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Superfoods for Health


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Superfoods for Health

  2. 2. Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s NATURAL THERAPY 1 Can Eating Apple Pie Lower Your Blood Sugar?...................................... 1 NATURAL THERAPY 2 A Nutrient Powerhouse and Metabolism Booster.................................... 5 NATURAL THERAPY 3 How a Stinking Rose Can Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke.................. 10 NATURAL THERAPY 4 The Japanese Secret to Weight Loss and Longevity.............................. 14 NATURAL THERAPY 5 Superfood or Toxic Killer?.................................................................... 20
  3. 3. Natural Health Sherpa 3 A Special Note from the Natural Health SherpaTeam… Believe it or not, the most powerful medicine is something you have access to without a prescription – it’s the foods you eat. But at the same time, the most powerful poison you can give yourself is by choosing the wrong foods, such as those full of sugar, transfats, artificial flavors and colorings and more. Fortunately, over the years, a few foods have risen to the top that contain remarkable healing properties that put them head and shoulders over other foods. Inside this special report, you’ll find a host of these “superfoods” that rigorous scientific studies have proven to be dramatically beneficial for your health. What’s even better is that these superfoods are absolutely delicious, affordable and incredibly easy to incorporate into your daily routine. By simply choosing a select few superfoods over the toxic frankenfoods that are polluting the aisles of our grocery store, you can leverage the powerful healing properties that Mother Nature has given to us. WARNING: To be clear, none of these superfoods should be viewed as a cure-all or magic bullet – such a thing simply does not exist. The single most important action you can take is to change your ENTIRE diet to be one full of nutrient-dense, whole foods, followed by engaging in daily exercise. Yes, I am sure you’ve heard that before and that’s because it’s true…there’s simply no avoiding that fact. The food you eat and the exercise you engage in will be the predominant determinants as to whether you lead a vibrant, energetic life or one plagued by one health problem after another. But, we have to be realistic – we are living in a world full of toxic foods and surrounded by lifestyle choices that inevitably lead us to becoming a sick, overweight couch potato. To that end, we could all use a helping hand and that’s just what Mother Nature has provided us in these superfoods. From the entire team here at Natural Health Sherpa, we truly hope you enjoy this report. And if it’s something that you like, please feel free to share it using the Twitter and Facebook links you’ll find at the end. Naturally yours, The Natural Health Sherpa Team
  4. 4. Natural Health Sherpa Cinnamon 1 N AT U R A L T H E R A P Y 1 Cinnamon: Can Eating Apple Pie Lower Your Blood Sugar? Is it possible that eating apple pie can actually lower your blood sugar? The answer is yes, but ONLY if it contains this one critical ingredient. The idea of using this special ingredient medicinally is far from new. Chinese, Ayurvedic and naturopathic medicine all utilize it for a variety of conditions, including nausea, bloating, GI upset, and libido enhancement. However, it was the accidental discovery of its benefits for treating and preventing type 2 diabetes that has made this special ingredient one of the world’s most celebrated spices. You may be surprised to learn that this special ingredient is something that you’ve likely used dozens, if not hundreds of times before: cinnamon. Dr. Anderson’s Accidental Discovery… While cinnamon was deemed to be more precious than gold by the ancient Egyptians and considered to be a gift fit for a king by the Romans and Greeks, it was Dr. Richard Anderson, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who made this sweet spice truly valuable. Dr. Anderson was trying to discover the effect that apple pie had on blood sugar levels. In fact, he was hoping to show that apple pie would dramatically increase blood glucose levels. Instead, they were lowered1 . Yep, lowered…as in, eat dessert and decrease your glucose levels. Dr. Anderson was as baffled as you likely are. How on earth could a sweet, baked pie lower blood sugar levels? He quickly realized that it was the cinnamon in the apple pie that was responsible for the lowering of blood glucose levels by acting on the true underlying cause of type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon Improves Insulin Sensitivity… More specifically, Dr. Anderson discovered that cinnamon contains a polyphenol called methylhydroxy chalcone polymer (MHCP)2 that can improve the metabolism of glucose in fat cells twentyfold3 . It does this by reducing the insulin resistance of fat cells, making their insulin receptors more responsive. To explain how this works, imagine trying to talk to your spouse while the kids are screaming, the television is blaring, and the dog is barking to go outside. Pretty unlikely your spouse can pay attention, right?
  5. 5. Natural Health Sherpa Cinnamon 2 Now, let the dog out, turn off the television, and settle the kids down with a snack and a game and your spouse will finally be able to hear you! That’s how insulin resistance/insulin responsiveness works. If there is too much insulin or “noise” in your bloodstream, your cells cannot hear the message. But if you turn down the noise (i.e. improve glucose metabolism), your cells can hear the message and allow the insulin receptors to be more responsive. Of course, we can’t promise the same results with your spouse! And, when cells are better able to hear insulin’s message; and can better absorb and use glucose, the result is lower blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is caused by your body becoming resistant to the effects of insulin. The bottom line here is that cinnamon appears to help reduce this resistance. Though this sounds great in theory, let’s see if the studies support the hypothesis. Diabetes Studies Abound… As you can imagine, Dr. Anderson’s accidental discovery unleashed a whole host of studies on the connection between cinnamon, glucose, insulin, and diabetes. Since it would be unreasonable for us to list and you to read them all, here are a few of the most intriguing. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study4 , researchers gave 60 volunteers with type 2 diabetes either 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon powder (or placebo) in capsules after meals each day for 40 days. At the end of the study period, those taking the cinnamon (in any amount) enjoyed a decrease in blood sugar levels ranging from 18 to 29 percent. In fact, the blood sugar levels of the volunteers who received cinnamon were an average of 20 percent lower than were those of volunteers in the placebo group. Some members of the cinnamon groups even achieved normal levels. Interestingly, researchers also found that those participants taking the cinnamon also showed a decrease in triglycerides by as much as 30 percent and a decrease in total cholesterol ranging from 12 to 26 percent—and without any toxicity problems. In other words, less than a teaspoon of cinnamon lowered blood sugar levels, decreased triglycerides, and reduced total cholesterol in just over one month without any negative side effects. Sounds good, but it was only 40 days. What if the study was longer? German researchers wondered the same thing. In their double-blind, placebo-controlled study, they tested the effect of cinnamon on patients with type-2 diabetes who were taking oral diabetes medication5 . They divided the participants into two groups. The first group received an aqueous extract of cinnamon (the equivalent of 3 g of cinnamon powder) while the second group was given a placebo. After four months, the group taking cinnamon experienced a 10.3 percent reduction in blood sugar, compared to the placebo group’s drop of 3.4 percent.
