Soy beans

Let’s Take a Closer Look at Soy

Let’s Take a Closer Look at Soy

By Laura Sheehan

I was a vegetarian for 20 years and consumed more than my fair share of soybean-based foods. I drank soy milk and ate tofu almost every day. I didn’t have a well-researched reason for doing this. Soy was just available, and from what I heard it was a complete protein, so great, give me lots of soy. I became a very good tofu cook and learned to love the taste of soy milk. Over time, I heard more and more about soy foods. I can’t remember the exact timeline, but I started seeing commercials touting the benefits of soy on TV. I began to see tofu for sale at the regular grocery store. Wow! I thought. They are catching up! So, from the age of 14 until about 34 I practically wallowed in soy. My ears didn’t fall off, nor did I develop a thyroid condition (that I knew of).

This assignment is causing me to reflect on how I feel about soy. Firstly, not being vegetarian anymore, I pretty much don’t care if I never see it again. I’ll eat it occasionally if I go out to eat at an Asian Restaurant (which I practically never do–too many carbs). I also avoid soy milk like the plague because I have heard it’s bad for your thyroid. Are all the terrible things about soy (which I admit I have bought into) true? Let me examine some of my current assumptions one by one, and see if they hold up to the evidence. I consulted Mark Messina’s 2016 review 1 to help me sift through some of the research. I realize with these reviews it is still possible for the authors to cherry-pick the research they like and explain away the research they don’t like. In any case, I would need to thoroughly examine all the studies in a pro- and an anti-review and compare the relative merit of both to truly reach a satisfying conclusion. I will attempt to begin this process here.

Assumption #1: Soy is bad for your thyroid. Messina1 made a very clear point that neither soy foods nor isoflavones have been shown harmful to humans. It was interesting to me that he noted that soy’s negative effects on the thyroid are demonstrated only in vitro or in experimental animals such as rats1. Conversely, one study 2 suggested that soy formula increased the risk of autoimmune thyroid disease in children. Messina did not address this concern.

Assumption #2: Soy is estrogenic and for that reason will mess up your hormones. Doerge’s and Sheehan’s review 3 suggests that this is true. They cite many rat studies, which to Messina may not be necessarily applicable to humans. A 2011 study 4 correlated serum isoflavone concentrations with precocious puberty in Korean girls. Although Messina cited another study 5 done in the United States that contradicted the Korean study, I don’t feel he explained the Korean study away adequately enough, and I still have concerns about the estrogenic effects of soy isoflavones.

Assumption #3: Soy should be fermented if you’re going to eat it at all; never consume isolated soy products.There seems to be a lack of evidence to either or affirm or refute my assumption here. Messina indicates that the isoflavone profile is somehow altered in fermented soy, although he does not discuss the potential health effects of this1. An interesting study from 2010 6 examined the correlation of fermented soy food consumption and lower rates of Type II diabetes among Asian groups. It just makes sense that eating a food the way people traditionally prepared it (that is in this case, fermented) would be healthier. But clear evidence is lacking.

Interesting Incidental Finding: Consumption of soy is protective against breast cancer! 7 This definitely makes me feel better.

In conclusion, from this brief examination I would say soy is neither the nutritional savior that it’s touted to be by the soy industry, and neither is it the nutritional demon that the Weston A. Price people would have you believe. That leaves me pretty ambivalent about soy. There are a lot of other much more important nutritional problems to tackle (like eating too much refined sugar and carbs). I’ve only got limited time with a client and rarely is too much soy, or lack of soy, the problem. So I don’t talk about soy, and most of the time people don’t ask me about it. In one of the rare situations where I have a “soy discussion” with a client, I would have them steer clear of too much industrially processed soy (since it’s pretty much all industrially processed) and focus on whole, traditionally prepared fermented soy foods. This is my general philosophy about pretty much any food, so it can’t do any harm that I can see to extend that philosophy to soy. And since unsweetened soy milk doesn’t really taste very good, I would recommend something like unsweetened homemade cashew milk instead for a dairy intolerant person who absolutely required a milk substitute.
When it comes right down to it, here’s what I believe about soy, and what I would likely tell a client: “There’s a lot of controversy around soy, so it’s probably not a good idea to eat too much soy.”

Click here to read more posts on Nutrition.

References

1. Messina M. Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature. Nutrients. 2016;8(12):754. doi:10.3390/nu8120754.

2. Fort P, Moses N, Fasano M. Breast and soy-formula feedings in early infancy and the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease in children. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 1990;9(2):164-167. doi:10.1080/07315724.1990.10720366.

3. Doerge DR, Sheehan DM. Goitrogenic and Estrogenic Activity of Soy Isoflavones. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2002;110(s3):349-353. doi:10.1289/ehp.02110s3349.

