Q: Is virgin coconut oil (VCO) bad for you since it contains high level of saturated fats, and raises cholesterol levels?

A: No. This is a common misconception about coconut oil. The medium chain fatty acid, Lauric acid (C12) makes up for around half the fatty acid contained in VCO. While it is true that Lauric acid raises cholesterol levels, most of the increase can be attributed to an increase in the GOOD blood cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Q: What is Extra Virgin Coconut Oil?

A: There is no such thing as Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. ‘Extra Virgin’ is a standard exclusive to olive oil, used to describe the level of free acidity in the oil. Unlike olive oil, here is no international certification for ‘extra virgin’ coconut oil, thus the term is purely used for marketing purposes and is virtually meaningless.

When purchasing coconut oil the only thing to look out for is whether it is made from fresh coconut or from copra, the dried coconut kernel. VCO is obtained from the first, by mechanical or natural means, while the later is made into refined, bleached, deodourised (RBD) coconut oil. While the two do not differ in fatty acid compositions, VCO is a better antioxidant due to its higher levels of phenolic acid.

Q: What is the best way to eat grains?

A: It is recommended that you soak the grains over night, or for 24 hours, and let it sprout if possible, before eating them.

Whole grains contain antinutrients such as tannin, phytic acid, and enzyme inhibitors, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Phytic acid especially can cause mineral deficiency if consumed at large amounts. Researchers have found that by soaking and sprouting the seeds, antinutrient compounds in grains can be significantly decreased.

Sprouting whole grains can also increase the nutritional values of the seeds. During germination, metabolic activity of the grains increase, causing increase in B vitamins and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) content. The more complex starch is also broken down by enzyme activity into simpler sugars that are easier to adsorb.

You should purchase unprocessed, untreated whole grains, or they would not sprout. Also take care not to buy grains that are meant for sowing, because they might be chemically treated. When soaking and sprouting make sure that the equipment and water used are clean and sanitized, to prevent possible contamination. We also recommend sprouting on a sponge medium instead of paper towels or cloths to avoid molding.

Q: What is gluten?

A: Gluten, from the Latin for “Glue”, is a sticky protein composite found in cereal grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. It is a key nutrient in the grains themselves, and also an important source of protein used in making imitation meat, such as mock duck, seitan and Tofurkey. It is also a good stabilizing agent, used widely in products such as ketchup, ice cream, soy sauce and beer.

Q: Why are some people allergic to gluten?

A: While most people can consume gluten without any trouble, 1% of the world’s population have Coeliac disease, which is not a food allergy but an autoimmune reaction triggered by eating gluten. It is an autoimmune disorder of the digestive system where the body’s immune system attacks the villi covering our small intestines, causing symptoms such as pain, discomfort of the digestive track, constipation, diarrhea, anemia and fatigue.

However, about 5% of the global population have gluten sensitivity, or gluten intolerance. These people have a hard time digesting gluten but have been tested negative for Coeliac disease.

People who are gluten-intolerant adopt a gluten-free diet to avoid any complications. Some examples of gluten-free foods can be found here: http://www.drperlmutter.com/eat/list-of-gluten-free-foods/

Q: Do oats contain gluten?

A: Oats belong in a different phylogenetic group to other cereals such as wheat, rye and barley. They contain a different protein group, globulins, as opposed to prolamines such as gluten. Therefore it is safe for a coeliac patient to consume considerable amount of oats (50g or more).

The major concern is consuming oats that are “contaminated” with other wheat, rye or barley. So, even if oats are completely acceptable in a gluten-free diet, patients with coeliac disease should take care to only consume oat products that are specified gluten-free, or made especially for coeliac customers.

Q: What is Barley Grass good for?

A: Barley grass (Hordeum vulgare) is the leaf of the barley plant, as opposed to the grain. It can often be found as a dietary supplement in the form of barley grass powder, made from young green barley leaves.

Barley grass contains high amount of alkaline. As you age, the body’s metabolism tends to become slower and you often hear complaints from the elderly about heartburns. This is due to excessive acid build up, causing uncomfortable cardiac pains. Consuming barley grass drink will help to establish an acid-alkaline (pH) balance in the body, alleviating problems such as sleeping disorders, constipation and heartburn.

Barley grass is also suitable for gout patients. As gout is caused by the excessive  accumulation of uric acid in the body, the high alkaline barley grass can balance that and reduce the body’s acidity. However, results will NOT be immediate but gradual as barley grass is meant for use as a herbal supplement, not as cure or treatment to any disease.

Q: Can cancer patients consume barley grass drinks?

A: The short answer would be yes. However it should be noted that there is no clinical data on the cancer-preventive properties of barley grass. That being said, it is safe for consumption by cancer patients of any type. Barley grass has the ability to protect the body tissues from carcinogens (agents that cause cancer) as it has chlorophyll and other anti-oxidation properties. Superoxide dismutase & Catalase enzyme present in barley grass can also decompose and neutralize the effects of toxic hydrogen peroxide, thus suppressing the proliferation of cancer cells.