There‚Äôs nothing natty about natto. This old-fashioned soy product is made from whole soybeans that have been soaked, boiled or steamed, and then fermented.¬† ¬† It‚Äôs known for its sticky coat, cheesy texture, musty taste, sliminess, stringiness and pungent odor. ¬† Healthwise, it‚Äôs good for us and one of the ‚Äúgood old soys.‚ÄĚ
Natto first appeared in northeastern Japan about a thousand years ago.¬† Traditionally, it smelled like straw because it was made by inoculating whole cooked soybeans with¬†Bacillus subtilis or¬†Bacillus natto and incubated in straw. ¬† The straw also absorbed the none-too-fragrant ammonia-like odor. ¬† Because of frequent contamination by unwanted microorganisms,¬†natto makers abandoned the straw method in favor of inoculating the cooked beans with¬†B. natto, then mixing and packing the product in wooden boxes or polyethylene bags.
Natto is one of the few fermented soy products in which bacteria predominate over the fungi.¬† It‚Äôs made the news as the very best source of vitamin K2.¬† ¬† The runners up are all animal foods such as goose and chicken liver, cheese, egg yolk, bacon and butter. ¬† Natto beats all of them by far ¬†though we can certainly get plenty with a rich and varied WAPF diet containing those foods.
K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin best known for its roles in blood clotting and healthy bone formation and preservation.
There‚Äôs only two studies that convincingly suggest soy might prevent osteoporosis, and, unfortunately for the soy industry, the only soy food that seems to do that is natto. The bone building, of course, doesn‚Äôt come from the miracle bean itself, but from the vitamin K2 manufactured by the bacteria involved in the fermentation process. ¬† Vitamin K2 is conspicuously absent from tofu, soy milk or ¬†soybean products, and researchers have found no significant or consistent association between their intake and bone mineral density despite the soy industry‚Äôs grand hope of finding a bone building elixir in the phytoestrogens.
Natto is also the source for nattokinase, an enzyme sold as a supplement and recommended by many alternative MDs for cardiovascular and circulatory problems.
Ready to try natto for its health benefits? ¬† It‚Äôs most often served with mustard and soy sauce, or used in soups and spreads in Japanese cuisine. ¬†But don’t expect it to be widely available in stores here anytime soon. ¬† ¬†It’s definitely an acquired taste, and a little goes a long way. ¬† Children love it — not for its strong, rotten flavor — but because its glistening threads can be stretched, making it one of the all-time great play foods. ¬† As for them actually eating it, well, not likely at least not over here.
Indeed,¬†natto isn‚Äôt even popular in all parts of Japan.¬† In areas where it¬†is popular, many restaurants require patrons¬†to sit in a private area so as not to offend other diners with the distinctive smell. ¬† You could say natto is the durian of soy foods, though most people who get past the smell of durian come to love it.¬† ¬† With natto, that‚Äôs not often the case.
Why‚Äôs that?¬† ¬† I‚Äôll let the irrepressible Anthony Bourdain — ¬†the brave man who willingly eats insects, live cobra and just about everything else –¬† explain how he was defeated by natto:
“What I was not ready for, and never will be, was natto¬† . ¬†. ¬†. ¬†an unbelievably foul, rank, slimy, glutenous and stringy goop of fermented soybeans.¬† . . .¬† If the taste wasn‚Äôt bad enough, there‚Äôs the texture.¬† There‚Äôs just no way to eat the stuff.¬† I dug in my chopsticks and dragged a small bit to my mouth.¬† Viscous long strands of mucuslike material followed, leaving numerous ugly and unmanageable strands running from my lips to the bowl.¬† I tried severing the strands with my chopsticks, but to no avail.¬† I tried rolling them around my sticks like recalcitrant angel-hair pasta.¬† I tried slurping them in.¬† But there was no way.¬† I sat there, these horrible-looking strings extending from mouth to table like a spider‚Äôs web, doing my best to choke them down while still smiling . . . All I wanted to do now was hurl myself through the paper walls and straight off the edge of the mountain. ¬† Hopefully, a big tub of boiling bleach or lye would be waiting at the bottom for me to gargle with.”
That about sums it up, but for one thing. ¬† Unlike Vegemite,¬†natto‘s actually very good for you!
* ¬†* ¬†* ¬†* ¬†*
The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food (New Trends, 2005) Chapter 5: Soybeans with Culture.
A Cooks Tour: Adventures in Extreme Cuisine by Anthony Bourdain (Bloomsbury, 2001).
Ikeda Y, Iki M, Morita A, Kajita E, Kagamimori S, Kagawa Y, Yoneshima H.¬† Intake of fermented soybeans, natto, is associated with reduced bone loss in postmenopausal women: Japanese Population-Based Osteoporosis (JPOS) Study. ¬†¬†J Nutr.¬†2006 May;136(5):1323-8.
Fujita Y, Iki M, Tamaki J et al. ¬†Association between vitamin K intake from fermented soybeans,¬†natto, and bone mineral density in elderly Japanese men: the Fujiwara-kyo Osteoporosis Risk in Men (FORMEN) study. ¬†Osteoporos Int. 2012 Feb;23(2):705-14. doi: 10.1007/s00198-011-1594-1.
For more on Vitamin K read “On the Trail of the Elusive X Factor:¬† A Sixty-Two Year Old Mystery FInally Solved” by Chris Masterjohn as well as other articles by him.http://www.westonaprice.org/fat-soluble-activators/x-factor-is-vitamin-k2#foods
A study in the journal Medical Hypotheses published January 30 has been scaring people away from eating soups and stews made with old-fashioned bone broth. ¬† Entitled ‚ÄúThe Risk of Lead Contamination in Bone Broth Diets,‚ÄĚ it reports broth made from organic chickens is likely to be contaminated with lead, one of the deadliest toxic metals known. 1
If the study is valid, there is plenty of reason for concern.¬† Lead, after all, is a neurotoxin that can cross the placenta and blood-brain barrier.¬† It is associated with abnormal fetal development as well as a very long list of neurobehavioral disorders and diseases in children and adults including ADHD, violence, social withdrawal, depression, substance abuse,¬† and Parkinson‚Äôs.2-4
Lead may be the oldest toxic agent known.¬† Its dangers were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and it has been heavily studied by researchers of every era since.5,6
Today, lead is rated number two out of the 275 substances listed on the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the Department of Health and Human Services, with number one being arsenic, and number three mercury.7
Lead is so bad that the body in its wisdom sequesters it as far from the action as possible.¬† About 90 percent of lead in birds and mammals goes deep into the bones.¬† Other favored organs of accumulation are the kidney and liver.¬† When the body tries to eliminate lead, the principal route of excretion is through the urine, not through the skin.8 Lead is a double whammy for children — even well-nourished children — because their bodies and brains are developing and they can absorb a whopping 50 percent of the lead found in their dietary intake.¬† In contrast, adults will absorb 1 to 10 percent.9
Chickens, oddly enough, seem to tolerate lead better than humans, horses, dogs and wild fowl such as ducks, and they can hold very high levels without exhibiting clinical signs or hematological changes.10 Unaware of any problem, small farmers and urban homesteaders may be regularly serving meat, broth and eggs that are contaminated with lead to family members and customers.¬† ¬† Although lead poisoning from acute exposure makes news headlines, it is chronic low-level exposure building up day by day — as could occur from the regular drinking of contaminated broth –¬† that we are concerned about here. ¬† Because broth is perceived as a traditional healing food and taken by many WAPF members several times a day, the Medical Hypotheses report has attracted far more attention than would be expected from an article in a non-peer-reviewed journal.
Time to take a closer look at the findings from that study.
The researchers cooked up and tested the following for lead:
- Broth made from tap water plus skin and cartilage
- Broth made from tap water plus bones
- Broth made from tap water plus meat
- Tap water alone cooked for the same amount of time as a control.
Surprisingly, the researchers found the highest levels of lead in the broth made from cartilage and skin, not in the broth made from bones, the place where 90 percent of ingested or inhaled lead accumulates.¬† ¬† Broth made from meat alone showed the lowest levels, as would be expected, while the water used showed minimal lead contamination.
The figures for lead are:
- 9.5 ugL for broth made with skin and cartilage
- 7.01 ugL for broth made with bones
- 2.3 ugL for broth made with meat
- 0.89 ugL¬† for the lead found in tap water cooked alone.
Seeing those figures, it‚Äôs hard not to worry about good old-fashioned broth, which would typically be made at home using a combination of bones, cartilage and skin.¬† Indeed the news is so alarming that some people have already cut back on broth despite its long history of healing benefits, longstanding reputation as ‚ÄúJewish Penicillin‚ÄĚ and vital role in the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet. ¬† Broth is also a staple food for people who eat traditional diets in line with the findings of Dr. Weston A. Price.
Not everyone is panicking, of course. ¬† Many simply shrug off the news as the latest scare tactic taken by Big Food.¬† ¬† Others ask, why single out broth when ALL foods are contaminated today?
Chris Kresser has pointed out in a widely read blog11 that the levels of lead found in the broth tested for this study are lower than the EPA limit for lead in tap water, which is 15 ug/L.12 That, of course, begs the question of whether the level of contamination permitted in tap water is¬† acceptable. ¬† Many health conscious people would agree that it is not, and recommend good quality water filters to purify our tap water. ¬† In any case, as Kresser has pointed out, a cup or two of broth a day would go well under the EPA level for a day‚Äôs water consumption.
Kresser and others have further argued there‚Äôs no reason to worry about a little lead when bone broth also contains a lot of calcium. ¬† Calcium is well known to interfere with lead absorption in the intestines.¬† Unfortunately, it is a myth that broth is high in calcium.¬† Indeed in 1934, Archives of Disease in Childhood reported “extremely low” levels of calcium even when the recipe included wine or vinegar to help pull it from the bones.13 Today the labels of two excellent bone broths in the marketplace, Saffron Road and Chef Flavor, report the levels of calcium per one cup serving at 0 percent and 4 percent of the RDA, respectively.14 Although WAPF plans to have some other quality broth tested,¬† we have no reason to assume the results will be markedly different. ¬† The oft-heard claim that a cup of good bone broth has as much calcium as a cup of milk appears to have no basis in fact.
