gmo’s

The Soy Debate – Is It Good For You Or Not?

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The Soy Debate – Is It Good For You Or Not?

The soy controversy is highly debated these days among nutritionists. On the one hand, soy has become extremely popular, and on the other hand, the potential health risks have also become widely recognized. So, is it healthy or not so healthy to consume soy products?

The known benefits to soy:

  1. It can be prepared in many different ways as an alternative to meat products.
  2. It’s a source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.
  3. Soy milk is a common alternative to cow’s milk for people who are lactose sensitive or lactose intolerant.
  4. Some studies have shown that consuming soy is helpful in increasing HDL (our good cholesterol) and possibly it has antioxidants that protect an increase in our LDL levels (the bad cholesterol).
  5. Even more recently, there have been some studies done on the isoflavones found in soy. Their estrogen like properties can support bone strength and improve the symptoms of women going through menopause.

The potential health risks to soy:

  1. Soy that is grown in America is genetically modified and usually not labeled as such.
  2. There are recent studies showing that soy contains phytoestrogens. If you consume too much soy in your diet you can actually produce too much estrogen in the body, which is especially unhealthy for young children and males. In women, this can lead to an increased chance of developing breast cancer or uterine fibroids.
  3. Soy phytoestrogens can also cause thyroid disease and an increased risk of autoimmune disease, especially in babies or young children. It’s a very popular alternative formula for infants when they can’t tolerate regular cow’s milk products.
  4. Many of the meat replacement soy products, such as soy burgers, are highly processed containing unnatural toxins and can contain high levels of unhealthy preservatives and high levels of sodium.
  5. Some people have an allergic reaction to soy and don’t feel well after consuming it or even develop hives or general itching. You may not realize it is the culprit because soy is hidden in a lot of processed foods.

The best you can do is educate yourself so you can make your own informed decision on whether or not soy is good for you and your family. If you do choose to consume soy, edamame is a good choice because it is not processed, as well as fermented tofu.

What has happened to the integrity of our food supply?

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Despite the fact that the food industry spends literally billions of dollars on creative advertising and packaging, convincing us on how great and healthy their particular product is, or better yet, how convenient it is, we are eating less nourishing and more damaging foods than ever.

There are 5 reasons our food supply is dramatically different than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

1)  We know less of what is in our food now than ever.

I’ve become quite the label reader and yet reading a label these days is not very helpful. It’s a mile long and has words and names of ingredients that I can’t even pronounce, let alone know what they actually ARE or if they are healthy. Food companies, in my opinion, have become creative labelers, even deceptive by changing the names of things, not having to disclose what’s in a listed ingredient or saying something contains a “100%” of an ingredient when it contains 51% or more of that ingredient. To say the least it’s incredibly frustrating, but it is also upsetting to be deceived when you are trying to eat healthy. What’s even worse is more and more foods now have poisonous preservatives, fats and sweeteners. You can’t even get away from it! You basically need a PhD in chemistry just to understand what’s listed in modern day labels. And sorry to beat a dead horse, but there are also more than 3,000 ingredients included on the FDA’s list of “safe” food additives, many of which are in everything. I don’t trust their idea of “safe” anyway….so moving on.

Woman checking food labelling

2)  Since when does food need a shelf life.

What did we ever do before trans fats and how did we actually survive? Well, before we baked it, then we ate it. Now, you can bake it and it will still be preserved for weeks and months to come, gosh maybe longer if it’s a Twinkie (like years or decades according to the rumors). The development of trans fats after World War II opened the door to bake and fry in a cheaper more effective way, but also allowing foods to be stored at room temperature without leaking oils and remaining so called “fresh”. The use of trans fats apparently makes potato chips and french fries crispier, cookies tastier and biscuits flakier. It also doesn’t smoke as much when you deep fry it…..I guess a bonus for restaurants. But the question is….is it good for you to eat them? NO, it is not, on a multitude of levels, but it for sure increases your risk for heart disease by increasing your bad cholesterol and lowering your good cholesterol. (more articles to follow on trans fats….don’t get me started)

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3)  Even our animal protein sources are less healthy today.

The fat content of many of our meat sources are dramatically higher than 30 or 40 years ago. We feed them corn or grain as well as soy products all laden with antibiotics, which adds unnecessary fat. We should be feeding them grass and bugs while they run around free, but instead they are sedentary, in cages and fed products they would never eat in the wild range. Nowadays you have to pay extra to eat a happy natural source of animal protein. The rest are exercise free and fed unimaginable things. So it’s not shocking to find out that today’s chicken has more calories from fat than from protein.