  6. 6. Natural Health Sherpa Cinnamon 3 Once again, less than a teaspoon of cinnamon seems to reduce blood sugar levels. That’s about the amount you would sprinkle on your oatmeal in the morning. Not a bad way to start the day. Finally, researchers2 also tested the use of cinnamon versus insulin to encourage glucose metabolism. Using an in vitro (think test tube) cell culture, researchers found that the bioactive polymer in cinnamon stimulated glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis to a level comparable to that achieved by insulin. In other words, the tasty spice worked as well as the medication…at least in a laboratory. It would be interesting to see this repeated in humans to determine if cinnamon would still perform as well as insulin in type 2 diabetics. The News Isn’t All Good… While the research on cinnamon and its ability to lower blood sugar levels is fairly well established and accepted, even in conventional circles, there are some potential problems having to do with precisely which form of cinnamon is safe and effective to use. The main issue has to do with numerous oil-based compounds—as well as such water- soluble ones such as MHCP—found in cinnamon bark. The key terms here are “oil” and “bark”. These oil compounds from the bark are known to be toxic when taken at high doses for long periods of time. Oils extracted from the cinnamon leaf are non-toxic. Similarly, cinnamon powder has been shown to be safe, even when used often and regularly, with no shown toxicity or negative side effects. This is due, in large part, to the fact that cinnamon powder has much of the essential oils removed during processing. To be even safer, you may choose to use a water-soluble versus oil-based form of cinnamon. Putting Cinnamon to Use… Cinnamon is so common, and so delicious, you are likely already using it. But, to help you incorporate it into your everyday life, here are a few suggestions: • You can add cinnamon to a hot liquid that you drink every day such as coffee, or preferably green tea, to make it more of an extract. • Use cinnamon sticks to make tea. • Add cinnamon powder to coffee beans before grinding to give your morning java a blood sugar boost. • Add ½ to 1 teaspoon to oatmeal or any hot cereal. • Add ½ to 1 teaspoon to your favorite smoothie. • Make sweet potato cinnamon “fries.” Cut a sweet potato into disks. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil and place potato disks in single layer on the cookie sheet. Spray the potatoes with the olive oil. Sprinkle potatoes with cinnamon and bake at 425°F for 20–25 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.
  7. 7. Natural Health Sherpa Cinnamon 4 • Finally, replicate Dr. Anderson’s apple pie experiment…sort of. Core an apple, then it cut in half from top to bottom. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until the apple is soft. No matter how you use cinnamon, if you are either at risk for or have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it is one spice you should get to know. Just remember that cinnamon should be a tasty addition to your diabetes program…not the starring role. The most powerful method for reversing your type 2 diabetes requires substantial changes to your lifestyle including eating a diet chock full of nutrient-dense, low glycemic-load whole foods and to engage in moderate daily exercise. And as always, check with your doctor when adding any herb, spice, or supplement to your medical regimen. References: 1 MacKenzie, Debora. “Cinnamon spice produces healthier blood.” New Scientist. November 24, 2003. 2 Jarvill-Taylor, KJ, et al. “A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Aug; 20(4): 327-36. 3 McBride, Judy. “Cinnamon Extracts Boost Insulin Sensitivity.” Agricultural Research Magazine. 2000 July; 48(7): 21. 4 Khan, MS, et al. “Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care 26 (2003): 3215-18. 5 Mang, et al. “Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2.” Eur J Clin Invest. 2006 May; 36(5): 340-4.
  8. 8. Natural Health Sherpa Coconut Oil 5 N AT U R A L T H E R A P Y 2 Coconut Oil: A Nutrient Powerhouse and Metabolism Booster Imagine you are walking the beach on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. All around you, people are surfing, hiking, jogging, swimming and paddleboarding. Suddenly it becomes obvious which of your fellow sand dwellers are tourists and which are locals. Not only do the locals have a glow about their skin and trim figures, but they also seem to be oozing with abundant health and energy to spare! Plus, there isn’t a sniffle, cough, runny nose or apparent headache in sight. What on earth can their secret be? Is it the sun? The stress-free life? The salt air? Those things may play a role, but the real secret lies within the world’s largest seed. Coconut: A Nutrient Powerhouse… The Malaysian and Polynesian cultures have revered the coconut for centuries. Not only has this largest-known seed yielded food and water for hundreds of thousands of people, it also contains nearly all of the essential nutrients your body needs for optimal health. In addition to a whole host of amino acids, coconut is also a great source of the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese, as well as vitamin C and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Coconut oil contains all of these nutrients and more. It also contains 90 percent saturated fat, which puts it right smack in the middle of the great fat debate. The Saturated Oil Debate… Coconut oil is extracted from the dried flesh of the coconut. It is also a source of plant- based saturated fat, the very fat doctors and nutritionists alike have been telling us to avoid like the plague. While it’s true that coconut oil is 90 percent saturated fat, 45 percent of that fat is lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that converts in your body to monolaurin. Monolaurin is the actual compound found in breast milk that strengthens a baby’s immune system. It is also known to promote normal brain development and contribute to healthy bones, as well as protect against viruses and bacteria.3 Despite these purported health benefits, many opponents of coconut oil point to the high concentration of saturated fats as a reason to avoid it. While there may be an argument to avoid saturated fats coming from animals that have
  9. 9. Natural Health Sherpa Coconut Oil 6 been raised using conventional feedlots and fed an unnatural diet of corn and soy, the fat in coconut oil is actually a medium-chain triglyceride. These fats are more easily digested than other fats and are quickly metabolized, giving you a great source of energy. Also, your body uses medium-chain triglycerides differently than other fats. Most fats are stored in your body’s cells. But the fat in coconut oil goes directly to your liver, where it is converted into energy. In layman’s terms, that bacon and cheese omelet you ate most likely sits around in your cells waiting to be burned up or stored as fat for later. However, coconut oil gets shipped directly to your liver, where it is put to work to help you get up and get going. Back to Those Benefits… Let’s take a closer look at the supposed health benefits. Coconut appears to be anti-just-about-everything: • Anti-inflammatory • Anti-pyretic (it reduces fever) • Anti-fungal • Anti-bacterial A pharmacological study1 of virgin coconut oil found that it reduced inflammation in rats. The same study also found that when researchers induced hyperthermia (excess heat) in the rats, the coconut oil helped to reduce fever (anti-pyretic) and ease pain in the affected rats. Researchers concluded: “The results…suggest anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic properties of virgin coconut oil.” In other words, it reduced inflammation, eased pain, and reduced fever. That’s not bad… for rats. However, we would love to see this type of study tested in humans. On the antifungal front, researchers studied the effect of coconut oil on Candida (the fungus common to yeast infections), as compared to fluconazole, a common antifungal drug.2 Fifty-two different isolates of Candida were obtained from clinical specimens. Of these, Candida albicans was the most common isolate used. This is important, as this form is the common cause of diaper rash, vaginitis, thrush, and yeast infections. All isolates were tested to see how susceptible they were to both virgin coconut oil and the antifungal drug. Researchers found that Candida albicans had the highest susceptibility to coconut oil when the coconut oil had a 1:4 dilution, as compared to fluconazole, which needed a 1:2 dilution to be as effective. Translation: They needed less coconut oil, compared to the drug, to fend off the fungus. In simpler terms, the coconut oil worked better (in a smaller quantity) than the drug. Once again, nature beats man’s inventions.
