If you are seeking a healthier lifestyle through veganism, you might be surprised to know there is more to it than just nixing your intake of animal products. Veganism is a major lifestyle adjustment that requires careful monitoring of specific nutrients that you would forfeit by sacrificing other dietary options. One dietary product that is ideal for a healthy lifestyle is the intake of necessary fats that are generally only found in animal products. Luckily, there exist supplements to replace the natural acquisition of these fats that many vegans forego.
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What is Veganism?
If you have heard of veganism but are not yet committed to the lifestyle, you may not understand everything it entails. A common misconception is that veganism and vegetarianism are interchangeable terms in which only meat is removed from your diet. The truth is that veganism is a far more substantial adjustment to your diet. Vegans abstain from the consumption of all animal products and byproducts.
While a vegetarian may not eat steak or lamb, a vegan also refuses to eat eggs and dairy products since they come from animals. Veganism is rooted primarily in the philosophy that the treatment of animals to provide these products is inhumane, and the consumption of the products is equally inhumane.
Veganism also benefits from several health advantages. The lack of processed foods and red meat reduces the risk of chronic illnesses and cancers associated with the products. However, like all specialized diets, veganism has disadvantages that require supplements to combat. The lack of animal protein reduces your intake of certain fats and medium-chain triglycerides and can make obtaining certain nutrients much harder.
What is MCT Oil?
Usually made from coconut or palm kernel oil, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a supplement designed to provide rapid energy. The MCT molecules that the oil provides are smaller than the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) you would typically receive from protein consumption. This, in turn, makes MCT easier to digest and provides you with energy faster than you would ordinarily receive. MCT oil is usually used by people looking to lose weight, control their appetite, or compensate for issues taking in nutrients and fats.
The benefits of MCT oil are uncertain and are still being tested, but the research is promising. Substituting LCT with MCT trends towards making you feel fuller for longer periods and therefore reduces your appetite. It has also been observed to decrease the energy your muscles require to function during strenuous tasks. However, the question remains as to how effective MCT products are to those who follow a vegan lifestyle.
There are quite a few potential benefits of MCT oil, particularly for vegans. Let’s dig in and take a look.
Benefit #1: Weight Regulation
While the research on this particular benefit is still being conducted due to inconclusive results, there remains a high chance that MCT oil will help you maintain a healthy weight. The studies behind the benefit of MCT oil toward weight maintenance stem from how our bodies process the fat. Studies conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that MCT oil increases the level at which peptide YY and leptin, the hormones that make us feel full, are released.
Suppressing appetite is a critical component of weight loss. When you don’t feel hungry as often or as intensely, you don’t snack as much, and your meals tend to be smaller. This reduces the calories you take in, which in turn helps you lose weight through a caloric deficit.
Another study, recorded in volume 179 of Physiology & Behavior, recorded that individuals who took two tablespoons of MCT oil at breakfast time wound up eating less food at lunch than those taking coconut oil. It also corroborated that individuals taking MCT oil saw less of a spike in their triglyceride and glucose levels.
Another benefit of MCT oil contributing to weight management is that MCT oil can be converted into ketones. Ketones, which are produced from fats that are broken down by the body when carbohydrates are low, are an alternative source of energy for the body. By converting MCT into ketones, those who follow a vegan lifestyle will enjoy extra energy with lower caloric intake without worrying about excessive weight gain.
Benefit #2: Energy Production
Keeping in line with the ketone conversion, MCT oil serves as an excellent source of energy over more common processed foods. The body absorbs MCTs at a more rapid pace than the LCTs found in more common foodstuffs. The reason for this is that LCTs have more carbon molecules in their fatty acid chains.
The shorter chains that MCTs possess allows them to travel from the intestine to the liver more quickly. They also do not require bile to be broken down as LCTs do. Ordinarily, fats are broken down in the liver and converted to energy or stored as body fat. However, since MCTs can be moved throughout the body without being broken down, they can be used for energy immediately. LCTs need to be broken down first, making them much less effective as a source of energy for the body.
Benefit #3: Lactate Reduction
If you are the sort of vegan that also partakes in exercise to optimize the health of your body, you might be looking to curb your lactic acid levels. Lactic acid builds up in your muscles when your body burns glucose for energy and is responsible for muscle soreness, cramps, and other aches.
Since high levels of lactic acid can cause soreness in the muscles, keeping it regulated is ideal to ensure a pain-free workout session. According to research conducted in 2009, MCT is shown to reduce the overall lactic acid levels in the body.
The study found that athletes taking six grams of MCT oil before cycling found themselves having an easier time of it as well as boasting lower lactic acid levels compared to athletes who only consumed LCTs. The study also seemed to imply that the MCT allowed the athletes to use stored fats instead of carbohydrates for energy. With that in mind, while MCT oil can help you burn fat during exercise, it will not necessarily improve the rate at which you are able to exercise. While a study on mice showed that MCT improved the rodents’ capacity to swim, the same study conducted on humans demonstrated no increase.
Benefit #4: Condition Management
Living a vegan lifestyle means restricting a great deal of the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy body, which has the rare consequence of exacerbating existing medical conditions. In fact, in 2018, a physician named Allan M. Lund discovered a direct correlation between vegan diets in children and epilepsy in later life.
