One drink I enjoyed when I was a young boy was coconut water. Whenever I broke coconut, my mother cautioned me not to allow the water to spill because it was a good medicine for the body. I believed her, although she never told me the ailment it cured. I would carefully pour some into a metal cup and drink the remaining from the natural “cup”.
In those days, there were no sugar-laden, acidic soft drinks. Such drinks have now flooded the market and their producers use captivating adverts to get people, especially children, hooked to them. Coca-Cola, in particular, contains sugar and caffeine, which are both addictive. Some people do not know that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Of course, excess sugar in the body is a major health challenge. Recent studies have shown that sugar feeds cancer cells.
Today, coconut water has gained popularity because of its health benefits. However, in Nigeria many people still don’t seem to value it. On the other hand, as one travels along the beaches of the Republic of Benin, Togo and Ghana, one finds these young green coconuts being sold from trolleys. The hawkers are very skilful with their cutlasses, opening the coconuts for buyers to enjoy the refreshing water.
Coconut water is my favourite drink. I drink a lot of it when I attend the annual Pharmanews Leadership and Management Workshop in Accra, Ghana. From 2004, when we started the programme, I have always looked forward to enjoying the rejuvenating drink. It is only someone who is ignorant of its health benefits and the dangers of sodas or soft drinks that would prefer soft drinks to coconut water.
Coconut water is high in naturally occurring electrolytes, notably potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals are highly alkaline-forming, supporting the body’s proper pH balance to maintain optimal metabolic function. The presence of beneficial electrolytes makes it is an excellent energy drink, highly effective for rehydrating the body after exercise. Many sports drinks are high in sugar, along with chemical colouring and flavouring agents, which are potentially dangerous.
Our processed foods, refined grains and sodas tend to make the body acidic, thereby disrupting the biochemical balance, and opening the door to numerous health problems. By replenishing the body’s alkaline mineral reserve, coconut water helps to restore a healthy pH balance.
Coconut water also contains small amounts of B-complex vitamins and other micronutrients and phytochemicals in a highly bioavailable form. This explains the reports of increased energy, well-being, and improved general health associated with its consumption.
Coconut water is a naturally sterile isotonic liquid whose chemical composition is similar to that of blood plasma. It has been successfully used as a short-term substitute for intravenous hydration fluid, in emergency situations where medical intravenous solution was not available.
Coconut water is the ideal drink for losing weight. It is lower in calories than any other beverages, excluding water. This makes it a perfect thirst quencher. It is a balm for the stomach because it is natural and easy to digest. After surgery, patients are given coconut water before they are placed on solid foods.
The pH acidic level in the body turns alkaline when you drink coconut water. Therefore, it is good for people suffering from acidity and heartburn. It is also recommended for people who have lost body fluids after vomiting or diarrhoea.
Coconut water has been found to be antibacterial and antiviral and can flush out toxins from the body. In addition, studies have shown that it can help break down small kidney stones and flush them out of the body.
Coconut water is now bottled or packaged and sold in food stores, with many commercial varieties coming up. Flavoured coconut water is, however, higher in calories.
Apart from the water, the coconut flesh is enjoyed by many people. It is a good companion to roasted or boiled maize and native pear. It also goes well with groundnuts. Maybe, you might have eaten coconut rice or cooked with grated flesh of coconut.
Coconut oil is an edible oil extract from matured coconuts. The oil contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties. The lauric acid in coconut oil can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi and help to keep off infections.
Fatty acids in coconut oil are turned into ketones, which can reduce seizures. It is therefore effective in treating epilepsy in children. A ketogenic diet involves eating very little carbohydrates and large amounts of fat, leading to greatly increased concentrations of ketone bodies in the blood. For this reason, this diet can dramatically reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children.
Coconut water also improves blood cholesterol levels and may lower your risk of heart disease. Saturated fats contained in the oil raise the good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL).