I hate to say it but if you’re listening to many of the gurus out there, especially the ones who hawk products, the truth about soy, dairy & your hormones may be different than what you’ve learned.
If they are telling you to eat fresh churned butter and grass-fed beef and stay away from soy, you might want to look a little deeper. What you’ll likely find is that their evidence is ‘anecdotal;’ what they’ve seen with clients. But here’s the thing: the people that succeed stay with them and those that don’t will usually do something else. You know that’s true: if you go see someone & the treatment doesn’t work, you usually go somewhere else. Very few people will stay with someone; be it a doctor or health coach, a business consultant or anyone else if they don’t get the results they’re looking for. People get tired of hitting their heads against the wall!
If they’ve written books, likely you’ll find the major references for their books are their own articles with their own opinions and theories but little real science in the way of published journal articles. (This also says nothing about the quality of any studies quoted; an additional level of scrutiny that must be applied in order to really evaluate the truth.
And NONE of this says anything about the long-term effect of eating the saturated fat known to stiffen our arteries and cause heart disease and strokes (and much more).
I’ve done the research looking at both sides, and if you’ll allow me to, I’ll summarize the truth about soy, dairy & your hormones for you. (Actually, I’ll summarize it anyway and it’ll be here later even if you don’t read it now!)
The Issue with Dairy: A Hormone Pill in the Form of Food
Dairy contains estrogen, progesterone, growth hormone and more. Dairy is bovine growth fluid much the same as mother’s milk is human growth fluid. Here’s the difference: mother’s milk basically triples a baby weight in a year. Cow’s milk turns a 50-lb. calf into a 1000 lb. cow in a year; that’s a 20-fold increase! Now granted, genetics and volume play a role in that, but if you look around the world at cultures that don’t consume dairy (eg. Japanese, Chinese, Okinawan, and others) you find the thinnest people in the world. (Studies also show that when these people move to the West, they look like us in less than 10 years. So, no, it isn’t genetic.)
In addition, studies (references available on request) show that human estrogen levels spike in the hours after people consume dairy. So if you’re feeding a pre-pubescent child dairy, they are getting a spike in estrogen each time and it’s contributing to the laying down of additional fat (a known function of estrogen; to make body stores for pregnancy and nursing), the development of female secondary sex characteristics and more. (I’ll discuss other issues that also impact hormones in future blogs).
It also does the same to adult women (and men. . . man-boobs!) though the difference may not be as noticeable in the reproductive years. But once we get into peri-menopause, our progesterone levels have significantly diminished and the ratio between estrogen & progesterone is thought to be the major cause of hot flashes, though the entire mechanism is not entirely worked out.
Cheese: A High Potency Hormone in the Form of Food
“But I don’t drink milk,” I can hear you saying. Remember that cheese is concentrated milk and 1 oz. of cheese will act similarly as about 1 cup of fluid milk. Add the yogurt, cream in your late, and other dairy; including hidden dairy in processed foods you are likely consuming and you have a significant issue.
When I cut dairy out, as hard as it was, it was the single thing that made the most difference both for weight loss (Read my story) and diminishing the hot flashes. Now, I honestly don’t even miss it. Add a plant-strong diet, some exercise and more things I’ll discuss in upcoming blogs and the difference will be profound.
Soy: Put the Misconception to Rest
The Paleo & Keto pushers of the world want you to know soy is evil! If it’s so evil, I wonder why the 2 ½ billion people in Southeast Asia, most of whom live longer healthier lives than us, never got the memo!
Note that everything I say here pertains to organic soy only! Unfortunately, in this country, if it’s not organic or at least labeled non-GMO, it’s likely genetically modified. (If you have questions about the dangers of GMOs, leave a comment below & if I get enough response, I’ll write about it. It’s not something I want to spend the time & space on unless I’m clear people want more info.)
Genistein Is NOT Estrogen
Soy contains genistein, a phytochemical that’s capable of binding to estrogen receptors on your cells. (Men also have estrogen receptors.) Receptor sites can be likened to a lock & key mechanism. So, once the ‘key’ is in the door, then whatever is in the key can act on the cell. Herein lies the misconception because it turns out that although soy binds to the estrogen sites, it doesn’t act like estrogen in the cell. It doesn’t cause the laying down of fat, it doesn’t contribute to secondary sex characteristics or do other things estrogen does. In fact, it does just the opposite. Studies done on women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer show that they have fewer re-occurrences & metastasis if they are consuming soy. (references available)
In addition, when you look at things like hormone-related cancers (breast, prostate, ovarian, uterine, GI tract, thyroid) countries of the world that consume soy have a much lower rate than countries like the U.S. that consume little. (It’s also thought that the high consumption of dairy is contributory).
The Advantage of Soy
So, effectively, you have a compound that occupies the estrogen site on the cell so that your own estrogen (which continues to be made albeit in smaller quantities) can’t bind to the cell as readily. Now, if you’re eating enough fiber, as the liver metabolizes the excess, the body can excrete it. However, if you’re not (which most Americans don’t), as the estrogen metabolites move down the digestive tract, they will get resorbed and made into more estrogen!
An additional thing I’ll mention about soy is the same thing I talk about with grains and nuts; less processed is always better. So edamame and tempeh are better than soy sauce and tofu. Much the same a nuts are better than nut-butters. The reason for this is that when you pulverize a plant cell, it’s akin to pre-digesting it; it leaves all the nutrients available and you’re going to absorb every last gram of fat. Because we don’t crush the cell walls of plants very readily with our teeth, we don’t absorb all the fat. Thus, effectively, whole foods are less ‘fattening’ than processed foods.
So, in conclusion, one of the best things you can do to help balance your hormones; whether you’re suffering from peri-menopause issues, PMS, PCOS or any other related issue is to start consuming soy and eliminating dairy.
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