Years ago, a physician who suspected a patient had heart disease would probably not refer him to a gum specialist. The same holds true for diabetes and arthritis. Times have changed. The past 5 to 10 years have seen a growing body of research linking the health of your mouth to the overall health of your body. According to the American Dental Association, 40 percent of people with gum disease also have a chronic health condition. What’s feeding the link? Not taking proper care of your mouth results in bacterial overgrowth, which causes inflammation that not only spurs diseases of the teeth and gums, but can cause problems for other body systems if left unchecked. Oral problems can also be a symptom of other diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
Several factors can affect oral health—it’s not just about brushing and flossing. The health of your mouth and teeth is affected by diet (frequent consumption of processed and high-sugar foods/beverages), stress levels, quality of sleep, poor digestion, deficiencies in minerals and vitamins, and medication.
Living with a chronic health condition can have detrimental effects on oral health. “For example, many medicines … can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, resulting in dry mouth,” says Dr. David Albert, associate professor of clinical dentistry at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. “Patients with asthma often breathe through their mouths, which can result in dry mouth, increased plaque formation, and gingivitis.” (1)
As previously mentioned, oral health has been related to several other health concerns.
Diabetes. One complication of diabetes is gum disease that results from impaired blood flow through the blood vessels. When the gums don’t receive sufficient blood flow, they become weak and vulnerable to infection. If diabetes is not properly managed, high glucose levels in the mouth will promote bacterial growth.
Heart disease. Chronic bacterial infection of the gums, or periodontal disease (PD), has been linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Researchers are still examining the exact reasons for this connection, but it has been suggested that PD increases inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease. It’s also possible that bacteria from the mouth travels into the bloodstream and adds to buildup of plaque in the arteries. While there isn’t a direct cause-and-effect relationship, both PD and heart disease share common risk factors including smoking and diabetes.
Arthritis. In a recent small study, bacteria from the mouth was found in synovial (joint) fluid in people with knee arthritis. For some participants in these studies, there was a genetic match between the bacteria in the mouth and that found in the joint fluid. Further research is required.
Oral Hygiene Habits that Benefit the Whole Body
You are the best advocate for the health of your teeth and mouth. On a weekly basis, check inside your mouth for swollen or bleeding gums; foul mouth odor that does not go away; cracked, chipped, or discolored teeth; tooth and/or jaw pain; and sores or lesions on the gums, cheeks, or tongue. Any of these can be symptomatic of more serious health problems and should be brought to the attention of your doctor. The best way to prevent such problems from developing is to maintain healthy dental hygiene habits:
- Eat a balanced diet without excessive sweets. As far back as the 1940s, researchers like Weston A. Price observed the role of nutrition in dental and physical health. Price was one of the first to conclude that “foods of commerce,” such as flour, sugar, and processed food products cause nutritional deficiencies (especially in vitamins and minerals) that result in dental and general health problems.
- Don’t smoke or use smokeless tobacco products.
- Brush at least twice daily—after breakfast and before bedtime. Floss daily (and whenever food is stuck between your teeth. Brush the tongue. You don't want that food fermenting in your mouth). Replace your toothbrush at least every three to four months.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Chew sugarless naturally sweetened gum between meals, especially if you cannot brush teeth. Chewing helps dislodge foods between the teeth and increases saliva flow to neutralize mouth acids.
- Schedule regular dental visits, usually every six months.
(1) Simple Steps to Better Dental Health. "Eight Steps to Dental Health." Updated June 27, 2014.
- American Heart Association. "Dental Health and Heart Health." Updated December 20, 2013.
- Case Western Reserve University. "Joint Failures Potentially Linked to Oral Bacteria." ScienceDaily. April 18, 2012.
- Live Science. "How Oral Hygiene Affects the Rest of You." October 4, 2013.
- Témoin, S., A. Chakaki, et.al. "Identification of Oral Bacterial DNA in Synovial Fluid of Patients with Arthritis with Native and Failed Prosthetic Joints." Journal of Clinical Rheumatology 18, no. 3 (April 2012): 117-121.