4)  Our fruits and vegetables are also less nutritious.

There is new research emerging that shows that the actual nutrition of our fruits and vegetables is less abundant now than decades ago. I’m not sure why this is, but I plan to get to the bottom of it. And obviously, the subject of GMO’s is a big one and a terrible reason for the decline in these foods. I have more to research and write on this subject….stay tuned.

5)  Our calorie intake has increased dramatically by what we drink each day.

This number has nearly doubled from what it was 30 or 40 years ago (and I have to think strongly that this is a VERY conservative number, I would say more like tripled or more). There was no Starbucks or Jamba Juice or the numbers of sodas readily available then like they are now. The introduction of high fructose corn syrup has also dramatically added to our waistlines as well, especially in children.

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This is one of those less than uplifting topics to write about, I know, but please don’t lose heart. It’s important to point out and focus on these things so we can do better.

There are many positive things you can do to avoid these things:

– avoid fast food (except maybe In ‘n Out)

– avoid processed foods or choose nutritious packaged food by reading the labels very carefully (the fewer the ingredients the better and making sure those are readily identifiable ingredients, sugar should not be first or second listed)

– drink only liquids that are 100% of whatever you’re drinking (juice, milk, etc.)

– avoid trans fats like the plague

– eliminate high fructose corn syrup from your diet entirely

– select and eat only whole foods

– buy organic produce when you can and learn to identify GMO foods (and avoid them)

– select lean cuts of meat and eat grass fed/free range meats and wild caught fish when you can

I know it sounds like a lot of work and more costly to eat this way, but poor health is even worse and even more costly. I’ve heard people say we spend more on our cars each month than our bodies and health. Hmm….maybe so?

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Taking an active informed role in what you eat is a huge benefit down the road, and teaching your kids to do the same. Eating healthier reduces your risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, not to mention you feel a whole lot better!

Is There Really Starvation Or Is It Actually Malnutrition?

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This was a concept that took me a moment to wrap my head around. I grew up with Sally Struthers in the 80’s educating the world about African children who were starving and suffering and she brought amazing awareness and compassion to this fact. However, fast forward several decades and now we are seeing the paradox of more people dying across the world from obesity than starvation. There are more than 1.5 billion people across the world that are dangerously overweight and dying from its complications….AND they are also malnourished.

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So the world can produce enough food to feed those in need yet they are malnourished and obese. How do those two go together? It is a strange concept but many obesity sufferers are just as nutrient deficient (malnourished) as those people without enough food to eat (starvation). This is because the food that is being fed to the hungry and starved in many Third World countries is plentiful enough but not protein or nutrient based, because it is typically a corn or soy mixture with a sugar content. They are eating, but not with any true nourishing content. Many researchers believe that by 2015 undernourished obesity will be the leading cause of death in low income communities, not starvation.

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Obesity leads to the obvious diet-related illnesses such as hypertension, heart disease and of course, diabetes. These are serious illnesses that can’t always be treated in challenged parts of the world, let alone the less serious diet-related illnesses such as vitamin deficiency, gout, mental disorders, skin conditions, poor vision, failure to thrive in infants and children and even cancer.

This isn’t just an issue in Third World countries. It is directly linked to poverty and also poor choices, which is evident in the U.S. as well as many other countries. In America, there is a dangerous trend of families substituting whole foods for their families with fast foods, processed foods and frozen foods that are not any different than the soy or corn products fed across the world to struggling families. The body stores much of this useless stuff we are supposed to call “food” as fat in the body (GMO’s, refined sugars and flour, soda products, processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup plus a plethora of trans fats). Our bodies honestly don’t know what else to do with it. Yet, the crazy part is…..we are still hungry! It’s because our body has not received the protein and nutrition that it needs so it keeps asking for more….and we keep eating more. The vicious cycle continues and the fat stores get larger and larger, causing obesity, disease and death.

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The important thing is to recognize this cycle and break it. Break out of feeding yourself and your families empty garbage and instead eating whole food nutritious meals filled with healthy protein and vitamins, that will prevent obesity and permanent debilitating health issues.

 These are hard topics but hugely important and have been a true awakening and eye opener for me. Wishing you all well in your new awareness of this subject and the learning curve that goes with it. Make those amazing new dietary choices today! ( :