Clearly, we cannot depend on the broth itself to provide us with the calcium we need to handle possible lead toxicity.¬† Studies also reveal Vitamin D deficiency will increase lead accumulation in bones, and Vitamin C and/or iron deficiencies will increase lead levels in the blood. Adequate iron and B vitamins (particularly thiamine and folate) status also seem to reduce the risk of lead toxicity.15-23 Clearly it is wise to be well-nourished.
THE GUT CONNECTION
In a best broth scenario, people replete in calcium would not suffer any ill effects from lead in the broth.¬† Unhappily, that probably holds true only in people who have healthy guts.¬† Those suffering from autism, allergies and other health challenges invariably have compromised gastrointestinal integrity. ¬† Furthermore, Dr. Russell Blaylock has pointed out that lead will magnify any excitotoxity caused by the glutamic acid in broth.24 This last provides an explanation for why some MSG-sensitive people have a problem handling broth, and a probable reason why many GAPS practitioners have observed that some people do better if they start their healing journeys with meat broth and only later move on to full-fledged broth that has also been made with skin, cartilage and bones.
The takeaway here is that broth containing lead may not be an appropriate prescription for gut healing. ¬† Yes, calcium in the diet may protect us from lead in the way selenium in fish protects us from the mercury, as Kresser has pointed out.25 But no, it is still not safe to consume high mercury fish such as tuna daily or broth if it always comes with with a load of lead.
All of which takes us back to our key question:¬† ¬† Is all broth contaminated with lead because of our toxic world? ¬† Or was the batch stirred up by the three UK researchers unusually contaminated?
The alarming conclusion to the Medical Hypotheses study is found in the abstract, which is the only part of a study most people ever read or the news media ever report.¬† A full-text copy costs $31.50 online, a price tag that will deter most people from ever accessing it. ¬† That‚Äôs too bad, because the study is, shall we say, thin on its reporting. ¬† The researchers do not tell us how the broth was made, where it was made, where the chickens came from, how they lived, or what they were fed. ¬† All we know from reading the study is the researchers say they made ‚Äúbroth‚ÄĚ and tested three types of it (broth from meat, broth from skin and cartilage, and broth from bones).¬† They also report they tested the water for lead as control, after being simmered in the same cookware for the same length of time as the broth.¬† The chickens were ‚Äúorganic‚ÄĚ¬† though the study offers no specifics on what is meant by that.
That leaves a flock of unanswered questions, starting with the cookware and the ingredients.
- What type of cookware was used?
- What recipe was used? ¬† Was the broth made with vinegar or wine? ¬† If so, how much?
- Was the tap water fluoridated?
- What was the pH of the tap water?
- If wine or vinegar was used in the recipe, why didn‚Äôt the researchers simmer the combination of water plus the vinegar or wine and then test for lead?
Why do answers to these questions matter?¬† Some types of pots, particularly those made with ceramic, have been found to be high in lead. ¬† Water with an alkaline pH would be less likely to leach lead out of the cookware, while water with an acid pH would be more likely to leach lead. ¬† Along this same line, the water should not only have been tested alone after cooking but also after cooking with the same amount of vinegar or wine used in the recipe. ¬† Fluoride matters because it increases lead accumulation.
Without the answers to these questions, it‚Äôs not fair to indict the broth when the cookware might have been the culprit.
Basant Puri, the corresponding author of this study, forwarded our questions to Jean Monro, Director of the Breakspear Medical Group and the lead author of the study.¬† Dr. Monro reported the ingredients for the broth were only chicken and water, that the pH of the water was ‚Äúirrelevant‚ÄĚ and the cookware was stainless.26 Although stainless steel may have toxicity issues related to chromium and nickel, it has never been found high in lead. ¬† Having ruled out the cookware as the source of the lead, it‚Äôs time to learn more about those chickens.
A careful reading of the study once again leaves us with a flock of unanswered questions.
- What were those ‚Äúorganic‚ÄĚ chickens fed?
- What water did those ‚Äúorganic‚ÄĚ chickens drink?
- Were the chickens ‚Äúfree range‚ÄĚ or confined?
- Where were the chickens raised?
- What were their living conditions?
In the Medical Hypotheses article, the researchers report the chickens were ‚Äúorganic birds.‚ÄĚ ¬† That‚Äôs all, and it is not enough information. ¬† Generally, the term ‚Äúorganic,‚ÄĚ refers to the process by which that food was grown or produced.¬† Organic certification in the US and UK fails to address environmental contamination, and there is no limit to how much lead or other toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, arsenic and aluminum are allowed in organic feeds.27-29 In brief, for the study to have any validity, the feed needed to be tested for lead.
‚ÄúOrganic feeds‚ÄĚ also contain grains, which contribute more dietary exposure to lead than other foods such as the grasses and bugs eaten by pastured chickens living in areas where the soil itself is not contaminated.30 Organic certification also fails to address the possibility of lead-contaminated water supplies. ¬† Was the chicken‚Äôs drinking water tested for lead? ¬† Was it piped in through old lead pipes?¬† Were the water troughs soldered with lead? ¬† And what was the lead level of water in the area where the chickens grew up.
Since none of these important questions were answered in the study itself, we requested more information. ¬† Dr. Monro replied that the chickens were from an attested organic farm, ‚Äúunlikely to have been on land close to a highway‚ÄĚ and produced by an organic company called Highlander. ¬† She stated that neither the soil nor the water drunk by the chickens was tested for lead. 31
Attempts to reach the Highlander Company proved fruitless. ¬† We wanted to learn more about the chickens and their living conditions, but the company was dissolved in 2011.32,33 Extensive online searching yielded no information about where this company‚Äôs farms were located, whether their ‚Äúorganic‚ÄĚ chickens were free range or confined, or what accreditation body had attested their products as ‚Äúorganic.‚ÄĚ ¬† A follow up question about Highlander to Dr. Monro has not yet been answered.
The location of the farm is critically important yet we know absolutely nothing.¬† We don‚Äôt even know for sure the farm was in the UK!¬† ¬† To understand the basic issues a quality research study would have taken into account, let‚Äôs look at the conditions that might have been present had the farm in question been located somewhere near the Breakspear Medical Group, which is based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, in the Thames region of England, west of London. ¬† In 2011, the Chief Inspector of Drinking Water published a report indicating multiple locations east of Hemel Hempstead where public water supplies tested in 2004 and 2010 failed to meet the acceptable future lead standard of 10 ug/L. ¬† Areas to the north, south and west of Hemel Hempstead also had pockets where the water supplies failed to meet that standard.34 If the organic chickens were grown in any of those pockets, they could have become lead toxic from the public water supply.35
Groundwater too can become contaminated if the water is acidic, a common situation in acid mine drainage areas.¬† Sources of lead in surface water or sediment include lead-containing dust from the atmosphere, waste water from industries that handle lead (iron and steel and lead producers), urban runoff, and mining piles.36 Because we do not know where the chickens were raised, we have no idea whether conditions such as these might have been present.
Another confounding factor could have been fluoridated water. ¬† Fluoride and lead have high synergy, and fluoride has been proven to increase lead accumulation.37 Not all public water in the Thames Basin Region is fluoridated but The Drinking Water 2010 Report reveals there is some natural fluoride there, and it is not removed by conventional water treatment.38 This too could¬† would have increased the levels of lead in any chickens grown there.
We do not, of course, know the chickens came from the Hemel Hempstead area.¬† The point of this discussion it to clarify why the researchers had a responsibility to provide details about the chickens and their living conditions.¬† Such details might also have solved the mystery of why the type of broth that proved the most contaminated by lead was not made with bones but from skin and cartilage.
Researchers report that 90 percent of lead ingested or inhaled goes into the bones and is excreted through the urine, not out through the skin 39-41 Yet these chickens had more lead in their skin and cartilage than in their bones. ¬† How can that be? ¬† High lead in chicken skin only makes sense if the chickens were free range and raised in an area where the soil had high lead content. ¬† Given the chance, chickens not only go hunting and pecking but root, rock and roll around in the soil.¬† Poultry farmers call this ‚Äúdusting.‚ÄĚ
If the chickens were both free range and local, they may well have been rolling around in soil that was high in lead. ¬† That area, as discussed above, has pockets where water supplies have been contaminated by lead. ¬† Other factors to be considered are whether the chickens lived near an industrial site (past or present) or beside a highway.¬† Dirt near highways is almost always contaminated with lead. ¬†In the US unleaded gas came into the marketplace in 1973 and was banned in 1996, but in the UK the timetable was later, with unleaded petrol not available until 1986 and not prohibited until 2000.42
It is also¬† important to know if the chickens were raised near an old fruit orchard where lead arsenate, a pesticide widely used in England, as well as other countries, would have accumulated in the soil.¬† Lead arsenate was mainly used on apple trees, but also on other fruit tress, garden crops, turf grasses and against mosquitos.43 High lead content would also be expected in the soil near old houses or other structures now painted or once painted with lead paint.44 In fact the UK is riddled with lead problems in its water, soil and air.¬† ¬† A 2009 comparison of lead exposure standards revealed the UK had the worst occupational exposure limit for airborne lead of 20 countries.45
Although ‚Äúdusting‚ÄĚ is the probable reason those chicken skins were high in lead, there is no obvious explanation for the cartilage. ¬† Textbooks do not list cartilage in the body as an accumulation site for lead, which makes sense given the fact that cartilage is not nourished by the blood supply. ¬† [Lead has been found in shark cartilage, but they have no bones and a skeleton that is all cartilage.46] Indeed, the only time lead seems to affect joints is when a bullet lodges near a joint, is not removed, and is dissolved over many years by synovial fluid.47,48 Since this is extremely unlikely to be the case for the chickens in question, the most probable explanation is that the high lead content of the broth made with both skin and cartilage got its lead almost entirely from the lead-dusted skin.