- The Weston A. Price Foundation. "Nutrition, Fluoridation, and Dental Health." April 28, 2014.
- Image: Kurhan/bigstock.com
Minerals are important nutrients in your diet that help the body maintain good health and resist infection—including the mouth and teeth. Minerals are inorganic elements that come from the earth, soil, and water and are absorbed by plants. Animals and humans absorb minerals from the plants they eat.
There are two kinds of minerals—macrominerals and trace minerals—that your body uses within its cells for many different jobs. Macrominerals are required in larger amounts and are necessary for processes such as building bones, making hormones, contracting muscles, and regulating your heartbeat. They also play a role in brain function. Macrominerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. Trace minerals, including iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium, are needed in much smaller quantities.
Consuming too much or too little of any mineral can have negative effects on health. For most people in good health, a safe range for consumption of minerals has been established (see Resources). Personal variation comes into play depending on one’s region, history of illness, and dietary restrictions.
Conventional wisdom dictates that the best way to get the minerals (and vitamins) your body needs is to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods. However, recent research shows that while the vitamin content of food remains relatively stable over time, mineral content is becoming depleted. There are many reasons for this; erosion, farming practices, pollution, and even the way we cook can affect the nutrient density of both conventionally and organically harvested foods. Consequently, holistic health practitioners may recommend trace mineral supplementation even for someone eating the healthiest diet possible.
- Bionutrient Food Association.
- Human Performance Resource Center. "Food Sources of Minerals."
- Recommended Intake and Functions of Minerals.
- Coulston, A., C. Boushey, and M.G. Ferruzzi, eds. Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease. Oxford: Academic Press, 2013.
- Davis, D.R. "Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is the Evidence?" HortScience 44, no. 1 (February 2009): 15-19.
- Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine. "Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrient Dense Foods." Accessed March 2015.
- Kabata-Pendias, A. Trace Elements in Soils and Plants. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2011.
- Marler, J.B., and J. Wallin. "Human Health, the Nutritional Quality of Harvested Food and Sustainable Farming Systems." Nutrition Security Institute White Paper. Bellevue: WA, 2006.
- Thomas, D. "A Study on the Mineral Depletion of the Foods Available to Us as a Nation over the Period 1940 to 1991." Nutrition and Health 17, no. 2 (April 2003): 85-115.
- Image: Johan_Larson/bigstock.com
Constipation and improper elimination seem to be at an all-time high in many societies today. As a result, people looking for natural solutions may turn to ongoing magnesium supplementation; foods known to move the bowels, such as prunes; and herbs, such as cascara and senna. There are some potential harmful effects of using cascara and senna on an ongoing basis, as they do not address the cause of constipation. Considered "natural laxatives," they can create dependence and disrupt peristalsis (the natural contractions of the bowel)- i.e. you may not be able to defecate without them..
Instead, an herbal formula that can be very helpful to relieve constipation and restore normal bowel function over time is Colon Cleanse. This is a formula made of herbs, fruits, vegetables, and fiber to address the many needs of the colon. Some of the key ingredients and their function are as follows:
Aloe helps to support healing of the lining of the stomach and keep the folds
and pockets of the colon free of toxic material that gather there.*
Arabinogalactans support colon health by acting as a fermentable fiber to
promote growth of probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus and
Bifidobacteria in the colon.* They also work in the GI tract by activating
Artichoke promotes the flow of bile.* Good bile flow is also necessary for
detoxification which is carried out by the liver. Bile serves as a carrier for
the toxins that are excreted by the liver which are then sent to the intestine
for their exit from the body.
