What’s the environmental impact of your diet?

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

The best and worst ways to get the protein you need

Improving your own health and improving the health of our planet are entirely compatible.

But you do need to know:

Which foods – and especially meats – have the highest adverse environmental impact

How to choose sustainable fish products

How to ensure you are getting the nutrition you need, whilst consuming less animal products

Because it is an ‘inconvenient truth’ that we will have to eat less animal products.

By making informed choices we can collectively reduce our diet’s associated Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and land use demand by up to 50% [1].

There is solid evidence that diets rich in fruits and vegetables not only reduce the risk of dementia, heart disease and cancer – but have lower carbon footprints than meat-rich ones. [2]

Four environmentally unfriendly facts

  1. Almost 50% of all antibiotics are used in the livestock sector – and 37% of all pesticides.
  2. 70% of all agricultural land is occupied by livestock
  3. 18% of current GHG emissions are generated by livestock – as much as road transport at 17.5%  
  4. 70% of deforested land is converted to pasture. Carbon is released by this deforestation and then further increased by the livestock. A double whammy.

Analyses of a typical northern European grocery basket indicate that on average, foods with the highest environmental burden are meat products (beef, pork and poultry) and dairy products (cheese, milk and butter). [3]  

Measures of ‘environmental impact’ generally include: associated GHGs, toxicity to humans, air pollution, effects on water eco-systems, land-use and resource depletion.

What’s the environmentally best diet?

A 2018 meta-analysis of scientific literature identified the so-called Mediterranean Diet as the best of both worlds: high nutritional scores and low carbon footprints.

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

On the other hand, the dietary choices identified in Northern and Western Europe, as well as in the USA, have the highest carbon footprints, relying upon dairy products as a major contribution of protein and nutrients [2].

The food we choose to eat is important, not only for our personal health, but for the future of our land and climate system.

So, which animal products are the most burdensome on our environment?

You don’t necessarily need to cut them out completely – although an increasing number do. But even halving the consumption of certain foods can make a huge and necessary positive impact. It is one of the easiest ways for us personally to help tackle the climate crisis.

MEAT

58% of ALL the cultivated land on our planet is devoted to farming livestock – either directly for grazing or for growing animal feed.

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

With demand for animal protein growing rapidly as previously ‘developing’ countries move to eating more animal protein, this use of land is unsustainable in the long term.

Livestock requires all the same things we humans need to survive – land, food and water. In a populous world, these are increasingly scarce resources. If we can feed humans on less land, we will have more land to support our growing population.

Equally we will have more land to spare for rewilding, planting trees to soak up carbon – and for the conservation of natural habitats for dwindling wild populations of animals – including the insects we depend on for pollinating crops.

Beef

Beef has the lowest efficiency of resource input – it takes a lot of food, water and land for the protein you get from a cow.

In fact, we currently need to input 3kg (6-7 lb) of feed for every 450g (1 lb) of edible beef.

Beef meat also has the worst environmental impact per kg of all the common meats. Corn-fed beef tops the list of adverse impact, as corn is a chemically and mechanically intensive monoculture crop.  Grass-fed is preferable in terms of land use – since well-managed grazing land can actually become a carbon sink and provide habitat in the margins.

Pork

Pork is one of our most popular meats – Europe eats about 3 times the amount of pork as it does beef. Pork does have a lower environmental burden per kg than beef, but because of its wide consumption, total  pork meat production has one of the biggest negative impacts [3].

Pigs need just under 2kg (over 4lbs) of feed for 450g (1 lb) of edible pork.

Chicken and turkey

Generally, health research favours white meats over red meats, on the grounds that they are leaner and contain less ‘bad’ cholesterol, which is a risk factor in heart disease. The rearing of poultry produces about half of the greenhouse gases that producing the same weight of beef does [3].

Chickens typically need 2lbs of feed for each 1lb of edible meat.

Lamb

Sheep are often grazed on hill land that would otherwise be difficult to farm for crops, and agriculturally grown feed is used far less. So, to that extent they create less of an environmental impact.

So, should you eat meat? We advise taking the middle way
– REDUCING your meat consumption, especially of beef, and buying the best possible organic, free-range meat you can afford.