In short, there are many reasons to think the broth used for this study was an exceptionally contaminated sample. ¬† Its lead content should at most serve as a warning to consumers that the careful sourcing of broth is warranted in our toxic world.¬† Such a poorly designed and inadequately reported study should never have been published, but then the editor of Medical Hypotheses has taken the position that ‚Äúeven flawed papers may contain ideas well worth thinking about or discussing.‚ÄĚ49
In this case the flawed paper is very flawed indeed. ¬† So flawed that we have to wonder about what might have motivated the researchers. ¬† We have to ask, who are they and what are their financial and other ties? ¬† In short, is this shoddy study a simple case of incompetence and/or slipshod reporting. ¬† Or was it motivated by an anti-broth agenda?
THE RESEARCH TEAM
All three authors are associated with the Breakspear Medical Group, a private clinic with a staff of about 50 in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England. ¬† Dr. Jean A. Monro is Breakspear‚Äôs Medical Director.¬† Ron Leon is the Nutrition Manager there,¬† and Basant K. Puri serves the group as a part-time researcher and consultant.
According to its website50, the Breakspear Medical Group has treated more than 25,000 patients since 1982 and has specialized in treatments of allergies, autism and environmental illness. ¬† Although they have nutritionists on staff to make dietary recommendations, the main focus appears to be on supplements, low-dose immunotherapy, antigen vaccines, and other extensive and expensive, mostly alternative treatment options.
Although avowedly alternative, Breakspear has chosen to keep one foot planted firmly in the establishment camp. ¬† Its website indicates it supports vaccination for both children and adults, even the flu vaccine for pregnant women. ¬† However, it differs from mainstream doctors on the vaccination issue in two important ways:¬† It recommends single dose vaccines, such as measles, mumps and rubella as three separate shots, instead of the combined MMR that Dr. Andrew Wakefield and others have linked to autism. ¬† Although this might suggest a tie to Big Pharm, Merck has announced it will stop manufacturing the single dose vaccines, a decision that perturbs Breakspear.¬† The clinic also states on its website that it uses only mercury free vaccines, but it apparently accepts the aluminum and other toxins contained in the mercury-free versions.
Breakspear‚Äôs finances seem a bit curious and mysterious.¬† In the UK, companies are incorporated and registered at the UK Companies House and are required to file annual financial statements there.¬† Breakspear,¬† however, does not appear to have filed any accounts for years.¬† Perhaps the amounts were too small to post, but for a clinic with a staff of about 50 that seems hard to believe. ¬† A report for the group‚Äôs charity The Breakspear Hospital Trust declared income of only ¬£3,275 in 2009.51
Dr. Jean Munro, Medical Director of the Breakspear Medical Group, has credentials in environmental medicine and allergy research.¬† She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, and, in 2007, was asked to be a witness for the House of Lords‚Äô Select Committee on Science and Technology on allergy treatments. ¬† She has nonetheless been in and out of trouble with medical boards over the years, most recently for alleged medical misconduct related to her recommendation of chelation therapy for lead toxicity.52,53 Fighting accusations of quackery and medical impropriety, of course, is not unusual among doctors who successfully practice alternative medicine and threaten the establishment with track records of curing ‚Äúincurables.‚ÄĚ
Ron Leon holds a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Bastyr University in Seattle, and has completed clinician seminars offered by DAN (Defeat Autism Now!), an organization now known as the Autism Research Institute.¬† Most, if not all, autistic children have¬† impaired bodily detoxification systems that make them highly vulnerable to toxic injury from heavy metals such as mercury and lead.¬† Given his training, it is reasonable to assume Leon came to wonder about dietary sources of lead in the diet, and whether broth, recommended in GAPS and other protocols, could be part of the problem and not a valid solution.
Basant Puri is a psychiatrist who holds an alphabet soup‚Äôs worth of credentials, including MA, PhD, MB, BChir, BSc(Hons) MathSci, MRCPsych, DipStat, PG Cert Maths and Mmath. ¬† He is a consultant at the Breakspear Medical Group, Professor in Imaging and Psychiatry at Hammersmith Hospital and the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre & Imperial College London.¬† He has studied a variety of conditions, including depression, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Huntington‚Äôs chorea, using electrophysiological, brain scanning and biochemical techniques.¬† A highly prolific author, he has published widely in medical journals, is coauthor of Textbook of Clinical Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience and other textbooks, and written popular books on natural treatments for ADHD, depression, chronic fatigue and other diseases.
Although all this sounds impressive, Prof. Puri‚Äôs reputation is checkered.¬† In 2007 his research on an EPA supplement — for which he holds the patent54 – was exposed in the London Guardian as shoddy and motivated by self interest.55 Puri subsequently developed Echiomega, a pro-EPA plant-based supplement containing echium seed oil, said to be ‚Äúthe richest plant source of the omega 3 fatty acid stearidonic acid (SDA)‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúnaturally converted by the body to the important long-chain omega-3 fatty acid EPA typically found in fish.‚ÄĚ ¬† It is marketed as ‚Äúdelivering superior benefits over the commonly available vegetarian omega oil preparations‚ÄĚ and a good choice for vegans, vegetarians and people allergic to fish.56
Discussing the quality of¬† Puri‚Äôs work on EPA, Ben Goldacre employed dripping sarcasm in his Guardian article.¬† While it is true that Dr. Goldacre, author of the bestseller Bad Science, is known for mocking most forms of alternative medicine, in this particular case his caustic commentary seems spot on. ¬† We quote Goldacre‚Äôs article57 nearly in full:
‚ÄúIn the media this week . . .¬† a company making VegEPA was wiping the floor thanks to an amazing study.¬† Basant Puri, a GMC-registered doctor from Imperial College London, performed the research. ‚ÄėThe results of this study were astonishing,‚Äô he said. ‚ÄėAfter taking VegEPA daily for just three months, the children showed an increase in reading age of well over a year.‚ÄĚ Prof Puri, who is on the patent as the inventor of VegEPA, also scanned the four children‚Äôs brains. ‚ÄėThe results were astonishing,‚Äô he said: ‚ÄėIt was as if these were the brains of children three years older.‚Äô
‚ÄúNow oddly, this research was funded by TV company Endemol ‚Äď home of Gillian McKeith ‚Äď for a Channel Five documentary for last Thursday. As I read it, the media now love these ‚Äėpill solves complex social problem‚Äô stories so much that they‚Äôre willing to pay for the research to base them on.
‚ÄúThe show was mysteriously pulled by Five at the last minute after ‚Äėpoints were raised‚Äô, but it hit the front page of the Daily Mail, with a headline: ‚ÄėPill that can boost young brain by three years‚Äô, and got proper space in the Sun, the Evening Standard, the Times (by a science correspondent no less), the Metro, ITV, the BBC, the Scotsman, and more.
‚ÄúThe coverage was what you might call ‚Äėuncritical‚Äô.
But let‚Äôs approach these VegEPA¬† promotional pieces like you would a story from a drug rep. There was no placebo, no control group, it was ‚Äúbefore and after‚ÄĚ, and with only four children, whose entire diet and lifestyle was changed. These are old tricks for big pharma, but too foxy for science journalists to spot, apparently.
‚ÄúNext, you might think about whether the population being examined in the study is the same as the population you are ‚Äėtreating‚Äô: in this case, perhaps, your child. On the standard growth charts ‚Äď which I have in front of me ‚Äď the four children in this study are not simply overweight, they are in the highest possible weight category on the charts, beyond the heaviest one in 200 of the population for their age. They are very unusual children with, you might guess, exceptional diets.
‚ÄúThe same issue comes up all the time with misleading drug trials. As any doctor would ask: does the population in the trial reflect the population you treat? The answer here is probably not.
‚ÄúThen you might look at the outcomes measured. Behavioural outcomes, in a study of four children, with no control, and lots of extra attention for the subjects ‚Äď including TV cameras pointing at them ‚Äď are meaningless. ‚ÄúOne boy who previously scorned books and was hooked on TV developed a love of reading and declared he was ‚Äėbored‚Äô with television‚ÄĚ said the Daily Mail. I bet he did.
But the action, surely, is in this brain imaging data? ‚ÄėThe most striking finding emerged from the brain scans, which all suggested they had denser nerve fibres,‚Äô said the Mail. This is what you call a ‚Äėsurrogate outcome‚Äô: they feel all sciencey, drug reps love them, and conjurers would call it a misdirection.
The scan measured something called NAA in the brain. It‚Äôs been noticed, in other research, that as you grow, especially as a foetus or a neonate, you show more NAA in your brain. To call that a marker of brain development, that you measure and then make a sales claim on, is a very big leap. It is not a reliable or valid predictor of intelligence, or behaviour, or anything meaningful. It is a speculative research finding.
‚ÄúThis individual pill is a sideshow. There is a far greater issue at stake here, beyond even the misrepresentation of the scientific method by the media: the nation‚Äôs children are being systematically re-educated to believe that they need to take pills every day to lead a normal, happy, productive life. Pill peddlers of all varieties, supplements and pharmaceutical, must be rubbing their hands with glee.‚ÄĚ57
Now what might this have to do with Puri‚Äôs work on broth? ¬† Past evidence of shoddy work? ¬† Obviously. ¬† Self¬† interest?¬† Possible, but speculative. ¬† Would Breakspear lose money if kids with allergies and autism could be cured at home with broth?¬† Well, broth on the menu hardly precludes treatment with supplements and other therapies. ¬† A vegan agenda?¬† Not likely.¬† As we have shown, Puri developed a vegan EPA product, but his best known one comes from anchovies.¬† What‚Äôs more, the Breakspear Medical Group has no history of being anti broth. ¬† On the contrary, their Fall 2011 newsletter contains a soup recipe that clients can make with either homemade or store-bought broth,58 and Puri wrote a glowing testimonial for Natasha Campbell Bride‚Äôs book Gut and Psychology Syndrome in 2004.59
Might professional rivalry have developed between Breakspear and Dr. Campbell-McBride? ¬† Conspiracy buffs would like to think so, but we have no evidence of that. ¬† Dr. Campbell-McBride says she does not know the three researchers personally, Puri‚Äôs endorsement of her book came through ‚Äúa third party,‚ÄĚ and she does ‚Äúnot know why they would want to publish such an unscientific exploration.‚ÄĚ60
With no smoking broth, there‚Äôs no reason to suspect Breakspear of any ulterior motives. ¬† The study was in all likelihood motivated by legitimate questions raised by seeing a large number of patients with lead toxicity at the clinic.¬† This idea furthermore matches up with rumors that began circulating in 2012 to the effect that Breakspear had stopped recommending broth consumption to its patients because of lead toxicity issues. ¬† At this time, Dr. Monro has not yet answered the questions, What motivated you to study broth, Have you found especially high lead levels in patients that have come to your clinic, and Have you used the GAPS protocol at Breakspear?
The mystery that now remains is why this study was so poorly¬† done.¬† For all the reasons discussed above, a useful study needed to have been larger, and included the testing of broth made from chickens grown in several locations. ¬† It should have thoroughly documented the chickens‚Äô living conditions, and tested not only the broth and cooking water for lead but also the chickens‚Äô feed, water and soil.
Instead, the three researchers choose to do a quick and dirty study that casts aspersion on a traditional healing food.¬† At most, their finding of lead in broth should serve as a warning to consumers that the careful sourcing of broth is warranted in our toxic world.
Clearly more studies are needed. ¬† To date, we‚Äôve found just one other research study that¬† has looked at lead contamination of broth.¬† The findings published in the journal Food Additives and Contamination revealed very little lead in a beef bone broth, more in a beef casserole that used red wine, but the highest level by far in baked potatoes with skins contaminated from the lead in the soil. ¬† The researchers determined the predominant source of the metal in food was tap water.61
Several other studies have investigated the levels of lead found in the muscles and organs of conventionally raised chickens. ¬† In each case, the lead appeared where it would be expected — i.e.¬† in the bones, with much less in the skin and cartilage.62,63
Will any good come out of the shoddy Medical Hypotheses broth/lead study?¬† Yes, if it prompts more tests and better studies. ¬† As Dr.¬† Campbell-McBride puts it: ¬† ‚ÄúMany other practitioners now will test their meat stock and bone broth and the whole issue will receive a lot of attention, which in time will give us the full picture.‚ÄĚ64
To that end, we would like to announce the results of testing performed by The National Food Lab on bone broth from grass-fed beef and pastured chicken from California.65 These two broths were prepared in stainless steel soup pots by the Three Stone Hearth Co-op in Berkeley.¬† As tested on February 14, 2013 at a Minimum Detection Level of 10 parts per billion and again on March 1, 2013 with an MDL of 5 parts per billion, ¬†the results were as follows:
- Grassfed beef broth. ¬† No lead detected
- Pastured chicken broth:¬† No lead detected
- Reverse osmosis water:¬† No lead detected
The Weston A. Price Foundation plans to do further testing of broth, and it encourages consumers to know their farmers and the living conditions under which poultry and animals are raised.
The takeaway?¬† Dr. Campbell-McBride sums it up nicely.¬† ¬† ‚ÄúAs a whole, my position is unchanged:¬† meat stock and bone broth are healing foods and they need to be made from the best quality grass-fed ecologically clean animals. . .‚ÄĚ 66 In other words, take care with the source of your broth.
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¬©copyright 2013 Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD.
Thanks to Sylvia Onusic PhD, Galen D. Knight, PhD, Zoe Harcombe and Phil Ridley for research help with this article.
1.¬† Monro, JA, Leon R, Puri BK. ¬† The risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets.¬† Med Hypotheses, 2013 Jan 30. pii: S0306-9877(13)00013-3. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.12.026. [Epub ahead of print]
2. ¬† Carrington CD, Bolger PM. An assessment of the hazards of lead in food. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 1992 Dec;16(3):265-72.
3.¬† Bradbury MW, Deane R. Permeability of the blood-brain barrior to lead.¬† Neurotoxicology. 1993 Summer-Fall;14(2-3):131-6.
4.¬† Hou S, Yuan L et al. ¬† A clinical study of the effects of lead poisoning on the intelligence and neurobehavioral abilities of children. ¬† Theor Biol Med Model. 2013 Feb 18;10(1):13. [Epub ahead of print]
5.Waldron, H. A. (1973). Lead poisoning in the ancient world. Med. Hist. (Lond.),17,391-399.
6. Waldron HA.¬† Chasing the Lead.¬† Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1985 August 10; 291(6492): 366‚Äď367.
7.¬† atsdr.cdc. gov.
8.¬† Hutchinson TC and Meema KM.¬† Lead, Mercury , Cadmium and Arsenic in the Environment,¬† (Wiley, 1987)¬† pp. 53-68.
9.¬† Bralley JA, Lord RS, editors.¬† Laboratory Evaluations in Nutritional Medicine. (Metametrix 1999) pp. 3-17 to 3-19.
10. ¬† Vengris VE, Mare CJ.¬† Lead poisoning in chickens and the effect of lead on interferon and antibody production.¬† Can J Comp Med. 1974 Jul;38(3):328-35.
13.¬† McCance RA, Sheldon W, Widdowson EM. ¬† Bones and vegetable broth.¬† Arch Dis Child. 1934 August : 9 (52) 251-258.
14. For the Nutrition Facts for Saffron Road Traditional Chicken Broth:
The Flavor Chef chicken broth label reports calcium at 4% of daily value. ¬†I was not able to load a picture of the label here at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s website, but it can be seen here: ¬† http://drkaayladaniel.com/boning-up-is-broth-contaminated-with-lead/
15.¬† Bralley JA, Lord RS, editors.¬† Laboratory Evaluations in Nutritional Medicine. (Metametrix 1999) pp. 3-17 to 3-19.
16.¬† Mahaffey KR.¬† Nutrition and Lead: strategies for public health.¬† Envir Health Perspect. 1995 September; 103(Suppl 6): 191‚Äď196.
17.¬† Breunig K, Kemp FW et al. ¬† Dietary calcium intakes of urban children at risk of lead poisoning. ¬† Environ Health Perspect, 1999 June; 107 (6): 431-435.
18. Lee MG, Chun OK, Song WO.¬† Determinants of the blood level of US women of¬† reproductive age. ¬† J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Feb;24(1):1-9.
19.¬† Mahaffey KR. ¬† Environmental lead toxicity: nutrition as a component of intervention.
Environ Health Perspect. 1990 Nov;89:75-8.
20.¬† Houston DK, Johnson MA. ¬† Does vitamin C intake protect against lead toxicity? Nutr Rev 2000 Mar;58(3 Pt 1):73-5.
21.¬† ¬† Gulson BL, Mizon KJ et al.¬† Blood lead changes during pregnancy and postpartum with calcium supplementation. ¬† Environ Health Perspect, 2004, Nov: 112 (15): 1499-507.
22.¬† Cheng Y, Willet WC et al. ¬† Relation of nutrition to bone lead and blood lead levels in middle-aged to elderly men.¬† The Normative Aging Study.¬† Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Jun 15;147(12):1162-74.
23.¬† Ettinger AS, Hu H, Hernandez-Avila M.¬† Dietary Calcium Supplementation to Lower Blood Lead Levels in Pregnancy and LactationJ Nutr Biochem. 2007 March; 18(3): 172‚Äď178.
24.¬† Blaylock R. Health and Nutrition Secrets that can Save your Life. Albuquerque, Health Press, 2006) p. 141.
25. ¬† http://chriskresser.com/bone-broth-and-lead-toxicity-should-you-be-concerned
26. Email from Jean Monro to author, March 4, 2013.
30. ¬† European Food Safety Authority.¬† EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain.¬† Scientific Opinion on Lead in Food. ¬† http://www.efsa.europa.eu/fr/scdocs/doc/1570.pdf
31. Email from Jean Monro to author, March 4, 2013.
34.¬† Drinking Water 2010.¬† Public Water Supplies in the Thames Region of England.¬† July 2011.¬† A report by the Chief Inspector of Drinking Water. particularly pages 23-27..¬† ¬† http://dwi.defra.gov.uk/about/annual-report/2010/thames.pdf
35. ¬† Vodela JK, Renden JA et al. ¬† Drinking water contaminants (arsenic, cadmium, lead, benzene, and trichloroethylene). 1. Interaction of contaminants with nutritional status on general performance and immune function in broiler chickens.
Poult Sci. 1997 Nov;76(11):1474-92.
36. ¬† http://www.mwcog.org/environment/water/watersupply/lead/faq.asp
37. ¬† Sawan RM, Leite GA et al.¬† Fluoride increases lead concentrations in whole blood and in calcified tissues from lead-exposed rats.¬† Toxicology. 2010 Apr 30;271(1-2):21-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2010.02.002. Epub 2010 Feb 25.
38.¬† Drinking Water 2010.¬† Public Water Supplies in the Thames Region of England.¬† July 2011.¬† A report by the Chief Inspector of Drinking Water.¬† http://dwi.defra.gov.uk/about/annual-report/2010/thames.pdf
39.¬† Hutchinson TC and Meema KM.¬† Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Arsenic in the Environment. Chapter 6: Human Health Concerns of Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Arsenic. ¬† (Wiley, 1987).
40. ¬† Hallak AK.¬† Poster presentation Bioaccumulation and distribution of lead and cadmium in hen‚Äôs organism.¬† University of Forestry, FMV-Bulgaria.
41. ¬† Doganoc DZ. ¬† Distribution of lead, cadmium and zinc in tissues of hens and chickens from Slovenia. ¬† Bull Environ Contam Toxicol, 1996¬†Dec;57(6):932-7.
43.¬† ¬† http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_hydrogen_arsenate
44.¬† Tampell DW, Imerman PM et al.¬† Lead contamination of chicken eggs and tissues from a¬† small farm flock J Vet Diagn Invest 15:418‚Äď422 (2003)
45.¬† Inorganic lead and occupational health issues, AIOH Position Paper, AIOH Exposure Standards Committee, March 2009.
47.¬† Villeagas-Navarro A, Rosales D et al. ¬† Determination of lead in paired samples of human blood and synovial blood. ¬† Bull Environ Contam Toxicol (1992) 49: 388-394.