Bentonite Clay is natural clay used for detoxification of toxins and
unwanted material.* Bentonite also helps clean the colon by scraping the
linings of the colon thereby freeing it of the various wastes deposited by
years of eating an unhealthy diet.*
Burdock promotes the flow and release of bile, which helps to cleanse the
liver.* It also aids the digestive process.* The mucilage, “bitter” and inulin
contents in Burdock also help to support good digestion, as well as soothe
the digestive tract.*
Chlorella supports cell reproduction, as well as restorative processes that
promote healthy organs and tissues.* Chlorella also aids the body in the
breakdown of unwanted materials like heavy metals, and supports proper
digestion by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and assisting in the
elimination of unwanted materials from the body.*
Fibersol-2™ is a soluble fiber that has been shown to support proper bowel
function, regularity, fecal volume, beneficial micro flora as well as a clean
and healthy digestive tract.*
Fructooligosaccharides aid in the elimination of unwanted
substances and supports G.I. Tract health.* Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
are considered a soluble fiber and pre-biotic that support the growth of
beneficial bacteria.* Since FOS is not digested it increases the material in
the digestive tract and promotes regularity.*
L-Glutamine is a key component in the maintenance of healthy intestinal
mucosa.* It fuels intestinal cells and maintains villi.* A lack of glutamine
may lead to a loss of enterocyte (cells in the small intestine) integrity in the
lining of the intestines, which may affect digestion and absorption or allow
pathogens into the body.*
N-Acetyl Glucosamine improves the integrity of the mucosal lining.*
Olive Leaf Extract works directly against unwanted materials by
stimulating your own protective cells (phagocytes) to ingest them without
suppressing the immune system or damaging the body’s beneficial flora.*
Spirulina supports healthy functioning of the liver and immune system, to
aid in detoxification.*
As always, addressing the root cause of improper elimination is first and foremost. So, before starting on any substance or formula, discuss the best strategy for you with your doctor or qualified healthcare practitioner. Dr. John Phelts III, DC uses Applied Kinesiology to determine the cause of your gastrointestinal issues and applies appropriate techniques to correct the problem.
With 80% of your immune system located in your gut, having balanced intestinal flora is a major factor in defending your body against disease. Balanced gastrointestinal (GI) flora is critical to the functioning of the immune system, synthesis of nutrients, and detoxification. Balanced GI flora is also necessary for regular and normal bowel movements.
Flora imbalances can be caused by poor diet, illness, use of antibiotics, and stress. Symptoms can include persistent gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. To maintain or rebalance GI flora, consider adding probiotics to your diet.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms naturally found in your GI tract. The most common probiotic bacteria come from two groups, lactobacillus or bifidobacterium, although many other types of bacteria are also classified as probiotics. Scientific evidence shows these probiotics
- boost the immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies;
- support the synthesis of vitamins and other nutrients;
- relieve the effects of, and treat, intestinal illness (diarrhea, constipation, IBS);
- prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections; and
- may reduce the risk of colon or bladder cancer.
Two ways to boost healthy GI flora are to take a probiotic supplement or add probiotic-containing foods to your diet. Probiotic supplements come in liquid and capsule forms and many are sold refrigerated. Check with your doctor or holistic health practitioner to be sure you select a product that meets your personal health needs. Beware when the product label states how much live probiotic culture it contains "at the time of manufacture", as it will contain significantly less by the time you purchase it. Also, check to see if the supplement contains a prebiotic such as fructooligosaccharides, which are food for your own flora that keep them healthy and strong. It is important to follow the storage instructions for your supplement—failure to do so could kill off the live, healthy bacteria it contains.
Probiotic-boosting foods include fermented foods and cultured dairy products. Be sure the food labels state "fermented" or, for dairy, "live and active bacterial cultures."
- American Gastroenterological Association. "Probiotics: What They Are and What They Can Do for You." Revised May 2013.
- Kiani, L. "Bugs in Our Gut: How Probiotics Keep Us Healthy." Cambridge Scientific Abstracts: Discovery Guide (October 2006).
- Mayo Clinic. "Do I Need to Include Probiotics and Prebiotics in My Diet?" October 15, 2014.
- Image: B-D-S/bigstock.com
Fermented foods may be setting trends on The Huffington Post, but these nutrient-potent foods have been around for thousands of years in Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and German cultures. For people living without modern medicine and refrigeration, fermentation was a simple means of food preservation and a way to imbue foods with the health-enhancing properties of the live bacteria the gut needs to stay in balance. Fermented foods are a potent source of probiotics, which research has shown are essential to powering up the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract and producing antibodies to pathogens. Both are key to helping you maintain vibrant health.