  10. 10. Natural Health Sherpa Coconut Oil 7 When it comes to antibacterial properties, one study in particular found that virgin coconut oil helped to treat skin infections.3 Researchers performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 26 people who had atopic dermatitis, a skin condition that often includes painfully dry skin that is highly susceptible to a nasty bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. Researchers had half the group use virgin coconut oil twice a day for four weeks at two noninfected sites. The other group used virgin olive oil, also applying it twice a day for four weeks. When the study started, 20 of the 26 participants tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus. At the end of the study period, only one of the virgin coconut oil users (5 percent) tested positive for the bacteria, as compared to six users (50 percent) in the olive oil group. The coconut oil also relieved the users’ dry skin. Researchers concluded that coconut oil might be useful for treating bacteria, fungi, and viruses. While we agree, we’d like to see this type of gold standard study repeated with a larger participant pool, as well as with a variety of bacteria strain, just to be sure. Heart and Weight Benefits Too… Advocates of coconut oil also point to its cardio-protective and fat-burning properties, as well as its antibacterial benefits, etc. According to a population study4 of about 2,500 people from the Polynesian islands of Tokelau and Pukapuka, high coconut oil intake has no effect on cholesterol levels. Investigators tracked folks who consumed a high-fat diet derived primarily from coconuts — every meal contained coconut in one form or another. The researchers reported that the participants’ overall health was very good, and that vascular disease was uncommon. In fact, even though these people were consuming high amounts of saturated fat in the form of coconut oil, they did not seem to have high cholesterol. Coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and other bowel disorders were rare as well. The lead researcher, Dr. Ian Prior, concluded that there was no evidence that high saturated fat intake from coconut oil had a harmful effect. This conclusion seems right, and then some. Not only does the coconut oil appear to not hurt, it also seems to be beneficial when it comes to gastrointestinal health. However, that cannot be stated conclusively without evaluating the participants’ entire diet. Interestingly, when it comes to weight loss, it appears that coconut oil’s medium-chain triglycerides are the very reason it is effective. It turns out that when you eat coconut oil, your body uses it more quickly rather than storing it as body fat. In this way, those medium-chain triglycerides are thermogenic— meaning that they actually speed up your metabolism, burning more calories and giving you more energy. For example, according to several online sources, farmers from the 1940s wanted to
  11. 11. Natural Health Sherpa Coconut Oil 8 fatten up their livestock, so they gave them coconut oil. However, the animals became leaner and more active. This is quite intriguing, but cannot be attributed to any credible source, but we did discover a human study that seems to back this up. In a study of people in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, where coconut is a staple food, researchers found that their metabolic rate was an average of 25 percent higher than people in the U.S. However, like the farmers/livestock example, we cannot substantiate this commonly cited study either. Both appear to be perpetuated by the same author, who never cites the studies he is pulling from. Though the mechanism of action of medium-chain triglycerides and fat-burning makes sense physiologically, we were ready to dismiss the connection between coconut oil and weight loss due to a lack of clinical evidence. Then we came across several studies which included a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study from Brazil5 . Researchers tested the effects of coconut oil on 40 women between the ages of 20 to 40, with clinical abdominal obesity (waist circumference of more than 88 cm). Half of the group received a daily dose of either soybean oil or coconut oil for 12 weeks. Both of the groups were instructed to follow a balanced, low-calorie diet and to walk for 50 minutes each day. At the end of the study period, those taking the coconut oil had a statistically greater loss of waist circumference that those taking the soybean oil. The coconut oil users also had a statistically higher level of HDL (good) cholesterol and a lower LDL/HDL ratio than the soybean oil group. Both groups enjoyed a decrease in their body mass index (BMI). So, those using the coconut oil lost weight, lost inches around their waist, increased their levels of good cholesterol, and improved their bad to good cholesterol ratio. Not bad for a big seed! Using Coconut Oil… At the very least, it is clear that coconut is not bad for you and that there is a significant difference between the saturated fat in coconuts and the saturated fat in animals. Also, there appears to be strong evidence that coconuts are an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory food. Plus, the research behind its heart and weight benefits seems well founded. Therefore, we support the use of coconut oil…for health as well as taste. As it turns out, coconut oil is also a great option for cooking due to its high smoking point (350°F for unrefined and 450°F for refined). This is a culinary way of saying that you can sauté and bake with coconut oil and not worry about it turning into a trans-fat before your eyes. Plus, coconut oil is very stable. It has a two-year shelf life and won’t turn rancid, even in warm temperatures. So give coconut oil a try. Just be sure to choose organic, virgin coconut oil that is
  12. 12. Natural Health Sherpa Coconut Oil 9 unrefined, unbleached, made without heat processing or chemicals, and is non-GMO. We are sure that after a few days with this outstanding oil, you’ll be loco for coconut, too! References: 1 Intahphuak, S, et al. “Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil.” Pharm Biol. 2010 Feb. 48(2):151-7. 2 Ogbolu, DO, et al. “In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria.” J Med Food. 2007 Jun. 10(2)384-7. 3 Verall-Rowell, VM, et al. “Novel actibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis.” Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec.19(6):308-15. 4 Prior IA, et al. “Cholesterol, coconuts and diet in Polynesian atolls—a natural experiment; the Pukapuka and Toklau island studies.” Am J Clin Nutr 1981. 34:1552-61. 5 Assuncao, ML, et al. “Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and antrhopometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity.” Lipids. 2009 Jul. 44(7):593-601.
  13. 13. Natural Health Sherpa Garlic 10 N AT U R A L T H E R A P Y 3 Garlic: How a Stinking Rose Can Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke Each day, thousands of people gleefully walk out of their cardiologist’s office with a prescription in hand. But, they are later shocked to discover that these are actually prescriptions for disaster. You see, these prescriptions are most often for a statin drug to lower cholesterol or some type of blood thinner to help prevent stroke or other related blood-clotting health concern. But how often do they tell you the myriad of horrendous side effects associated with these drugs, or how they rob your body of vital nutrients? Or, worse yet, do they tell you that the condition they are treating you for (especially high cholesterol) isn’t even the REAL issue? For years, the medical community has known that inflammation is the real culprit in heart disease. However, they keep shelling out prescription after prescription to lower bad, evil cholesterol, all the while letting inflammation run rampant. As if it couldn’t get any worse, they never tell you that there is a natural option to both treating cholesterol and preventing blood clots and stroke. And they definitely won’t tell you that you can cook with this miracle substance or simply take it in supplement form. What they may know (or maybe not!) and aren’t telling you is that this heart-saver is probably sitting in your kitchen cupboard right now. It’s garlic…yep, garlic. The Stinking Rose… The humble garlic has been renowned for centuries for its medicinal properties. In Egypt, garlic was used to enhance physical strength. In ancient Greece, it was given as a laxative. It was even nicknamed “Russian penicillin” due to its effectiveness as a topical antibiotic for battle wounds. Even Hippocrates, Father of Medicine, wrote that garlic was excellent for curing tumors and was a good diuretic. And you thought it was only good for fending off vampires! The reality is this: Garlic has been credited with everything from cardiovascular benefits and cold prevention to protection from infectious disease and cancer. But where does the truth — the scientific truth — lie?