FISH

Fish, especially oily fish, contain fats such as Omega-3 in good ratio with other Omega fats- making them theoretically a healthy food.

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

Oily fish is therefore currently recommended as part of a healthy diet. However, a reality to face when buying fish is that 90% of commercial fish stocks are dangerously overfished [4, 5].

This means fish populations are getting so small that birth rates are barely high enough to keep the population viable, let alone recover and grow.

This is particularly an issue with larger fish that are slower growing and slower to reproduce, like Cod, Tuna, Grouper, Halibut, Plaice, Salmon.

Smaller fry (like anchovies, sardines) have higher birth-rates and reach sexual maturity much younger than bigger fish, so their populations have a faster growth rate.    

So, should we be buying farmed fish instead?

It’s true that fish farming has taken some of the pressure from wild populations and can be a more sustainable way to eat fish. And farmed salmon for example have a good conversion rate – almost 1:1 input feed to output edible fish.

However, there are significant negative impacts of fish farming on nearby ecosystems. The high concentration of fish in one place leads to high nutrient loads in the water – this can then encourage the growth of algal blooms that can be directly toxic to other marine animals or indirectly harmful as they starve the water below of oxygen.

We should only buy fish certified as sustainable by respected advisory bodies like the MSC (Marine Conservation Societies), and avoid fish that has been caught via destructive and non-specific techniques.  

Trawling with nets that drag across the ocean floor ruins fragile eco-systems and using electromagnetic pulses will kill any organism within range.  Some trawl nets are called “bulldozers of the sea” – being 3 kilometres long with mouths as wide as a rugby pitch!

Instead, try to buy line-caught or well-farmed fish. Refer to MSC’s Good Fish Guide to make a more informed consumer choice: https://www.mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/search  

EGGS

Locally produced eggs are relatively easy to find. Look for organic and free-range ones. These chickens will have been kept in far better conditions and will therefore be much healthier than intensively farmed ‘battery hens’.

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

Non-organic standards mean laying hens can be regularly fed non-specific antibiotics, that are then indirectly ingested by you. However, the European Parliament have approved restrictions on the use of antimicrobials in healthy livestock. When these new regulations come into law by 2022 – this should at least mitigate the rate at which antibiotic resistance is spreading.

DAIRY PRODUCTS (from animal milk)

The manufacture of dairy products uses a lot of water – up to 8 times that of rearing the same weight of poultry meat or of non-organic wheat cereal [3].

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

Dairy is also one of the most water-polluting forms of agriculture. The run-off from large dairy farms is causing huge issues in water systems worldwide. And we know that methane from dairy cows is a significant contributor to GHGs.

So, reducing consumption of dairy is important for the environment. But is it a good choice for your health, anyway?

The effect of dairy on your body

There is no compelling evidence to say that people who consume dairy are either more or less healthy than those who don’t.

For example, moderate dairy intake – defined as two servings a day – does not seem to increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or cancers [6].

Inflammation in body tissues is now known to be a key driver of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. There is mixed evidence on dairy consumption and inflammation – some results show an increased presence of inflammatory biomarkers, and some a reduction [7]. (Although one problem with research into this industry is that the majority of studies have been conducted using funding from the dairy industry, so it is hard to assure these reports are unbiased!)

In a typical western diet, dairy products currently provide 72% of the calcium requirement [8].

Calcium is an essential mineral, but it is commonly misconceived that we must get it from dairy milk. Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, and bok choi, along with almonds, brazil nuts and sunflower seeds, all contain good levels of calcium.

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

One portion of lightly cooked kale contains approximately 120mg calcium, which is one-sixth of your daily requirements. Similarly, one portion of almonds contains 70mg or one-tenth of your RDA, so make sure you are consuming a mixture of these calcium-rich foods.

Conclusion: As long as you’re getting the micronutrients you need, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the source is animal or plant. So, a reduction in dairy, like a reduction in meat, is something we should be doing.

Will I get enough protein on a plant-based diet?

YES! Generally, diets with adequate calorific intake have adequate protein content.

