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The sex hormone effects of soy foods

Genistein - an isoflavone
Genistein - an isoflavone

For many years, soy foods have been promoted as vegetarian health foods. Soy products like tofu, textured vegetable protein, and soy milk continue to gain shelf space in grocery stores. The massive use of soy in the diet is relatively new, and evidence is starting to accumulate that soy foods may actually be unhealthy.

Soy foods are usually highly processed. Tofu is made by grinding soy beans to make a slurry (soy milk) which is then coagulated with calcium sulfate (gypsum) or magnesium chloride. The problem with soy is not its processing, but its content of the isoflavone genistein which can mimic natural human estrogens and may have a variety of harmful effects when eaten in sufficient quantities. In addition, some bacteria in the digestive system can metabolize soy products to produce equol, another phytoestrogen.

Plant-produced chemicals that mimic hormones have been previously suspected of altering sexual development. Dr. William Campbell Douglass II writes that girls have become sexually mature at younger ages and that their breasts start to develop in the first and second grade while the boys are experiencing delayed sexual development. He goes on to say that he believes that this is the reason why boys and men are becoming gay and infertile.

A scientific study at North Carolina State University (NCSU) found that exposure to phytoestrogens alters the sex-specific organization of the hypothalamus, which is the region of the brain that regulates puberty and ovulation.[1] The two hormone-like compounds from soy-based foods can cause irreversible changes in the structure of the brain, resulting in early-onset puberty, symptoms of advanced menopause, and reproductive health problems. The NCSU study suggests that humans might be more at risk during gestation.

In light of the available evidence, it seems reasonable that women should avoid eating soy products during pregnancy, and that young children should not be given soy products which may alter their hormonal balance.
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[1] Bateman HL, Patisaul HB., Disrupted female reproductive physiology following neonatal exposure to phytoestrogens or estrogen specific ligands is associated with decreased GnRH activation and kisspeptin fiber density in the hypothalamus,
Neurotoxicology, 2008 Jul 6, PMID: 18656497 [news release]

Comments »

ralph said,
2009-07-28 @ 11:42:50

Sir;
as a retired correctional officer in Texas, we used soy products in the inmate's food to convert their testosterone into estrogen to make them easier to control. China, Japan, Korea, and Samoa have been using this method to controll thier populations for over 200 years. when w.w.justice ruled that correctional officers had to eat the same diet that inmates did, the rate of obesity and e.d. in officers jumped dramatically. Former president Clinton sent a man to school in Europe to study how to put soy into the diet of the American people for that same reason. what do we do about it? , and are there foods that contradict this... as you may remember Abraham did a similar thing to his enemies in the Bible. Thanks and God bless...

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2008-08-15 

Purple Okinawa Sweet Potatoes

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Ipomoea batatas cv. Ayamurasaki

The Japanese island of Okinawa is famous for the longevity of its inhabitants. One of their traditional foods is a native sweet potato with a deep violet center. The color of the Okinawan sweet potatoes is due to anthocyanins which act as antioxidants in the body and are supposed to have a multitude of health benefits. These sweet potatoes are avidly sought by practitioners of Calorie Restriction who are interested in longevity and optimum nutrition.

The Okinawa purple sweet potato was introduced to Hawaii and is occasionally found in the mainland, mainly in Asian markets. The potatoes take a deep purple color when cooked. They have a slightly sweet, starchy taste.
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Baked Salmon with Okinawa sweet potatoes

The baked salmon illustrated here was prepared by basting with lemon juice, and sprinkling salt, pepper, and fresh dill. It was baked at 350°F for 20 minutes. The sweet potatoes were cut into 1-inch cubes and steamed for approximately 15 minutes until they were fork-tender. Slices of tomato and avocado were used as garnish.
Click here for more Recipes

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2008-08-14 

Lack of sleep may cause accidents

Chesapeake bay bridge

Last Sunday, a 19-year old driver fell asleep at the wheel as she was driving on the Chesapeake bay bridge. The bridge has two spans which normally carry one-way traffic in different directions, but on this day, there was two-way traffic because one of the spans was closed for repairs. The car with the sleeping driver drifted unto the oncoming traffic and a collision involving several vehicles sent an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer plunging into the Chesapeake Bay. The driver of the truck was killed. The sleepy driver was hospitalized and was reported to be in good condition.

Sleep deprivation may cause paranoia, hallucinations, as well as cognitive and psychomotor impairments. In one experiment, people who drove after being awake for 17-19 hours performed worse than those with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, which is the legal limit for drunk driving in many western European countries.

Always get a good night's sleep before you drive or operate machinery. If you feel tired while driving, stop to rest and take a nap. Think of the consequences. What kind of life will you have after an accident? If you survive, you may end up disabled or feeling guilty for the rest of your life for having injured someone through your negligence.
Learn more about sleep

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2008-08-10 

Basketball is the Most Dangerous Sport

Sport Injuries

We naturally assume that boxing is a dangerous sport because its purpose is to try to knock out the opponent. However, statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) indicate that the greatest number of visits to hospitals occur from basketball. Injuries from basketball include cut hands, sprained ankles, broken legs, as well as eye and forehead injuries. The large number of injuries may be due to the popularity of basketball. There are basketball hoops in many driveways and playgrounds. It seems so easy to bounce the ball around and shoot a few balls. It is the jumping and competitive aspects of the game that cause the injuries. Players collide, fall, hit each other accidentally, or land improperly after jumping and they get hurt.

Exercise is important for fitness, but we have to stay alert and keep safety in mind.
Learn about the risks of Sports Injuries

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2008-08-07 

Should you diagnose a stranger?

ringworm

Let us say that you meet a person who has visible symptoms of a curable disease that you can easily recognize. Should you say something about it? I am not talking about something like a birth defect or Down's syndrome that really cannot be treated, but an ordinary infectious disease like warts or a fungus infection. You may be able to help the person get treatment by being open and frank, but you run the risk of becoming a meddler whose intentions are misinterpreted.

Bearers of bad news are seldom appreciated. I remember reading a story many years ago about a doctor who was shot in a hospital emergency room when he told a woman that she was pregnant. It was not the doctor's fault that the woman was pregnant. He just said something that the woman intensely disliked and she directed her rage toward the innocent doctor. Generally, it is a bad idea to give bad news or meddle in other people's affairs.

Yesterday, at a restaurant, I saw a waiter with a bad case of Tinea Capitis. His hair was completely shaved, probably in an attempt to minimize an unsightly appearance. However, his scalp had patches of red and irritated skin typical of a Tinea fungal infection. I knew that with proper treatment his skin would be normal in a few weeks, but I kept quiet. It was not my business. This incident reminded me of a conference that I attended many years ago. I happened to sit behind a woman wearing a dress with an open back. The skin in her back had larva migrans tracks from hookworms. Obviously, she had bathed in contaminated water or lain on a contaminated beach. I did not say anything then either.

I feel somewhat guilty for not actively going out of my way to help these people. However, I provide information so that those who seek it will find it.
Learn more about infectious diseases

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2008-08-05 

The PSA test does more harm than good

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has published new guidelines for prostate cancer screening. The report in the Annals of Internal Medicine points out that the benefits of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test are uncertain or minimal, whereas the risks are large and dramatic. The PSA test itself is just a simple blood test; it is what happens after an elevated PSA result is obtained that causes the harm.

The level of PSA which indicates cancer is not the same for every man. Therefore, it is necessary to do surgical biopsies to determine if there is cancer. A positive PSA test causes anxiety and may lead to unnecessary surgical biopsies which can be painful and cause serious complications. Several studies have shown that men age 65 and older who were not treated for prostate cancer were equally likely to survive as those who were treated. Many of the ones who were treated ended with impotence, incontinence or other undesirable side effects. The new recommendation basically concludes that if the therapy is not providing substantial benefit, the screening is not beneficial either.

In the US, prostate cancer is diagnosed in about 186,000 men each year, and about 29,000 die from it. There is some evidence that the phytonutrients and polyphenols in pomegranate fruit juice and green tea can reduce PSA levels and prevent prostate cancer.[1,2]
Learn more about cancer

[1] Arshi Malik, Farrukh Afaq, Sami Sarfaraz, Vaqar M. Adhami, Deeba N. Syed, and Hasan Mukhtar, Pomegranate fruit juice for chemoprevention and chemotherapy of prostate cancer, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 October 11; 102(41): 14813-14818.

[2] Gupta S, Ahmad N, Mukhtar H., Prostate cancer chemoprevention by green tea, Semin Urol Oncol. 1999 May;17(2):70-6. PMID: 10332919

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Highest sunflower in Maryland

sunflower

My sunflower just started blooming. It grew from some seeds that were thrown in a flower pot two years ago. The sunflower is probably the highest in Maryland because it is on top of a 20-story building.

