I spent the better part of last week and the weekend lying prone on the couch. While I’m generally to be found in a horizontal position on most weekends, this was a bit of an exception. I’m still trying to recover from a severe bout of food poisoning that had me staring into the depths of my toilet bowl 8 times in a night. Needless to say, I wasn’t bouncing back as quickly as I usually did before.
But the day after my insane bout of throwing up, I discovered that my body was rejecting plain water. What? I was trying to rehydrate and all plain water did was make me retch. It was a surreal moment for me, because I’d never experienced this before. I’d never had problem drinking just plain warm water before this.
Fortunately for me, I remembered that a local “cure” for diarrhea and vomiting or food poisoning in general, is fresh coconut water from a young coconut. I managed to get a few, and they’ve kept me hydrated all through the weekend. In fact, it was all I could stomach in terms of liquids!
But what I also discovered, is a new-found “addiction” to fresh coconut water. I know coconut water is going through a huge healthfood renaissance at the moment. If it is to be believed, it is the new superfood, prompting people to tout it for everything from losing weight to curing ailments. I’m a sceptic of course! LOL 😀
Are you buying into the whole superfood theory? Or are you a fan of fresh young coconut water anyway?
I’d always enjoyed a good cold coconut, freshly hacked open to enjoy the salty-sweet fresh clear water within, and if you’re lucky, the silky smooth flesh of the young coconut. This is a staple every time I’m in Thailand, because Thai coconuts are so lovely and sweet! They are also very hydrating and refreshing after tramping around the hot streets of Bangkok.
But when I’m back in KL, I rarely used to buy coconuts. It always seemed to be more of “holiday drink” than a regular thing for me. But after this episode, I’m changing my mind, and I’m going keep my fridge well stocked with fresh coconut!
You see, I’m lucky to live in a land where fresh young coconuts, which are the ones harvested for their water, are plentiful. I’m actually not a fan of coconuts in general, but what makes coconut water special is that it doesn’t have that distinctive taste and smell of a coconut. As the coconut ages, the water turns milky and oily, and that is what is generally used for making coconut milk or cream (“santan”) and used in cooking. I’m not a fan of that element of coconuts.
But the water of a young coconut is quite something else.
Coconut water hydrates and refreshes
For one, the water hydrates the body just like plain water will, but it’s so much tastier. When your taste buds are dulled, whether by prolonged throwing up, or just from medication, it can be hard to drink plain water. Some people don’t even like the taste of plain water, which is why infused water is so popular. But coconut water does as good a job at hydrating the body, while being at the same time, refreshing and delicious!
It is said also that coconut water contains electrolytes and some minerals like potassium, magnesium and copper, that our bodies need to function, and that it is almost like drinking an isotonic energy drink without all the sugar. I can’t vouch for all that, since I’m no scientist, and research differs depending on who’s touting it, but I can vouch for this:-
- coconut water quenches thirst when you’ve lost a lot of water – either through purging or sweating, it quenches thirst better than plain water can;
- coconut water energises me, better than plain water can; and
- coconut water, to me, tastes a heck lot better than all the sugary energy drinks sold out there!
Locals believe that coconut water cleanses and cools the body
Locally, or perhaps even within the South East Asia region, where fresh coconut water is plentiful and which we therefore take a little for granted, coconut water is known to be “cleansing”. I’ve been told that some pregnant women drink a lot of coconut water when they’re close to their due date for delivery, to help ease the delivery of their babies. I don’t know of anyone who can vouch for this, so if you can, please share! 😀
Coconut water is also known to “cleanse” the system and promote health, which is helpful for those of us currently battling the thick smog that blankets our countries once or twice a year. When someone has a high fever or feels warm or “heaty”, coconut water helps to cool down the system and rebalance the yin and yang so you get better more quickly if you’re ill, or prevent you from falling sick, if you’re not.
Also, as I’d said at the top of this post, coconut water is known to be a “cure” for diarrhea and food poisoning. I think it’s more to do with how it rehydrates the body and cools it down and settles the system which might explain why it “cures” you. But seriously, don’t knock it. I can personally say that it works and it helped me stay hydrated, sane and alive 😛
How to buy and store fresh coconut water
These days, at the supermarket, I see bottles and bottles of drinks purporting to the fresh coconut water. I know that due to the whole healthfood craze, they are now also easily found in many countries, but they cost a lot, and some of them contain additives in the form of sugars. I’d be very cautious because you might just be putting more unnecessary sugars in your body.
Personally, as I’ve said, I’m very lucky to be living where young coconuts are plentiful and I can get fresh coconuts for between RM2.60-RM3.80 (under US$1 at current exchange rates) so I now keep a few in my fridge and plan to have them at least 2-3 times a week.
If you’re thinking of doing the same, my advise is to buy the coconuts whole, if possible. Have the vendors trim off most of the husk, without exposing any of the flesh. They will keep better this way. I just hack them open with a cleaver (I run an Asian household so a cleaver is a must have in the kitchen! 😛 ) and stick a straw in to enjoy the fresh, sweet goodness.
My personal preference lies with our local Malaysian young coconuts, which aren’t as sweet or as fragrant as those from Thailand, but which I feel have a more piquant flavour, and more liquid. Preferences vary from person to person of course!
Locally, in the supermarkets, you can sometimes find coconuts that have most of the top half of the husk removed, leaving a thin layer of flesh. They call them “Kelapa Botak” or bald coconuts and they’re easy if you want to enjoy them immediately. Pop a straw through the flesh and drink. But be warned that these don’t keep very well. Ditto the ones that are freshly shucked from their shells and sold in containers.
With fresh coconuts, I find that once they’re opened, you should consume immediately or within 24 hours. Otherwise, it goes bad, and instead of enjoying a refreshing, hydrating drink, you might find yourself looking into the depths of your toilet bowl instead 😛
Are you too a fan of coconut water? Do you personally believe in the health benefits and do you drink it regularly?
So that, my friends, is my recent revelation and love affair with coconut water. It took me a serious bout of food poisoning to discover something that people here have enjoyed and understood for hundreds of years. It isn’t an exact science, and I scoffed when I saw how coconut water was taking the world by storm. But I am now addicted, primarily for the reasons I’ve set out above, not necessarily from a health food point of view.
I’m still not sold on the idea of bottled coconut water, but I count myself very lucky to live where coconut water has been a staple refreshment on a hot, sweaty day, and a cure for minor stomach upsets, and I’m glad I’m finally in touch with that part of my deep-seated SEAsian roots 🙂 What about you?