Protein deficiency is not an issue in the developed world. Experts suggest that to optimise health, you need approximately 1.2–1.6g protein per kg of body weight per day. The differences depend on your age and personal activity level – with athletes possibly needing up to 2g/kg/day).

For a typical 70kg (11 stone / 154 lb) woman that’s 100g (3.6oz) of protein a day

For the typical 83kg (13 stone / 183 lb) man it’s 120g (4.2 oz) a day.

Essential amino acids making up protein

All plant foods contain at least some of the 9 essential amino acids i.e. those amino acids not synthesised by the body.

The constitution of amino acids differs between foods, however.  

For example, legumes (beans, lentils, peas) are lower in methionine, and most other plant foods are lower in lysine – but as long as you consume a variety of foods, you can generally get an adequate amount of all the essential amino acids.

Current academic thinking is that the liver will store amino acids over the day, so there is no need to ‘complement’ proteins by eating them together [9], as was believed some years ago.

Lysine tends to be the most limited amino acid in a vegan diet, but tofu, tempeh, seitan and legumes are all good sources of lysine.

Of the amino acids, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are particularly important for promoting muscle protein synthesis. These are more concentrated in animal-based protein, but still found in plant protein.

The US Food and Agriculture Organization Expert Consultation created a new system in 2011 for comparing proteins called the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS). Comparing soy and pea protein to whey protein (from dairy milk), we find they are not far behind in their DIAAS, with soy at 0.906 and pea at 0.822 vs whey protein isolate at 1.09.

Considering this, vegans may wish to consume approximately 10% more protein to make up for the slight inferiority in plant protein digestibility.

What vitamins and minerals might I need to supplement for in a fully plant-based diet?

Vitamin B12

Calcium

Vitamin D

Iron

are the main minerals that can be deficient in a wholly vegan diet. We have already discussed how to get calcium, and vitamin B12 is now commonly enriched into many foods.

  • MarmiteTM is also a great source of B vitamins, and may satisfy a desire for a ‘meaty’ saltiness.
  • Iron can be found in legumes, grains, nuts and seeds: pumpkin, pistachio, sunflower, cashews, un-hulled sesame and many green vegetables.
  • Whole food sources of vitamin D include mushrooms and fortified cereals

Vitamin D deficiency is very common in the winter across the whole population, however, and the NHS now advises supplementation. See https://nutrishield.com/the-products/vitamin-d/

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

It’s worth being aware of the fact that there are compounds in some plant foods like soy, legumes and cereals (eg. trypsin) that can inhibit the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates. These are called anti-nutritional factors [10]. You can lessen the impact of anti-nutritional factors through specific preparations like soaking, sprouting and fermenting.

How does a vegetarian’s body compare to that of an omnivore?

Same strength. Compared to omnivorous diets, plant-based diets have no disadvantages for anaerobic or aerobic exercise performance or strength. (After all, elephants are vegans!)

Reduced risk of degenerative diseases. On the positive side, plant-based diets do typically reduce the risk of developing numerous chronic diseases over a lifespan [11]. Vegetarians have a significantly lower risk of incidence of ischemic heart disease and of total cancer [12]. Dementia risk is also lowered.

Lower BMI, BP, blood glucose/fats/uric acid. These positive health outcomes are likely to be caused by a vegetarian’s typically lower BMI, lower blood pressure, lower blood glucose, lower blood fats (triglycerides), and lower blood uric acid.

Fewer C-reactive proteins and lower cholesterol. In addition, vegetarians have fewer high-sensitivity C-reactive proteins (a marker of inflammation and a risk factor for cardiovascular disease) and lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.

An environmentally positive diet

Reducing the consumption of animal products is environmentally positive now and will become necessary in the near future. But it needs to be done mindfully to avoid any nutritional depletion [2].

Of course, your motives may also include reducing animal suffering – in which case you need to be well-educated in what nutrients to seek out in a pure-plant diet.