48.¬† Villegas-Navarro A, Bustos E.¬† Determination of lead in paired samples of blood and synovial fluid of bovines.¬† Pathol. 1993 Feb;45(1):47-9.
49.¬† ¬† Bruce G. Charlton, Editor of Medical Hypotheses. Number 7 among the comments at¬† http://www.badscience.net/2009/09/medical-hypotheses-fails-the-aids-test/
51. ¬† ¬† http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends05%5C0001100205_ac_20090630_e_c.pdf
55. ¬† http://www.badscience.net/2007/03/pushing-the-habit/
57.¬† ¬† http://www.badscience.net/2007/03/pushing-the-habit/
59. ¬† http://www.kiki-health.co.uk/Products/Supplements/Gut_Psychology.asp
60. ¬† Email correspondence to Sally Fallon Morell, March 5, 2013
61. ¬† Baster MJ, Burrell JA et al.¬† Lead contamination during domestic preparation and cooking of potatoes and leaching of bone-derived lead on roasting, marinading and boiling beef. ¬† Food Addit Contam 1992 May-Jun; 9 (3): 225-35.
62.¬† ¬† Hallak AK.¬† Poster presentation Bioaccumulation and distribution of lead and cadmium in hen‚Äôs organism.¬† University of Forestry, FMV-Bulgaria.
63.¬† Doganoc DZ. ¬† Distribution of lead, cadmium and zinc in tissues of hens and chickens from Slovenia. ¬† Bull Environ Contam Toxicol, 1996¬†Dec;57(6):932-7.
64. ¬† Email correspondence to Sally Fallon Morell, March 5, 2013
65. ¬†Results from National Food Lab,Livermore, CA. ¬†No lead detected in grassfed beef broth, pastured chicken broth. ¬† ¬†On February 19, 2013 the broths were tested at the minimum detection level of 10 parts per billion. ¬†On March 5, 2013 a retest was performed at MDLs of 5 parts per billion. ¬† Both times no lead was detected in the reverse osmosis water at MDL of 1 part per billion. ¬† ¬†I was not able to load a picture of this Analytical Report here at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s website, but it can be seen here: ¬† http://drkaayladaniel.com/boning-up-is-broth-contaminated-with-lead/
66.¬† Email correspondence to Sally Fallon Morell, March 5, 2013.
Posted in WAPF Blog
Tagged Basant K. Puri, Ben Goldacre, bone broth, Breakspear Medical Group, broth, calcium, chickens, Flavor Chef, fluoride, GAPS, Jean Monro, lead, Natasha Campbell-McBride, Ron Leon, Saffron Road, Three Stone Hearth
Is there no end to the foods and other products that can get soy‚Äôled? ¬† Probably not, and these days soy could be lurking anywhere and everywhere. ¬† Although soy can seem like a renewable ‚Äúgreen alternative‚ÄĚ to petroleum products, the soy-ling of America is bad news indeed for people with severe soy allergies.
In the past, I‚Äôve published the names of common ¬†food products ¬†likely to contain soy, and exposed many of the aliases soy can hide under — ¬†hydrolyzed plant protein, textured vegetable protein, lecithin and bouillon, for starters. ¬† The good news for consumers is the Food Allergen Labeling Act of 2006 requires food manufacturers to clearly spell out “s-o-y” on food labels. ¬† Even so, I never cease to be amazed at what I find. ¬† I expect the ‚Äúdirty dozen‚ÄĚ exposed here will be a surprise to many.
1.¬† Cast iron cookware ¬† Lodge cast iron cookware has been a symbol of old-fashioned quality for more than 100 years. ¬† ¬†The new ones, however, come pre seasoned with, guess what?¬† Yup, soy oil. ¬† Other ‚Äúpre seasoned‚ÄĚ brands too? ¬† Probably.¬† ¬† What did our do-it-yourselfer ancestors season with? ¬† Good old fats like tallow.
2.¬† Melt Away Cupcake Liners. ¬† Weary of peeling paper off your cupcakes or muffins? Then some prize-winning students at Purdue University have just the thing for you.¬† Their entry in the Student Soybean and Corn Innovation Contest of 2009 was a ‚Äúmelt away‚ÄĚ liner that disappears like magic right into the cupcake itself. ¬† In other words,¬† ‚ÄúNot in your trash. ¬†Trash down the hatch.‚ÄĚ
3. Celestial Seasonings Tea¬† ¬† Black Cherry and maybe some other flavors too contains soy lecithin. ¬† And if the celestial ones are soy-ling tea, other brands may be doing so too.
4. White Russians. ¬† Did you know there are vegan bars where the White Russians are made with soymilk? ¬† ¬†If your friendly neighborhood bar has gone vegan, count on cream drinks getting soy-led.
5.¬† Salt Answer RX. ¬† This Jimoto product is made up of modified potato starch, artificial flavor, monoammonium glutamate, sucrose, lactic acid, citric acid, hydrogenated soybean oil, silicone dioxide, calcium lactate and maltodextrin. ¬† ¬†What to do instead,¬† how about salt? ¬† Old-fashioned salt. ¬† Big Pfood warns us to get off salt right now for a lot of reasons and allegedly for our own good. ¬† The truth is the new salt substitutes are addictive and profitable as they make people want to eat, eat and eat some more.
6. Vaccines.¬† Most health conscious people already know about the mercury and/or aluminum found in vaccines. ¬† Less well known is that the industry has been turning to soy adjuvants. ¬† It may be in the chicken pox vaccine, among others.
7.¬† Pates. ¬† Chicken, duck and goose liver pates at Whole Foods Market look like the real thing — and are priced like a real thing — but may contain soy protein isolate, among other dubious ingredients ¬† Why? ¬† To increase profits, obviously, but maybe also to put its upscale consumers in touch with the common folk. ¬† SPI, after all, is found in Bumblebee and other supermarket brands of canned tuna. ¬† As it happens, the soy industry plans a future of soy-led ¬†ham, chicken, turkey and other meats. ¬† ¬†Solbar’s ‚Äúnovel‚ÄĚ new soy protein ingredients will ‚Äúimprove mouth feel and overall product quality through their low viscosity and strong gelling properties.‚ÄĚ ¬† And that‚Äôs not all folks! ¬† This ‚Äúnovel‚ÄĚ technology will allow ‚Äúsmoother injection machine entry.‚ÄĚ
8. Instant Oatmeal .¬† Believe it or not, ¬†ingredients can include soy protein isolate, partially hydrogenated soy oil, high fructose corn syrup and other goodies. ¬†Who would have thunk it? ¬† Read those labels. ¬† With oatmeal, at least, we still have the right to know when ¬†it’s no longer Grandma‚Äôs oatmeal.
9. Soft drinks.¬† ¬† Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fanta Orange and other citrusy sodas may contain brominated vegetable oil, ¬†a product developed as a flame retardant. ¬† Now why might brominated vegetable oil (probably from soy oil) be in soda?¬† ¬† To keep the other hazardous ingredients from spontaneously combusting? ¬†Nope. ¬†It’s to emulsify the citrus-like¬† flavors. ¬† Wouldn‚Äôt want them separating and floating to the surface now, would we?
10. ¬† Artificial fire logs. ¬† Soy, and lord knows what else, might end up in the smoke we breathe. ¬† Soy candles are billed as “clean burning” but might also be a problem for people with soy allergies.
11.¬† Sofas.¬† Probably NOT a problem unless people get down and naked on cushions that have been ripped or unzipped. ¬† If there‚Äôs soy in there, it‚Äôs most likely in the form of soy foam, a product that is increasingly pitched to environmentally conscious consumers. ¬† Interestingly enough, this is a different kind of “hidden soy.” ¬† Seems that soy foam actually contains very little soy ¬†– ¬†so little that Debra Lynn Dadd, the Queen of Green, calls it an excellent example of ‚Äúgreenwashing.‚ÄĚ ¬† Seems soy foam is regular polyurethane with just a small percentage of soy in it. ¬† And there are all the usual flame retardants and other petro-chemicals to boot. ¬†‚ÄúThey can‚Äôt put a higher percentage of soy because soy breaks down too fast,‚ÄĚ¬† she says.
12.¬† Corkboards and floor mats. ¬† New versions made out of soy and/or corn may soon set foot in the marketplace. ¬† Probably not a problem except for people with contact allergies who touch them with bare hands or feet.¬† ¬† Others will experience no problems unless they eat them. ¬† Chew on a soy/corn corkboard or floor board? ¬† Don‚Äôt laugh.¬† ¬† Jacob Smoker, one of the Purdue students who invented this prize-winning new product, bit into it and reported it to be ‚Äúreally sweet.‚ÄĚ ¬† Good to know if your stomach is rumbling, the frig is empty, you aren’t allergic to soy, and not the least bit fussy about taste and texture. ¬† ¬†While I can’t imagine ever being so tempted, ¬†I do have a concern: ¬†If cork can be soy-led, will wine corks be next?
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Posted in WAPF Blog
Tagged brominated vegetable oil, Celestial Seasonings, Debra Lynn Dadd, Fanta, Lodge castiron cookware soy allergies, Melt-a-Way Cupcake Lners, Mountain Dew, Purdue, Salt Answer RX, soy, soy foam, Squirt, Student Soybean and Corn Innovation Contest, White Russians
Over the past past year I‚Äôve attracted a lot of vegan rage about the blogs I‚Äôve written on how a high fructose diet may have contributed to the pancreatic cancer that killed Apple founder Steve Jobs.
Today‚Äôs news provides some evidence that I might have been ‚Äúright on.‚ÄĚ
Actor Ashton Kutcher, who plays Steve Jobs in the biopic Jobs, says he was rushed¬† to the hospital with pancreatic problems after adopting a fruitarian diet. ¬† Kutcher did so to get into the Jobs ¬†character as fully as possible.