One of the trick questions when I was in elementary school was: "Where is the highest skyscraper in the world?" At the time, the Sears tower had not been built, so the Empire State Building was the logical answer. WRONG! The highest skyscraper is in Mexico City. Since Mexico City is 2250 meters or 7400 feet above sea level (about one and-a-half miles up in the sky), the highest skyscrapers have to be there. If the question had been "Where is the tallest skyscraper in the world?" the answer might have been different.

Exercise your mind with some puzzles

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2008-08-01 

Goldfinches in my flower pots

goldfinches

This morning, I woke up to the cheerful chirping of some goldfinches in my flower pots. In the springtime, I harvested some lettuce from these flower pots. When the lettuce was trimmed, I found some Thai basil growing from seeds scattered by the wind. I let these plants grow around my petunias.

Every time that I water the pots, the basil releases a wonderful sweet aroma. Both the petunias and the basil stems are a great attraction for the bees, but now that the basil blooms are forming seeds, finches are perching on the stems to feed. The birds probably scatter some seeds as they feed, and this is how the basil came from the penthouse to the flower pots in my balcony. My neighbor downstairs will probably have basil in her flowerpots next year.

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2008-07-26 

Will we be safer after Carbofuran?

Carbofuran

Carbofuran

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will no longer allow carbofuran pesticide residues on domestic or imported food. In making the decision, the EPA explained that carbofuran is a neurotoxin which poses a high safety risk for small children and sensitive individuals. A 2006 EPA document reported the death of 84 percent of a flock of mallard ducks that landed on an alfalfa field that had been treated with carbofuran the week before.

Carbofuran is used worldwide to combat insects on bananas, coffee, rice, sugar cane, alfalfa, corn, potatoes, sunflowers, and soybeans. Carbofuran has one of the highest toxicities to humans of the insecticides commonly used on crops. One quarter of a teaspoon can be lethal for humans. Some of the symptoms of carbofuran poisoning include muscle weakness, dizziness, sweating, headache, salivation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, blurred vision, incoordination, muscle twitching and slurred speech.

Carbofuran is just one of the chemicals to which we may be exposed by living in modern society. Many people buy "organic" produce because they fear the effects of chemical residues, but they may not be aware of the harmful effects of chemicals in fire retardants, fabric softeners, cleaning products, and cosmetics that can be found in every home.
Learn more about Environmental Toxins and Poisons

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2008-07-24 

Calorie Restriction of Mice and Men


It turns out that mice and men are not that different after all, at least regarding the correspondence between Calorie Restriction (CR) and body weight. It has been known for a long time that mice or rats allowed to eat only 60% of the control animals, i.e. 40% CR, starting at weaning, grow to be adults which weigh only 50% of the control animals, but they live 30% longer. The longevity figures have been widely publicized, but the stunting effect of the low calorie diets has not received much attention. Masoro had some tables documenting the weights of his experimental rats [1], and Mattson [2] provided the following growth chart for mice:

In a recent blog entry about the Effect of Calorie Restriction on Body Size, I provided a graphic illustrating the silhouettes of humans corresponding to the various degrees of calorie restriction to which mice are subjected. Of course this was just speculation, or so I thought. However, after tabulating the Mifflin-St Jeor Energy Equations which are used to calculate Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) for humans, I found that for proportionally shaped bodies with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 22, the dependency of weight vs. CR for the humans was identical to the results for the mice. I had previously discussed this anecdotally in my Calorie Restriction page, but with some additional mathematical analysis, I found that the mouse equations could be derived from the human Mifflin-St Jeor equations.

I think that there is something intrinsic in the three-dimensional proportions of an organism. Our genes, or Mother Nature, try to balance the way in which our bodies grow based on the level of nutrients. A certain amount of muscle is required for every inch of bone growth, and during our growth, we are not overly lanky or overly squat. If you plant a maple seedling in a big field it will grow to be many feet high, whereas a similar seedling planted in a one-gallon flower pot will grow to be a miniature version of the big tree - a bonsai. And just like you cannot replant the big tree in the small pot, we cannot cut our calories to levels that cannot support our size.

The correspondence of the mice and human CR equations are discussed here:

Effect of Calorie Restriction on Body Weight

[1] E J Masoro, et al, "Action of food restriction in delaying the aging process", Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A., 1982 July; 79(13): 4239-4241.
[2] Mattson, et al. "Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2003 May 13; 100(10):6216-6220.

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