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Remembering Zenita

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash
A friend lost to cancer

It was close to midnight on New Year’s eve when my phone rang. Zenita, the name of my good friend flashed across the screen. I excitedly answered and in surprise realized that the voice on the other end was not one I knew.

The caller identified themselves as her sister and stated she was sorry to tell me that my friend had lost her battle with cancer earlier that day.

Just as my phone rang my then six-month-old baby had suddenly cried out very loudly, seemingly for no reason I couth fathom.

I was immediately overcome with sadness … my friend had died. She had lost her battle with cancer.

Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash

I met the woman who would become my friend in college. We were working our way through nursing school. Both of us were adults with families at this time.

I would later find out that she was stricken with cancer and had been going through this process for some time. She had had bilateral mastectomies and breast reconstruction and a few other forms of treatments by the time we met.

If one was not made aware of her illness, she appeared to be the picture of health.

She would start her coursework, become ill, and be forced to hit the pause button. She would then gain some respite, return to school only to have to leave again. Through it all, she remained steadfast.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Zenita was a soft-spoken and beautiful human being. I would often parallel park her car. She was a good driver though parallel parking proved to be her undoing. So each time we had classes together I would park her car.

Our friendship continued through the years. I went on ahead as she took time out for another round with cancer.

Time marched on and we stayed in touch. I graduated nursing school and began working while my friend continued to fight in between bouts of schooling.


Sometime later we met for breakfast and I told her of my plans to move. She put me in contact with her sister’s friend through whom I could make inquiries about employment.

Even though her life was complicated, she still took time out to care about mine and offer her assistance. My friend had been in the fight for her life for years. I never heard her complain about her circumstances.

She fought a good fight.


Photo by Handiwork NYC on Unsplash

Life continued. We spoke regularly and by this time, cancer had given her some reprieve. She had finally graduated from nursing school and was planning to move my way as well.

She flew down for our mutual friend’s wedding and she looked well and healthy.

If you met her and did not know her history, one would never guess at the battle raging beneath.

She remained hopeful.

She looked healthy and beautiful and we had a blast at the wedding reception. We partied and danced the night away. Though for some reason we did not take a picture together. I have never had a picture of her, though I still see her so clearly and hear her voice.

We said our goodbyes and anticipated the promised relocation a few months later.


Photo by Erica Marsland Huynh on Unsplash

Soon it was in November, Thanksgiving Day. I received a call from Zenita, but I was at work. We chatted for a short while, then she told me that her family was visiting and asked me to call her later. I promised I would call her on my way home from work.

I did not make the call!

Soon Christmas came around and life was hectic. I had given birth in June of that year and found myself juggling many balls in the air.

Next came the eve of the New Year and a phone call showing the name Zenita across the screen. At the same time, my baby yelped out loudly for no reason I could identify.

I answered happily and the voice on the line informed me my friend had suddenly taken a turn for the worse earlier that day and had passed away.

I was shocked and saddened and when I hung up the phone I knew an invaluable jewel had been stolen from us.

My friend had succumbed to a final jab from the evil known as cancer.

Cancer — How I hate that word!


Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

My friend epitomized the meanings of grace, determination, beauty, and hope throughout.

No doubt a journey fraught with pain, fear, and at times despair.

I never heard her complain with bitterness or anger, she remained stalwart. I do know that one of her greatest regrets was that she may not be around for her children.

I will forever regret the call I did not make.

I think of her often and if I listen keenly, I can still hear her gentle tone saying my name.

She was truly a lovely person. And I miss her every day.

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9 Reasons To Use Coconut Oil

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Introduction:

Coconut oil. It was a staple in my household back in my birth country Guyana, indeed in most of South America, palm trees are as perennial as the air we breathe.

Every yard boasts coconut trees and almost everyone, uses coconut. Fresh coconut oil was the most used oil of that day. That is no longer true.

The women or men would grate the coconuts and make a batch of fresh oil with which to fry fish and to cook. You have never had food as good as that cooked with freshly made coconut oil.

Yum-my!

We used coconut oil as a general skin and facial moisturizers, and let me tell you, not too many wrinkles were visible even though we spent most of our time in the sun, with no sunscreen and many were of advanced ages.

Aged persons were mentally and physically intact, strong, with BMI within normal limits. Heart attacks and strokes were rare.  It was not until I journeyed to the “new world” that I heard and saw many of the diseases I am now so familiar with.

