The exotic coconut: The ‘super nut’ (Part 3)

Updated 07 April 2015

The exotic coconut: The ‘super nut’ (Part 3)

Last week in Part 2, I went into details, explaining the multiple benefits of the nutrient-dense coconut water, even though I still feel I did not give it the credit it deserves. However, I shall deviate a little from my subject, the coconut, because I would like to add one important factor that is many times neglected by allopathic medicine in children and the elderly after dehydration and hospitalization.
Mainstream medicine overlook the fact that patients (young or old), who spend days, weeks, and sometimes months hospitalized or convalescing due to surgery, acute infections, chemotherapy, or chronic diseases, become drained from vitally important nutrients, healthy intestinal bacteria (microflora), enzymes, and antioxidants, which defend the body against viruses, bacteria, infections, disorders, and cancer. Depletion is often the aftermath of severe illnesses, strong antibiotics, powerful drugs, oxidative stress, and poor nourishment due to extended intravenous feeding, which is usually limited to saline and glucose solutions and maybe a few important minerals.
To prevent deficiencies, young and older patients should be prescribed multi-vitamin and-mineral supplements, probiotics, enzymes and antioxidants to re-invigorate their health and bolster their immune systems to avoid relapses and succumbing to other bacterial and viral infections, weakness, depression, and malnourishment or face antibiotic resistance. Nutrient deficiencies could result in weak bones and obstructed growth in adolescents and incapacitation in older adults. Unfortunately, certain medical doctors do not even believe in the supplements mentioned above.
Children, who experience dehydration and deficiencies and don’t get enough nutrients after leaving the hospital, could suffer from mal-development in their bone structure (weak thin bones), mental conditions (depression…), poor vision, and more, especially during their critical growth periods. Mainstream medicine does not pay much attention to this aspect of health.
Parents and caregivers should become more aware about the nourishment of debilitated and immune deficient patients. This also applies to seniors, particularly after taking antibiotics and longterm strong drugs, which deplete their intestinal microflora (internal “beneficial” bacteria), nutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants. Deficiencies should be corrected immediately with supplements, probiotics, vegetable juices, healthy oils like fish, olive, and coconut oils and nutrient rich foods (chicken, meat with bone, and vegetable broths). The treating physician should address this aspect urgently to boost their immune systems; otherwise patients could become exposed to weakness, infections, viruses, depression, and other disorders.
This is only an after-thought and I felt I had to share this aspect of malnutrition with you. Now, I shall return to my subject of coconut, which I call the “super nut.” Today, I shall tackle the “cure-all” coconut oil.
For several decades, medical science put a cross on coconut oil and added it to the group of “forbidden” fats for being another saturated fat similar to animal and dairy fat. People naturally avoided, fearing cardiovascular plaque, heart disease, and strokes.
Though I never fancied the strong odor or taste of the oil (because it was not sold very fresh), I rejected the notion that coconut oil was bad for health. The incorrect wisdom of its being harmful to heart health did not appeal to the rational part of my brain. For millenniums, billions of people from Southeast Asia to the Far East to the Pacific Islands depended and thrived on the plant and its oil in cooking, caring for their hair and skin, treating infections and disorders, massaging their bodies, moisturizing their skin and lips, healing wounds and scars, and more. This tree deserves to be called “the tree of life” by the natives; so very dependent they are on it in their livelihood. It is also the “gift of nature” to them as the date is to the desert dweller. That is why after doing my research on the nut, I decided to walk you through the myriads of benefits of this multi-healing oil.
Recently, more and more studies have not shown only the health benefits of coconut oil, but also its curative properties as well as its reversing effect on different disorders. Earlier, I discussed the many traditional uses of the coconut by the natives of the wide kingdom of the coconut trees and let me tell you that these people come not only in millions but also in billions. Cardiovascular disorders and heart disease were neither typical of that region nor prevalent. Like us in this country, the Pacific islanders were never more obese or diseased than after changing their diets to the modern fast food diet.
The coconut and all its parts are used in food, beauty care products and as medicine, but the oil stands out. It is a wonder, provided it is freshly extracted from organic coconuts. Now, I shall start with its skin benefits.
Coconut oil is very moisturizing to the skin, when applied on wet or moist skin after showering. The age-old oil has been a favorite in the care of skin. Even the modern beauty care industry includes it in most of their products. It is used on the skin to nourish, moisturize, smooth, and prevent it from bacterial infections. Due to its light and soothing texture, it makes a good body and face lotion. Its fluidity makes it ideal for removing eye and skin make-up economically. It is the perfect skin hydrant. It also balances the skin and gives it a glow along with a sweet smell, especially when the oil is very fresh.
Because of its anti-aging properties, coconut oil can be mixed with the daily moisturizer and night cream to smooth and nourish the skin simultaneously while acting as a filler to the fine aging lines around the eyes (crow’s feet), around the lips, and on the forehead by plumping the skin.
Due the oil’s richness in nutrients, it prevents stretch marks around the belly, breasts, thighs, hips, and arms during pregnancies. It is more nourishing to the skin than commercial creams and safer and cheaper.
Because of the antibacterial agents in coconut oil, it has the ability to deodorize the skin, under the arms, and feet (athlete’s foot) by killing bacteria and yeast, thus neutralizing all kinds of body odors, without leaving harmful side effects like deodorants, antiperspirants, and antifungal creams. Antiperspirants clog the pores under the arms, affecting the glands.
Coconut oil can also be used as a light sunscreen (SPF4) alone or mixed with a good sun-blocking lotion. At the same time, it can be applied as a safe sun-tanning lotion.
The healthy fatty acids in the oil have potent antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial actions to protect and heal superficial skin abrasions and skin and fungal infections, including toe and nail fungal infections. To treat athlete’s foot, rub the oil twice a day deeply into the skin and nails and in between the toes and then wear thick socks. It also deodorizes the feet as well. You should change the infected shoes after the treatment.
Due to its soothing effect, smooth texture, and aromatic scent, coconut makes an ideal relaxing foot and body massage oil after a stressful day. Its smoothness makes the hands easily glide on the surface of the skin, thus penetrating it for further benefits and extra softness.
Next week, I shall continue with coconut oil’s other surprising and curative benefits. Never underestimate what nature has provided for us. Think before you rush to your medicine cabinet or the pharmacy.
• Coconut Water Nutrition Facts
• D O Ogbolu, A A Oni, O A Daini, A P Oloko. In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria. J Med Food. 2007 Jun;20(2):384-7. PMID: 17651080
Individuals with medical conditions or on medication should consult their physicians when they decide to introduce anything new in their diet even if it is natural.
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Why Saudi Arabia and Middle East must plan for Alzheimer's care challenge