  14. 14. Natural Health Sherpa Garlic 11 Garlic’s Cardiovascular Benefits… Research has shown that garlic has a myriad of cardiovascular benefits. Specifically, it reduces cholesterol levels and helps reduce blood clots. In one laboratory study from the Journal of Nutrition,1 researchers tested the effects of several garlic compounds to suppress the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. The researchers explained that LDL oxidation is the real key to cardiovascular issues, as opposed to “native” or natural LDL cholesterol. They found that garlic does, in fact, suppress LDL oxidation. They went on to conclude: “Suppressed LDL oxidation may be one of the mechanisms that accounts for the beneficial effects of garlic in cardiovascular health.” So, while garlic doesn’t wipe out LDL cholesterol (which is a good substance), it does keep it from turning bad…which is a good thing. This is key, because despite what you’ve heard, cholesterol itself is not deadly. It’s natural and without it you’d die; it’s the oxidation of cholesterol that causes the problem. To better understand this, picture yourself making a fruit salad. Chefs all over the world know that you need to sprinkle a little lemon or lime juice over the fruit to keep it from turning brown. That “browning” is oxidation. Before the fruit turns brown, it’s perfectly fine and delicious. But once it browns, due to oxidation, it’s less desirable. It’s the same with cholesterol. Cholesterol itself is fine and quite necessary for many bodily functions, especially the creation of hormones. However, once oxidation occurs, that cholesterol “goes bad.” In this way, garlic is like the lemon juice. By “sprinkling” it, you keep your cholesterol from “browning.” Looking at additional research, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study2 , researchers divided men with high cholesterol into two groups. For 10 months, one group took 7.2 grams of aged garlic extract while the other took a placebo. By the end of the research study, researchers found that those taking the aged garlic extract had a 30 percent reduction in platelet adhesion to fibrinogen, as compared to the placebo group. The garlic group also had less oxidation of their lipoproteins as compared to the placebo group. All of this is medical jargon for saying that the garlic helped reduce the formation of blood clots and decreased the oxidation of cholesterol. Another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study had similar results3 . Researchers divided 34 healthy men and women into three groups. One group received 2.4 grams of aged garlic extract, one received 7.2 grams, and the third received a placebo. Researchers found that those taking 7.2 grams of garlic had significantly reduced platelet aggregation than those taking the lower dosage or placebo. Again, reduced platelet aggregation means a lower risk for blood clots. Finally, in a 2001 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine4 , researchers decided to look at all of the research to date on garlic’s benefits to the cardiovascular system and to
  15. 15. Natural Health Sherpa Garlic 12 draw some broad conclusions as to it efficacy. They combed 11 electronic databases, references, etc. dated from January 1966 through February 2000 and limited their research to randomized, placebo-controlled studies that were at least four weeks in duration. They found that, as compared with a placebo, garlic helps to reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels when taken for one month or three months, but not at six months. They also found that garlic helped to significantly reduce platelet aggregation. Once again, garlic is shown to help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk for blood clots by reducing platelet aggregation. Okay, we get it. Garlic works. The Power Within the Clove… Now that we know that garlic helps reduce cholesterol levels, as well as your risk for blood clots, only one question remains: how does it do that? Garlic contains 33 sulfur compounds, 17 amino acids, antioxidants such as germanium and selenium, and multiple vitamins and minerals. However, out of all these beneficial chemical compounds, most researchers believe a substance called allicin is the key ingredient. Allicin is also what gives garlic its “delightful” aroma. In fact, allicin is the garlic’s own protection against insects and other pests. It is this defense mechanism that has led some to call garlic “Mother Nature’s insecticide.” However, the garlic needs to be damaged in some way (like cutting into it) for allicin to be produced. Researchers have tried to create allicin isolates in order to help treat a wide variety of health conditions. However, allicin itself is very unstable and has poor absorbability. On the stability front, cooking, aging, crushing, and other forms of garlic processing cause allicin to break down into other compounds. In fact, two studies5, 6 found that allicin decreased to non-detectable amounts within six days. Additionally, stomach acid destroys allicin7, so the argument for taking allicin in isolation in supplement form is unfounded…unless you can somehow get it to bypass the stomach. Enteric coating appears to help, but it has been found to reduce allicin production by nearly 40 percent8. So, while allicin may play a role in the health benefits of garlic, it is far from the sole ingredient responsible for garlic’s medicinal powers. The Best Form of Garlic… According to research, both raw, cold-aged garlic, and cooked garlic are effective. It’s easy to incorporate garlic into your daily meals,. Garlic is present in virtually every cuisine, including American, Latin, Chinese, and Indian food.
  16. 16. Natural Health Sherpa Garlic 13 You can add it to your main course, along with onions and peppers, or sauté it with your favorite vegetables. You can even roast it with olive oil and use in place of butter as a spread. But if you opt to use garlic supplements, aim for at least 7.2 grams of aged garlic extract. Be sure to choose a product that is free of preservatives, fillers, binders, excipients, flow agents, shellacs, coloring agents, gluten, yeast, lactose, and other allergens. Ideally you’ll also be able to find independent analysis done by a third party to verify the active ingredients and identify any contaminants. In addition to the famous odor (thanks allicin!), garlic does have a few other side effects. Some people are allergic to garlic, while others may experience some stomach or intestinal upset, flatulence, or possible bleeding. Also, because garlic helps to thin the blood, you should check with your doctor before using garlic if you are taking a prescription blood thinner. Still, if you (and those around you) can handle the occasional bad breath or body odor caused by garlic, it seems to be an all-around heart protector. So, go ahead and embrace that stinking rose. Your body will thank you. And remember, there is no magic bullet solution to improving your health. The most effective action you can take is to make permanent changes to your lifestyle to include a diet of nutrient-dense, low glycemic-load whole foods. References: 1 Lau, BH. “Suppression of LDL oxidation by garlic compounds is a possible mechanism of cardiovascular health benefits.” J Nutr. 206 Mar. 136 (3 Suppl):765S-768S. 2 Steiner, M and Lin, RS. “Changes in platelet function and susceptibility of lipoproteins to oxidation associated with administration of aged garlic extract.” J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 1998 Jun. 31(6):904-8. 3 Steiner, M and Li, W. “Aged garlic extract, a modulator of cardiovascular risk factors: a dose-finding study on the effects of AGE on platelet functions.” J Nutr. 2001 Mar. 131(3s):980S-4S. 4 Ackermann, RT et al. “Garlic shows promise for improving some cardiovascular risk factors.” Arch Intern Med. 2001 Mar 26.161(6):813-24. 5 Brodnitz, MH et al. “Flavor components of garlic extract.” J Agr Food Chem. 1971. 19(2):273-5. 6Yu, TH and Wu, CM. “Stability of allicin in garlic juice.” J Food Sci. 1989. 54(4):977-81. 7 Lawson, LD and Hughes, BG. “Characterization of the formation of allicin and other thiosulfinates from garlic.” Planta Med. 1992. 58:345-50. 8 Freeman, F and Kodera, Y. “Garlic chemistry: stability of s-(2-propenyl)-2-propene-1- sulfinothioate (allicin) in blood, solvents, and simulated physiological fluids.” J Agric Food Chem. 1995. 43:2332-8.