After the film‚Äôs screening at the Sundance Film Festival Friday, Kutcher warned against the dangers of such a diet. ¬† ‚ÄúThe fruitarian diet can lead to, like, severe issues.¬† I went to the hospital, like, two days before we started shooting the movie.¬† I was, like, doubled over in pain.¬† My pancreas levels were completely out of whack.¬† It was really terrifying, considering everything.‚ÄĚ
Jobs, of course, died from pancreatic cancer on October 5, 2011.¬† ¬† As my blogs indicated, there is evidence suggesting excess fructose consumption puts stress on the pancreas, and could lead to islet cell carcinoma.¬† ¬† Let Kutcher‚Äôs experience serve as a warning to those –¬† who like Dr. John McDougall –¬† maintain against all evidence that Jobs ‚Äúexcellent vegan diet‚ÄĚ could only have helped.
The biopic opens in theaters this April. ¬† Now that Kutcher has dropped¬† the fruitarian diet, let‚Äôs hope he returns to excellent health and drops the Jobs-like mannerisms and hunched over posture. ¬† With luck, some good fat and protein will –¬† like — improve his talking too!
Steve Jobs lived more than 30 years after developing pancreatic cancer thanks to his vegan diet.
That‚Äôs the preposterous claim made by Dr. John McDougall in a lecture that has been viewed by more than 52,500 people on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81xnvgOlHaY and¬†widely touted in the vegan community as a scientifically sound example of veganthink.
McDougall speculates that Jobs first developed cancer in his twenties, which might well be the case given that most cancers develop years before diagnosis.¬† But by that line of thinking, anyone diagnosed with cancer who has made it to mid life could be living thirty years past the initial cancer cell divide.¬† Most of those people will have been on Standard American Diets, high in sugar, starch, factory-farmed animal products and all American junk food.¬† Somehow McDougall holds that animal products caused those cancers but Jobs‚Äôs nearly lifelong obsession with veganism could only have prolonged his life!
So why did Jobs develop cancer despite what McDougall himself concedes was a ‚Äústrict vegan diet‚ÄĚ with few lapses over his lifetime? ¬† McDougall‚Äôs position — and he‚Äôs sticking to it!¬† — ¬† is vegan diets prevent and cure cancer. ¬† Therefore, it must have been bad luck — the equivalent of ‚Äúbeing struck by lightning‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúhit by a car‚ÄĚ –¬† that caused Jobs‚Äôs cancer and fueled its progression.
How else to explain the fact that Steve Wozniak (an overweight fast-food junkie), Bill Gates and other computer pioneers are alive despite similar exposure to carcinogenic lead and cadmium from soldering computer parts, long-term bombardment from radiation and EMFs, and other lifestyle risk factors that would have put all of them at increased risk for cancer? ¬† The reason those things caused cancer in Jobs but not the others must have been luck of the draw because Jobs‚Äôs vegan diet ‚Äúcould only have helped him.‚ÄĚ
None of us, of course, can say for certain what caused the pancreatic cancer that led to Steve Jobs’s death, or what, if anything could have saved him.¬†¬† Dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors all must have come into play. ¬† But McDougall‚Äôs failure to even consider the role that Jobs’s vegan diet –¬† and frequent fruitarianism — may have played in his death is unhelpful at best and irresponsible at worst.
Shortly after Jobs‚Äôs death on October 5, 2011, I read the Walter Isaacson biography Steve Jobs and posted two ‚ÄúiVegetarian‚ÄĚ blogs at this website¬†in which¬†I thoroughly documented a longstanding pattern of food fanaticism, eating disorders and mood swings dating back to Jobs‚Äôs teenage years.
On the plus side, his diet seems to have been organic and high quality, and at no point, did he appear to have been a junk-food vegan who indulged in all-American junk foods such as soda, chocolate, cookies and crackers.
On the con side, Jobs was a picky eater who moved in and out of fruitarian phases for most of his life, but consistently favored a lot of fruit and fruit juice.¬† The refrigerators at Apple were always well stocked with Odwalla juices, and numerous sources over the years reported him ordering juices frequently at restaurants. ¬† Indeed, this was the most consistent part of his diet over his life time.
Fruits and fruit juices¬† are not only high on the glycemic index, but loaded with fructose.¬† In all but small quantities, they greatly stress the liver and pancreas, contribute to diabetes and many other blood sugar disorders, and have been linked to pancreatic cancer. ¬† Jobs suffered from a type of pancreatic cancer known as islet cell carcinoma, which originates in the insulin-secreting beta cells.
That the fructose in Jobs‚Äôs fruit heavy diet likely contributed to this cancer is supported by research published in the November 2007 issue of¬†American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which concluded there was “evidence for a greater pancreatic cancer risk with a high intake of fruit and juices but not with a high intake of sodas.” ¬†In other words, the ‚Äúhealthy‚ÄĚ juices regularly drunk by Jobs may have been been even worse than the soft drinks he seems to have rejected.
More recently, in the August 2010 issue of¬†Cancer Research, Dr. Anthony Healy of ¬†the Jonsson Cancer Center and Director of the Pituitary Tumor and Neuroendocrine Program at UCLA,¬†proposed that aberrant fructose metabolism‚ÄĒand not just aberrant glucose metabolism‚ÄĒmight be involved in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer. ¬† Seems fructose provides the raw material cancer cells prefer to use to make the DNA they need to divide and proliferate.
Although the UCLA findings are preliminary, based on cell lines, and more suggestive than bulletproof at this stage, the¬†Reuters headline “Cancer Cells Slurp Up Fructose” is fair warning to any of us addicted to fruit and fruit juices.¬† Although the work is widely cited in recommendations to step back on the amount of high fructose corn syrup in modern diets, it suggests the dangers of fruit juice as well.
McDougall read the Isaacson biography and based a lot of his speculation on it.¬† Yet he somehow missed — or chose to ignore –¬† the fact that Jobs‚Äôs brand of veganism included massive amounts of fruit juice, with its dangerous load of fructose. ¬† Instead, McDougall sees the main flaw in Jobs‚Äôs ‚Äúmostly excellent‚ÄĚ diet as eating meat analogue products high in carcinogenic soy protein isolate.¬† ¬† In fact, as I discuss extensively in Chapter 16 of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America‚Äôs Favorite Health Food, soy protein isolate and other soy protein products are well-established risk factors for the exocrine type of pancreatic cancer that killed actors Michael Landon, Patrick Swayze and astronaut Sally Ride, but not for the much rarer endocrine type that killed Jobs.
Furthermore, we have little evidence that Jobs ate much soy over his lifetime.¬† In a book full of food references, Isaacson does not mention soy even once.¬† Certainly, the Apple culture was soy friendly with soy milk readily available in vending machines and at coffee stations and with soy meats served up at company cafeterias, but we have no good evidence yet that Jobs favored it. ¬† Indeed, it is very likely he rejected it because of his longstanding fascination with the book¬†The Mucusless Diet Healing System by Arnold Ehret (1866-1922). ¬† Ehret‚Äôs peculiar brand of VeganThink held the human body is an “air-gas engine” that runs well only on fruits, starchless vegetables and edible green leaves.¬† Soy and other legumes, according to this way of thinking, were to be disdained as mucus-producing forbidden foods. ¬† Ehret — whose own ‚Äúair-gas engine‚ÄĚ sputtered, stalled and died at age 56, the same age as Jobs ¬†–¬† not only condemned protein and fat as “unnatural” but said they could not be used by the body.
Inspired by Ehret‚Äôs theories, Jobs appears to have eaten a diet low in both fat and protein for most of his life. ¬†And what did he eat instead? ¬† Carbs high in fructose, the very type of carbs linked to blood sugar problems and pancreatic cancer.
McDougall also has a strong opinion about Jobs‚Äôs earlier trials with painful kidney stones, which he declares were not kidney stones at all, but misdiagnosis of a diseased pancreas.¬† How so? ¬† Those organs are located close together in the body, thus easily confused by doctors less wise than himself. ¬† His main reason though is kidney stones simply cannot occur to anyone on a vegan diet. ¬† As per the VeganThink theory of kidney stone development, the acid load from animal proteins causes loss of bone, leading to dissolved calcium in the blood, overwhelm in the urinary tract, and build up of kidney stones. ¬† Jobs did not eat animal products, could not have had acid buildup, therefore could not have developed kidney stones.
A more likely scenario is Jobs‚Äôs kidney stones were the predictable result of his high fructose diet. ¬† Sugar¬† –¬† including fructose, the fruit sugar vegans believe is super healthy –¬† upsets mineral balance in the body, interferes with calcium and magnesium absorption and can lead to a host of health problems, including kidney stones.¬† Indeed there is so much research linking high consumption of fruit juices by children to higher incidence of kidney stone development in youngsters as early as kindergarten age that the issue has been covered in the New York Times.
VeganThink further fails to recognize how often kidney stones develop from oxalates, which are indigestible compounds found only in plant foods.¬† Oxalates are especially high in vegan staples such as spinach and other dark leafy greens, parsley, beets, carrots, strawberries, nuts, peanuts, soy and chocolate. ¬† Isaacson says nothing about Jobs eating nuts, peanuts, soy or chocolate, but a great deal about his love affair with fruits, veggies, salads and juices.
Where else does McDougall go astray? ¬† Interpreting reports of Jobs‚Äôs skin and eyes turning yellow and orange in his twenties as proof of the obstruction of the bile ducts and the early onset of the deadly pancreatic cancer that veganism somehow kept at bay for an astounding 30 years. ¬† The obvious reason — widely acknowledged even in the vegan literature — is excessive carrot juice, which Jobs was well known to have consumed.
In sum, McDougall‚Äôs lecture adds up to a whole lot of speculation, assumptions and questionable claims, including the entirely wrongheaded idea that it is the nature of cancer cells to divide and tumors to grow in such an orderly, predictable way that disease progression can be calculated using multiplication tables. ¬† Though even his simple math doesn‚Äôt compute, most of the YouTube ‚Äúcommentators‚ÄĚ have chosen instead to carp on McDougall’s pseudo-French pronunciation of the word centimeters as ‚Äúsahntomeeters.‚ÄĚ ¬† I would guess some doctors somewhere say it that way, but this only adds to an overall impression of a pseudo-intellectual dishing out pseudo science.