Many people wrongly associate dementia with ageing, experts warn. (Supplied)
Updated 22 September 2019

Why Saudi Arabia and Middle East must plan for Alzheimer's care challenge

  • World Alzheimer's Month is marked every September to raise awareness and challenge stigma
  • Experts say misconceptions about dementia in Saudi Arabia and wider region must be challenged

ABU DHABI: Incurable and increasingly prevalent, dementia is a disease that today affects about 50 million people worldwide. Millions more are diagnosed each year with the most common neurodegenerative form: Alzheimer’s disease. The risks generally increase with age, but many people develop symptoms of dementia before they reach the age of 65.
Inheritable genetic conditions can lead to familial or early-onset Alzheimer’s, which can afflict people as young as 30.
Despite growing awareness of the global impact of dementia, experts say lingering misconceptions around the disease persist in the Middle East, often leading to late diagnosis, stigma and social isolation.
World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia, is marked every September.
The 21st of the month is recognized as the official day to improve public awareness and attitudes regarding the disease.
Experts say there is an immediate need to challenge misconceptions and help some of the most vulnerable people in Middle Eastern communities.
“In my experience, awareness about Alzheimer’s is quite low in the region, so people don’t know too much about this disease,” Dr. Karoly Zoltan Vadasdi, a neurology specialist at Dubai’s Canadian Specialist Hospital, told Arab News.
“There’s an immediate need to take steps or some measures to address this lack of awareness because Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia in elderly patients, especially those above the 60-65 age group.”
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, which can start developing decades before obvious symptoms emerge. The disease, which is notoriously hard to slow down, continues to baffle medical scientists despite years of extensive research.
Part of the problem with developing a cure is that the causes of Alzheimer’s are still not fully understood. The disease is also challenging to combat because it is not caused by an invading pathogen, but arises from an individual’s own biology.


● Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of ageing.

● Early symptoms include memory problems, increasing confusion, reduced concentration and personality changes.

● Middle-stage symptoms include forgetfulness about recent events and people’s names, becoming lost at home, increasing difficulty with communication, and needing help with personal care.