4. Kim J, Kim S. High serum isoflavone concentrations are associated with the risk of precocious puberty in Korean girls. Clinical Endocrinology. 2011;75(6):831-835. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04127.x.

5. Segovia-Siapco G., Pribis P., Messina M., Oda K., Sabate J. Is soy intake related to age at onset of menarche? A cross-sectional study among adolescents with a wide range of soy food consumption. Nutr. J. 2014;13:54. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-54.

6. Kwon DY, Daily JW. Antidiabetic effects of fermented soybean products on type 2 diabetes. Nutrition Research. 2010;30(1):1-13. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2009.11.004.

7. Lu L-J, Nayeem F. Adolescent and adult soy food intake and breast cancer risk: results from the Shanghai Womens Health Study. Breast Diseases: A Year Book Quarterly. 2010;21(2):120-122. doi:10.1016/s1043-321x(10)79512-6.

sugar

Effect of Carbohydrate Intake on Depression

Effect of Carbohydrate Intake on Depression

By Laura Sheehan

I was never formally diagnosed with depression and I have never taken depression medication, but I can attest to the effect that altering my carbohydrate intake had on my depression symptoms. In short, I am cured of my symptoms when I avoid refined white sugar, and my symptoms return when I begin to consume refined white sugar again.

Research by Akbaraly et al.1 concluded that a processed-food based diet is associated with increased risk for depression while a whole food based diet is protective. In another older study 2, nondepressed individuals were found to consume more protein relative to carbohydrates, but in depressed individuals, it was the other way around.

So does this mean that high carbohydrate diets are associated in general with increased risk for depression? Recent research has revealed that depression is more a result of systemic inflammation than a chemical deficiency in the brain.3 Because of the inflammatory effect of high blood glucose 4, one can conclude that eating too much sugar and carbohydrates cause depression.

Many nutrition textbooks state that carbohydrate intake should be no lower than 50-100 grams per day. 5 It is my clinical experience that lowering carbohydrate intake in general to these levels can have a positive impact on mood and help individuals with depression.

References

    • 1. Akbaraly TN, Brunner EJ. Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2009;195(05):408-413. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.108.058925.
    2. Christensen L, Somers S. Comparison of nutrient intake among depressed and nondepressed individuals. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 1996;20(1):105-109. doi:10.1002/(sici)1098-108x(199607)20:1<105::aid-eat12>3.0.co;2-3.
    3. Leonard B, Maes M. Mechanistic explanations how cell-mediated immune activation, inflammation and oxidative and nitrosative stress pathways and their sequels and concomitants play a role in the pathophysiology of unipolar depression. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2012;36(2):764-785. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.12.005.
    4. Dandona P, Ghanim H. A. Insulin infusion suppresses while glucose infusion induces Toll-like receptors and high-mobility group-B1 protein expression in mononuclear cells of type 1 diabetes patients. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2013;304(8). doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00566.2012.
    5. Insel P, Ross D. Carbohydrates. In: Nutrition. 6th ed. Burlington, MA. Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2016: 138-171.

A Triad Approach to Stress

Stress

Most people know that stress has a very bad effect on health. When we talk about de-stressing we conjure up images of meditation and yoga and chanting om and things like that. But to really recover from the effects of stress, we have to take what’s called a triad approach to stress. So what is a triad approach?

A triad approach is when we recognize that stress affects the body and is affected by three main sources. Those sources are structural problems, biochemical and nutritional problems, and emotional issues.

To deal with structural problems, we primarily use chiropractic, massage, and exercise, including specific rehabilitation exercises.

To deal with biochemical and nutritional issues, we recognize that stress causes organ dysfunctions and nutritional deficiencies as seen in our general talk on nutrition response testing. Stress specifically robs us of our B vitamins and vitamin C, our minerals especially calcium, magnesium, potassium and iodine; it raises stress hormones that adversely affect the adrenal, thyroid, and liver, and also affects the gastrointestinal tract and digestion, as well as suppressor immune function. All these issues must be dealt with with proper diet and nutritional supplementation.

Once we have dealt with the structural and biochemical issues of stress, emotional issues tend to be dealt with easier. Everybody knows that if you’re stressed out and anxious, hungry, tired and not sleeping, you’re going to have trouble dealing with emotional issues. But once we deal with structural issues such as pain, and biochemical issues mentioned above, stress becomes much easier to deal with. In fact, I found that not dealing with the structural and biochemical issues makes it so that emotional issues keep on coming up. I mean how are you supposed to feel good if you’re in constant pain? How are you supposed to feel good if you have a neurotransmitter deficiency in your brain is constantly sending out stress signals? These issues must be dealt with first.