McDougall starts out by saying he ‚Äúlikes the challenge of learning new things.‚ÄĚ ¬† He ends by saying that noone — noone — has yet or ever will disprove his theory.¬† ¬† VeganThink!
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Thanks to Sylvia Onusic, PhD, for reading and commenting on this article.
Posted in WAPF Blog
Tagged Anthony Healy, Arnold Ehret, Dr. John McDougall, fructose, juice, juicing, Odwalla, oxalates, pancreatic cancer, soy, Steve Jobs, sugar, veganism, Walter Isaacson
It‚Äôs a vegan ‚Äúroast‚ÄĚ made primarily from tofu and wheat gluten.¬† It smells strange, is oblong shaped, and said to taste like turkey, at least by vegans who‚Äôve either never eaten real turkey or have very distant and feeble memories of having eaten turkey.
According to Turtle Island Foods, Tofurky is a gourmet vegan ‚Äúroast and gravy‚ÄĚ product made from ‚Äúa revolutionary tofu-wheat protein blend, known for its incredible, turkey-like texture and flavor. ‚Äú
Is it really ‚Äúincredible‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúrevolutionary‚ÄĚ?
I might seem so if you‚Äôve been dining on Approximeat,¬† Roast Almost, Veat, Soyloin, Sham Ham or Wham.
Tell me about that ingredient ‚Äúvital wheat gluten?‚ÄĚ
It gives the Tofurky creature its signature wet and wild look. ¬† ¬†Having seen the creature naked and out of its box, I’d describe it as doughy, gluey, pasty and corpselike, not vital. ¬† Only a gluten for punishment would recommend it, given how many people today suffer from gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
If you aren‚Äôt gluten sensitive, would Tofurky be a good way to ‚Äúpractice safe soy‚ÄĚ this Thanksgiving?
No, with a name like that you could die laughing . . .
Do you think it has health benefits?
Absolutely. ¬† The taste and smell would keep you from overeating!
Seriously, isn‚Äôt it loaded with soy and flavored by MSG?
Hard to believe, but Tofurky actually has few flavorings compared to most meat analogue products and the Turtle Island company prides itself on rejecting spices with MSG. ¬† The company also uses no soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate,¬† hydrolyzed plant protein, textured vegetable protein or other modern, industrialized soy proteins manufactured using high temperatures, high pressure, acid and alkaline baths and hexane solvents. ¬† And Turtle Island takes care to use only non GMO ingredients. ¬† The biggest problem by far is the wheat gluten!¬† That‚Äôs the second ingredient, after water, which is the first. ¬† I‚Äôm also no fan of canola oil though I‚Äôm glad the canola oil in Tofurky is non GMO.
Canola oil in Tofurky? ¬† Why not soy oil?
Soy oil‚Äôs in there too as it comes naturally in the tofu.¬† I guess they decided there was no reason to soy-l it more! ¬† The added lube comes from canola oil, and the idea that it’s healthy is a great con-ola. ¬† If you don‚Äôt want the Tofurky bird to dry out, you are instructed to baste it with olive oil during the roasting process.
Sounds like a lot of oil.¬† I thought the Tofurky was a low-fat bird?
Hardly.¬† The creature is a shapeless blob with no bones or muscles whatsoever. ¬† It’s so fat it can‚Äôt even move unless you bind it tightly with shrink wrap, put it on top of a hill and give it a push.
How good is the fat in a real turkey?
No good at all if you are talking about supermarket brands ‚Äúbuttered up‚ÄĚ with injections of soy oil , water and MSG. ¬† The problem is there’s no real butter in there!
How’s the fat found naturally in turkey?
Dr. Mary Enig says the fatty acid profile of¬† turkey meat depends on the source, and it varies depending upon the diet fed the turkey. ¬† Typical fatty acid composition of turkey fat in the U.S. is less than 1 percent myristic acid, 22 percent palmitic acid, 6 percent palmitoleic acid, 6 percent stearic acid, 38 percent oleic acid, 22 percent omega 6 linoleic acid and 1 percent omega 3 linolenic acid. ¬† ¬† People are always surprised that poultry contains so much monounsaturated fat. ¬† The oleic and palmitoleic acids together come to 44 percent monounsaturates.¬† ¬† These figures would probably not change much with the organic turkeys sold in the chain health food stores because they are still fed corn and soy, just not GMO corn and soy.¬† Few of those turkeys spend enough time in the great outdoors to be considered free range.¬† Best to get heritage-breed turkeys that hunt and peck and eat bugs,worms and grass in the wild. ¬† The omega 3 and EPA, DHA fatty acid levels in those turkeys are much improved.
If you were going to serve Tofurky, how would you improve the taste?
Wrap it well with bacon and roast. ¬† ¬†Real bacon, not fakin’ bakin, of course. ¬† Eat the bacon, hide the Tofurky in your napkin and toss.
Do the PETA folks like Tofurky?
You betcha!¬† ¬† Last year PETA campaigned to rename Turkey, Texas, Tofurky, Texas.¬† The town demurred even though PETA offered a full course vegan Thanksgiving meal for the entire town if they changed their name. ¬† ¬†I think the gun totin’ Texans must have fired at the PETA people because this year they didn’t go back.
What did Dr. Seuss think of Tofurky?
Dunno, though I think he kept a flock of Australorps X Ameracauna hens for the green eggs he liked with his ham.¬† If he‚Äôd actually met a Tofurky,¬† I think we‚Äôd have deathless prose such as, ‚ÄúWhy did Tofurky cross the road?¬† Did he cross it with a toad?¬† Yes, Tofurky crossed the road, but how it crossed I’ve not been told.‚ÄĚ
Tofurky doesn’t have a leg to stand on so how could Tofurky possibly cross the road?
Tofurky could roll if given a good push. ¬† If¬†¬†it crossed on its own, we‚Äôd have to ask, did Tofurky really cross the road or did the road move under Tofurky?
Why did Tofurky cross the road?
To see Gregory Peck?
Gregory can no longer peck. ¬† Why did Tofurky cross the road?
To meet up with Mr. Tofu?
Mr. Tofu ‚Äúmet his match‚ÄĚ at the LA Tofu Festival. ¬† Why did Tofurky cross the road?
To go to the dork side!
Scary energy drinks such as Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar and Full Throttle are in the news this Halloween season.¬† Sadly, the dangers are very real.
The drinks come in colorful cans with buzzworthy, even Halloweeny, designs, and are one of the fastest growing segments of the beverage market, with sales in 2011 that topped $9 billion.¬† ¬† They are targeted to people who want extra hits of energy because they sleep little, study long, work hard or party late. ¬† Although the drinks typically contain a variety of ingredients such as guarana, taurine, vitamins, sugar and other sweeteners, the energizing comes from a whopping dose of caffeine.
With all these monstrous drinks, it‚Äôs a case of buyer beware. ¬† Labels on the cans not only neglect to reveal their caffeine content but fail to provide warnings about caffeine intoxication, which can cause anxiety, mood swings, mania, stomach pain, vomiting, seizures, heart palpitations, arrhythmias, and even death.
WAPF members are not likely to be tempted by these drinks any more than they are by other sodas, fruit juices and beverages. ¬†Yet we all have family and friends looking for bursts of energy, and the overriding issue here is the consumer’s right to know what’s in these drinks and possible dangers.
In the past three years, at least five people have died after drinking Monster energy drinks, including 14 year old Anais Fournier, who went into cardiac arrest last December after drinking two 24-ounce Monster drinks with her friends at a mall.¬† ¬† This week her mother, Wendy Crossland, lodged a lawsuit against Monster Corporation. ¬† ‚ÄúWith their bright colors and names like Monster, Rockstar and Full Throttle, these drinks are targeting teenagers with no oversight or accountability,‚ÄĚ she says.¬† ¬† Her goal is to have the FDA regulate these drinks and ban sales to minors.
Just labeling would be start. ¬† Because the FDA considers these drinks to be supplements, not sodas, the agency does not require caffeine content to be included on the label. ¬† The key issue obviously is the consumer‚Äôs right to know what is in foods and beverages we consume.¬† ¬† With monster drinks, it‚Äôs even hard to guess. ¬† According to a 2008 study from Johns Hopkins, the ‚Äúcaffeine content of energy drinks varies over a 10-fold range, with some containing the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca Cola.‚ÄĚ ¬† Sodas, which fall under FDA food-ruling authority, can contain up to 71 mg of caffeine per 12 oz.¬† ¬† In contrast, manufacturers can put as much as they want in energy drinks, with known content ranging anywhere from 160mg to 500 mg of caffeine per serving.
Generally, it takes 5 to 10 grams of caffeine to cause death, but age, weight, medical conditions and/or drug and alcohol use can bring the threshold down. ¬† According to the journal Pediatrics, ‚ÄúChildren, especially those with cardiovascular, renal, or liver disease, seizures, diabetes, mood and behavioral disorders, or hyperthyroidism or those who take certain medications, may be at higher risk for adverse events from energy drink consumption.‚ÄĚ ¬† ¬† Anais Fournier, the 14 year old who died, had mitral valve collapse, but had not been warned of any special danger by her doctors.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently subpoenaed Monster and several other makers of such drinks because of false marketing claims about ‚Äúhealthy, energy promoting‚ÄĚ ingredients and failure to reveal that the primary energy promoter is a hefty dose of caffeine. ¬† Without this information, consumers are not given the opportunity to make educated decisions.
Last April Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged the FDA¬† to investigate these drinks after he obtained reports of several deaths.¬† ‚ÄúConsuming large quantities of caffeine can have serious health consequences, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia and in some cases death,‚ÄĚ he wrote.¬† ‚ÄúYoung people are especially susceptible to suffering adverse effects because energy drinks market to youth, their bodies are not accustomed to caffeine and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and stimulating additives that may interact when used in combination.‚ÄĚ ¬† He also asked the FDA to require manufacturers to provide ‚Äúscientific evidence that other ingredients frequently found in these drinks such as guarana, taurine and ginseng are ‚Äúsafe for their intended use and when used in combination with other ingredients and caffeine.‚ÄĚ
Senator Durbin also noted these companies market their products like beverages with words like ‚Äúfully refreshing‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúlightly carbonated.‚ÄĚ
So far FDA has been dragging its feet.¬† This month the agency responded that most energy drinks contain no more caffeine than might be found in a cup coffee, plus idle promises about how it will keep its eye on this industry. ¬† In fact, some of the drinks contain far more caffeine than found in coffee, and the agency has¬† an abysmal record of oversight.¬† Indeed, rather than focus on clear abuses in the food products and supplement industries — such as undisclosed caffeine in energy drinks or salmonella-contaminated hydrolyzed protein — FDA spends vast amounts of its resources persecuting small farmers selling raw milk and other fresh produce directly to consumers who have not been harmed and are at low risk for harm.
