IS SOY BAD FOR YOU?

IS SOY BAD FOR YOU?

Is Soy Bad For Your Hormones? 6 Reasons Not to Eat Soy

 

Soy can either be good for you or be bad for you.

But…. 90% of the soy on the market is bad for you.

However, most Americans have been misled to believe that eating soy improves health.

In 1999, the FDA approved a message from the food industry that:

“Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Since then, soybean consumption doubled. Approximately 31% of Americans consume soy foods or beverages at least once a week. Soy is now a billion-dollar industry and the United States is currently the largest soybean producer in the world, making up more than 35% of worldwide production in 2012.

The reason why people believed in the health benefits of eating soy and why it became so popular was due to pressure by the soybean industry and the discovery that people living in Okinawa, Japan had very long life spans and ate a lot of soy. However, the type of soy that they consumed was a lot different than the soy used in most foods today.

A little history lesson…..

Back in ancient China in the 1100’s BC, soybeans were designated as one of five sacred grains, along with barley, millet, rice, and wheat. Before then, soybeans were not eaten by humans, but were only used to help fertilize the land so that other crops could thrive. However, during the time of the Chou Dynasty, fermentation techniques were discovered. The Chinese learned that soybeans could be fermented, and thus the first soy foods (miso, natto, tempeh, and shoygu) were introduced into the human diet.

Unfortunately, traditional soy foods are rarely eaten by most Americans. Instead, unfermented soybeans that have been genetically modified are found in almost all soy products in the U.S.

The growth of genetically-modified soybean crops in the U.S. has increased dramatically since the early 1990’s when soybeans were promoted as a “health food.”

Because soybeans have been genetically modified to withstand the physically damaging effects of herbicides (“Roundup”), pesticides, and other toxins during the production process, there is an overabundance of soy (140 billion pounds per year) in the U.S.

So… What do we do with it all?

We sell it. The soy industry profits at the expense of the health of Americans.

 Most of the soy grown in the U.S. is sent to be used as animal feed and hydrogenated fats such as margarine. The rest is sent off to be added to or create processed foods.

Soy has also been pushed to replace traditional dairy ingredients and are marketed as high-end, “healthy” products such as soy baby formula, soy yogurt, soy ice cream, and soy milk. In every “health” food section there is also an area where you can find soy burgers and soy chicken nuggets. Soy products are heavily marketed to vegetarians as a high source of protein. In fact, vegetarianism is one of the biggest reasons why soy is in such high demand.

Enough history.. Let’s get down to the reasons why you should stop eating soy, or at least cut down on it.

6 main reasons why soy is bad for you are because:

 

1. They contain phytoestrogens that create hormonal imbalances.

 

Women have two main hormones that are responsible for maintaining their reproductive health: estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones are mainly secreted by the ovaries and are dependent upon each other to balance each other out. They work together to promote the healthy development of the female sex characteristics during puberty and to ensure fertility.

The soy used today contains a lot of phytoestrogens, which are plant-derived compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. As most of us know, estrogen is primarily a “female” hormone. One might think that consuming large amounts of soy to try to raise estrogen levels during menopause is a good thing. However…

A study at the Mayo Clinic found no benefits from soy in treating hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness in a group of menopausal women.

In addition, when women consume large amounts of soy foods, the phytoestrogens may block and replace naturally-produced estrogen, which may cause a hormonal imbalance in the body. This may lead to infertility, loss of libido, and researchers have also found a link to breast cancer.

Women with a history of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer have been warned not to eat soy because it could inhibit the recurrence of breast cancer because of its estrogen-like properties.

Although recent research suggests that soy consumption is not associated with recurrence of breast cancer, its sample only included estrogen receptor negative breast cancer survivors.

Another study by researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center found that eating soy may prevent cancer, but if you’ve already been diagnosed with it, soy can fuel its growth. In other words, soy consumption may be protective only if started before cancer develops. Otherwise, it makes cancer worse.

With that being said, it’s probably best to avoid or limit soy consumption altogether.

 

2. They are GMOs can damage your digestive system.

 

In addition to possible hormonal imbalances caused by soy, it is also important to note that over 90% of soy today are genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If you’re wondering why soy was genetically modified and why it’s so bad, you will be shocked at the answer:

Soy grown in the United States was genetically modified to resist toxic herbicides (i.e. “RoundUp”), which means that soybean fields are sprayed with toxic herbicides and pesticides, but have been genetically engineered to not die in the process.

During the genetic modification process, genes from bacteria are injected into the soybean. These genes produce a protein that humans have never been exposed to as a source of food, which increases allergic reactions.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of food products that you buy are labeled with “may contain soy?” That’s because soy is one of the eight major allergenic foods. So many people are allergic to it, because of the protein from the bacteria gene used in the genetic modification process that humans weren’t previously exposed to.