Fortunately, epilepsy is one of the conditions that can be managed by adding MCT oil to your regular nutritional intake. According to a multitude of studies, the following conditions respond to MCT oil in certain ways.
According to a study, ketones have the added benefit of suppressing epileptic seizures. Since MCTs can be converted into ketones, they can be used to increase your ketone production. An NCBI study found that MCT capric acid demonstrated better control over epileptic disorders than a widespread epileptic drug. Another study, conducted on rats and processing additional human studies, found that MCT can block the AMA receptors that cause seizures.
One of the most dreaded conditions on the planet, Alzheimer’s Disease is known for restricting your brain’s ability to access sugar in your body. Studies indicate that ketones, which can be generated from MCT supplements, can increase the odds of survival in brain cells that are compromised by the disease.
Another study found that doses of MCT improved cognitive retention of short-term experiences in twenty Alzheimer’s patients. However, these patients also had an incredibly special genetic type called APOE ɛ4-negative. Regardless of this genetic typing, there is evidence to support the notion that anywhere between twenty and seventy grams of MCTs that have caprylic or capric acid as an ingredient can alleviate a small number of the symptoms suffered by Alzheimer’s patients.
Benefit #5: Fighting Negative Growth
Several studies have found that MCTs have anti-microbial and anti-fungal effects on the body, inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and other microbes. If you are the sort of vegan that enjoys dining on exotic or everyday bacteria-prone vegetables, then you might be interested in using MCT oil supplements to combat the potential disease and infection.
One study found that coconut oil, which is rich in MCTs, effectively quelled the growth of Candida albicans, a harmful form of yeast. Candida albicans is an extremely common form of yeast infection that causes a variety of skin infections, making it a less than pleasant issue to deal with. A separate study discovered that coconut oil was also useful in combating Clostridium Difficile, a bacterium that promotes disease gestation and is very resistant to antibiotics.
The reason for coconut oil’s effectiveness against harmful yeast and bacterial growth in the body can be attributed to the capric, lauric, and caprylic acids found in almost all MCTs.
Benefit #6: Heart Protection
Heart health is one of the more important concerns to those who pursue vegan lifestyles. It has been documented that MCTs may influence the protection of the heart. It is well known that several factors can cause heart disease. Be it cholesterol, high body mass index, inflammation, or even bad habits like smoking, they all put your body at risk.
Since MCT oils can help promote weight loss, they can help you maintain a weight that will reduce the odds of being diagnosed with heart disease. That is not to say you should rely solely on MCT oil to maintain a healthy weight – remember to exercise and engage in a healthy diet – but it can be beneficial.
One study found that MCT oil was able to reduce the cholesterol levels in twenty-four overweight men. By combining the MCTs found in flaxseed oil and phytosterols in treatment over the course of twenty-nine days, the men exhibited a reduction in cholesterol of about 12.5%. Olive oil was also used but only resulted in a 4.7% reduction. The same study also found reductions in the subjects’ low-density lipoproteins (LDL) when MCT oil was added to their diet.
Another study even found that MCT oil boosted the subjects’ high-density lipoprotein (HDL) count. HDL is the “good” cholesterol and is much healthier for the body than LDL.
Benefit #7: Blood Sugar Regulation
While vegans are not exactly hurting for sources of food that help balance their blood sugar, many forget that it can be an issue at all. MCT oil can serve as an alternative if you would prefer to focus your caloric intake on vegetables and vegan-based products that will not risk oversaturation of sugars. If you are diabetic, MCT oil has been found to promote fat burning and reduce fat storage, making you healthier in the long run.
A study of forty people with diabetes found that consuming MCT oil reduced their overall body weight and insulin resistance. While this is not necessarily vital to vegans as a whole, it can be extremely helpful in maintaining your blood sugar levels and ensuring you do not need to worry about diabetes.
Another study discovered that ten people with diabetes who had taken both MCT oils and insulin found they needed to consume 30% less sugar than they would have otherwise needed to return to a healthy blood sugar level.
The Value of MCT Oil
While these benefits are not exclusive to vegans, they are still worth taking note of. Switching to a vegan lifestyle can improve your health and reduce your risk of many diseases. Reducing your intake of harmful, processed foods and red meats reduces the risk of illness and even cancer. But veganism requires an extremely vigilant eye to ensure that you are not overlooking vital nutrients and habits that help prevent other issues in your pursuit of health.
Whether you’re trying to go vegan for ethical reasons or health reasons, it’s important to monitor your nutritional intake. Just because it is green does not mean you will not gain weight. If you are struggling with weight gain through the consumption of popular vegan treats like avocado or nuts, MCT oil can help you regulate your diet.
If you suffer from low energy due to not getting enough protein in your diet, which is quite prominent in nuts, avocado, and legumes, then MCT oil can help you re-energize. And while you hopefully do not suffer from conditions like epilepsy, MCT oil can even help you manage conditions of that nature without having to sacrifice your vegan lifestyle in the slightest.
MCT oil is far from a one-stop shop for health management, despite the numerous supplements that exist to help you increase your intake of the substance. To be healthy requires a well-regulated diet, plentiful sleep, and a healthy intake of water. However, MCT oil can help you supercharge those healthy habits and compensate for any mistakes or issues you suffer from along the way.