Healthy weight loss, instant source of energy, prevents yeast and bacterial growth, gut health, reduces risk of heart diseases, easier to digest, helps satisfy your stomach, supports hormones and controls blood sugar levels are some of the health benefits of MCT oil during pregnancy.
You might have heard about many oil types in your life: like the various essential oils and saturated oils available in the market, which you can easily select according to your preference. But have you ever tried the MCT oil which is now gaining its recognition in the list of healthy oils for its health benefits. In this article we will be learning about what exactly MCT oil is, how it is made and what are the health benefits of this oil during pregnancy.
What is MCT Oil?
MCT short form for ‘Medium-chain triglycerides’ are a type of fat that is found in certain oils, breast milk and dairy products. MCTs are most commonly extracted from coconut and palm kernel oils. They are rarer and notably different in their chemical makeup; they contain between six and 12 carbon chains, compared to the long chain triglycerides (LCTs) containing more than 12 carbon chains found in most other dietary fats. For this reason, MCTs are more effectively absorbed and utilized by the body which provides immediate energy instead of being stored as fat.
MCTs are a ‘natural fuel’ for the body and brain, since it is a great source of healthy fats that can help improve sports performance, cognitive ability, weight management, gut and heart health.
Why MCT Oil?
MCTs are recommended for patients who cannot tolerate other types of fats. Some researchers say that MCTs produce chemicals in the body that might help fight Alzheimer’s disease. These fats might also result in weight loss because the body uses them in a different way to other types of fats. MCTs are used as a source of energy or turned into ketones. Ketones are substances produced when the liver breaks down a lot of fat, and they can be used by the brain for energy instead of glucose or sugar. Isn’t this a good reason for why you should give MCT oil a try?
Types of MCT Oil
There usually are 4 different types of MCTs. They are as follows:
Caproic Acid (C6-six carbons)
- Converts quickly to ketones
- Makes up about 1% of the total MCTs in coconut oil
Caprylic Acid (C8-eight carbons)
- Maintains a healthy gut
- The most efficient fatty acid after C6
- Makes up 12% of the total MCTs in coconut oil
Capric Acid (C10-ten carbons)
- Turns into ketones quickly in the liver
- Little bit slower than C8 during the ATP process
- Makes up 18% of the MCTs in coconut oil
Lauric Acid (C12-twelve carbons)
- Has a slower metabolism process
- The most inefficient of all MCTs
- Makes up 77% of MCTs in coconut oil
9 Amazing Health Benefits of MCT Oil During Pregnancy
MCTs also have the similar benefits like that of coconut oil, but since it is more concentrated, MCT oil is gaining people’s attention these days. There are several potential health benefits of MCT oil. Some of these benefits are supported by scientific evidence, whereas the others are yet to be proven. Let us now look into the health benefits of MCT oil:
Healthy Weight Loss
- According to a double-blind study published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was found that MCTs suppressed the accumulation of body fat in men and women.
- MCT oil has been shown to increase the release of two hormones that promote the feeling of fullness in the body: peptide YY and leptin, therefore keeping you full for a longer time as well as preventing the accumulation of fat in your body.
- A meta-analysis of 13 studies found that compared to LCTs, MCTs did decrease body weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, total body fat, total subcutaneous fat, and visceral fat, but the changes were modest.
- MCTs can be a good choice for pregnant women, since pregnancy results in weight gain in women. Pregnant women can use MCT oil into their diet in a limited amount to decrease the weight growth and also stay healthy and full for a longer time.
Instant Source of Energy
- MCTs are processed in the liver and absorbed quickly, which provides you with fast and sustained energy.
- Unlike other foods, MCTs do not require energy to be absorbed, stored or used in the body, which makes it a perfect source of natural energy.
- For people who are on a ketogenic diet, MCTs can also be converted into ketones in the liver. These ketones pass through your blood-brain barrier, making them a convenient source of energy for your brain cells.
- It is obvious that pregnant women tend to get exhausted real fast, even if they’re not doing anything. Therefore, by adding MCT oil in your diet, you can increase your energy levels and also stay energetic for a longer period.
Prevents Yeast and Bacterial Growth
- MCTs have been shown to have antimicrobial and antifungal effects, which protects or prevents from the formation of yeast and bacteria.
- Candida albicans is common yeast that can cause thrush and various skin infections. MCTs are said to prevent the formation of this yeast by 25%.
- MCTs have also been shown to suppress the growth of a widespread infectious fungus by up to 50%.