Not to mention, research has proven that the gene from genetically modified soy transfers into our own gut bacteria in our and continues to function. That means that even if we haven’t eaten soy in years, we could still have an allergenic protein being produced in our gut.

 

3. They contain high levels of toxins that may cause gastric distress (upset stomach).

 

Lectins, which are a type of protein found in soybeans, are not digested in the human body. Because we aren’t able to digest them, we often produce antibodies to them, which stimulates an immune system response. In fact, the response can be so severe that poisoning can occur.

Have you ever wondered why you don’t see sprouted red kidney beans on store shelves? That’s because they contain a type of lectin called phytohaemagglutinin, which can cause poisoning with as little as four raw beans.

And, have you ever heard the phrase: “Beans! Beans! They’re good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you f@rt”?

It is the lectins in beans that can cause flatulence, GI distress, and “leaky gut.”

When food passes through our digestive system, very minor damage to the gut lining occurs. Our gut lining is responsible for keeping the bad stuff contained while letting the good stuff pass through. So, a healthy gut lining is important. Normally, our cells quickly repair the damage done during food passage. However, lectins slow this process down and our gut lining is compromised, which becomes what is known as “leaky gut.” When tiny food molecules are able to pass through the gut lining when they should have been kept out, our body sees them as foreign invaders and sends off an alarm to remove the “enemy,” which causes inflammation. Lectins also signal our body to empty our gut contents, which leads to cramping, diarrhea and sometimes vomiting.

Leaky gut may be associated with:

  • Inflammation
  • Joint pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramps
  • Food sensitivities
  • Diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Hormonal imbalances such as PMS
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Skin issues
  • Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, and celiac disease
  • Mood disturbances such as depression or anxiety

 

4. They contain hemagglutinin, which affects blood clotting.

 

Hemagglutinin is a substance that causes red blood cells to clump together, increasing blood clotting. This can be dangerous for people on Coumadin (warfarin) therapy, which is an anticoagulant medication used to prevent or treat blood clots. Consuming soy can reduce its effectiveness by inhibiting the action of vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting. Although more research is needed to confirm the effects of soy on warfarin therapy, it’s probably best to stick to only fermented soy foods, since the fermentation process deactivates hemagglutinin.

 

5. They are said to contain “anti-nutrients.”

 

Soy foods are said to contain “anti-nutrients” such as phytates, oxalates, soyatoxins, saponins, protease inhibitors, and other compounds that may hinder absorption of iron, zinc, manganese, and calcium.

Excessive amounts of soy (more than 35 grams a day) may lead to gastric distress because they contain “anti-nutrients” that block the action of trypsin, which is an enzyme produced by the pancreas to aid in protein digestion. Since food proteins must be broken down into amino acids that your body can use for tissue growth, maintenance, and repair, not having enough active trypsin can hinder digestion and even damage the pancreas.

However, there is no research that has proven that consuming soy foods leads to mineral deficiencies, and as long as you are eating a balanced diet and not relying on soy as your primary food staple, you should be able to get plenty of minerals from the other foods that you eat. Plus, phytates are considered to be an anti-oxidant and may help fight some cancers. So, the “anti-nutrient” content in soy shouldn’t be the main reason for you to cut it out of your life completely.

Fermenting soy reduces the mineral-blocking effects of phytates and other “anti-nutrients,” so only choose non-GMO soy foods that have been fermented.

 

6. They contain goitrogens that may cause thyroid dysfunction.

 

The thyroid is one of the largest glands in the endocrine system and It produces hormones such as triiodothryonine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and calcitronin. It is also responsible for controlling how your body responds to other hormones and controls how fast your body uses energy. This is why those with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) tend to gain weight or have a difficult time losing it.

Soy contains goitrogens that can block the production of these hormones, leading to thyroid dysfunction or it can make existing thyroid dysfunction even worse.

Soy can have an estrogen-like effect, and many people with thyroid issues find that they are prone to “estrogen dominance” (a hormonal imbalance).

In fact, about two thousand years ago, monks were regularly fed tofu to aid in their sexual abstinence. More estrogen means less testosterone. Less testosterone means less sex drive.

 

Some soy products to avoid/cut down on are:

  • Soybeans/Edamame
  • Soy milk
  • Soy protein
  • Unfermented tofu
  • Soy nuts
  • Soy chips
  • Soy nut butter
  • Soy burgers
  • Soybean oil

Of course, most things are okay in moderation. However, if you’re eating more than 35 grams of soy every day, this could negatively affect your health.

 

SOME soy is GOOD

Now, there are a few types of soy that can be good for you, which is the type of soy that the people of Okinawa, Japan were and still are eating. Good soy is organic, fermented soy.

Organic means it was not genetically modified and was not grown in soil that was treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Fermented means that it went through a process that increased its amount of probiotics (good bacteria), lowered its amount of “anti-nutrient” substances that behave like toxins in the body, and lowered its amount of phytates that prevent the absorption of nutrients in the body. Fermented soy foods are easier to digest and also contain high amounts of vitamin K2, which is important for bone, cardiovascular, and brain health.