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

But on purely environmental and health grounds, we suggest a ‘flexitarian’ or ‘reducitarian’ approach. That is to REDUCE meat, fish and dairy consumption rather than necessarily eliminate them.  So we recommend:

  • Meat 0-2 times a week, minimising beef and pork.
  • Oily fish 2-3 times a week, but only species that are not threatened, using fishing techniques that are non-destructive. Plant-derived Omega 3 – from eg. flax seed is a good alternative, but not quite as well absorbed as fish oil.
  • Fewer than 7 eggs a week, choosing organic and local whenever possible.
  • Dairy only in moderation, increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach and adding a supplement that includes vitamins D and calcium. Some milk alternatives are not environmentally friendly eg. almond, so choose oat, soy and hemp milks – organic and regionally produced if possible. Mixing dairy milk and alternative milks on eg. cereals is an easy way to cut down.

Adapting your diet can be easy and delicious

Meat and two veg as a norm is off the menu – but who’s really sad about that anyway? Welcome to a culinary world of bright colours, fresh produce, warming spices and raw goodness.

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

There are now countless vegan meat and cheese substitutes in supermarkets that are easily incorporated into old-favourite recipes and which are perfectly satisfying.

Most of these are soy-based, so make sure you are also getting a variety of other plant and grain proteins – think of lentils, legumes (peas and beans), oats, mushrooms or even hemp.

Add a few new dishes to the repertoire that include these proteins (think curries, bakes, soups, pies, salads, stir-fries). There are plenty of resources online for nutritionally complete vegetarian or flexitarian meal plans and recipe inspirations.

In particular there is a whole free recipe book called the Health Defence Cook Book. See the recipes here: https://nutrishield.com/health-defence-cookbook-online/

We all like win-win situations, and mindful, largely plant-based eating, is a great example. Better for you (when done right), and better for the planet we love and depend upon.

After all there is no planet B!

You can download a food plan that takes all this into consideration from here. https://nutrishield.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/CR-News-Food-table.pdf


This article was written by Catherine Rose Biologist, Agroecologist, Creative Cook


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What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals
Register now for a free monthly e-newsletter on the latest in nutrition and health research.


NutriShield is a complete health supplement that contains a high level of plant-derived nutrients, combined with vitamins and minerals, including B12, calcium, Omega 3 and vitamin D. See nutrishield.com.

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals
There are versions of NutriShield for over 50s and under 50s. Essentials is available in vegan or fish oil alternatives.

What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

Dr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from booksellers.

Read it here online or see the website www.healthdefence.com for excerpts and links to buy direct from the publisher.


What’s the environmental impact of your diet? NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet.



References:

  1. Hallstrom, “Environmental impact of dietary change: a systematic review,” Science, pp. 1-11, 2015.
  2. Sara González-García et al,  “Carbon footprint and nutritional quality of different human dietary choices”; in Science of the Total Environment, pp. 77-94, 2018.
  3. Bruno Notarnicola et al, “Environmental impacts of food consumption in Europe”; Journal of Cleaner Production, pp. 753-765, 2017.
  4. Marine Conservation Society, “Good Fish Guide” [Online]. Available: https://www.mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/search.
  5. B. Worm, “Averting a global fisheries disaster”; PNAS, 2016.
  6. Thorning, “Milk and dairy products: good or bad for humans”; Food and Nutrition Research, 2016.
  7. R. S. Desroches et al, “Impact of dairy products on biomarkers of inflammation: a systematic review of randomized controlled nutritional intervention studies in overweight and obese adults”; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013.
  8. USDA/ERC, “Food Consumption and Nutrient Intakes” 2015.
  9. Vesanto Melina MS et al, “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetes on Vegetarian Diets”; Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 116, no. 12, 2016.
  10. G. Gilani, K. Cockell and E. Sepehr, “Effects of antinutritional factors on protein digestibility and amino acid”; J AOAC, no. 88, pp. 967-987, 2005.
  11. Lynch, “Plant-Based Diets: Considerations for Environmental Impact, Protein Quality and Exercise Performance”; Nutrients, 2018.
  12. Minu, “Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies”; Critical review in Food Science and Nutrition, pp. 3640-3649, 2016.
  13. EC-JRC, “Energy Use in the EU Food Sector: State of Play and Opportunities for”; Publications Office of the European Commission, Luxembourg, 2015.

