It’s Monday, which means it’s time for another round of “Dear Mark ” questions. Now that I’m no longer doing Workouts of the Week , maybe I’ll have time to get to more questions than before. For now, I’ll play it by ear and see how things go. Today, we have a question from a coconut oil-intolerant reader wondering if whole coconut, which he can consume, is just as healthy as the oil. Another reader suffers from plantar fasciitis, which flared up after going barefooting , and wants help fixing it. I also field a question about drinking seawater for the minerals, which, believe it or not, I’ve considered in the past (but a better solution popped up, thankfully). And finally, I try to help a reader with a bottomless pit for a stomach.
Is eating the whole coconut as beneficial as eating the oil? I have candida and I’ve read that coconut oil helps eliminate candida. I just don’t like the taste very much and sometimes it upsets my stomach. I still eat it but I also eat coconut butter, the young coconut meat and dried coconut (I rehydrate it first). Also does the whole coconut contain the same weight loss benefits?
As a general rule, eating a whole food is superior to extracting and consuming a constituent  of that same food – especially if the particular constituent upsets your stomach and tastes terrible! The coconut  is no different. What sets whole coconut (or whole coconut products, like butter and meat) apart from the oil is primarily the fiber content. Coconut meat contains a lot of fiber , over nine grams in a 100 gram portion. In vitro studies (PDF ) that sought to replicate human colonic flora found that coconut fiber was fermentable  by that flora into butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid with many beneficial metabolic effects (it improves insulin sensitivity and lipid numbers, to name a couple). That same PDF shows research in which eating coconut flakes (meat, fat, and fiber intact) lowered LDL and triglycerides in both men and women.
All that said, whole coconut isn’t a miracle, magic food, but it’s certainly just as beneficial as coconut oil, and perhaps more so. And if it’s all you can stomach, go for it.
I am very athletic. Years back I started wearing orthotics thinking they would help my knees… wrong. They just made my lower back, hamstrings & knees be in constant discomfort. Luckily the orthotics broke in half and instead of replacing them I tried the barefoot shoes. After wearing only those types of shoes for almost 2 years now and loving them, I have gotten plantar fasciitis. I wear the boot, do the exercises & ice my foot several times a day. I still exercise, but am in pain. I’m not sure what to do next. Help!!
Before I say anything about joint or limb pain, I usually check to see what Kelly Starrett  has said on the subject, because he’s usually covered it and has an article or video explaining what to do about it. So, has K-Starr failed us this time? Nope. He’s got a great 7-minute video exploring multiple ways to tackle a case of plantar fasciitis. I’d suggest you watch the video  and do all the drills he shows. It’s free, and the only equipment you need is a lacrosse ball.
After your foot is feeling better, start all over with the barefooting. Don’t run, walk . Read my guide to making the barefoot transition  so you don’t go too fast and start back at square one. I suppose this is also a good time to point out that while we love barefooting and feel it’s the best way to get around, it’s not a cure-all. It can reduce or even eliminate knee, hip, and foot pain, but only if you are walking correctly. Going barefoot can’t overcome poor form, bad posture , tight hips , or underactive glutes . The whole package matters, so work on the other stuff, too. Good luck!
Someone shared a post about using seawater as a supplement. It hadn’t occurred to me before but it resonated. After all, there are a bunch of cool minerals in seawater.
Maybe there isn’t a need for this “supplement” if you’re eating “primally” but it has the ring of something we would try. Heck there was that post recently about eating dirt. Yet my internet searches turned up very little information. What say you? Water, water everywhere… I think I will drink a drop?
If it’s the minerals in seawater you’re after, there’s a supplement for that. I’m a big fan of Concentrace Trace Mineral Drops , which is extracted from Utah’s Great Salt Lake. You can buy it on Amazon for fifteen bucks or so. The drops taste awful if you take them straight, but I’ll sometimes add a few drops to a glass of sparkling water and add a slice of lime. Or you can add a teaspoon to a full gallon and go from there. I find you can add drops to strongly flavored stews or chilis to boost the mineral content without anyone being the wiser. Whatever you do, I find taking the mineral drops highly preferable to drinking straight up sea water. It’s the same stuff, after all, straight from the source.
But be careful. I wasn’t lying about the taste.
As a teenager (18), I was always hungry. It wasn’t until I started eating primal that I was ever satisfied. However, some days (especially days after lifting) I still feel like I could eat anything. My question is: How does primal nutrition fit into a teenagers life in terms of calories and hunger? I have a very active metabolism and could eat a dozen eggs or fistful after fistful of nuts and not gain weight therefore making it hard to determine what i really need. Also, do your kids follow primal nutrition?
Some people (especially males), in some situations (like adolescence and when lifting weights), simply require far more calories than the average person requires to maintain weight. That’s totally fine, and I bet most people wish they had your problem. It sounds like you’re very active. This is good, but it means you need more calories, and, depending on the nature of your activity, you may do better with some Primal starch sources. As long as you’re getting plenty of animals, fat , and low-carb vegetables in your diet, consider adding in yams , sweet potatoes, regular potatoes , and perhaps some winter squash (butternut is great). Eat starch post workout  and you may find your hunger is better sated. If you’re lifting and exercising with a high amount of intensity, it may also fuel your recovery and improve performance.
Savor this malady of yours while you still have it.
As for my kids, my daughter is omnivorous and my son is a lacto-ovo vegetarian and eats eggs nearly every morning, as well as using protein powders with whey to supplement. Both follow basic Primal principles, with a bit of wiggle room, of course. The big bad guys are for the most part out, though – gluten grains, refined sugar, and vegetable oils. They’re healthy, happy, and active, so I’m not worried.
That’s it for today, folks. Take care and thanks for reading!