese – among others, and contains vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids including L-Arginine, natural sugars, enzymes and plant growth hormone factors as well. While the mineral content remains fairly constant, the sugar and protein concentrations increase as the nut matures.
For centuries, women from cultures that recognize the nutrient rich properties of coconut water, drank coconut water when pregnant and while breastfeeding to support the health of their babies. L-Arginine, contained in coconut water, is an amino acid and an essential nutrient required in babies.
As the baby is weaned off mother’s milk they are fed young soft coconut meat, and coconut water to keep them healthy and strong.
The Health Benefits of Coconut Water
Coconut water is the richest natural dietary source of cytokinins.
Cytokinins, in some respects similar to human hormones with a similar name of cytokines, are a group of plant growth hormones (phytohormones), also known as anti-aging hormones that regulate cell division and influence the rate at which plants age. Areas of plants that are deprived of cytokinins age faster than normal, and if more cytokinins are added to plants the normal aging process is slowed down or delayed.
One of the active sites of cytokinin production takes place in the roots of plants, and carried by sap throughout the plant, much like the human bloodstream disperses hormones in the body.
Studies on the growth factors in coconut water dates back to 1941 when Johannes Van Oberbeek, a Dutch plant physiologist, saw the effect of coconut water on the growth of a plant embryo. Oberbeek discovered that the plant’s baby cells grew faster when coconut water was added to the culture medium – much in the way like mother’s milk helps babies grow, and that if the coconut water was removed that growth slowed down.
Normal human cells, as they age go through a process of changes until they reach the stage in which they die. When cells are young they are smooth, plump and round, and as they age they flatten out, become irregular in shape, enlarge and fill up with debris.
In studies, cells treated with cytokinins age at a similar rate as untreated cells, but they remain significantly more youthful and functional throughout their lifespan, as they do not undergo the severe degenerative changes experienced by untreated cells. In all respects, their youth is extended into old age.
Research suggests that consuming a rich source of cytokinins has an anti-aging effect on the body, reducing the risk of developing degenerative and age related diseases.
Fresh young coconut water has been shown to act as an antioxidant, scavenging many types of destructive free radicals as well as protecting hemoglobin in the blood from nitrite-induced oxidation. When coconut water is heated or processed the benefits diminish significantly.
The anti-effects of cytokinins have been well documented. With the ability to regulate cell growth, cytokinins also prevent mistakes that may lead to the development of cancer. Normal cells are kept healthy while cancerous cells are programmed to die, preventing them growing and spreading.
A traditional method for treating cataracts involved putting several drops of coconut water into the eyes and putting a hot damp material over the eyes while lying down for 10 minutes.
Cholera is a condition noted for its high death rate, but when victims are treated with coconut water their survival rate increases to 97 percent.
Research has shown that coconut water has a positive effect on cholesterol. In one case study, blood cholesterol levels of HDL (good) cholesterol increased by 46.2 percent. The researchers indicated that liver cholesterol levels were reduced by 26.3 percent, and that the risk of atherosclerosis (a condition in which an artery wall thickens as a result of cholesterol) decreased by 41.1 percent.
The minerals in coconut water are in the form of electrolytes allowing them to be easily absorbed by the body, which is one of the reasons it works so well when one is suffering from heat stroke or dehydration, and in extreme cases can be more effective than drinking plain water or fruit juice to re-hydrate the body.
Diarrhea is a major health problem in many third world countries. In the Philippines it ranks second among the causes of death, killing nearly five million children there yearly. Coconut water has been useful in overcoming dehydration caused by this condition.
Dr. Sandhya VG, MD (Department of Biochemistry, University of Kerala, India), says that young coconut water has a protective effect on the liver, which is the largest gland in the body and controls metabolic actions such as excretion and the storing of vitamins. The researcher, conducting experiments on small animals, induced an industrial pollutant into the subjects. Some of the test subjects were given young coconut water and after 30 days it was found that their livers were functioning well, while toxicity remained in the others.
Diabetics are helped by drinking coconut water as it helps to dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and reduce plaque formation. Coconut water also contains certain forms of dietary fiber and amino acids that help moderate sugar absorption and improve insulin sensitivity.
The FDA, based upon convincing evidence, allows the manufactures of coconut water to carry the claim that it “may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke”. Young coconut water is high in both potassium and magnesium; minerals both linked as having the ability to lower blood pressure.
In 2005, a study published in the West Indian Medical Journal, found that 71 percent of the study group saw improvements in their blood pressure after drinking coconut water, twice a day for two weeks. The results demonstrated “significant decreases” in diastolic readings.
When a blood vessel is injured, the body uses platelets and fibrin to form a blood clot to prevent blood loss.
Coconut water contains the L-Arginine form of amino acid, one of the most common of the 20 amino acids. Dr. P. Anurag, a research biochemist at Kobe University in Japan, states, “Due to the antithromboitc (drug or substance that reduces blood clot formation) properties of Arginine, the clotting substance is converted into nitric oxide”.
Nitric Oxide (NO) is a free form gas produced by the body by breaking down the amino acid Arginine, and used by the body to communicate with other cells in the body. A paper prepared in May 1996 for the Royal Society and Association of British Science Writers, states, “”Summary research papers continue to flood the scientific journals and insights into the biological activity and potential clinical uses of nitric oxide (NO): a gas controlling a seemingly limitless range of functions in the body. Each revelation adds to nitric oxide’s already lengthy resume in controlling the circulation of the blood, regulating activities of the brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach and other organs.”
Coconut water is known as a heart tonic and used to strengthen and improve blood circulation. Studies (in animals) have shown that coconut water consumption reduces plaque formation in arteries thus reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Coconut water, with its many nutrients, gives the body the strength and energy needed to fight infections, and has been reported to be helpful in clearing up bladder infections.
“A coconut a day keeps the urologist away”, has become a popular saying in the Philippines.
Coconut water can be used to prevent kidney stones, as it is a natural diuretic, and as such increases urine flow thereby diluting the urine so that kidney stones are less likely to form.
But if they do form, Dr. Eugenio Macalalag, chief urologist at the General Hospital in the Philippines, says that coconut water has shown to be effective in patients suffering from kidney and urethral stone problems.
Coconut water injected through urethral catheters inserted up to where the stones are lodged, is a process called “Bukolysis” (buko is the word for coconut in the Philippines). The process results in significant daily decrease in size, disintegration of the stones, and their expulsion without the need for surgery.
Drinking coconut water two to three times a week, called Buko Therapy, has also been observed to decrease the size of kidney stones in a short period of time. Dr. Macalalag states that of his 1,670 patients who were recurrent stone formers, and who practiced the Buko Therapy, only 13 percent experienced a recurrence of kidney stones in a ten-year period, and the stones were small and passed out easily. Coconut water therapy is so effective that kidney stone patients are spared going through expensive medical procedures. Dr. Macalalag, jokingly complains that because the coconut water therapy is so effective he has suffered from “AIDS”, short for he calls “Acute Income Deficiency Syndrome”.
Dr. Macalalag, by infusing coconut water directly into the kidneys, or by having the patient drink coconut water regularly has been able to suspend dialysis.
As we age we long for the smooth plump skin of our youth. As the connective tissue in our skin begins to age and breakdown, our skin starts to lose its strength and elasticity, to form age spots and wrinkles, and becomes saggy and dry.
Cytokinins, due to the effect they have on human cells, are now beginning to show up in facial creams and lotions. When cytokinins are applied to the skin, they stimulate cell division of the connective tissue and replace older damaged tissue with younger and more functional tissue. This in turn results in wrinkles tending to flatten out and once older looking skin becoming smoother and softer.
Coconut water contains the same level of electrolytes (isotonic) found in human blood making it a superior natural sports drink for quick oral re-hydration. Normal body functions, not to mention performance, are severely compromised if adequate levels of electrolytes are not present, especially in the heat and/or when exercise goes beyond the two-hour mark.
Sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and chloride (all found in coconut water) are the most common mineral salts in the body and form electrolytes when they dissolve in body fluid. They are electrically charged and conduct electrical impulses, which is important, as the body needs electrical impulses in order to make muscle cells contract. They also play a significant role in keeping fluid levels normal in different areas of the body.
IV (intravenous) Solution
When coconut water is freshly extracted it is sterile and free of parasites. As it is similar to human plasma, it was a common practice to use coconut water as an IV solution in World War 11 and in Vietnam, when commercial IV solutions were often in short supply. Coconut water does not harm red blood cells, is non-allergenic, and is readily absorbed by the body.
A group of Kuwaiti scientists examined the estrogen-like effect of young coconut water on rats. They found that the estrogen levels in the rats without ovaries was comparable to or higher than rats with their ovaries confirming that young coconut juice does have estrogen-like characteristics.
Drinking Fresh Coconut Water
– What To Be Aware Of
Drinking young green coconut water is best when the coconut is picked fresh from the tree. To obtain fresh young coconut water one would have to risk climbing a very tall tree, hack the green immature coconuts from the bunch, slice the top off of the white husk, and punch a hole through the nut.
Most of the coconuts sold in North America are from Asia, and most likely irradiated or dipped in chemicals to extend their shelf life.
Coconuts are living material and continue to breathe after harvest. Attempts to capture the delicate flavor of fresh young coconut water have largely been unsuccessful. Once exposed to air, coconut water begins to ferment, and can ferment rapidly if exposed to micro-organisms introduced through improper handing, as well as rapidly losing most of its nutritional value.
To eliminate the risk of bacterial growth, commercial bottlers have been forced to sterilize coconut water by using high heat pasteurization, which destroys some of the coconut water’s nutrients, and almost all of its delicate flavor.
The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) was granted a patent – the first ever to a United Nation’s agency – for bottling coconut water using simple cold preservation technology, with very strict standards and procedures, that preserves its nutrients for up to three weeks, while remaining safe to consume.
Tetra paks of coconut water are showing up in markets, such as O.N.E., ZICO, and Vita Coco.
Cococin is a product, which aims to capture the nutritional value of green coconut water, in freeze dried powder form, which can be blended into dry products or as a drink as it easily dissolves in water.
If you are fortunate to live, or are on vacation where the “Trees of Life” grow, take advantage of the opportunity to drink young green coconut water daily. In Hawaii, cold, fresh green coconuts are sold, and cut open for you at country fruit stands along side of the road, or at the swap meet, which is sure to be a common practice in other areas as well.
Coconut water is essentially fat free. It is the coconut meat that contains the oil. To learn more about coconut oil, and what some consider the healthiest oil on earth, read Coconut Oil – The Healthiest of All Oils.
For More Information on Coconut Water
Coconut Water: for health and healing
Dr. Bruce Fife
This book can be purchased at Amazon or The Coconut Research Center.
The Coconut Research Center offers a host of information about coconut water and coconut oil. www.coconutresearchcenter.org