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals


DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO SOY AT A GLANCE

♦ SOY and its isoflavones are linked to lower breast cancer risk
♦ SOY and its isoflavones can reduce negative symptoms experienced during the menopause and help alleviate PMS symptoms for younger women
♦ SOY and its isoflavones can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health
♦ SOY and its isoflavones can contribute to stronger bones
♦ SOY and its isoflavones do NOT adversely affect male sex hormones – and may reduce prostate cancer risk


Cancer risk reduction for men and women

About 1 in 11 British women will develop breast cancer at some time in their lives. In Japan, the figure is as low as 1 in 65.

Epidemiologists – scientists who study outcome patterns in populations – believe that soy may play a crucial protective role against cancer.

The Japanese diet contains considerably more soy products than the typical Western one does, and that’s thought to protect against breast cancer – and indeed other cancers.

Soy beans are extremely rich in isoflavones, and these seem to be among the most potent anti-carcinogens of all.

Isoflavones block oestrogen, a hormone linked to an increased risk of breast and other hormone-dependent cancers. They act rather like Tamoxifen, a drug widely used to treat and prevent breast cancer.

Men who think that soy is just for women should think again; considering the high rate of prostate cancer in the West, it seems that men have just as much to gain from adding soy to their diet. And soy isoflavones do NOT adversely affect male hormones like testosterone – see below.

Soy isoflavones can help in the menopause

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsIsoflavones can also mimic the effect of oestrogen in the body. Research shows that they can significantly alleviate the negative symptoms that many women go through during the menopause.

Two of the most distressing symptoms during the menopause are hot flushes [in the US, called “hot flashes”] during the day and night sweats during bedtime. They are caused because, as oestrogen levels fall, what’s called ‘vasomotor function’ deteriorates.

Blood vessels on the surface of the skin normally dilate when we are hot – allowing hot blood to move to the surface and the heat to escape. But this ‘vasomotor’ sequence is affected by the hormonal changes at menopause, causing the surface blood vessels to dilate randomly and the skin to become hot and sweaty.

It’s known that Japanese women on average suffer fewer menopausal symptoms than Western women – and they consume far more soy.  Indeed, the average Japanese intake of soy isoflavones is at least 15mg a day, compared with 1mg average in the West.

After earlier conflicting evidence that soy could ease menopausal symptoms, a 2012 meta-analysis (a literature survey of existing clinical trials) confirmed that:

Consumption of 30mg/day of soy isoflavones … reduces hot flashes by up to 50%.”

Isoflavones are phytoestrogens

The key isoflavone nutrients in soy isoflavones are genistein and daidzein. These are found in soy beans, and to a lesser extent in chick peas and lentils, and they appear to be the most potent of the phytoestrogens.

It should be noted that the oestrogen potency of phytoestrogens is estimated to be less than 1% of oestradiol, the natural oestrogen, and this probably explains why earlier studies did not clearly show isoflavones to be effective in ameliorating the menopausal symptoms. After all, hormone levels vary significantly from woman to woman.

However, a recent (2017) study in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research once again confirmed that:

“Soy isoflavone improves the MRS score (a measurement of menopause symptoms) among both the perimenopausal (women transitioning into menopause) and postmenopausal women.”

A fair conclusion is that women who do not want to take hormone (replacement) therapy (HT or HRT) with oestrogen, and certainly women who have had breast cancer, should consider a supplement that includes soy isoflavones for relief of menopausal symptoms.

When NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), published guidelines in 2015 for the menopause, they confirmed there is evidence that isoflavones may relieve vasomotor symptoms.

Soy isoflavones can help with PMS

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsSo far, we have concentrated on the benefits of soy isoflavones for older women. But new research has highlighted the fact that soy isoflavones – in soy or a supplement – can reduce PMS symptoms.

The National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome now states:

“Our data on this is limited; however, women in Asia, who have high levels of phytoestrogens in their diet, do have fewer PMS symptoms.”

They also recommend a diet that’s high in Omega 3, B complex, vitamin D, magnesium and calcium to help relieve PMS symptoms.

Soy isoflavones for heart health

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsLack of oestrogen after the menopause means that a woman’s risk of heart disease becomes comparable to a man’s. So it is logical that the plant oestrogens in soy isoflavones could be part of a heart health regime – for both women and men.