You may not even realize just how many fermented foods you already enjoy in your diet (see list). Incorporate more of these probiotic powerhouses into meals, and put those good-for-you organisms back into action in your gut. It is also a good idea to supplement your diet with an effective probiotic formula.
Fermented Foods Short List
- Cultured Dairy: Yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, sour cream, some cheeses
- Veggies: Beets, radishes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kimchi, green beans, sauerkraut
- Condiments fermented at home or commercially: ketchup, relish, salsa, chutney
- Other: Miso, tempeh, tofu, soy sauce
Fermented Food Facts & Tips
- All fermented foods must be kept cool to maintain the live cultures.
- Food labels must be marked "fermented."
- Fermented and "pasteurized" do not go together. Pasteurization kills live cultures.
- Pickled is not the same as fermented (unless indicated on the label). Pickled foods are soaked in vinegar or brine.
- Choose organic, non-GMO items or locally farmed products.
- Start with small servings of fermented foods, one to two times a day.
- Toss fermented veggies into salads; enjoy as a snack or as a side dish.
- Add a spoonful or two to your morning smoothie (e.g., beets, kefir).
- Chilton, S., J. Burton, and G. Reid. "Inclusion of Fermented Foods in Food Guides Around the World." Abstract. Nutrients 7, no. 1 (January 2015): 390-404.
- The Huffington Post. Headlines on fermented food trend.
- Mercola, J. "Fermented Foods: How to ‘Culture’ Your Way to Good Health." Accessed February 2015.
- Rawlings, D. Fermented Foods for Health: Use the Power of Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Digestion, Strengthen Your Immunity, and Prevent Illness. Fair Winds Press: 2013.
- Schwenk, D. Cultured Food for Life: How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness. Hay House, Inc.: 2013.
- Williams, D. "Fermented Foods that Boost Digestive Health." Reviewed February 6, 2014.
WARNING! This article contains information on a subject that many of us are not comfortable talking about and some people give " way too much info" about. Unless you’re the parent of a toddler who has just mastered “going potty,” poop is probably not a hot topic in your household. But the composition of what you deposit into the toilet has important implications for health. Did you know the features of fecal matter—such as the size, color, shape, odor, and consistency indicate how well the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is functioning? Those same features also provide clues about how your body is (or isn’t) faring against threats of infection and more serious diseases like celiac disease, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and cancer.
To give you an idea of what healthy, normal stool looks like, check out the Bristol Stool Chart. The healthy range for fecal matter is of a consistency that is not too hard, not too soft, and mostly solid—as opposed to lumpy, pellet-like, or liquid. Normal stool color is in the light-to-medium brown range and is not offensively odorous. Also, bowel movements (BMs) should pass easily from your body to the toilet.
5 BMs that Require Medical Attention
Unless you are aware of dietary changes or a medication that could produce the following types of stool, it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you observe the following changes in BMs.
- Stool that is hard to pass, requires straining, or is accompanied by abdominal pain.
- Black, tarry stool might indicate infection or GI bleeding, while bright red stool could indicate infection and/or bleeding in the GI tract or anus. Seek immediate medical attention.
- White, pale, or grey stool could indicate problems with the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.
- Yellow stool could indicate serious infection or gallbladder problems.
- Mucus in the stool can indicate inflammation, infection, or even cancer.
How Often Should You Go?
How frequently you have a BM is important, too. And, what’s typical for you may be different for other people in your family. Ideally you should have one to four bowel movements a day, but for most people, three weekly BMs are considered the norm. No matter how often you poop, you should not have to strain or experience pain while excreting. Additionally, be aware that the appearance and frequency of BMs will vary based on what’s in your diet, sleep and exercise patterns, hormonal changes, travel, stress, hydration level, medications or supplements you are taking, and exposure to toxins (from nicotine to industrial toxins).
How Low Should You Go?
