There’s a popular saying in the Philippines that goes, “A coconut a day keeps the urologist away.” It sounds quirky, but there seems to be some truth to it. Locals like drinking coconut juice -- or “water” -- as often as they can, not just for its refreshing taste, but for its power to prevent and relieve painful urinary tract infections, or UTI. If you have a UTI, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Coconut juice is not coconut milk; it’s the semiclear liquid that fills the interior of a coconut while the meat is still “young” or soft and semitranslucent. While coconut milk is the fatty white liquid extracted from mature coconut meat, coconut juice is its fat-free opposite. It’s literally 95 percent water. The Los Angeles Times reports that “coconut water” has recently become a health fad in the United States, acquiring a reputation for being nature’s “sports drink” and a tropical cure-all.
Despite the marketing hype, coconut juice does have a few medical uses. In his book “Coconut Cures: Preventing and Treating Common Health Problems with Coconut,” Dr. Bruce Fife says that one of its more documented properties is that of a natural diuretic, or a means of increasing urination. Along with antibiotics, diuretics are usually given to UTI sufferers to help flush out bacteria from the urinary tract. Coconut water appears to be a suitably mild alternative to diuretic drugs. Fife goes further, however, by claiming the juice makes kidney stones less likely to form and even helps flush existing ones out. He reports that the Philippine Chinese General Hospital’s tests on patients with kidney and urethral stone problems showed improvement when they began a regular intake of coconut water.
According to the India Coconut Development Board, coconut water has an acidic pH balance of 4.5, and it contains glucose, fructose, potassium, iron, sodium, calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, various amino acids, and trace amounts of ascorbic acid and B Vitamins. Coconut juice can be a potassium- and sodium-replenishing drink after a brief workout. BabyCenter Philippines even recommends it as a supplemental drink for children suffering from diarrhea to help prevent dehydration. It should be similarly useful to UTI sufferers. But as the Huffington Post reports, there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to prove it prevents or removes kidney stones.
A clinical study published with the American Medical Association Archives of Surgery in 1954 confirmed the natural purity of coconut juice from a freshly opened shell.However, once the shell is opened and exposed to air and warm temperatures, the coconut juice starts to ferment and lose its nutrients. As a result, if you drink bottled coconut water drinks, you could be drinking mostly food preservatives and hype.
Michael Long is a practicing nutritionist and started writing in 2010 for various websites, covering topics in alternative healing and nutrition. He has a master's degree in nutrition from Benedictine University.