Archive for April, 2008

Beware of the Dangers of Soy

A food that has taken its place as one of the most heralded “superfoods” of our generation is soy. It is touted as being capable of preventing all sorts of health issues such as heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. Praised for its health benefits as well as its affordability on a large scale to feed millions and millions of people, soy has literally achieved a “rock-star” status amongst those who consider themselves to be in the know about health and nutrition.

Soy has now become the forerunner and replaced the much-villainized meat, dairy, and eggs for the vegetarian counterparts of our communities. Its very notoriety has carried it so far to provide license for us to use it for all manner of products and useful items such as candles, personal care products like shampoos and skin moisturizers, and even feed for animals being slaughtered for food.

Once regarded only as a minor crop and an industrial product, soy is now a major player in the agricultural realm and covers a staggering 72 million acres of farmland in the U.S. Demand for soy has been far-reaching and powerful in its takeover as the miracle health food amongst lobbyists, government movements, and special interest groups. News of its versatility has reached new levels of insistence as it has also been pushed to become a main ingredient in lunches for children in schools. According to the USDA, “with the soy-enhanced food items, students are receiving better servings of nutrients and less cholesterol and fat.”

The manner in which the majority of soy products sold on the shelf are produced will come as quite a surprise to most people. SPI (soy protein isolate), the main ingredient in many soy products – and particularly in imitation meat and dairy products, some soy milk brands and baby formulas – is created in an industrial factory environment where the most harsh processing takes place.

Here is a limited explanation of what the soybean goes through in order to process it for consumption in millions of soy products bought in stores (from The Healing Crow Web site):

“Soy beans are combined with an alkaline solution which removes fiber, precipitated and separated using an acid wash, and finally neutralized in an alkaline solution. Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final product. The resultant curds are spray-dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder. A final indignity to the original soybean is high temperature, high pressure extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce textured vegetable protein (TVP).”

Soy blocks the absorption of B12 vitamins. More people have an allergy to soy than to any other legume. Limiting soy use to fermented soy foods like tempeh and miso is the best choice. Another issue with soy products, particularly those available in the U.S. is that processed soy products contain estrogen. Excess estrogen has been linked to cancer growth, and can be particularly unhealthy for men and boys to consume regularly as it can severely damage their reproductive systems.

Some popular counter-arguments brought up by the pro-soy crowd are that the Asian populations of the world have consumed soy for millennia with amazing health benefits and evidence abounding for its proof. What most studies and research fail to acknowledge is that, once again, we are not talking about the natural, fermented soy foods used only in moderation by generations of people. We are in fact talking about industrially produced, altered soy products that in no way resemble these ancient, medicinal foods. This, unfortunately, represents the bulk of soy “food” available in American and other developed society’s marketplaces – soy milk, soy cheese, soy butter, soy oils, soy ice cream, soy “meats” and the like – all of which are as unnatural and unhealthy as can be simply because they are not whole foods.

For more information on soy, visit the following Web sites:
Dr. Mercola
The Healing Crow

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Your Diet and Disease

As we age, there are many illnesses and diseases we develop – heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, asthma, arthritis, Diabetes, and Alzheimer’s to name just a few. Aging in and of itself is a natural process. What is unnatural are the things that happen to our bodies that cause these conditions to occur – and the fact that more people are developing many of these illnesses at earlier ages than previous generations. One of the key culprits to many of these diseases is as simple as what you eat on a daily basis. Many people know that a balanced diet is essential to good health, but how many people really take this idea seriously? No one has an iron-will or is able to completely avoid unhealthy, processed foods. Temptations are everywhere you look. What if someone were to tell you that most, if not all, major disease conditions are primarily caused by nutrient-deficient diets? Would you believe it?

One of the most common issues people suffer from is an inflammation in the body that is not in response to some direct cause such as a fever or swelling and redness from a wound or cut. Arthritis, which causes painful swelling and joint stiffness, is one example of inflammation that is neither healing nor productive. Another type of inflammation is allergic reactions in the body. The immune system becomes inflamed when it receives improper support (lifestyle choices such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and inadequate sleep) and attacks harmless substances such as animal dander or flower pollen. Both of these inflammations make life miserable and serve no useful purpose. Excessive inflammation increases the risk of various diseases developing over the course of a lifetime such as cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

If a careful examination of modern diets is to be considered, we must be aware of what we are eating that could be causing problems to develop. The consumption of cereal grains and the oils produced from them is higher by human beings today than ever in history. These processed grains contain higher amounts of Omega 6s and 9s than the human body can tolerate. The general trends show that consumption of grass-fed and pasture-raised (traditional farming methods) meats, vegetables and legumes has drastically decreased, and these substances are naturally higher in omega-3 fatty acids. The American diet contains very high concentrations of fatty acids from the Omega 6 and 9 families, such as most processed foods like cereals, crackers, breads, chips, and pasta. Eating such high amounts of these types of foods contributes to an overall increase in inflammation, and thus, disease and illness.

Without a doubt, one of the key factors in minimizing overall inflammatory responses in the body is a healthy diet. To avoid an inflammatory response in the body which causes diseases to develop, here are some tips for making wise eating and lifestyle choices:

  • eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • avoid processed foods and sugar
  • eat grass-fed or pasture-raised organic meats and poultry
  • consume raw dairy products
  • increase intake of omega 3 essential fatty essential acids from healthy sources such as safe source fish, grass-fed meats and game, eggs from pasture-raised hens, butter from grass-fed cows,
  • consume a handful of raw nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pumpkin seeds daily
  • maintain adequate fresh, filtered water intake daily (8 eight-ounce glasses)
  • reduce or eliminate alcohol, tobacco, drug, and prescription medication use
  • eat fermented foods such as homemade yogurt and kefir from whole, raw milk and sauerkraut, and/or take a quality probiotic
  • eat a moderate amount of whole grains, not ground from flour (sprouted is a plus)
  • eat local and organic produce, meats, and other foods
  • eat raw foods daily, minimize cooking whenever possible – raw foods contribute to an overall alkaline condition in the body which reduces inflammation and therefore, disease
  • eat moderate amounts of deep-sea fish (to avoid mercury contamination, these selections are optimal)
  • avoid eating out since you have less control over the ingredients in the food you eat
  • plan meals ahead of time so you can find quality ingredients and have time to shop for your schedule
  • take a quality fiber supplement daily
  • Take quality, whole-foods based (not synthetic) nutritional supplements (organic is a plus) that are suited to your individual needs; just buying vitamins at the store doesn’t guarantee delivery of proper nutrients into your system – consult a knowledgeable health care practitioner who can advise you on this very important matter. Good brands to investigate and inquire about are Apex Energetics, Biotics Research, and Standard Process.
  • participate in regular, moderate exercise
  • obtain between 6 and 8 hours of sleep nightly, and don’t go to bed later than 10:00 p.m.

Suggested reading:

The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan

and its affiliate web site:

The Inflammation Factor

For additional information on ideas for reducing inflammation, visit Today’s Dietician.

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