People died in ripe old age, in their right minds and with all their working parts.

So when about 20 years ago we began hearing about coconut and its inherent risks for heart disease, I was quite startled. I was raised on this stuff.

Hearing that coconut oil was not a good for you, increased your cholesterol and was contained the ‘bad’ fats. Believing the hype, it quickly became ‘persona non grata’ in my life and I shared this information with family and friends.

I quickly forgot about coconut oil except when I went back for a visit and I did not eat much of it.

So when about 10+ years ago the information sources began touting the benefits of coconut oil I was so surprised. Apparently we had been fed, pun intended, misinformation that coconut oil was bad for us and contributing to heart disease and obesity.

Many people from several parts of the world had always known and experienced the health benefits of coconut oil.

It is actually one of the healthiest oils you can consume.

About Coconut oil:

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Coconut oil obtained from the coconut tree (Cocos nucifera), made from copra, (the dried meat of the coconut from which the oil is extracted), used both domestically and industrially due to its very flexible nature. Used in food production, pharmaceuticals and paints.

It boasts a low melting point, is resistant to rancidity, has the sweetest nutty flavor, and easy digestibility.

As always the first cold-pressed virgin oil is the best for use.

Coconut oil is 100% fat, 80-90% of which is saturated fat. Saturated fats were once thought to be a contributing factor to heart disease, but studies have been tipping the scales in favor of its many benefits.

This saturated fat is what gives coconut oil its thick texture at cooler temperatures. The fat is made up of smaller molecules called fatty acids, and there are several types of saturated fatty acids in coconut oil.

Coconut oil contains no cholesterol, and no fiber. It contains trace vitamins, minerals, and plant sterols.

Plant sterols have a chemical structure that mimics blood cholesterol, and studies have shown that plant sterols may inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from the small intestines.

Benefits of Coconut oil:

1. Coconut oil does not convert to fat in your body.

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s), which are an easy fuel for the body to burn, without being converted to fat. Most other cooking oils and fats contain long-chain triglycerides (LCT). LCT’s are usually stored as fat. Since coconut oil is a MCT, it is more easily absorbed and converted to energy quicker.

It is for this reason MCT’s are utilized in infant formulas and adult supplementation. Some animal studies have implicated MCT’s in raising our metabolism thereby promoting weight loss.

MCT’s either do not affect total cholesterol, or they may raise HDL cholesterol and may improve the ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) to LDL (bad cholesterol).

2. Coconut oil increases your metabolism.

Not only does coconut oil convert to energy quicker in your body, it increases your metabolism, which promotes weight loss.

Coconut oil encourages the body to use triple the amount of calories it normally would use. Since coconut oil is made up of many MCT’s it is converted to energy faster producing more heat. More heat equals more work equals more calories.

This is great news for people who have thyroid problems, since coconut oil improves sluggish thyroids by stimulating the production of extra thyroid hormones. Most other common oils, like vegetable (soy) and corn have been shown to inhibit thyroid function.

3. Coconut oil has omega 3 fatty acids.

Most cooking oils contain omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids, something we get way too much of in the United States. Our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio should be between 1:1 to 5:1 but the typical American diet has allowed for a ration of about 20:1 and increasing.

We need to drastically reduce our omega 6 intake and increase our omega 3, and coconut oil chock full of these healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

4. Coconut oil gives you energy.

Because of the healthy omega 3 fatty acids and the fact that it increases the metabolism, most people that switch to coconut oil feel a burst of added energy in their daily life.

This is because coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s), which increase metabolic rates and provides a fast expenditure of energy. . MCT’s promote thermogenesis, which increases the body’s metabolism, producing energy.

Coconut oil is processed directly in the liver producing a constant supply of glucose that is readily available for brain use.

Many people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia have found that adding coconut and coconut oil to their diet proved helpful to them.

5. Excellent for skin and hair.

Coconut oil, one of the best things you can apply directly on your skin and hair. It gives temporary relief to skin problems like rashes.

It aids in healing and restoring skin to a younger appearance. It has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, known to help with those who suffer from yeast and other infections of the skin.

Not only does is soften and smooth your skin, coconut oil has proteins and antioxidant properties that protect the skin and hair from free radical damage. Coconut oil makes for an excellent massage oil too.