- Since pregnancy is a stage where women tend to catch infections faster, but including MCTs in their diet, they can prevent any bacterial or yeast formation in the body. Also postpartum hives can be prevented or treated with MCT oil.
- MCTs have antiviral and antibacterial properties and there is some evidence that they may help balance gut bacteria and combat pathogenic bacteria.
- It may help improve gut health over time when used with a healthy diet and other ways to support gut bacteria.
- MCTs have been shown to kill harmful bacteria such as streptococcus, staphylococcus, neisseria and other bacteria known to cause viruses.
- Since the gut affects everything from energy expenditure to your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, it’s important that pregnant women keep it balanced and healthy.
- Pregnant women can add MCTs to their diet, to avoid any kind of gut infections or diseases, since MCTs kill the bad bacteria without removing the good bacteria.
- Fats are needed for proper hormone creation and balance in the body, MCTs offer special benefits for those struggling with hormone imbalance.
- MCTs are beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight by helping to balance hormones and improving insulin sensitivity.
- Since pregnant women experience a lot of hormonal changes, MCTs can help them balance it in a good way as well keep them healthy and energetic for a longer period.
Controls Blood Sugar Levels
- Since MCTs have shown to reduce fat storage and increase fat burning, it balances the blood sugar levels to a good extent.
- According to a small Chinese study of 40 people with diabetes, it was found that those who consumed MCT oil daily had significant reductions in body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance, compared to those taking corn oil containing LCTs.
- For pregnant women with diabetes, consuming MCT oil can help manage diabetes, and also control weight gain.
Reduces Risk of Heart Diseases
- Heart disease is an increasing problem, and the main factors that increase your risk of it are high cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, being overweight, etc. MCTs help you maintain a balanced weight and decrease the cholesterol levels, which eventually decrease your chances of heart disease.
- According to a study it was found that there was better reduction in LDL or “bad” cholesterol when the MCT oil mixture was added to their diet.
- MCT oil can also increase the production of heart-protective HDL or “good” cholesterol.
- It was also found to reduce C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker that increases the risk of heart disease.
- Other studies found that MCT-oil-based mixtures can have a positive effect on other heart disease risk factors.
Easier to Digest
- Many women experience digestion problems during pregnancy. MCTs makes the digestion process a lot easier and quicker compared to the long chain fatty acids.
- MCTs don’t need bile salts to be digested and can pass directly from the digestive system to the blood stream without being modified by digestion like long chain fats.
- And because they are so easy to absorb and use, MCTs are a good choice for those who struggle with digestive problems, fat absorption or lack a gallbladder.
- Hence, by adding MCT oil in your diet, pregnant women can aid the digestion problems which they face during pregnancy.
Helps Satisfy Your Stomach
- MCT oil keeps your stomach satisfied and reduces curb hunger, which makes it a great ket-friendly snack.
- You could add MCT oil to your coffee instead of butter, and reap even more health benefits while keeping hunger at bay.
- Adding MCT oil or MCT oil powder to your keto snackshelps you three-fold: its boosts ketones, gives you health benefits, and keeps you satiated.
- During pregnancy it is important that you stay full in stomach, and also strong and healthy. Since MCTs provide you with all the goodies you require, it makes for a perfect pal during pregnancy.
Side Effects of MCT Oil
With the list of health benefits, MCTs also have its own risk factors. Before using MCT oil one should take into consideration that they are consuming fat. Therefore, not just MCTs but any other oils or fats should be taken in limited amount. And since MCTs are fast digesting agents, make sure to take it in limited amount: ½ – 1tablespoon during the initial days will help you get used to this oil, since over using it may result in diarrhea. As they say ‘too much of anything is good for nothing’, consuming MCT in excess amount can result in weight gain.
Word of Caution
- If you are using MCT oil for the first time, make sure to buy the one which is more extracted from coconut oil than palm oil.
- Also remember that it has a low smoke point, so it is not suitable for cooking.
- High doses of MCTs can lead to fat buildup in the liver.
- MCTs can have many health benefits, but it does have a few risk factors as well. Therefore, being cautious before using anything is better.
- Also if you are planning on using MCT oil during pregnancy, make sure to once have a word with your physician, and let them decide whether your body permits to consume it or not.
How to use MCT?
- You can use MCT in salads
- Add it to dips
- Use it in marinades and sauces
- Drizzle it over zucchini pasta
- Mix it with cocoa powder to make chocolate sauce
- Drizzle over berries or snacks
- Add in coffee or warm drinks
- You can add in smoothies or workout shakes