I seem to be sensitive to sources of MCT oil, like coconut milk. Too much, and a laxative effect is a sure bet.
Is the laxative effect something that fades away after a period?
Any idea what causes it? I know that MCT oil has antibiotic properties against some bacteria, so perhaps there is a period of adaptation of the gut flora.
A disrupted gut is a big deal to me, as it seems to flush the electrolytes from my system, making exercise much harder.
Stephen, my answer depends on how long you've been paleo and how strictly paleo your diet is now.
MCT oil is usually more easily digested than longer chain triglycerides ( http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FDN/is_5_7/ai_94159012/ ), but its absorption may be limited by the available surface area of your small intestine. You may have residual damage to your gut, which could have been caused by past exposure to glutens or other anti-nutrients and allergens. Damage to the villi ( http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/G/GITract.html ) of the small intestine reduces surface area, which could affect the absorption of MCT's and other nutrients. If you stay fairly strictly paleo, especially avoiding grains, your gut should heal itself over time, and the problem should resolve.
Also, I like your theory about gut flora.
My guts initially rebelled whenever I had coconut oil or milk/cream, but I have adapted and very rarely have any issues these days. I reckon your theory about gut flora is probably correct, though I have never seen it explored through a study. Allergy is also a possibility, but there would probably be pain or other symptoms aside from the laxative effect.
I dont use coconut milk but i have had too much coconut oil run right through me. First off, know that i eat a lot of coconut oil, on a daily basis. Usually im fine. But every once in a while ill have just a bit too much and maybe 10, 15 minutes after eating i have to run to the bathroom. I get no pain, no stomach aches or cramping, its just like a "youve passed the max input" level or something. I have not had this with even pretty hefty doses of other fats. Still 100% love my CO though.
Before I ever even heard of paleo I had a problem with coconut milk. It came on suddenly - I couldn't eat any of it AT ALL without horrible gut cramping and a bathroom trip (or three) 10 minutes after eating. I loved coconut milk (mostly in Thai food) before this started happening.
I cut it out of my diet completely for about two years, then when I found paleo I decided to give it another try (in the safety of my own home). I put a little bit in a smoothie - no problems. I've since added more and more, and no more issues.
Long story short, I don't know what happened, but it did go away by itself.
I personally found that I thought coconut products were causing my digestive issues, but it was actually stevia. Once I cut out stevia, coconut products are nothing but delicious and filling.
If you use stevia, you might want to cut back or remove it from your diet, just to see?