6. Coconut oil is anti-infective:

Evidence is mounting that coconut oil has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, when consumed internally and/or used topically.

Most oils oxidize and become rancid quite quickly causing free radical damage in our bodies. Coconut oil is not easily oxidized and does not cause harmful free radical damage like polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

Free radical damage is thought to be responsible for many ailments in our body from arthritis to increased susceptibility to cancers.

Coconut oil also assists in the absorption of other nutrients more effectively, such as Vitamin E.

7. Coconut oil is one of the best oils you can use for cooking.

It has a higher smoke point than olive oil and flaxseed oil, in that it can handle higher temperatures without degrading.

The saturated fats contained in the oil are credited for its long shelf life and for its ability to handle higher temperatures than other oils. It resists oxidation unlike other cooking oils.

Rancid oils cause free radical damage in the body, which is a leading cause of cancer. Coconut oil is stable for over a year at room temperature.

Because of the misinformation we had received, we have missed years of the healthy benefits of coconut oil the peoples of the tropics have enjoyed for centuries.

But now it has been rediscovered!

8. Used for Oral Care:

Coconut oil is one of the oils identified for “oil pulling” due to its anti-bacterial, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Ideally done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and before brushing.

Forcefully swish the oil somewhat forcefully between your teeth and swish around your mouth for 5-10 minutes. This process should be done while sitting with your chin up. Try not to swallow and do not spit in the sink as it can clog your drains.

Coconut oil contains lauric acid which can react with alkalis present in saliva such as sodium hydroxide and bicarbonates to form sodium laureate-soap like substance, which reduces plaque adhesion and accumulation. Lauric acid prevents dental caries and is beneficial to oral health.

After 5 mins the oil takes on a milky white hue as it begins to emulsify. Ideally it should be done 3

9. Coconut oil has a pleasing taste:

Coconut oil and has a wonderful “nutty sweet” flavor that is so pleasing to the palate. I believe it enhances the taste of most foods, there is no mistaking its distinct flavor.

In everything; moderation is key:

Fats are essential for human existence, our bodies require it as insulation, to protect our organs, our nervous system and in the production of hormones. Our cellular is made up of a phospholipid bilayer and is selective in what it allows to enter the cells maintaining  continuous protection around each cell.

As in everything moderation is key, we should not consume anything in excess as that is never good for us.

Saturated fats increase inflammation, makes vessels less pliable thereby promoting, high blood pressure, heart disease and insulin resistance. They increase bad cholesterol and triglycerides and conversely decreases the good cholesterol. But over 50% of the saturated fats in coconuts are MCT’s which are directly metabolized by the liver, (see above).

Unsaturated omega-3 fats are the most heart friendly. They aid to reduce blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increase the good cholesterol. They also contribute to fulfill our requirements of essential fatty acids.

Medium chain triglycerides are the best sources of fat. They are not stored in fatty deposits, are used efficiently by the liver. They decrease the synthesis of cholesterol by the liver. As such they are perfect for their use in infant formulas, malabsorption syndromes such as in cystic fibrosis, IBS and ulcerative colitis. Coconut and palm oils are the the only vegetable oils known to date that contain saturated fats.

Conclusion

I began my life on coconut oil, my fore-parents had for generations consumed mainly coconut oil both internally and externally.

They came to their graves according to Job 5:26 … full vigor, like sheaves gathered in their season.

People in the tropics have relied on coconuts as a traditional staple in their diet for centuries. They consume large amounts of coconut oil every day. Instead of getting fatter, it helps them stay healthy, lean and trim.

When they begin to consume other cooking oils, they developed obesity and varying health problems.

In the tropics animals as well are fed on coconuts and coconut products, they as well are lean and healthy.

The oil contains health-promoting nutrients such as phytonutrients, such as carotenoids; antioxidants, vitamins, phenolic acids, flavonoids and MCTs. These are easily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and are readily bio-available.

Because it boosts your metabolism, it helps your body burn fat more effectively.

The consumption of fat is indispensable for our lives. It provides the building blocks for growth, metabolism, energy. Essential in the production of hormones, without which we cannot function, (as a menopausal female).

It reduces abdominal fat and aids in general metabolism of fats, so helps with weight loss, keeps skin and hair healthy and so much more.

We should always practice common sense in the use and consumption of anything, too much of anyone thing has never proven to be to our benefit, so again, moderation is  key.

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