Monolaurin and Digestive Health - How to Help and Repair a Leaky Gut
Last Updated: April 4, 2019 | First Published: July 6, 2018
Reviewed by: Dr. Ahmed Zayed, M.D.
Digestive health is central to overall health because the digestive system is where nutrients from food are absorbed and then transported throughout the body for use in various processes. The digestive system is also on the frontlines of fighting disease by being home to a gut microbiome, a community of disease-fighting and health-maintaining microorganisms like bacteria. So, a healthy gut is a healthier you; however, as digestive health is compromised, so is your body.
Leaky gut contributes to this compromised health state, as it takes in toxic waste products and unabsorbed food particles along with desired nutrition. In turn, these waste products are transported throughout the body thus reducing overall health. This is where monolaurin comes into play: Monolaurin may help improve our intestinal ecosystem, our gut microbiome, and in turn our overall health.
Repairing a Leaky Gut
In a leaky gut, the barrier inside the bowel that was once effective in the absorption of nutrients malfunctions and allows the entry of large molecules and germs producing a wide spectrum of symptoms. Leaky gut is associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma, autism, lupus, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, migraines and even food allergies (Ref #1). In this situation, the gut microbiome is compromised. Monolaurin then becomes a key player in this sense.
Monolaurin, the biologically active form of lauric acid, is a medium-chain fatty acid found in coconut oil that is capable of destroying fungi, bacteria, and viruses. The bacteria that pass through the intestinal barrier also can be destroyed by monolaurin. By virtue of being a medium-chain fatty acid, monolaurin has antimicrobial effects as well as a positive effect on the immune system. Studies have investigated the effect of medium-chain fatty acids on the gut microbiome and found that these kinds of fatty acids had a protective effect on intestinal structure (Ref #2).
To discuss further, monolaurin as a medium-chain fatty acid has been found to have roles in the gut and metabolic health in the following ways:
1. Supporting gut microbiome and fighting obesity:
A study (Ref #3) has found that consumption of medium-chain fatty acids such as monolaurin from coconut oil helped in remodeling the gut microbiome by altering the distribution of good bacteria where they were needed the most. In addition to this, taking monolaurin was also shown to have anti-obesity properties.
2. Aiding nutrition absorption:
Since medium-chain fatty acids are more likely to be absorbed by the gut compared to long-chain fatty acids, a study (Ref #4) found that taking medium-chain fatty acids lead to an improvement in fat malabsorption in patients diagnosed with HIV, indicating an increase in their nutrition states.
3. Help fight malnutrition:
Another study (Ref #5) found that in patients with short bowel syndrome, medium-chain fatty acids provided calories even with minimal prior digestion.
Digestive and gut health is essential to holistic health, and monolaurin can aid in restoring digestive health by promoting a healthy intestinal flora, increasing the ability to absorb fat, and providing calories. Monolaurin can help you get more positive results from food as well as kill the harmful bacteria that get into the system because of a leaky bowel.
“Leaky gut syndrome”. NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/leaky-gut-syndrome/
N. Dierick, J. Decuypere, & I. Degeyter. The Combined Use Of Wholecupheaseeds Containing Medium Chain Fatty Acids And An Exogenous Lipase In Piglet Nutrition. Archives of Animal Nutrition. February 2003.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12801079
S. Rial, A. Karelis, K. Bergeron, & C. Mounier. Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals. Nutrients. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882694/
C. A. Wanke, D. Pleskow, P. C. Degirolami, B. B. Lambl, K. Merkel, & S. Akrabawi. A medium chain triglyceride-based diet in patients with HIV and chronic diarrhea reduces diarrhea and malabsorption: A prospective, controlled trial. Nutrition. 1996.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900796002213
N. Shah, & B. Limketkai. The Use of Medium-Chain Triglycerides in Gastrointestinal Disorders. Nutrition Issues in Gastroenterology. February 2017.http://mctlift.com.br/site/artigos/1.pdf