IN one hour of sustained physical exercise, the body can lose up to three quarts of water through perspiration. In that water are small amounts of “electrolyte” minerals—mainly sodium but also potassium—and carbohydrates (sugars), and losing too much of these can lead to fatigue.
For most of human history, the remedy to fluid loss was simple: drink water. But since the 1960s, sporting enthusiasts have an alternative—the “isotonic drink”, containing not only water, but also electrolytes and other minerals, plus vitamins, complex polymer carbohydrates and amino acids.
In the United States one of the sports drinks, which has become very popular, is the water that comes from coconut trees. According to my sister, who now lives in the US, coconut water is available in supermarkets, health-food stores and even in some vending machines in single-serving sizes.
One American health magazine hails coco water as “America’s healthiest beverage” for providing enhanced hydration, essential nutrition and all the five essential electrolytes (calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and sodium).
Consider this: When compared with a popular sports drink per 100 milligrams, coco water has more potassium (294 milligrams versus 11.7 milligrams), less sodium (25 milligrams versus 41 milligrams), more chloride (118 milligrams versus 39 milligrams), more magnesium (10 milligrams versus 7 milligrams), and less sugars (5 milligrams versus 6 milligrams).
During the Pacific War of 1941 to 1945, both sides in the conflict regularly used coconut water—siphoned directly from the nut—to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers.
“Medically, the buko juice is one of the purest sources of energy in the world,” said Dr. Jose P. Naval, an occupational physician based in Davao. “It is considered to be sterile because of its sealed enclosure in the nut shell.”
The health benefits of coco water had been hailed as early as 1996. A news report carried by Today said: “More and more studies on the coconut show that it has great nutritional and medicinal value, and can have a tremendous impact on the health and lives of the people.”
The report cited the “years of scientific research by Dr. Eufemio Macalalag Jr., chief of the Urology Department of the Chinese General Hospital.” It said the study has proven that “coconut water can help man stay healthy”.
The physician employed what he called as direct “bukolysis”. The report explained: “For the past year, Dr. Macalalag has been using coconut water from six- to 10-month-old nuts in dissolving kidney stones in his patients by directly infusing the water into the kidneys.”
In addition, the doctor also did extensive research on bukolysis and discovered oral bukolysis using fresh buko water, buko nectar concentrate, or buko nectar concentrate powder in dissolving all kinds of kidney stones.
Macalalag, the report said, recommends the drinking of buko water from three fresh nuts daily to prevent renal disorders.
Meanwhile, American nutritionist Jonny Bowden, author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, considers coco water to be a “perfectly good option” for people who want to stay hydrated. “It’s high in heart-healthy potassium, with most brands providing about 700 milligrams in an 11-ounce serving—that’s lots more than you get in a banana,” he wrote. “It also has only about 60 calories per 11-ounce serving.”
Diabetics can also benefit from drinking coconut water. The Philippine Coconut Authority gives this information: “Potassium content of water is remarkably high at all nut ages. Together with sodium and phosphorus, potassium content also tends to increase with the ages of the coconut to peak at nine months. This characteristic of coconut water makes it a very good drinking water for diabetics. Diabetics waking from a coma recover quickly after drinking coconut water.”
There’s more to coco water than all these. Bruce Fife, considered the world’s leading expert on coconut and health, shared this anecdote in his book, Coconut Water for Health and Healing, on how coco water helped in treating cataract:
“We discovered this by accident while on a cruise ship [years ago]. A few of us were on an island day trip and wanted to get off the beaten tourist’s path so we hired a bus and driver to take us to the opposite side of the island [only 10 of us on that big bus]. A man and his wife were taking the cruise as a sort last hoorah before her scheduled cataract surgery, we later found out.
“Anyway, there was a beautiful beach with coconuts laying everywhere and we got thirsty, but there was no drinking water. So we decided to open up some coconut to quench our dry throats. We found a local with a big machete and through sign language we convinced him to open coconuts for us. The woman with the cataracts got splashed in one eye by the coconut juice, and it burned a bit.
“We were all digging through everything we had for something to relieve her eye ‘injury’. All we came up with was one moist washcloth. Her husband wiped her eye and placed the washcloth over it. About 10 minutes later she announced we should head back to the ship. We did.
“The next morning at breakfast she said her eye was much better and that she could see very well. We examined her eye closely and could not see any signs of the cataract, which was quite obvious the day before. She said she wished she had gotten splashed in both eyes. Then the idea dawned on us to ‘splash’ her other eye.
“We did that very day as soon as we got ashore and also repeated the other eye too. This time we were prepared. We went to the local market, grabbed a coconut, opened it, and strained it through a washcloth into a plastic cup, dribbled the juice into both eyes, placed a warm washcloth over both eyes, waited 10 minutes, and the rest is history.”
Just a warning: what is being written here is basically for information. Before applying them, please talk with your doctor first.