 

The top 3 fermented soy foods are:

  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Tempeh
Miso is a salty, fermented soybean paste that is typically used to season soups and sauces.
Natto are sticky, gooey fermented soybeans that are typically served over rice.
Tempeh is a firm fermented soybean cake with an earthy flavor.

Conclusion

 

There are plenty of reasons not to eat soy. Yes, most soy is genetically modified, non-organic, and contains “anti-nutrients,” phytoestrogens, hemagluttinins, goitrogens, toxins, and plenty of other long words that most people can’t spell or pronounce. However, these substances in your everyday meals shouldn’t be enough to cause any problems as long as you are eating them in small amounts. Most of us consume enough minerals from other foods that more than make up for the phytates found in soy. Most of us do not eat enough soy foods to cause hormonal imbalances in our bodies. There’s a big difference between drinking soy milk three times a day and eating a handful of edamame once a week. If you’re at a friend’s house for dinner and they serve a salad with a few soybeans on top, there should be no reason to panic. But ideally, we should only eat organic, non-GMO, fermented soybeans just as the long-living Japanese do/did.

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THE BEST DIET FOR MENOPAUSE

THE BEST DIET FOR MENOPAUSE

If you’re a woman suffering from menopause symptoms and want to find out what the best diet for menopause is, then you should read this.

best diet for menopause

MENOPAUSE IS NOT A DISEASE

 

menopause doctor

Natural treatments for menopause are a hot topic. However, most women aren’t sure if they are very effective. They also don’t know what approach to take.

Menopause has been promoted as a disease and not a natural occurrence that every woman experiences.

Pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars by selling medications to women who are usually told by their doctors that they need to take medications during menopause.

Women fear their changing hormones, and that fear leads to money spent.
Lots of money. 

Most women don’t know that the most natural and most affordable approach to treating menopause symptoms is simply through diet.

Yes, there really is a best diet for menopause!

Premenopause and menopause are not diseases.

They are natural transitions that do not need medical treatment. When women experience undesirable symptoms, it is a sign that something is not quite right, and is usually caused by a less-than-optimum environment that alters normal metabolic processes. Nutrition is often part of it.

Nutritious alternatives to treating menopause symptoms work with your body, not against it like medications do, which usually cause more damage than good.

When we provide an optimum environment, our bodies are incredibly resilient and capable of restoring balance and healing themselves.

 

THE BEST DIET FOR MENOPAUSE IS NATURAL


In this article, I am going to show you exactly how the best diet for menopause actually works:

  • Create the healthiest possible environment to help your body restore balance and heal itself.
  • Select foods that will optimize your health and help balance your hormones naturally, which will reduce menopause symptoms.
  • Prevent or reduce menopausal weight gain with better nutrition.
  • Select herbal remedies, vitamins, and minerals to help balance hormones and treat menopause symptoms

 

If you’ve spent most of your life eating chips, French fries, candy, ice cream, and other refined and processed foods, you might think that it is too late.

It is NEVER too late.

Changing habits isn’t easy, but you don’t need to change everything all at once. Every small step you take can make a big difference in your health and the way that you feel. Plus, changing your lifestyle slowly over time will make it easier to keep it that way and not revert to old ways.

 

CUT DOWN CALORIES, NOT FAT

There is a very close relationship between fat and estrogen. Our fat cells are basically estrogen factories.

A vicious cycle exists when increased body fat raises estrogen levels, which increases our tendency to store more body fat. Another cycle exists where falling estrogen levels from menopause cause fat to redistribute to other parts of the body.

As fat was once stored in the hips, thighs, and buttocks as a reserve for breastfeeding, it’s no longer needed for that purpose as we hit menopause. Fat moves to the abdominal area instead and becomes visceral (deep belly) fat, which can cause inflammation in the body and can increase risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Read my article on how to get rid of menopause belly fat.

In addition, a study of menopausal women found that hot flashes occurred 30% more frequently in women who gained weight.

menopause weight gainEating fat will not necessarily make you fat. Excess calories will, however. As we age, our bodies “slow down” and we don’t need as many calories to keep it going. That means we don’t need to take in as many calories than we did in our 20’s, but our appetite doesn’t know that yet.

On top of that, we develop carb cravings as our hormones change, which usually leads to eating too many carbohydrates that have too many calories.

Research has found that 90% of women gain extra weight between ages 35 to 55. Most women gain 10 to 15 pounds starting in perimenopause (the time “around” menopause), and then a pound a year after that.

We really need to know what the best diet for menopause is.