There’s also evidence that the position you take to evacuate the bowels has health implications for the physical structures of the GI tract. So much so that some scientists indicate sitting to poop is a contributing factor in the development of colon and pelvic diseases. Before potty training, young children squat to poop in their diapers—they don’t sit. Yes, there’s a difference between squatting and sitting. The modern toilet places the thighs at a 90-degree angle to the abdomen, whereas squatting has a much deeper angle that gives more motility to the intestinal muscles and organs. Evacuating the bowels is much easier on the body in the squatting versus seated position. Toilet position should be a consideration for everyone over the age of five, but is especially important for the elderly, the disabled, and individuals with compromised mobility.
You can learn more about proper toilet position in this video:
- Mercola, J. "What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health." Accessed February 2015.
- Monastyrsky, K. "Gut Sense: What Exactly Are Normal Stools?" Accessed February 2015.
- Sikirov, D. "Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health." Abstract. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48, no. 7 (July 2003): 1201-5.
- Step and Go. "Step and Go Ergonomically Correct Toilet Position." Accessed February 2015.
- Image: JavierBrosch/bigstock.com
The White House recruited a panel of nutritional experts to establish an updated set of nutritional guidlines. In February 2015, they released their recommendation in a 570 page report, in which the removed the dietary cholesterol restriction of 300 mg./day. Wow! I thought that I would never see the day when the federal government would actually say that there is no reason to limit cholesterol intake. The authors stated that there is no “appreciable relationship” between consumed cholesterol and blood cholesterol. They also mentioned that limiting dietary cholesterol does not lower LDL- the bad cholesterol. I do not know why it took the government so long to come to this realization, escpecially since there is very little evidence, if any, that "high" cholesterol causes cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is essential to life. It is used to make many of our hormones and it also makes up part of every cell membrane in the body. In any case, you should no longer feel guilty the next time you crack open a couple of eggs.
I used to neglect eating fruits and vegetables, with the logic that I could just pop some vitamins in my mouth instead and be healthy. It was easier and I didn't have to worry about cooking or eating things I didn't like, such as kale. The truth is, I just didn't know that I was missing out on so many other health benefits that come with eating whole foods. Here are three reasons why multi-vitamins cannot replace or substitute the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.
Reason #1- Multi-Vitamins just don't make the cut.
Synthetic vitamins are made in a lab and are not real vitamins and our bodies cannot use them efficiently. One example of many is vitamin C. Most synthetic Vitamin C comes from ascorbic acid or ascorbate. What many people don't know is that vitamin C is a complex made up of Ascorbic acid, bioflavonoids, rutin, factor K, factor P, tyrosinase, and acorbinogen. Ascorbic acid is simply the protective outer ring and the body cannot use it unless it scavenges the other components from other tissues in your body. If your body cannot scavenge the other parts, you just end up urinating most of it out. Vitamin C found in whole foods like oranges, grapefruits, and acerola cherries contain the whole complex and is readily bioavailable.
Reason #2- Plants contain phytochemicals and phytosterols
Fruits and vegetables also contain nutrients known as phytohemicals, and plant hormones (phytosterols), which help us balance our own hormones. For example:
Broccoli and cabbage contain indoles, which help the body get rid of bad estrogens and improve testosterone to estrogen ratio.
Saw palmetto berries and pumpkin seeds contain beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol that blocks dihydrotestosterone, which is invloved in acne, hair loss, and enlargement of the prostate. It has also been shown to effectively lower cholesterol.
Pineapples contain bromelain- a proteolytic enzyme that decreases inflammation, cleans blood vessel walls, and breaks down scar tissue withing the body.
Many fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which lower protect us against cancer. These inclued: Flavonoids which also improve cardiovascular function. Polyphenols found in grapes are great for heart and lung health. Allicin in garlic is anti-bacterial. Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, which defend against urinary tract infections.
Reason #3- Plants contain fiber
Fiber- fiber found in plants can help keep you regular, feeling satisfied, remove unwanted material from your intestines, bind to dietary fat, and help modulate cholesterol.