● Late-stage symptoms include memory disturbances becoming serious, behavioral changes, loss of awareness of time and place, and difficulty walking and recognizing loved ones.

● Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60–70 percent of cases.

However, for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s, which doctors can spot through brain scans and lumbar punctures, the picture is not entirely bleak. Some medications can reduce memory loss, treat changing cognitive symptoms and aid concentration. Nevertheless, experts say it is essential to further educate the public about the early stages of dementia.
According to 2019 statistics made available by the Saudi Health Ministry, there are 130,000 cases of Alzheimer’s in the Kingdom. Despite the high number, public knowledge about the condition remains limited.
For a 2018 report entitled “Perception and attitude of the general population towards Alzheimer’s disease in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,” author Hussein Algahtani and his research team interviewed 1,698 residents in shopping malls and public places.
They found that while 89 percent of participants had heard of Alzheimer’s, 44.9 percent believed that it is a normal part of ageing.
About a third of those asked believed that Alzheimer’s is treatable with medication, while 24.6 percent thought there is no treatment, and about 30 percent believed Saudi society stigmatizes people with the disease.
“There are many conflicting beliefs about Alzheimer’s disease in the general population,” said Algahtani, adding that conducting a study on “public awareness, attitude and knowledge” of it “is useful in decreasing discrimination and stigmatization.”
“The results of the study suggest that the perception of the general public of Alzheimer’s disease is lagging behind,” he said. “Many wrong beliefs were identified in the general public regarding the causes and management,” he added. “The findings of our study suggest that more information about Alzheimer’s disease would be valuable and beneficial for everyone,” said Algahtani.
“Awareness campaigns and public education are needed to increase the knowledge of the public regarding aspects of the disease, including prevention, causes and management,”
he added. “Dissemination of information about Alzheimer’s disease should be of high priority. Increased awareness will lead to earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia cases, and appropriate care and management of those persons.”
The conclusions of Algahtani’s report do not surprise Vadasdi, who said: “The disease is underdiagnosed in the Middle East, which stems from a misconception about Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
Vadasdi added: “Most people incorrectly associate dementia with senility, and believe that declining mental health is a normal part of ageing.”
He said: “It’s true that when people get older they get a bit forgetful and become a little slower in thinking, but dementia is never caused by ageing itself.
“It’s important to emphasize that Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease, which means there’s a gradual loss of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain.”
Vadasdi said: “Another misconception is that Alzheimer’s or dementia is inherited. People are afraid that if one of their parents has it, they’ll inherit the disease.”
What is undeniable, though, is that full-blown Alzheimer’s is devastating for the patient and has a knock-on effect on family members and friends. “Those who suffer from dementia need continuous, sometimes even 24-hour supervision, depending on the severity of the disease and the loss of cognitive abilities,” said Vadasdi.
“It’s a huge burden for family members, both emotionally and financially. Patients can also suffer from depression or become anxious, agitated or paranoid because of the loss of cognitive functions, including memory, orientation, perception. Family members need a lot of patience when looking after the patient.”
It is believed that more than 2.3 million people in the Middle East and North Africa live with dementia, although the figure is hard to verify.
Some countries have no organization to address the challenge posed by dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Even as he points to an “urgent need to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s in society,” Dr. Hania Sobierajska, a specialist in internal medicine at the UAE’s Bareen International Hospital, praises local health authorities for conducting campaigns and workshops to reduce barriers to diagnosing the disease.
The Saudi Alzheimer’s Disease Association (SADA), one of 90 associations that make up Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), provides support and assistance to patients and their families. To mark World Alzheimer’s Day, the Saudi Health Ministry hosts awareness drives across the Kingdom.
Via SADA, the ministry pays for live-in carers and weekly visits by doctors, nurses, psychologists and therapists, in addition to transport costs and medication.
SADA holds workshops, online training courses for carers, and year-round awareness campaigns on TV, radio and social media.
“Six years ago we hadn’t even heard about the word Alzheimer’s, but lately it has become known through word of mouth, albeit merely as a disease about forgetfulness,” said SADA’s Sara Al-Rasheed. Sobierajska said “the number of communities supporting those with Alzheimer’s” across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) bloc is “insufficient.”
While researchers and scientists continue to hunt for a cure, in a region where over-65s make up only a tiny percentage of the population, cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s are likely to surge as the population ages. Experts say Saudi Arabia and the wider GCC must plan for a health burden that will only grow.