  17. 17. Natural Health Sherpa Green Tea 14 N AT U R A L T H E R A P Y 4 Green Tea: The Japanese Secret to Weight Loss and Longevity Quick…what are the three biggest health conditions plaguing Americans today? If you said cancer, heart disease, and obesity, you would likely be right. Okay, now, what is the one thing that can help reduce your risk for all three? A few hints: it’s natural, you drink it and it’s a subset of the second-most consumed beverage in the world after water. If you said green tea, you are right. You’ve probably heard of green tea before, but once you’re done reading this, you’ll never think about green tea the same way again. And you will likely start drinking it every day to capture some of its remarkable health benefits including its ability to help you lose weight and battle cancer, heart disease and strokes. Think You Know Green Tea? Green tea supports your health in so many ways that modern science is still cataloging them. But what exactly is green tea? Technically, black and green teas are the same, as they both come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. However, the way the tea leaves are treated after harvest determines their fate. If the leaves are crushed and allowed to naturally ferment (or oxidize), a process that darkens the leaves, then you have black tea. Conversely, if the leaves are heated, the natural plant enzymes are inactivated. This blocks oxidation, so the leaves hold their green color. And, voila, you have green tea. But color is far from the only difference. The key difference is the oxidation, or lack thereof. Oxidation (or Lack Thereof) is the Key Freshly harvested Camellia sinensis tea leaves contain polyphenols, remarkable compounds with a host of therapeutic benefits. The oxidation that occurs during black tea processing robs the plant of much of its polyphenols and therefore also many of the health benefits they convey. However, the heating of the leaves blocks the oxidation process, which ironically allows the polyphenols to remain intact. You’d think it would be the other way around, wouldn’t
  18. 18. Natural Health Sherpa Green Tea 15 you? The major polyphenols are primarily flavonoids and include: • catechins, which are also found in cacao beans (yep, chocolate!) • proanthocyanidins, which were once referred to as vitamins and are also found in apples, cinnamon, grape seed, and red wine • epigallocatechin gallate, which is abbreviated and commonly referred to as EGCG Of these, EGCG is the most widely associated with green tea, and is in fact the nutrient that supposedly gives this common beverage its health advantages. Specifically, proponents of green tea claim it can prevent America’s most feared health conditions: cancer, heart disease, and obesity. But are these advantages real or just medical lore? Let’s head to the studies to find out. Green Tea and Cancer Prevention… Green tea’s ability to prevent cancer is well documented.1 While studies have shown it to be particularly effective in preventing cancers of the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, small intestine, and colon), the areas where it really stands out have been esophageal cancer and breast cancer. One population-based, case-control study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute2 surveyed 902 people with esophageal cancer and 1,552 healthy people, all residents of Shanghai, China. Researchers discovered that drinking green tea reduced the risk for esophageal cancer risk by 57 percent for men and 60 percent for women. The researchers concluded: “The effects of green tea may be due to polyphenols that possess strong antioxidant properties... suggesting that certain antioxidant micronutrients are protective against cancers of the esophagus and gastric cardia.” In other words, researchers looked at people with esophageal cancer and compared them to people who don’t have the disease. The researchers then excluded other lifestyle or genetic factors and looked to see if the consumption of green tea had any impact on one group or the other. They discovered that the polyphenols we described earlier appear to protect against cancers of the esophagus and the upper part of the stomach, which connects to the esophagus. In the case of breast cancer, a meta-analysis from Carcinogenesis3 looked at four previously published studies on green tea. They found an approximate 20 percent statistically significant reduction for breast cancer in those people who had a high green tea intake. While these studies (and the myriad of other research in this area4,5 ) appear to support the connection between green tea consumption and a reduction in cancer risk, most studies are in laboratory/cell studies, a study that looks at and analyzes other previous studies, or animal studies.