 

The average calorie needs for women during lifespan:

Sedentary

19 to 25- 2,000 calories

26 to 50- 1,800 calories

Age 50 and up- 1,600 calories

Moderately Active

19 to 25- 2,200 calories

26 to 50- 2,000 calories

Age 50 and up- 1,800 calories

Very Active

19 to 30- 3,000 calories

31 to 60- 2,200 calories

Age 61 and up- 2,000 calories

Since it takes 3,500 extra calories to gain one pound of fat, just adding a muffin to your routine each morning can cause you to gain a pound a week! Unless you exercised it off, but that means you would have to run around 6 miles a day to burn off those morning muffins. Not the best diet for menopause.

Worried that your health will fail if you eat fat? Stop worrying. For the past few decades, there has been an outpour in misleading information that eating fat will make you fat, that you should follow a low-fat diet, that saturated fat is bad for you, etc.

fat freeIn fact, in 1977 the United States government made its very first dietary recommendation to “eat less fat and cholesterol, and more carbohydrates.” The obesity rate in America thus skyrocketed and the rate of diabetes went up along with it. Not to mention, it may have affected our hormones in a bad way, leading to increased infertility, early menopause, and a wide array of other problems.

Now we know through research that avoiding fat is nonsense. New studies also found that eating healthy fats don’t adversely affect your blood cholesterol and don’t cause heart attacks.

 

There are plenty of reasons for why you should NOT buy low-fat foods and they are:

  • Eating fat makes you feel satisfied. When you eat fat, your brain receives signals that you have the needed energy stores coming in and your appetite is then suppressed. Your stomach starts to empty more slowly, which means that you end up feeling full longer. Low-fat foods don’t have the same effect. You end up eating more calories because your body doesn’t sense that enough energy is coming in.
  • Displacing carbs with fat helps with weight loss because of the effect on insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is released by your pancreas in proportion to the amount of carbs you eat. The more carbs you eat, the more insulin is released. But the more insulin released, the more weight gain. Keeping insulin levels low helps you lose weight. Fat in the diet helps keep insulin levels low and allows your body to use fat as energy.
  • When you get enough fat in your diet, your body becomes conditioned to burn it more efficiently. This has to do with a fat-burning hormone called adiponectin, which is produced when you eat fat. Adiponectin increases the rate that fats are broken down, curbs appetite, increases muscle efficiency, and increases insulin sensitivity. When you eat low-fat foods, only small amounts of adiponectin are produced. You want to keep those numbers high.

 

Research has found that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet can significantly reduce body weight. So, the next time you are at the grocery store, avoid the “reduced fat” foods and choose whole-fat dairy products and foods that are in their natural state.

Wondering what “healthy fats” you should be eating? I will tell you how to choose healthy fats below.

Best Diet for Menopause 101: Eat Healthy Fats

Fat is essential in our diet and we need it to build and maintain many parts of our body including our hormones. Prostaglandins, hormones produced by almost all cells, play a huge role in inflammatory and immune processes in our body. Some prostaglandins promote inflammation (pro-inflammatory) and others inhibit it (anti-inflammatory). Omega-6 fatty acids increase production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and omega-3 fatty acids increase production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Since inflammation is sometimes necessary in our body, we need a healthy balance between the two.

Studies show that a diet very high in omega-6 fatty acids is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer because omega-6 fatty acids increase pro-inflammatory prostaglandin levels and damage DNA, which promotes cell growth. On the other end, omega-3 fatty acids inhibit cell growth, keeping things under control.

Ideally, we want to have more omega-3 and less of omega-6 fatty acids.
A diet rich in natural, healthy fats can help create that balance.

Here is a chart that shows the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content of some fats and oils:

menopause infographic

The categories of saturated, mono- or polyunsaturated fats are less important than the difference between natural fats and fats that have been processed or “synthetic.” Learn to avoid trans-fats, which are sometimes listed on food labels, mostly from hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.

Trans-fats have been linked to cancer, decreased immune function, reproductive problems, auto-immune diseases, heart disease, bone loss, diabetes, and obesity.

Think about what types of fats humans have been eating for most of human existence and choose those. If it was created by man or is highly processed, it probably isn’t good for you.

Here’s a breakdown of some common fats and oils that are found in the foods we eat, to guide you in making the right choice:


Eat More Of…

  • Avocado oil: Rich in healthy essential fatty acids.
  • Butter: Eaten in moderation can be good for your health. Grass-fed butter is best.
  • Coconut oil: Make sure it says “virgin” or “unrefined” on the label. This means it is the least processed.
  • Fatty Fish: Fish such as salmon, cod, tuna, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fats.
  • Olive oil: Make sure it says “extra-virgin” on the label. This means it is the least processed and is high-quality. If it says “pure” or “light,” that means it is a lower-grade olive oil.