The reason behind this can be explained by looking at stress as a subjective experience. This subjective experience of stress causes the body to release stress hormones such as cortisol and additionally has an impact on the brain, stimulating brain waves to speed up and cause what is called an acute stress state. This acute stress state causes further neurochemical changes that makes biochemical imbalances worse. To cool down this whole situation you work backwards. You handle the biochemical imbalances which takes stress off the brain. From there the brain wave pattern can change and stress hormones become lessened. This in turn decreases your subjective experience of stress so you can see life differently and as a result, you become freer to act and react differently.

Emotional issues can be broken up into two different areas, external factors, and their internal factors. External factors means things from the outside affecting us; such as job, family life, finances, and social media. Internal factors have to do with our views on things. We also call this autosuggestion. Basically, whether we think we can, or can’t, we are right. Whether we think we are a good person or a bad person, we are right. Whether we think we are deserving or undeserving, we are right. Basically, recognizing negative emotional patterns tends to bring them to light, and releases our pent-up energy from them. Recognizing external issues and internal issues is key. Once we recognize these issues, I usually tell people to develop a daily de-stressing routine. There basically two ways to do this. I find that most people do well with low-level aerobic exercise such as walking, especially while looking around at nature and focusing on the external, and meditation. On another talk I’ll go and more about the specifics of how to meditate for stress reduction. Both these things, low-level intensity exercise such as walking outside, and meditation, will lower stress hormones, so that we feel less stressed, and therefore react in a less stressful manner. People who want to destress, need to incorporate both techniques.

To watch our YouTube video on stress click here!
Click here to read more posts on Nutrition.

Dealing with stress

Surmounting Stress

Surmouning stress in today’s world can seem impossible. Dr. Sheehan weighs in on his own view of stress and what we can do to master our it and live more relaxed and productive lives.

So what exactly is stress?  Where does it come from?  What effects does it have on my body, and my soul?  What can I do about it?  To answer all of these, and more, we must first talk about the three types of stress, so we can adequately determine what type(s) we have, and then we can determine what to do about them.

Let me start off by saying that there are lots of different ways of dealing with stresses, this is not the only way.

Let us start by splitting stress into 3 different categories:

  1. Physical stresses-this is type you feel in your body, and comes from nutritional deficiencies, and incorrect eating habits for you. This is the one that we will primarily deal with tonight.  Physical stress will make the other stresses less manageable.  Your body sees stress in an additive way, in other words, it all adds up. If you have 10 units of physical stress, 4 units of mental stress, and 3 units of Spiritual Stress, you have an overall stress index of 17.
  2. Mental stresses-this is type you usually feel in your head, although it can be felt anywhere in your body, and comes from someone or something either stopping you from doing something, or forcing you to do something you do not really want to do (but usually feel that you have to).
  3. Spiritual stresses -this comes from not doing something you know you really should do, or doing something you shouldn’t be doing. It’s more self-imposed than mental stress.

Just knowing the three types of stresses makes most people feel better already.  It also makes dealing with stress less of a Herculean task.

So how do we deal with stress?  In a nutshell, here’s the way to deal with the three different types:

  1. Physical stresses-We use Nutrition Response Testing to deal with this. In a nutshell, cut down on sugar and carbs, up the protein and fats to balance blood sugar, and stress hormones.  Address nutritional deficiencies in the body, especially those affecting the heart, liver, adrenal glands, brain, minerals, and hormones in the body.  Also make sure that there in not a neurotransmitter imbalance that can be helped by organ support, herbal and amino acid supplementation.
  2. Mental and Spiritual Stresses-there is a fair amount of overlap of these two, so it’s better if we lump them together. Make a list of all the things you want to do in your life.  Really do this, write it down.  Are you doing them?  Answer that question first.  If you are not doing them, why not?  If the answer is a person or a thing that is keeping you from what you are doing, that is a mental stress.
  3. Is there anything you should be doing, but are not? Make a list, like you did in #2.  Like are you smoking, and know that you shouldn’t?  How about overeating?  How about exercise?  How about meditating?  The list can go on and on.  Bringing awareness to this subject though, is often quite illuminating, and often helps us.  You get the idea.
  4. Another thing get stressed about a lot, and this can cause spiritual and mental stress, is repetitive thoughts they have, which are stressful. A friend I know who was very into stress reduction decided one day to write down his thoughts all day.  To his amazement, he wrote the same four things, over and over all day!  Our minds are perpetual motion machines, and when they have nothing to do, they just keep working, working, working, and it’s not usually something nice and positive they work on.  As a quick exercise, if everyone could hear your thoughts, would you be embarrassed, scared, or very proud of your evolved mind?  You get the idea.