  19. 19. Natural Health Sherpa Green Tea 16 It would be nice to see a few double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies (the “gold standard” in research) on actual humans…not just cells or recaps of other studies. However, given the serious nature of cancer, this may not be feasible. And, just as there are many studies on green tea’s benefits on a wide variety of cancers, there are also many theories on how green tea helps fight cancer. The key hypotheses include: • The polyphenols appear to enhance the activity of the body’s antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes. • Polyphenols prevent the formation of cancer-causing compounds, such as nitrosamines (compounds formed when the nitrites in cured foods bind with amino acids). • Polyphenols block carcinogen activity by binding to tissue receptor sites. This would be particularly effective in breast cancer prevention. As polyphenols bind to receptor sites on breast tissue, they prevent carcinogens from binding to and harming the cells. In essence, the polyphenols “seal off” the tissue from invasion by carcinogens. Regardless of how it may work, or how effective it may actually be, the studies and logic behind the mechanism of action is promising enough that sipping a cup or two of hot green tea a day certainly won’t hurt and may actually help prevent some forms of cancer. Green Tea and Heart Disease… After cancer, heart disease may be one of the most feared (and common) health conditions. And, proponents of green tea say the toasty beverage can help in this arena as well. Japanese researchers from Tohoku University School of Medicine spent 11 years studying the relationship between green tea consumption and death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.6 The study included 40,530 people ages 40 to 79 who had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer at the time. After 11 years of tracking the participants and tabulating everything they ate and drank, as well as their history of disease and current health habits, researchers found that consumption of green tea is associated with reduced mortality due to ALL causes, and green tea specifically produced reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, though, green tea consumption was not associated with a reduction in mortality due to cancer. While this appears to negate the studies above, remember that this study looked at reduction in cancer deaths, not prevention of the disease. When it comes to specific types of heart disease such as high cholesterol or stroke, green tea appears to also have a beneficial effect. A study of 1,306 males in Japan7 found that those men who drank nine or more cups of green tea a day had an 8 mg/dl reduction in total cholesterol. This is interesting, but having to drink nine cups a day? That seems a bit unrealistic. Another study considered more realistic amounts: The study of almost 6,000 non-
  20. 20. Natural Health Sherpa Green Tea 17 drinking, non-smoking women age 40 and older found that those who drank five or more cups of green tea per day enjoyed a 50 percent reduction in strokes.8 Again, the studies appear to be promising, but they lack the gold standard double-blind, placebo-controlled protocol we prefer. Green Tea and Weight Loss… Green tea’s apparent anti-cancer and heart-protective effects are interesting in their own right, but throw in the theory that green tea also helps you shed excess pounds and burn fat, and nearly all of America should be sitting up and taking notice. In one randomized, placebo-controlled study,9 researchers randomly divided 10 healthy men into three groups on three separate occasions, giving them green tea extract (50 mg caffeine and 90 mg EGCG), caffeine (50 mg), or a placebo. Each dose was administered at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Researchers found that those who took the green tea extract had a statistically significant increase in energy expenditure as compared to the placebo. Those who took the caffeine did not show a significant increase in energy expenditure. Researchers concluded: “Green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content.” Sounds impressive, but what the heck does it mean? It means that green tea helps rev up your metabolism and burn fat. Now why couldn’t they just say that!?! Another study,10 this one a meta-analysis, looked at 15 studies—a total of nearly 1,230 participants. Researchers concluded that green tea with caffeine significantly lowered body mass index, body weight and waist circumference when compared to caffeine alone. Also, when compared to a caffeine-free control, green tea with caffeine was found to be associated with significantly decreased body weight. However, the clinical significance of these reductions was modest at best. Long story short? Green tea does appear to help boost your metabolism, but it does just that: “boost.” It will not magically transform you from fat to fabulous overnight. And if you want to capitalize on this boost, be sure to choose regular green tea—not a decaffeinated version as the decaffeination process eliminates a significant amount of the flavanols and antioxidants—to get the full weight loss effect. Brew Up for Good Health… Across the board, the studies on green tea are intriguing, but not completely bulletproof. Still, we believe they are compelling enough to warrant the regular consumption of green tea. There are several types of green tea, the most common of which come from Japan. Of the many varieties available, the two recommended ones are sencha and matcha.
  21. 21. Natural Health Sherpa Green Tea 18 Sencha comes from green tea whose leaves are exposed to direct sunlight. It is the most common type of green tea in Japan. Matcha is a fine, almost powdered, green tea made from Tencha tea, which is grown in the shade and has a slightly sweet smell. Matcha is the primary tea used in tea ceremonies. To reap all of the benefits of green tea, you’ll want to aim for 3-5 8 oz. cups of green tea each day. And to help you get the most out of your tea experience, try these tips: • For maximum potency, store your green tea leaves or bags in a lightproof, airproof container. And brew a fresh cup every time, allowing the tea to steep for 3-4 minutes. • Try drinking your green tea “straight up,” just to see how naturally delightful it is. If you prefer a bit of sweetener, try a little honey. • Tuck a small tin of green tea bags into your purse or briefcase so you’ll always have it handy. • If you’re eating on the run, look for unsweetened, bottled green tea (such as Ito En). You can even pick up an unsweetened iced green tea at your local Starbucks. If you prefer not to drink the tea, any of these options provides the same level of protection. You can also opt for 300 to 400 mg daily of green tea extract. Be sure the product is standardized to 80 percent total polyphenol and 55 percent epigallocatechin. No matter how you pour it, green tea is a cup with clout. With its healthful properties and sensory delights, it’s the one beverage that’s truly worthy of the toast, “To your health!” References: 1 Yang, CS and Wang, ZY. “Tea and cancer.” J Natl Cancer Inst. 1993 July 7;85(13):1038- 49. 2 Gao, Y et al. “Reduced risk of esophageal cancer associated with green tea consumption.” J Natl Cancer Inst. 1994 June 1;86(11):855-8. 3 Sun, CL, et al. “Green tea, black tea as well as breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies.” Carcinogenesis. 2006;27(7):1310-15. 4 Maryam, R et al. “Green Tea Inhibits Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Induction in Human Breast Cancer Cells.” J Nutr. 2002;132:2307-11. 5 Wu , AH, et al. “Green tea as well as risk of breast cancer in Asian Americans.” Int J Cancer. 2003 Sept. 10;106(4):574-9. 6 Kuriyama, S et al. “Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes in Japan.” JAMA. 2006 Sept 13; 296:1255-65. 7 Kono, S et al. “Green tea consumption and serum lipid profiles: A cross-sectional study in Northern Kyushu, Japan.” Preventive Medicine. 1992 July;21(4)526-31. 8 Sato, Y. et al. “Possible contribution of green tea drinking habits to the prevention of stroke.” Tohoku J Exp Med. 1989 April;157(4):337-343.
  22. 22. Natural Health Sherpa Green Tea 19 9 Dulloo, AG, et al. “Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(6):1040-5. 10 Phung, OJ et al. “Effect of green tea catechins with or without caffeine on anthropometric measures: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jan;91(1):73- 81.
  23. 23. Natural Health Sherpa Soy 20 N AT U R A L T H E R A P Y 5 Soy: Superfood or Toxic Killer? There is an epic battle being waged over a common food that you and your children likely are exposed to every single day. In one corner are those who proudly profess the almost miracle-like qualities of this food, with boastful claims about how it can do everything from curing cancer to preventing heart disease and even menopause. In the other corner there is a persnickety bunch who retorts that this food is anything but a “miracle.” They claim it can lead to thyroid disease, actually CAUSE cancer, hamper your immune system, destroy your brain, make you infertile, and even turn males into females! So what is this food that’s prompting two equally passionate groups to go to war? It’s soy…and each side in this battle is going out of its way to convince you that soy is either the messiah of health or the devil itself. So who’s right, how will this affect you and your children’s health and what should you do? The Controversy about Soy… Adding to the murky waters of the soy controversy is that there are two opposing, titanic- sized industries that have a vested interest in each side. For example, many of the pro-soy studies are funded, in part, by John Deere and other companies that have a vested interest in soy production. On the flip side, some of the anti-soy studies are funded, in part, by the dairy lobby, which has an interest in the consumption of less soy and more dairy. Given all this, the only thing to do is to look at the facts and review the studies on each side. Soy advocates point to two key areas in which this controversial bean may show some benefits: decreasing cholesterol levels and relief from menopause symptoms. Let’s first take a look at the cholesterol claims. Can Soy Help Improve Your Cholesterol? Pfizer aside, $20 million on research has to bear some fruit, right? Turns out, the press Advocates point out that more than 30 clinical studies have been performed since 1968, all showing that soy is highly effective for decreasing cholesterol levels. A meta-analysis from the New England Journal of Medicine1 confirmed these findings.
