Let’s take a look at SOY …

Soy: To Fear or Not to Fear?  Learn what the latest science says about soy safety, according to Dr. Chana Davis (PhD scientist at Stanford University in genetics and writes a blog called FueledbyScience.com) for Medium/Food, 25 April 2019. 

  Women worry it will cause breast cancer or reproductive issues, while men worry about ‘man boobs’ or lower sperm count. Others don’t know exactly what they fear but would rather “play it safe”.  Yet, the latest science, based on dozens of studies in thousands of people, tells us loud and clear that enjoying soy is safe, and may even have protective health benefits.

The story of soyaphobia began in the 1940s when an Australian sheep farmer noticed fertility issues in his flock. He identified clover, one of their favourite foods, as the culprit. It turns out that the clover was rich in phytoestrogensPhytoestrogens are plant-derived chemicals that have a similar shape to the human hormone estrogen. There are several classes of phytoestrogens, including isoflavones (found in clover and soy).  If eating phyt oestrogens causes fertility issues in sheep, then eating phytoestrogens may cause similar issues in humans. The spotlight landed on soy because it is one of the richest phytoestrogen sources in the human diet.

It took several decades to get the data we needed — large human trials — to answer these questions confidently.  Soy is safe!

At this point you may be wondering how fear of soy could have become so rampant given the vast evidence for safety. It can’t be all due to infertile sheep, can it? The answer lies in over-zealous interpretation of early research on soy phytoestrogens, together with our natural tendency to adopt and hold on to fears.

In the case of soy, a handful of early studies raised red flags and fueled the fires of soyaphobia despite their clear limitations. For example, this study fed rats massively unrealistic amounts of soy, and this study fed purified soy proteins to lab-grown breast cancer cells. Small, uncontrolled human studies were also done — such as this study with no placebo group (invalidating its fearful conclusions).

The soy saga shows what happens when we tout findings in model systems and small human trials as conclusive, when in reality they are highly fallible — a fact that even the strongest advocates of “model systems” acknowled ge.

Read more: Soy: To Fear or Not to Fear?

Four Good Reasons to Embrace Soy … Soy is a win for your taste buds, your body, your planet, and your wallet, according to a second article by Dr. Chana Davis for Medium, 5 April 2019.

Soy is a not only highly nutritious, delicious, and versatile, but also easy on the planet, and your wallet. The latest science tells us that soy is not only safe, but may have health benefits. What is soy, anyways? Soy products come from the beans of Glycine max, a plant native to East Asia, belonging to the pea family. Soybeans are consumed in many forms, from immature beans (edamame) to tofu, to soy milk, to soy sauce, to purified protein powders. Benefits include:

      • The “Yum” Factor
      • Nutrition: Soy rivals fattier meats such as ground beef when it comes to protein per calorie. Soy also shines when it comes to protein quality, and gets the esteemed honour of being labeled a “complete protein”.
      • Environment: If Americans swapped half of their burgers from ground beef to a soy-based burger ( e.g. the Impossible Whopper), the greenhouse gas impact would be equal to that of taking 13 million cars off the road! 
      • Cost: The cheapest way to get your protein is from dried beans and legumes, which work out to about 1–2 cents per gram of protein.

Read more: Four Good Reasons to Embrace Soy

Can What We Eat Affect How We Feel? was published by Richard Schiffman for the Eat section of The New York Times, 28 March 2019. 

Dr. Drew Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University (and author of several books that address food and mental health) is a pioneer in the field of nutritional psychiatry, which attempts to apply what science is learning about the impact of nutrition on the brain and mental health. He argues that a poor diet is a major factor contributing to the epidemic of depression, which is the top driver of disability for Americans aged 15 to 44, according to a report by the World Health Organization. Together with Samantha Elkrief, a chef and food coach who sits in on many of his patient sessions, he often counsels patients on how better eating may lead to better mental health.

The irony, he says, is that most Americans are overfed in calories yet starved of the vital array of micronutrients that our brains need, many of which are found in common plant foods. A survey published in 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only one in 10 adults meets the minimal daily federal recommendations for fruit and vegetables — at least one-and-a-half to two cups per day of fruit and two to three cups per day of vegetables.

Samantha Elkrief, the food coach who assists Dr. Ramsey, adds that it’s not just what we eat but the attitudes that we bring to our food that contribute to mental well-being. “I want to help people find the foods that give them joy, that make them feel good,” she says. “It’s about slowing down and becoming more mindful, noticing your body, noticing how you feel when you eat certain foods.”

Read more: Can What We Eat Affect How We Feel?

Can plant-based meat grow from a $1 billion industry to a $20 billion industry? As investment continues, about 30% of American consumers now say that they’re reducing their meat consumption, and 32% consider themselves flexitarian, according to Adele Peters of FastCompany.com, 13 May 2019.

It’s a good time to be in the plant-based meat business. Today, Impossible Foods, known for its very beef-like plant-based burger, announced that it closed a new $300 million funding round, bringing total venture investment in the company to more than three-quarters of a billion dollars. On April 29, Burger King said that it planned to start serving Impossible Whoppers nationwide. (The burger is already sold in more than 7,000 other restaurants–up from 70 just two years ago–and will be in retail stores later this year.) McDonald’s is serving a new vegan burger in Germany and a vegan Happy Meal in the U.K. Nestlé plans to start selling its own “Incredible Burger,” another realistic plant-based burger designed to be cooked from a raw patty, in Europe this spring, followed by the U.S. this fall. When Beyond Meat went public on May 2, its stock quickly soared.

The success is being driven by the evolution of the products, which now bear little relation to old-school veggie burgers. “This is fundamentally an issue of rethinking what a plant-based burger is,” says Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute.  Impossible uses a plant-based version of heme, the same molecule that gives blood its taste. Beyond Meat, like Impossible, has a massive lab where scientists continually tweak the recipes for its products to make them as realistic as possible.

The target customers aren’t vegetarians anymore, but meat eaters who are interested in alternatives for health or animal welfare reasons, or because raising meat is a contributor to climate change. “The products are getting better and better, and that’s a factor in going from, ‘My products are for the billion-dollar vegetarian plant-based meat market,’ to, ‘My products are for the $200 billion everybody-who-eats-meat market,” he says. “And you really need to be in the latter category to have a successful fast food introduction.”

Read more: Can plant-based meat grow from a $1 billion industry to a $20 billion industry?

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