You should eat several servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Cooking or going out to get them may not always be feasible, especially when you lead a busy lifestyle. Blending them into a smoothie and taking it with you may be an easier option. Another simple option is powdered fruits and vegetables, to which you just add water to make a shake. Cleanse Blend, Brain Blend, and Immune Blend offer an array of nutrient packed powdered fruits and vegetables with many health benefits.
If you missed last months newsletter on the benefits of organ meats, you can read it here.
The Mighty Mighty Coconut
I want to make known to you a little known nutritional power house that can change your health in many ways. The shell that it comes in is like a security vault- well protected and tough to crack. If you ever tried to crack open a coconut, then you know what I am talking about. That shell is guarding a wealth of nutritional benefits for us. Many of us can recall the old Looney Tunes cartoon, in which a squirrel spends the whole day trying to crack open a bowling ball, which he thinks is a coconut. That squirrel tried everything from dropping it from a tree to trying to crush it with a piano. That squirrel must have known the value of the contents of that coconut. In the middle of the 20th century, farmers tried to fatten up their cattle by feeding them coconut oil. Instead of gaining weight, the cattle lost weight and became leaner, while eating more. It was a lose lose situation for these farmers. Today, because of modern technology and science we have an understanding of why the cattle lost weight when coconut oil was introduced to their diet.
The following is a summary of the benefits of coconut oil.
Coconut Oil Benefits:
1. Anit-bacterial, Anti-Fungal, and Anti-Viral
Coconut oil contains a fatty acid called lauric acid. The body converts lauric acid to monolaurin
The body uses monolaurin to kill HIV, Herpes, and Measles
2. Coconut Oil Can help with weight loss.
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)
MCTs are immediately used for energy instead of being stored as fat
MCTs can up-regulate a sluggish thyroid gland, thereby raising your metabolism.
3. Coconut oil helps to keep your skin young and healthy when used topically.
- When used topically and consumed, coconut oil helps to fight fungal skin infections.
4. Coconut oil may improve your cholesterol profile.
Coconut oil is less likely to become oxidized than other cooking oils. Oxidized cooking oil can have damaging effects to our cardiovascular system.
Coconut oil was shown to decrease LDLs (“bad cholesterol) and increase HDLs (“good cholesterol”)
THE COCONUT MIRACLE STORY
The following is a story about a woman who used coconut oil to treat her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease. It is an excerpt from Mary Enig’s article entitled, “In the Land of Oz: The Latest Attack on Coconut Oil”
“…..the amazing story of a case involving coconut oil and recovery from Alzheimer’s disease, widely reported in newspapers and on the Internet. The story is a report by Dr. Mary Newport, a neonatologist and medical director of the newborn intensive care unit at Spring Hill Regional Hospital in Florida. About six years ago, her husband, an accountant who worked at home, began struggling with daily tasks. His deterioration progressed and he was eventually diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Dr. Newport searched the Internet for clinical drug trials that would accept her husband and discovered that a drug containing medium-chain triglycerides, the kind of fat in coconut oil, had achieved remarkable results—not just slowing the progression of the disease but providing real improvement.
She decided to give her husband coconut oil, two tablespoons per day, and her husband immediately improved, scoring 18 on a cognitive assessment, four points higher than he had scored the previous day. Within a week he showed tremendous improvement and five months later her husband was leading a relatively normal life, although still unable to resume his work as an accountant, apparently due to permanent brain damage.
One important test for Alzheimer’s progression is to draw the face of a clock from memory. The illustration above shows Mr. Newport’s improvement as he took coconut oil.”
You can read the full article here: http://westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/1576-land-of-oz-attack-on-coconut-oil
There is no set recommendation for how much coconut oil to intake daily. However you want to use Organic extra virgin coconut oil.
I recommend taking 1-3 tbsp/day. I like to divide it into 2 tsp twice daily. I either drink it straight (it actually tastes good) , mix it into my protein shake, or use it as a spread, instead of butter. I also prefer to cook with coconut oil when possible. I also include it in my detoxification program. The results are phenomenal. It is well worth the effort to crack open the hard shell of a coconut.