 

Eat Less Of… 

  • Canola oil: Highly processed, but better to use than corn or soybean oil.
  • Corn oil: Highly processed and a majority of corn are genetically engineered.
  • Soybean oil: Highly processed and usually hydrogenated.
  • Vegetable oil: Highly processed.
  • Margarine: High in trans-fat.
  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil: Contain trans-fats and are often found in margarine, potato chips, and baked goods. These fats can block “good” fats and create hormone imbalance.

 

 

 

Eat Phytochemicalst Phytochemicals

 

Phytochemicals are compounds produced by plants that have protective or preventive properties, and are parts of the best diet for menopause. When included in your diet, they can act as a natural defense against cancer and research has also found that phytochemicals can prevent menopausal bone loss.

There are many types of phytochemicals  and many different ways to categorize the thousands of phytochemicals we know today. Nutritionists usually categorize them by their possible health effects in the human body. For example, phytochemicals that act as

soy to treat menopausal symptomsantioxidants are simply called “antioxidants” and some phytochemicals that affect metabolism of the female sex hormone estrogen in the human body and are called “phytoestrogens.”

Phytoestrogens are a hot topic in menopause because their chemical structures are very similar to estrogen found in the body and because of this, can bind to and activate estrogen receptors. A common food known to have estrogenic effects is soy. However, don’t think of soy as a cure for menopause.

Soy is NOT the cure for menopause.

Here are the controversies of using soy to treat menopausal symptoms:

  • The effects that soy have on estrogen levels in the body are around 1000 times weaker than estrogen produced by your ovaries.
  • Research has also found that soy is about one third as effective than a woman’s own estrogen in reducing hot flashes.
  • Soy may be contraindicated if you have a personal or family history of estrogen-sensitive cancers like breast cancer.
  • Soybeans contain phytate, otherwise known as the “anti-nutrient,” which may block absorption of important minerals.

However, there are always two sides to every story. For one, phytates are often found in small amounts. You would have to eat a lot of soybeans or other foods containing phytates to create a mineral deficiency in your body. The key to good health is moderation, and that may be said so for soybeans. Tossing some into your salad or having edamame as a snack will most likely not lead to negative health consequences. Most research surrounding phytates involved very high amounts, more than what are found naturally in a meal. For that, it may be worth a try to see if you start feeling better after a month or two of adding soy to your diet.

Additional types of phytochemical include:

  • Carotenoids include beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, which protect fat cells, blood, and other bodily fluids from free radicals.
    • Good sources: apricots, mangoes, papayas, watermelon, spinach, sweet potatoes, corn, red peppers, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes, to name a few sources.
  • Flavonoids include resveratrol, hesperidin, anthocyanin, quercetin, and tangeritin, which act against inflammation and prevent platelets from sticking together. They also block the enzymes that raise blood pressure.
    • Good sources: vitamin-C-rich foods such as apples, cherries, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, plums, strawberries, broccoli, and kale. And yes, red wine.
  • Ellagic acid decreases cholesterol levels and reduce the inflammation process in the arteries.
    • Good sources: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, kiwifruit, raspberries, currants, and red grapes. Strawberries especially have been found in studies to inhibit certain enzymes, reducing the inflammation process in the arteries.
  • Allium compounds protect the cardiovascular and immune systems.
    • Good sources: onions, scallions, leeks, chives, and garlic.

Best Diet for Menopause: Eat Whole Foods First

Although I am giving you plenty of information regarding phytochemicals, healthy fats, etc., the single most important piece of information regarding the best diet for menopause is to eat whole foods.

That means unprocessed, unrefined, natural, “pulled-from-the-Earth” foods.

There are many diets out there that push for reduced-fat, reduced-calorie, or fat-free foods. However, the foods found on grocery store shelves bearing those labels are full of preservatives, hidden sugars, and additives.

Eating whole foods means eating fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and meats without fillers added to them.

Basically, if it doesn’t resemble something found in nature, it isn’t a whole food.

Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables means that they will not only taste better, but they will contain more nutrients than canned fruits and vegetables. The canning process removes some vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and important enzymes. Although buying frozen foods is better than canned, they still aren’t as nutritious as fresh.

Keep in mind that fruit and vegetable juices are simply that- juice. That means that they usually do not contain any fiber, which can help stabilize your blood sugar levels.

whole grain for best menopause dietChoosing whole grains means that you will look for the whole-grain label on each product. If it doesn’t say “whole grain,” then it isn’t.

If a bread is labeled as “whole wheat,” it doesn’t mean that it is whole grain. It just means that it is made with wheat flour. However, when wheat is processed, the fibrous, mineral-rich outer coat is removed and the vitamin-rich “germ” of the grain is also removed. Without these, it is not as nutritious and it also has a bad impact on your blood sugar levels when you eat it.

Finally, choosing whole meats is simply that. A meat that does not contain any fillers or preservatives like hot dogs, lunch meats, and other processed meats do.

Nitrites and nitrates in processed meats can be some of the most harmful compounds you put into your body. They are known to damage cells and also morph into molecules that can cause cancer, particularly colon cancer. Although they most likely won’t cause problems in most people, those who use stomach acid suppressants may be at a greater risk since the decreased stomach acid allows for the growth of bacteria that produce nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic compounds produced during digestion of nitrates and nitrites.

Of course, never eating white bread, canned beans, or sausage again is not very realistic. The key is moderation. By eating mostly whole foods with a treat every now and then can still mean a balanced diet.

Real Food vs Processed Food

 

Have you ever been on a diet before where you were pushed to buy their packaged, processed low-fat but high-carbohydrate products?

Do these look familiar?

nutrisystem and sugar

sugar and slim fast

The problem with these high-carb, low-fat foods is that they don’t hold you over until the next meal, they spike your blood sugar, and they don’t have much nutritional value. You end up hungry, wanting to eat more of them, and you eventually consume more calories than you would have if you ate something high-fat, high-protein, low-carb.

Unfortunately, this type of dieting has been mainstream for too long, and does not constitute the best diet for menopause for sure. For the past few decades, there has been an outpour in misleading information that eating fat will make you fat and that you should follow a low-fat diet to lose weight.

In fact, in 1977 the United States government made its very first dietary recommendation to “eat less fat and cholesterol, and more carbohydrates.” Thus, the dawn of low-fat foods spread throughout the country like wildfire, and the obesity rate in America skyrocketed.

The recommendation was a big fat fail. Since then, research has proven that avoiding fat is non-sense. New studies also found that eating healthy fats don’t adversely affect your blood cholesterol and don’t cause heart attacks. It just so turns out that the amount of calories from fat is irrelevant and replacing fat with refined carbs and sugar is far worse.

You should strive for a balance of healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates during every meal. The keyword for carbs is “complex.” This means you should be including fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains such as brown rice or in your diet to cover the carbohydrate portion, while avoiding or minimizing refined carbs such as white bread, pasta, and pastries.

 

 

Eating More Fiber is Part of the Best Diet for Menopause

Fiber is essential to any healthy diet, and to the best diet for menopause. But, it’s particularly important for women in perimenopause and menopause, since it can aid in weight loss, remove excess cholesterol from the body, and improve glucose tolerance and insulin levels. In addition, it improves digestive health by preventing and treating constipation and for “cleaning” the gut, which can help reduce the risk of developing some cancers, in particularly colon cancer.

 

fiber consumption for menopauseHigh-fiber foods are low in calories and fill the stomach, creating a sense of fullness. This leaves less room for high-calorie foods, which can help you lose weight.

Fiber is material that the body can’t fully digest, which creates bulk in the stool and helps you have a bowel movement. This helps with constipation and will help keep your colon clean. When your colon is kept clean by having regular bowel movements, this can reduce the risk of colon cancer.

 

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber expands when mixed with water and turns into a gel. Insoluble fiber

 

 

Best Diet for Menopause: Drink Plenty of Water

drinking water helps menopausal symptomsSince vaginal dryness and dry skin are a consequence of decreased estrogen during menopause, it is important to drink plenty of water. Being dehydrated can make vaginal dryness and dry skin worse.

Drinking plenty of water also helps get rid of bloating that occurs with hormonal changes during perimenopause, which is a period of time before full menopause when estrogen starts to decline and lasts around 5 years.

Drinking water with enough fiber in your diet will also help prevent constipation, which can occur in menopausal women who take certain medications, vitamin supplements, or sleep aids when dealing with difficult menopausal symptoms.

The recommended water intake is called the “8x8 rule,” which means 8-ounce glasses, 8 times a day, which equals about half a gallon a day. Remember that you can also get fluid from soups, fruit, and other foods, which can count towards that recommended daily amount.

Buy Organic and Free-Range Foods

Free-range, organic, conventional.. There are so many different labels on the eggs, meat, fruits, and vegetables you buy in the grocery store, so how do you choose?

Let me break it down for you:

Organic meat means that the animal was given no antibiotics or growth hormones and was fed organic foods, and was raised with outdoor access to land not treated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Organic fruits and vegetables means that they were grown in pesticide and chemical fertilizer-free land. The soil is often richer in nutrients.

Free-range means that the animal was raised in open air or was free to roam, which also means that it was able to consume foods found naturally in their environment, such as grass and worms and insects.

Conventional meat means the animal was typically raised in a cage, often with barely any room to move, and are fed antibiotics to prevent deadly infections usually caused by poor living conditions and hormones to make them grow faster. In addition, the grains they are fed were typically derived from land treated with pesticides and chemical fertilizers and were genetically modified (e.g. corn). Conventional fruits and vegetables means that they were probably grown in soil treated with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The soil usually contains less nutrients because of over-farming.

I am sure you have heard that the pesticides left on the skins of fruits and veggies are “too small to make a difference.” Well, add up all the other pesticides you are exposed to and the toxic load may be too much, wreaking havoc on your body and leading to hormonal imbalances and cancer.