  24. 24. Natural Health Sherpa Soy 21 After reviewing 38 placebo-controlled clinical trials, researchers concluded that individuals who consumed an average of 47 grams of soy protein per day had a 13 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol, a 10.5 percent decrease in triglycerides, and a 9 percent decrease in total cholesterol levels. While this is clearly strong support in favor of soy’s ability to lower cholesterol levels, what it doesn’t lay out is the form of soy protein. Was it a powder, the actual soybean itself, tofu (soybean curd), or tempeh (fermented soy)? Or was it a textured, processed soy food? As odd as it may sound, the form of soy really does matter…as you’ll soon see. In another study2 , researchers gave 42 participants with high LDL cholesterol levels four different diets, fed in randomized order for six weeks at a time over the course of 24 weeks. The diets contained: • At least 25 grams of animal protein a day • At least 25 grams of isolated soy protein • Either trace amounts or 50 mg of soy isoflavones Researchers found that soy significantly reduced total and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in participants with very high cholesterol levels. However, it had only a modest effect on those participants with elevated, but not severely high, cholesterol. They concluded, “Although potentially helpful when used to displace products containing animal fat from the diet, the regular intake of relatively high levels of soy protein had only a modest effect on blood cholesterol levels and only in subjects with elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Soy-derived isoflavones had no significant effect.” In other words, eating soy (but NOT taking a supplement) helps those people with elevated cholesterol, but doesn’t really help someone with moderately high cholesterol. What the researchers fail to mention is that simply reducing the consumption of animal protein (particularly with no regard for the quality of that animal protein), regardless of the soy substitute, may have had the same effect. It would be interesting to see the results of that type of study. A similar study from the November 2001 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine3 followed more than 9,600 men and women for 19 years. They found that those who ate legumes (all legumes, not just soy) four times or more per week (compared to less than once a week) enjoyed a 22 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and an 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers concluded that increased legume intake may be an important part of a dietary approach to preventing cardiovascular heart disease. What is interesting about this study is that it includes all legume consumption, not just soy. And since legumes (beans, peas, etc.) are high in fiber, it could be the legumes themselves, not the soy per se, that is responsible for the decreased risk of heart disease. Still, it was these types of studies that, in 1999, led the FDA to authorize of the use of health claims on the labeling of foods containing soy protein.
  25. 25. Natural Health Sherpa Soy 22 The ruling was based on research that suggested such foods might reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels. According to the FDA, foods must contain 6.25 grams per serving of soy protein in order to qualify for the claim. And a daily intake of 25 grams is recommended to achieve a significant cholesterol-lowering effect. While the studies surrounding cholesterol and soy are compelling, there are several obvious questions that remain. Let’s see if the studies regarding soy and menopause symptoms can help answer those questions. Can Soy Help Ease Menopause Symptoms? Many studies show soy helps to alleviate menopause symptoms. In fact, its effects are similar to that of a drug…a somewhat shocking observation that we’ll have more to say about later. In one double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study,4 researchers divided 180 menopausal women into two groups. The first group received 80 mg soy isoflavones while the second received a placebo. At the end of 12 weeks, those taking the soy isoflavones reported a 41.2 percent reduction in hot flashes as compared to a 29.3 percent reduction in the placebo group. Conclusion: soy appears to be more effective than placebo at reducing hot flashes. This makes us question: How would soy stack up against something known to reduce hot flashes? Researchers at the State University of Campinas in Brazil wondered the same thing. They performed a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study on 60 healthy, postmenopausal women.5 Their goal was to see if soy worked as well as conventional hormone therapy at relieving menopause symptoms. Dividing the women into three groups, the first group received 90 mg of soy isoflavones, the second group received 1 mg estradiol and 0.5 mg of noresthisterone acetate, and the third group received a placebo. At the end of 16 weeks, researchers found a statistically significant improvement in hot flashes, muscle pain and vaginal dryness in both the estrogen and soy groups. Also, there was no statistically significant difference between these groups. Researchers concluded: “Dietary soy supplementation may constitute an effective alternative therapy for symptoms of menopause.” So, here we have a “gold standard” study indicating that a fairly high dose of soy isoflavones worked as well as conventional hormone therapy at reducing some of the main complaints of menopause, namely hot flashes and vaginal dryness. But, we have to ask the question: is a high dose of soy isoflavones safe? This is the key argument for those opposed to soy. Let’s see what they have to say.
  26. 26. Natural Health Sherpa Soy 23 The Argument Against Soy… On February 19, 1999, two researchers from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a letter of protest against the FDA’s approval of soy6 . They pointed to a number of animal studies showing a connection between soy consumption and many health problems, including cancer. In their letter, they take issue with soy isoflavones’ estrogenic effects. They pointed out that soy isoflavones “demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the found 31 dose-response curves for hormone-mimicking chemicals that also fail to show a threshold.” They go on to say, “Our conclusions are that no dose is without risk; the extent of the risk is simply a function of dose.” What does this scientific gobbledygook mean? It simply means that tissues that are estrogen sensitive (i.e. breast, uterus, cervix, ovaries, etc.) interpret soy as an estrogen mimic and as toxic, possibly even cancer-causing. Moreover, there is no higher or lower dosage that indicates toxicity. No matter how much or how little you eat or take (if in supplement form), soy always poses a risk. To put the issue of risk into context for you, it would be like swimming in shark-infested waters. Whether you just go in for a five-minute dip or splash around for an hour, you are at a risk of being bitten. Your risk is less if you just jump in and out, but there is a real risk nonetheless. When listing their reasons for asking the FDA to pull back on their blanket recommendation of soy without discussing the dark side, these concerned FDA researchers pointed to three specific areas of concern: • the possible connection between soy and estrogen-dependent cancers, • a possible link between soy and thyroid issues, and • the use of soy to feed infants. These are very serious allegations, so let’s take a look at each one briefly… Soy and Cancer… On the cancer front, soy advocates point to the fact that the Japanese, who eat significantly more soy than Americans, have a lower incidence of breast, uterus, and prostate cancers7. However, what they fail to mention is that the Japanese population has higher rates of other cancers, such as esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, thyroid, and liver cancer8, 9 . This inconvenient fact is something you almost never hear about. Also, in a study from the May 2002 issue of Cancer Research10 , researchers investigated the interactions between dietary genistein (the major isoflavone found in soy) and tamoxifen (an estrogen antagonist used in the treatment of estrogen-dependent breast cancer). They implanted estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells in mice who had had their ovaries
