Action

There is much that one can do to simultaneously increase one’s personal health, the health of others (including non-human animals – LIKE ORANGUTANS), and the state of the planet. On this page you can find tips pertaining to this. My first tip, for all people, regardless of diet, is to start taking daily multivitamins.Β I talk about why here.

For a macronutrient exam during my last semester of my BSc I made some summaries, that are pretty extensive, yet of course simplified. Anyway, if you want to learn a bit about those nutrients, they might come in handy.
Carbohydrates

Lipids
Proteins

Now, I know that as humans, we have a tendency to be short-sighted. Thus, we have a hard time dedicating much thought to the group of people that could have been fed had you chosen beans over beef, to the person that you paid to slaughter that animal (in the words of Bentham, “The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?“), to the state of your health some years from now, or even to the state of the planet that will be left for our children’s children. But we need to at least be able to admit which we value the most; a life of instant gratifications, or a healthy existence that is morally satisfactory. We need to know what the consequences of our actions are, and whether those are acceptable to us; because, if we don’t know where we want to end up, we don’t have a direction to start travelling in.

From the book Food Matters

From the book Food Matters

As said in the little guide above – get a juicer. I mean, imagine the possibilities! This morning I drank two lemons, a chunk of ginger, an apple, a pear, a carrot, a red beet, and two oranges. Together, they all fit into one glass. (Take it further – juice fast for a week or two! You won’t believe what miracles it does to you.)

In the store, read labels. Know what you eat. Think: did the producer have my well-being in mind when they produced this? Even better, if there’s a farmer’s market where you live, go there…

Make your own nut butters. Many of the one’s that are in the stores only have about 70% nuts, which are roasted and diluted with oil (palm oil, most likely).

Use virgin coconut oil when not heating the fat; although it has a relatively high smoking point (177 c – it’s heat stable), it should be said that many other veg oils have a higher smoking point which may render them more suitable as cooking fats. However, coconut oil is slow to oxidize (doesn’t go rancid for a looong time! You can keep it at room temp), and it’s something we can actually make ourselves, with the right equipment (which is not too advanced). Imagine making your own olive/canola/whatever oil… Besides kitchen use, you can also use coconut oil as lotion on your skin and as a hair treatment. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how we use products on our skin that we would of course never ingest orally. But there’s something called dermal absorption; just because we’re not eating the stuff, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get into our systems. What needs to be remembered though is that coconut oil should still be consumed in moderation, since it’s a relatively satiated fat, as is pal oil, and all animal fats.

If something says hydrogenated… Drop it. On the floor. Then run away. Trans fats are baaayyyd.

Stop being scared of soy. There is no consistent or convincing proof of it contributing to either breast cancer, prostate cancer, or thyroid problems. Just because it contains phytoestrogens (molecules that have a close resemblance to estrogen/estradiol and therefore can bind to estrogen receptors in the body) doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing. I made a graph that shows soy product sales in the US depicted together with the breast cancer rates for the same country to briefly illustrate the matter:

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 10.58.02 AM

1. United Soybean Board. 2013. Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition: Insights into Nutrition, Health, and Soyfoods. 20th Annual Survey.
8. Howlader N., et al. 2013. SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2010, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2010/, based on November 2012 SEER data submission.

What we know at the moment is that yes, these molecules do bind to these receptors. But does that mean that one’s risk of developing BC is increased? No. The few (environmental) risk factors for BC that have been established are: alcohol consumption, overweight/lack of exercise, and prolonged exposures to estrogen (which happens if you have your first child later in life, choose not to breastfeed, have your menopause later, choose to take estrogen pills to ameliorate the symptoms of menopause etc). So estrogen exposure is a risk factor. But if genistein (an isoflavone, which in turn is the name of subclasses of phytoestrogens) is already occupying the estrogen receptor, then does that increase or decrease your exposure?

Si, si, claro, indeed, it might actually reduce your risk of BC. Think of Asian women! Lowest cancer rates ever! Here’s a figure from a meta-analysis showing the results of soy consumption and BC risk:

9. Fritz, H. et al. 2013. Soy, Red Clover, and Isoflavones and Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE 8(11): e81968

9. Fritz, H. et al. 2013. Soy, Red Clover, and Isoflavones and Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE 8(11): e81968

What you see is that 1 study showed an increased risk, some showed no association, and most showed that soy is protective.

Now, there’s been some debate on the form of soy and following effects (as in, fermented/non-fermented), and I can’t speak about that because I haven’t done the research yet. In addition, there are varying results when you look at consumption levels (confusing, because high consumption in the West likely counts as low consumption in Asia), duration of consumption (life time or shorter), consumption before/after menopause, and consumption during BC diagnosis and/or after BC recovery. That said, I don’t mean that there is any danger in any of those cases, but the protective effect may not be there/be even stronger.

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