So to deal with these stressful thoughts, I often turn to “The Work” by Byron Katie. If you don’t know who she is, look her up on YouTube, or better yet, buy one of her books, such as “Loving What Is”.  You can also look up her website.  She gives very clear instructions on how to do The Work.  Oftentimes, doing The Work, will help illuminate the answers to the three types of stress I have listed above.  I did The Work along with a facilitator for 4 years following an extremely stressful event in my life.  I can’t say enough good about it.  If I feel stressed, or can’t sleep (I’m a chronic insomniac, although it’s 85% better), I do The Work, and I totally chill out.  Just ask my wife.

From the above, it should be obvious to you that it’s easier to deal with some stress than others.  Here’s the trick to the whole thing though, that most people don’t know.  You’re body and mind add together all stresses, and count it as one number.  You can also deal with it in the same way.  Sometimes it’s hard to deal with the mental and spiritual stress, but relatively easy to deal with the physical stresses.  In this case, deal with the physical stresses, which will bring down your overall stress load, and make you feel a lot better.  Then you’ll naturally deal with the mental and spiritual stresses easier:  it won’t feel as overwhelming to you.  In fact, that’s why we deal with primarily physical stress in our clinic, it makes it easier to deal with mental and spiritual stresses.

Click here to read more posts on Nutrition.
Photo Credit: Scott Koring

Simple Steps for Self-Care

Taking Care of Yourself Can Be a BreezeI have been studying the principles of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and they contain some very elegant and easy tips to bring balance to your life. Personally, I have been tapping into my inner type “A” recently (and seriously, what’s with all the type A bashing? I’ve learned from experience it’s best to face what must be done in life head-on; it definitely saves one from future problems and helps one to build and create one’s own life and happiness). Vital aspects of my type A lifestyle include: taking my supplements–they help me feel and perform my best, when my life demands that I be “on” much of the time; eating clean–keeps me feeling light and flexible, so that my food does not end up being an obstacle to reaching my goals in life; exercising regularly – for the same reasons I just mentioned.

A life full of activity requires some mindful rest. Here is where I have learned much from the principles of acupuncture. Mindful rest is not merely zoning out or indulging in escape behaviors. From experience I know distraction or escape behaviors cause stress to build up. Even though it may be just out of conscious awareness, a feeling of unease creeps up, and pressure builds from suppressed and repressed emotions, which then tends to be projected outward onto others (who in general do not deserve it) or expressed in other inappropriate ways. So by mindful rest I mean when you are consciously engaging in an activity to renew. Mindful rest activities include: prayer, surrender, meditation, getting a massage, playing with your dog, spending quality time with your loved ones, reading an interesting book or otherwise feeding the mind, listening to uplifting music, spending time in nature or making yourself a healing tea.

If it seems like I am biased toward the principles of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, I am. Now that I am supporting my body’s healing process through Nutrition Response Testing, I feel that Dr. Sheehan and I can begin to benefit from some of the more subtle effects of the acupressure and acupuncture. An now, with an acupuncturist on staff, Guinevere, we are ready to take our healing process to the next level. The journey of healing of self and others is such an exciting and scintillating journey!

I made just such a tea this morning. It was one extra simple step at breakfast time. Here is the recipe:

1 small piece of fresh ginger, sliced

Peel from 1/3 of a large lemon, cut up into large pieces

3 sticks of cinnamon

1 quart of water

I simmered this until the water was reduced by 1/3, about an hour. It make the entire second floor smell heavenly!

So, to recap, here are the simple steps for self-care: take your supplements, eat clean in general, exercise, and engage in mindfully restful activities. You can start now by making this delicious tea 🙂

Here is my beginning-of-the week diet log. So I have been on my good behavior for the last couple of days.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Breakfast: 2 chicken sausages, almonds, coffee with butter and coconut oil

Lunch: Turkey Chili (from California Tortilla, they make a mean chili), spinach

Afternoon Snack: CC Meal Bar

Dinner: piece of salmon, avocado, and baby carrots

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Breakfast: a piece of salmon, avocado, almonds, coffee with butter and coconut oil

Lunch: Leftover chili, purslane from the yard mixed in, avocado

Afternoon Snack: celery and peanut butter

Dinner: 3 organic hot dogs with spinach, baby carrots, blue cheese dressing, and mustard

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Breakfast: salmon, avocado, almonds, coffee with coconut oil

After breakfast: delicious cinnamon-lemon peel-ginger tea

Lunch: 1 burger, sauteed beet greens, 1 hot dog, mustard, black coffee

Afternoon snack: we’ll see

Dinner: I am planning on going to DipCo and getting a dozen wings, a Greek salad, and a beer.

Click here to read more posts on Nutrition.