  27. 27. Natural Health Sherpa Soy 24 and thymus removed. This is important, because your ovaries and thymus produce estrogen. By removing these, researchers were trying to ensure that any estrogen effects were coming from the soy. Researchers found that genistein either negated or overwhelmed the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen. Based on these findings, they urged postmenopausal women to exercise caution when consuming dietary genistein while taking tamoxifen. In other words, these researchers believe that women taking tamoxifen to help stop the growth or spread of breast cancer would completely undo the positive effects of the medicine by eating soy. Soy and Thyroid Disorders… When it comes to the thyroid, soy opponents like to refer to studies that show that consuming isoflavones may lead to the development of thyroid disease…in animals. To highlight this, let’s look at one study that has tested the effects of genistein on thyroid function in rats11 . Researchers gave rats a genistein-fortified diet, followed by testing their thyroid function. They found that “genistein was measured in the thyroid at levels that produced dose- dependent and significant inactivation of rat thyroid peroxidase (TPO)… Furthermore, rat TPO activity was dose-dependently reduced by up to 80 percent.” In layman’s terms, the soy isolate practically shut down the rat’s thyroid function. However, it was a study done on rats. It would be nice to see a study showing this effect in humans. Researchers themselves were not blind to this. Yet they concluded that even the possibility that widely consumed soy products may cause harm in the human population is of concern. The Concern with Soy-Infant Formulas… While the studies on soy and cancer and the thyroid are concerning, the issue that has most soy opponents up in arms has to do with soy and infants. And on this front, one study in particular presents some shocking findings. Researchers at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, performed a random, double-blind study12 to see how much phytoestrogen (meaning plant-based estrogen) 21 four-month-old infants received from soy-based formula. They divided the infants into three groups. One received soy-based formula, one received cow milk formula, and the third had human breast milk. For the soy formulas, researchers tested five different brands, all of which showed similar soy isoflavones content and proportion of soy isolate. They found that the infants receiving the soy formula had 214 times more genistein (a key isoflavone found in soy) in their blood than that found in the infants receiving cow’s milk, and 244 times more than that found in infants receiving breast milk. The infants receiving soy also had 140 times more daidzen (another key isoflavone in soy) than those found in the infants receiving the cow’s milk formula, and 210 times
  28. 28. Natural Health Sherpa Soy 25 more than in the infants taking the breast milk. Researchers concluded that the “daily exposure of infants to isoflavones in soy infant formulas is six to 11 fold greater on a bodyweight basis than the dose that has hormonal effects in adults consuming soy foods.” Worse yet, they go on to say that “circulating concentrations of isoflavones in the seven infants fed soy-based formula were 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than plasma oestradiol concentrations in early life, and may be sufficient to exert biological effects.” Wow! That’s a lot of unnatural estrogen floating around in those little bodies. And we wonder why girls are developing so much earlier than they did 20 years ago, and why boys seem to be behind the curve. Could it be all that excess estrogen? Finally, those who are opposed to soy also point to a number of soy allergies and digestive problems soy can cause, including gas, cramping, bloating, or intestinal discomfort, all of which are signals that our bodies send us to indicate that the use of soy may not be in our best interest. What Does It All Mean? The reality is that there are good studies on both sides of the fence. Soy does seem to have cardio-protective benefits, and it clearly helps ease menopause symptoms. However, the very reason soy works so well for lowering cholesterol and relieving hot flashes is because it is an effective estrogen mimic. That being said, it stands to reason it could be a concern for those with estrogen- dependent cancers or thyroid issues. And, most problematic, it seems, is the feeding of those estrogens to infants whose little bodies aren’t prepared for the estrogen onslaught. Or, in the words of those FDA researchers: “While isoflavones may have beneficial effects at some ages or circumstances, this cannot be assumed to be true at all ages. Isoflavones are like other estrogens in that they are two-edged swords, conferring both benefits and risk.” Taking a common sense, objective approach, it seems that the vast majority of people should avoid soy. This is especially true for those with a personal or family history of estrogen-dependent cancer or thyroid disease. Also, under no circumstances should you use soy-based infant formula. Another way to think about soy is that whatever benefits there MAY be to consuming soy, those benefits can be replicated through other natural means, such as by consuming other plants that have cardio-protective and cancer-preventing phytochemicals. Therefore, simple common sense says that if you can get those same benefits naturally somewhere else, there’s little point in consuming something with such well-documented dangers. The only exception we see for soy is for women going through menopause who DO NOT have any of the following issues: • personal or family history of estrogen-dependent cancer, such as breast, uterine,
  29. 29. Natural Health Sherpa Soy 26 cervical or ovarian cancer • thyroid or family history of thyroid disease • soy allergies • problems digesting soy or other legumes For this small population, soy may confer some benefit. If you fit into this group, avoid soy supplements and processed soy foods and limit your soy consumption to organic soybeans (edamame) and organic, fermented soy foods, such as: • tempeh • miso • tamari • natto. For everyone else, however, just say no to soy. If you would think twice about popping a few birth control pills at lunch or slugging back some hormone replacement pills with dinner, then you shouldn’t be using soy either. Treat soy like the true estrogen it is. References: 1 Anderson, JW et al. “Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids.” N Engl J Med. 1995. 333:276-82. 2 Lichtenstein, AH et al. “Lipoprotein response to diets high in soy or animal protein with and without isoflavones in moderately hypercholesterolemic subjects.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2002. 22:1852-8. 3 Bazzano, LA et al. “Legume consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women.” Arch Intern Med. 2001. 161:2573-8. 4 Ferrari, A. “Soy extract phytoestrogens with high dose of isoflavones for menopausal symptoms.” J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2009, Dec. 35(6):1083-90. 5 Carmignani, LO et al. “The effect of dietary soy supplementation compared to estrogen and placebo on menopausal symptoms: A randomized controlled study.” Maturitas. 2010 Sept 10 [Epub ahead of print]. 6 Sheehan, DM and Doerge, DR. 1999 Feb 18. Letter to FDA in reference to Docket #98P- 0683. 7 Natural Medicine News (L&H Vitamins, 32-33 47th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101), 2000 Jan/Feb p. 8. 8 Harras, A (ed). Cancer Rates and Risks. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1996. 4th edition.
  30. 30. Natural Health Sherpa Soy 27 9 Searle, CE (ed.). Chemical Carcinogens. ACS Monograph 173, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 1976. 10 Ju, YH et al. “Dietary genistein negates the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen on growth of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer (MCF-7) cells implanted in athymic mice.” Cancer Res. 2002 May 1;62(9):2474-7. 11 Doerge, DR. “Goitrogenic and estrogenic activity of soy isoflavones.” Environ Health Perspect. 2002 June; 110 Suppl 3:349-53. 12 Setchell, KD et al. “Exposure of infants to phyto-oestrogens from soy-based infant formula.” Lancet. 1997 Jul 5. 350(9070):23-7.
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