An article in Current Nutrition & Food Science confirmed that soy isoflavones were helpful in reducing blood pressure (see below), but that their effects were even stronger in preventing what doctors call ‘endothelial dysfunction’.

Preventing endothelial dysfunction

The endothelium is the thin lining on the inside of your blood vessels and arteries. It’s a vital part of the regular restriction and dilation that occurs over 60 times a minute as the heart beats. And all taking place within the almost 90,000 miles (!) of blood vessels that make up the arteries, veins and capillaries in the body.

The endothelium needs to be flexible and smooth to achieve healthy blood pressure and flow. In endothelial dysfunction, oxidation (free radical damage) causes lesions in this lining; LDL cholesterol sticks to these lesions and causes atherosclerosis – a build-up of fats that can then semi-calcify, all resulting in a narrowing and hardening of the arteries.

The result is atherosclerosis, hypertension and heart disease.

Isoflavones not only act as anti-oxidants to counteract excess free radical damage – they also reduce inflammation and help restore smoothness in the endothelium. A study in the European Heart Journal showed that as little as 12 weeks of isoflavone supplementation ‘reversed endothelial dysfunction’. The report concluded that:

“These findings may have important implications for the use of isoflavone for secondary prevention in patients with cardiovascular disease, on top of conventional interventions.”

Another meta-analysis of over 20 studies in Cardio-Vascular Discoveries Journal confirmed that isoflavones improved heart health, concluding that:

“Soy isoflavones had an effect of lowering blood pressure in hypertensive subjects.”

Soy isoflavones for bone health

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsLack of oestrogen also predisposes a woman to osteoporosis (bone loss). Indeed, osteoporosis means ‘porous bones’. So it’s logical that a isoflavone supplement might help preserve bone density in older women. Asian women, who consume far more soy than Western women, rarely suffer from osteoporosis after the menopause.

However, a well-conducted study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no difference in bone density after isoflavone supplementation. But it did find that increased protein intake improves bone density.

In a way that’s not surprising, because bone density is a function of much more than oestrogen. It needs adequate calcium, vitamins A and D that support the absorption of calcium, and minerals like magnesium and zinc, plus vitamin K, which are all needed to mineralise bone.

Soy isoflavones and breast cancer

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsPopulation studies show that eating a high-soy diet is linked to a slightly reduced risk of developing breast cancer.

As we have seen, Asian women with a traditional diet high in soy, appear to be less likely to develop breast cancer. This benefit continues even when Asian women move to western cultures, where soy is less likely to be a regular part of the diet. This suggests that exposure to soy early in life provides the most protection against breast cancer.

When small amounts of soy are fed to animals, their rate of breast cancer falls by nearly 50%, as does the incidence of prostate cancer.

A survey in the specialist journal Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry confirmed these population observations concluding that:

“The majority of breast cancer cases are hormone-receptor-positive; therefore, soy isoflavones should be considered a potential anti-cancer therapeutic agent.”

Genistein appears to be the key isoflavone. Whilst it has little effect on normal cells, it appears to be a powerful inhibitor of nearly every cancer cell type examined so far.

But genistein doesn’t just inhibit cancer cells. In vitro it can cause cancer cells to revert to normal cells – which is an absolutely crucial anti-cancer property, called ‘re-differentiation’.

Genistein seems to have yet another another amazing property. It inhibits the growth of new blood vessels, and may therefore be able to starve cancers even after they have begun to grow.

Other nutrients can work with soy to increase cancer protection. If you follow a modified Mediterranean Diet with a supplement that includes vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, carotenoids like lutein and lycopene, Omega 3, betaine, green tea and grapeseed extract, you will have the basis of a strong, evidence-based anti-cancer regime.

Soy isoflavones and men’s health – NO adverse effects

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsIf soy isoflavones act as oestrogen mimics, are they safe for men – and do they affect testosterone levels or sex drive?

A survey of 47 studies on that subject is quite clear – they don’t adversely affect men. The summary in Fertility Journal concluded:

“The results of this meta-analysis suggest that neither soy foods nor isoflavone supplements alter measures of bioavailable T (testosterone) concentrations in men”.