Still wondering how free-range and organic makes a difference? You can actually SEE the difference between eggs that came from a hen who was able to roam the land eating insects and worms, and eggs that came from a hen who was confined to a tiny cage and fed grains.

In addition, free-range and grass-fed animals are naturally leaner. When a cow is able to graze the land, the meat contains stable, saturated fats. On the other hand, when it is fed cheap, poor-quality grain mash, the meat becomes full of chemicals, hormones, and polyunsaturated and saturated fats. You can see the difference in this as well..

Does this make it easier to decide which is best? Just go with your gut feeling, here. Not only is buying free-range and organic better for the environment and animals, but it is also better for your health.

 

Is Dairy Right for You?

Americans are one of the few cultures who consume milk on a regular basis. In fact, most other people in the world are allergic to milk or lack the enzymes to digest it properly.

Is milk part of the best diet for menopause?

Many years ago, Eastern Mediterranean people discovered that adding a bacterial culture to milk made it digestible because it converted lactose into lactic acid. This is how yogurt came into our food supply. Cheese also has a similar effect during digestion.

Although the government pushes for dairy in its daily food allowance recommendations, you don’t actually need to consume dairy to get enough calcium and other nutrients in your diet. There are plenty of other foods that contain high amounts of calcium, such as dark green veggies (broccoli, kale, etc) and fish (salmon, sardines, etc) and even nuts such as almonds.

In addition, remember that the growth hormones and antibiotics given to cows end up in your own body when you drink their milk. This affects your own hormones and also makes you more resistant to antibiotics, which makes them less effective when you truly need them.

To make matters worse, cow’s milk contains excessive amounts of hormones (estrogen, testosterone, etc.). Obviously, cows are animals and they have hormones just like humans, right? So, it might seem to make sense to drink milk to get more estrogen to help menopause symptoms, but that’s not really the case. Consuming hormones from a different animal’s body with a different biology will not have an ideal effect on your own body. You’ll end up with mood swings, acne, insulin issues, and possibly cancer.

Take Your Vitamins and Minerals

As we age, our vitamin and mineral requirements change. Unfortunately, food is not as nutritious as it was 1,000 years ago, thanks to overfarming and chemicals and hormones our livestock are exposed to (unless you buy organic). Soil quality decreases with each new crop, and the vegetation grown from it decreases in mineral content as a result.

To combat this, we are left with 2 choices: Ignore the problem, or, take a supplement to take out the guesswork of whether or not we are getting enough vitamins and minerals through diet.

As us women approach menopause, we often experience a broad range of unfortunate signs and symptoms such as hot flashes, brittle nails, fatigue, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, and so on…

What many of us aren’t aware of is how nutrients and supplements can help combat these signs and symptoms. So, I am going to give you a cheat sheet on which vitamins and minerals can help certain menopausal symptoms:

  • Menopausal Fatigue: vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, iron, zinc
  • Vaginal Dryness: vitamins E, B, A
  • Brittle Nails: zinc, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B
  • Brittle Bones: calcium, vitamin D
  • Decreased Libido: vitamin C, vitamin B
  • Muscle Tension: vitamins B, C, D, E
  • Mood Swings: vitamins B, C, D
  • Anxiety: vitamin B, D, Omega fatty acids
  • Depression: vitamin B, D, Omega-3 fatty acids, zinc
  • Thinning Hair: iron, vitamin B12, vitamin A, zinc, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C
  • Weight gain: Learn from my recent blog post on the best (and worst) supplements for weight loss.

 

Daily Vitamin and Mineral Guidelines:

  • Vitamin A: 5,000-10,000 IU
  • B Vitamins
    • Thiamine (B1): 10-25 mg
    • Riboflavin (B2): 10-25 mg
    • Niacin (B3): 50-100 mg
    • Pantothenic Acid (B5): 10-50 mg
    • Pyridoxine (B6): 50 mg
    • Methylcobalamine (B12): 1000-2000 mcg
    • Biotin: 100-300 mcg
    • Choline: 50-100 mg
    • Folic acid/Folate: 400-800 mcg
    • Inositol: 150-300 mg
  • Vitamin C: 1000-2000 mg
  • Vitamin D: 300-400 IU
  • Vitamin E: 400-500 IU
  • Boron: 1-5 mg
  • Calcium: 300 mg
  • Chromium Picolinate: 200-400 mcg
  • Copper: 1-5 mg
  • Magnesium: 300-400 mg
  • Manganese: 10 mg
  • Selenium: 60-100 mcg
  • Vanadyl Sulfate: 10-25 mcg
  • Zinc: 10-20 mg

 

Take Care of Your Digestion By Taking Probiotics

The community of microorganisms that live in your digestive track, better known as “gut flora,” play an important role in all aspects of your health, including weight loss.