But why? First of all, men produce the hormone oestrogen too – albeit at lower levels than women.

Secondly, we have seen that the hormone effect of soy isoflavone phytoestrogens is almost 100 times less than that of oestradiol, the natural form of oestrogen.

Thirdly, Asian men who consume many times more isoflavones from soy than Western men, have no lower levels of fertility and sex drive.

In fact, the International Society of Sexual Medicine answers the question: “Does consuming soy affect a man’s testosterone level?” with the simple answer: ‘NO’.

There is some evidence, however, that taking isoflavones does increase a woman’s desire levels, as lower oestrogen is linked to vaginal dryness and lower libido.  A diet rich in B complex vitamins, vitamin E, with isoflavones (plus exercise and de-stressing) does seem to deliver a libido boost – especially during and after the menopause.

Soy isoflavones and prostate cancer

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsThe US National Library of Medicine published a summary of all the research on the impact of soy isoflavones on prostate cancer.

They found:

“a significant reduction in PCa (Prostate Cancer) diagnosis after administration of soy/soy isoflavones. There may be support for epidemiological findings of a potential role for soy/soy isoflavones in PCa risk reduction.”

Once again, men looking to achieve a significant reduction in the risk of prostate cancer would not rely on one ingredient like soy isoflavones.

But as we just advised for women, a Modified Mediterranean Diet with a supplement that also includes vitamin D, vitamin E, carotenoids like lutein and lycopene, Omega 3, betaine, green tea and grapeseed extract, provides the basis of a strong, evidence-based anti-cancer regime.

Soy supplements

Soy isoflavones on their own are not the only or ideal health protective nutrients. NutriShield Premium is a daily comprehensive supplement containing 43 nutrients including 40mg of soy isoflavones with 28.8mg of genistein, 9.6mg of daidzein and 1.6mg of glycitin, designed by Dr Paul Clayton, former Chair of the Forum on Food and Health at the Royal Society of Medicine.

Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals

 


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Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive healthSoy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals supplement with OPTIMUM levels of 43 essential nutrients including soy isoflavones, polyphenols and flavonoids from fruits, vegetables and other plants, Omega 3, betaine and greent tea. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.


Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and MineralsDr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from bookstores or from Uni-Vite Healthcare here.

A free summary report and the opportunity to read the book online is available here.


See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook  incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Soy anti-cancer, good for menopause, heart and bone health NutriShield Multi Vitamins and Minerals


REFERENCES

Effect of soy isoflavones on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Liu XX, et al; Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2012 Jun;22(6):463-70. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2010.09.006. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. Hamilton-Reeves JM, Vazquez G, Duval SJ, Phipps WR, Kurzer MS, Messina MJ. Fertil Steril.  2010 Aug;94(3):997-1007. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.04.038. Epub 2009 Jun 12

Soy and soy isoflavones in prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. van Die MD, Bone KM, Williams SG, Pirotta MV. BJU Int. 2014 May;113(5b):E119-30. doi: 10.1111/bju.12435.

Quantitative efficacy of soy isoflavones on menopausal hot flashes. Lujin Li, Yinghua Lv, Ling Xu, and Qingshan Zheng; Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Apr; 79(4): 593–604.

The Effect of Soy Isoflavones on the Menopause Rating Scale Scoring in Perimenopausal and Postmenopausal Women: A Pilot Study. Marya Ahsan and Ayaz Khurram Mallick. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017 Sep; 11(9): FC13–FC16.

Endothelial Dysfunction: Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Therapy, and Outcome: Hadi AR Hadi, Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2005 Sep; 1(3): 183–198.

Soy and Its Isoflavones: The Truth Behind the Science in Breast Cancer:  Crystal C. Douglas et al;  Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry; Volume 13 , Issue 8 , 2013

Soy proteins and isoflavones affect bone mineral density in older women: a randomized controlled trial. Anne M Kenny, et al; Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul; 90(1): 234–242.

Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater bone mineral density in elderly men and women.  Tucker KL, Hannan MT, Chen H, et al. (1999)  Am J Clin Nutr 69:727-736