In fact, a healthy gut is the hidden key to weight loss! Here’s why…

* Different guts metabolize food differently.

Research has found that transplanting fecal material (poop!) from a thin gut into an obese gut is associated with weight loss.

Obese people have gut flora that cause the body to absorb more calories.

This may have been an advantage thousands of years ago, but in these modern times, our guts don’t need to be as efficient when food is so readily available. And although the species of flora in our gut have been around for quite some time, the balance between species changes according to diet. This is because some bacteria will dominate while others diminish when their incoming nutrients are altered.

 

  • Insulin sensitivity is regulated by gut flora. 

When the gut is overcrowded with “bad” gut bacteria, inflammation occurs and insulin resistance develops. This means that the body can no longer process carbs the way it should, which leads to high blood sugar, sugar cravings, and weight gain.

 

  • Gut flora affect your sweet tooth

The reason for this is because when you have a lot of gut bacteria that prefer to feed on sugar, you crave sugar to feed your gut. The more sugar you eat, the more “bad” bacteria thrive in your gut.

 

Taking probiotics can help balance gut flora. You can get probiotics from fermented foods such as yogurt and pickles, or you can take a supplement.

Check out my great recipe to make water kefir, a fizzy probiotic drink.

However, you should be careful when choosing a probiotic. Not all probiotic supplements are created equal. In fact, 85% of probiotics on store shelves have been found to be ineffective, primarily due to poor storage techniques.

The best probiotics should contain at least these three most important strains:

  • acidophilus: supports nutrient absorption and helps with digestion of dairy foods.
  • Longum: helps maintain the integrity of the gut wall and is a scavenger of toxins.
  • bifidum: critical for digestion of dairy products and breaks down complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein into small components that the body can use more efficiently.

And these if available:

  • rhamnosus: known as the “travel probiotic,” can help prevent occasional traveler’s diarrhea.
  • fermentum: helps neutralize some of the byproducts of digestion and promote a healthy level of gut bacteria.

 

In addition, a probiotic supplement full of dead bacteria is a waste of money.

 

To ensure viability of the organisms inside, packaging and storage should include:

  • An expiration date. If there isn’t one labeled, it should raise an eyebrow.
  • A money-back guarantee. Companies that are honest and believe in their product will offer one.
  • Refrigeration required or packaging that ensures the elements of light, heat, and moisture have minimal impact, such as opaque bottles with desiccant pouches.

I wrote a lot more information on balancing gut flora.

 

Complement The Best Diet for Menopause with Herbs

 

herbal supplements help with menopauseIn conjunction with a balanced diet, some vitamins and minerals, and exercise, herbs can also be used to help balance hormones as women approach menopause.

Herbs are generally gentler to use than pharmaceutical drugs, but they should be used safely. Too much of anything can do harm, so use only in moderation. You should also consult with your primary care provider before starting an herbal supplement, as they may interfere with some medications you may be taking.

Angelica Archangelica
This plant seems to have hormonal activity and is used to bring on menstrual periods. It acts as a stimulant.

Dong Quai
Contrary to popular belief, Dong quai does not have any estrogenic activity, meaning it will not simulate the effects of estrogen on the body. However, it does improve liver function and metabolism, which may improve excretion of hormones, bringing the body back into balance. It also acts as a mild sedative which may improve anxiety. Chinese women use it to bring on menstrual periods. However, there is not much research to back up its claims.

Black Cohosh
Has been found to be useful for hot flashes. Do not take if you have liver problems.

DHEA
Some research has found that taking DHEA supplements can improve libido and reduce hot flashes during menopause. DHEA may also be useful for treatment of depression, weight loss, adrenal insufficiency, and bone density.

Fenugreek
This is commonly found in herbal teas. It has oxytocin-like effects that can induce uterine contractions, so women take it when their menstrual period is late. However, it should not be consumed during pregnancy since it may stimulate an abortion. Women also use it to treat painful menstrual periods. Breastfeeding women use it to increase milk production. Men use it for erectile dysfunction and infertility. It is also helpful for weight loss by increasing a sense of fullness and reducing hunger.

Flaxseeds
Flax seeds and flaxseed oil contains a good source of lignans, which tend to balance female hormones. It has been found to ease night sweats in women undergoing menopause.

Ginseng
Some research has found that taking ginseng improves quality of life during menopause. It has been found to boost mood and improve sleep. However, there is no research that shows ginseng improves physical symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.

St. John’s Wort
Well-known for its antidepressant properties, St John’s wort can especially improve mood swings during menopause when combined with black cohosh. Consult with your primary care provider before use if you are taking antidepressants.

Wild Yam
Is used by pharmaceutical companies to produce steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, pregnenolone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisones. This has made it a popular alternative to hormone therapy for menopause. However, the diosgenin compound taken from wild yam is not equal to human estrogen or progesterone, despite claims found on many topical creams.

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