Unless we want a Nanny state, the issue with the Monster drinks isn‚Äôt how much caffeine should be allowed so much as honest labeling and the consumer‚Äôs right to know.¬† Just as we are entitled to know if genetically modified ingredients are in our foods, we are entitled to crucial information such as caffeine content in drinks. ¬† From there, consumers and parents can exercise their freedom to choose what they and their children will eat and drink.
Already parents and school boards have become active. ¬† As Joe Stokes, the director of elementary schools in Manatee County, Florida, the first to outlaw the drinks in school said , ‚ÄúWe know a significant number of students who have increased energy followed by decreased energy can have agitation. ¬† Caffeine affects how the brain works.‚ÄĚ
Don‚Äôt think these drinks are consumed much by minors?¬† Think again. ¬† A 2011 article in Pediatrics, reported adolescents consume 30 to 50 percent of all energy drinks. ¬† The researchers also reported 5,448 caffeine overdoses in 2007, with 46 percent occurring to consumers under age 19.
Equally sobering is a U.S. government report that identified a dramatic increase in emergency room visits between 2005 and 2009.¬† ¬† The number of energy drink related visits to emergency rooms in 2005 was 1,128. ¬† Just a few years later, coinciding with increased sales of these beverages, there were 16,053 visits in 2008 and 13,114 in in 2009. ¬† Of these visits, 52 percent were people aged 18 to 25 who had combined energy drinks with alcohol or other recreational, over-the-counter or pharmaceutical drugs.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins report that about 27 percent¬† of college students mix energy drinks and¬† alcohol once a month. ¬† In addition to increased likelihood of cardiac arrest or other side effects serious enough for an emergency room visit, there are obvious risks to combining energy drinks with alcohol, including risky behaviors such as violence and drunk driving. ¬† What‚Äôs more, Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins thinks energy drinks can serve as a ‚Äúgateway product‚ÄĚ to drug abuse.
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For more about this topic, read my interview ‚ÄúAnother Reason to Skip Energy Drinks; They Could Cause Depression and Anxiety‚ÄĚ with Deborah Dunham, posted on Blisstree, a website that has posted many informative blogs on the dangers of energy drinks.¬† ¬† ¬† http://blisstree.com/eat/nutrition/another-reason-to-skip-energy-drinks-they-could-cause-depression-and-anxiety-550/
Other primary and secondary resources used for this blog include:
Malinauskas, BM, Aeby VG et al. ¬† A survey of energy drink consumption patterns among college students.¬† Nutrition J, 2007, 6:35. ¬† http://www.nutritionj.com/content/6/1/35
Seifert, BS, Schaecter JL, et al.¬† Health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents and young adults. ¬† 2011 Mar;127(3):511-28 ¬† ¬† http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/3/511.long
Posted in WAPF Blog
Tagged alcohol, Anais Fournier, caffeine, caffeine intoxication, caffeine toxicity, consumer right to know, drugs, energy drink, FDA, Full Throttle, guarana, labeling, Manatee county school board, Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, sweeteners, taurine, Wendy Crossland
‚ÄúSoy Exacerbates Seizures in Mouse Models of Neurological Disease‚ÄĚ is the title of an¬† important new study that came out last week in the Journal of Alzheimer‚Äôs Disease.1 Soy has long been associated with ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, dementia and other mental health issues.2 Now it appears soy can aggravate seizures as well. ¬† Cara J. Westmark, PhD, and her team at the Waisman Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, pull no punches when they warn, ‚ÄúThese results have important implications for individuals on soy-based diets.‚ÄĚ3
The average American, of course, would not describe his or her diet as ‚Äúsoy based,‚ÄĚ but soy ingredients are found in more than 60 percent of packaged and processed foods and nearly 100 percent of fast foods. ¬† The plant-based diet fad has furthermore encouraged many health-conscious Americans to substitute soy products for both meat and dairy. ¬† Although animal products would appear to be ‚Äúsoy free,‚ÄĚ most commercial and health-food store eggs, milk and flesh foods contain residual isoflavones from soy-based feeds.4
Infants on soy formula — currently about 25 percent of bottled fed babies according to the American Academy of Pediatrics — are on soy-based diets because they rarely receive anything else to eat, a fact that has led the Israeli Health Ministry, French Food Agency, German Institute of Risk Assessment and British Dietetic Association to warn parents and pediatricians that soy formula could jeopardize brain and body development and should be used only as a last resort.5,6
Another captive population is prisoners.¬† The Weston A. Price Foundation is currently suing the state of Illinois on behalf of prisoners who have suffered devastating damage to their digestive tracts and thyroids due to a high soy diet averaging a whopping 100g of soy products, with about 100 mg of isoflavones every day.7
The level of seizures occur among today‚Äôs Illinois prison population is unknown.¬† However, a 1978 study in JAMA reported seizure disorders at 1.9 percent among prisoners in Illinois, three times the level found in the general population.8 Although prisoners in the 1970s may have been spared the extremely high 100 grams of soy protein served up today, they most likely endured economy fare such as hamburger and other rations extended with soy grits, textured soy protein and soy flour.¬† Whether soy on the menu might have caused such a high percentage of seizures is unknown.¬† Prisoners, after all, may well have suffered for years from neurological damage that led to violent tendencies, crime and incarceration.¬† Whether they were already seizure-prone individuals or not, the research of Westmark et al suggests their high soy diet could only have made matters worse.
Those who think seizures are rare and only happen to other people, need to think again.¬† According to Dr. Westmark, one out of ten Americans will experience a seizure during their lifetimes.9 According to the Mayo Clinic, seizures may result from many disorders affecting the brain.¬† Best known is epilepsy, a disease characterized by seizures,¬† but seizures can signify metabolic disturbances such as hypoglycemia or dangerously high or low levels of sodium, calcium, magnesium or water. ¬† Seizures can also be triggered by brain injury, infections¬† such as meningitis, tumors, lupus, stroke and high fevers.10 In many cases, the cause of seizures is unknown, and the underlying molecular mechanism(s) that initiate and propagate seizures are not well understood.‚ÄĚ11
Patients with Alzheimer‚Äôs disease, Fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome, and autism are particularly susceptible to seizures,12 and the focus of much research at the Waisman Center of Developmental Disabilities has been on the myriad ways drugs, diet and genetic manipulation can affect amyloid beta levels, seizure threshold and behavioral phenotypes.13 In an editorial entitled ‚ÄúConcocting the Right Diet for Brain Health‚ÄĚ published last December in Translational Medicine, Dr. Westmark expressed concern about the risks of soy:¬† ‚ÄúThe prevailing view is soy is healthy, but much remains to be learned regarding its effects on brain development and function.‚ÄĚ¬† She furthermore warned:
‚ÄúThere is a paucity of studies on the effects of phytoestrogens on fetal and early childhood development; yet, twenty-five percent of infant formulas are based on soy protein. ¬† Considering body weight, these infants are getting 6-11 times the dose of phytoestrogens necessary to exert hormone-like effects in adults. ¬† There are epigenetic changes associated with a soy-based diet in monkeys suggesting the potential to greatly alter gene expression. We have observed significantly elevated seizure rates in mouse models of Alzheimer‚Äôs disease, Fragile X syndrome and Down syndrome when juvenile mice are fed a soy- based diet. Our data suggests that soy-based infant formulas may lower seizure threshold particularly in babies genetically predisposed to developmental disorders. Thus, understanding the negative effects of soy phytoestrogens and modulating intake during pregnancy and infancy could prevent neurological damage during critical periods of sensory development.‚ÄĚ14
What‚Äôs most surprising about this research is that the mice fed a casein-based refined diet showed ‚Äúdecreased amyloid beta and attenuated seizure rates.‚ÄĚ ¬† Casein is a fractionated milk protein that is high in the amino acid methionine and seriously deficient in cysteine.¬† It has such a poor nutritional profile that the soy industry has found it a reliable ‚Äúcontrol‚ÄĚ to use in studies where the intent is to make soy look good. ¬† Indeed Japanese research at the Faculty of Agriculture, Shizuoka University in Japan, has shown that casein will significantly raise total cholesterol levels and lower HDL levels compared to other proteins.15,16 Consequently most studies used to support the FDA‚Äôs 1999 soy/heart disease health claim are deeply flawed because of the routine use of casein as the control.17 In the case of the research done at the Waisman Center, the rats fed a chow comprised of casein, sugar and cornstarch came out on top, and the data clearly indicated ‚Äúsoy isoflavones are associated with decreased seizure threshold.‚ÄĚ ¬† Indeed soy-restricted diets reduced seizures in multiple lines of mice bred for diseases in which they would be prone to seizures.
To test the hypothesis that soy isoflavones promoted the seizures, the researchers determined to feed some of the mice chows that were supplemented with genistein and/or daidzein, the two isoflavones found in the highest quantity in soy.
After just three days of treatment with the standard soy protein chow, the group of specially bred ‚ÄúAlzheimer‚Äôs disease‚ÄĚ mice responded with ‚Äúwild running‚ÄĚ and audiogenic seizures. 18
In plain English,¬† audiogenic seizures are seizures brought on by the sound of an alarm.¬† ‚ÄúWild running‚ÄĚ refers to an out-of-control style of running that progresses to loss of the righting reflex, tonic hind limb extension and other signs of seizure, often followed by death. ¬† ‚ÄúRighting reflexes‚ÄĚ bring the body into a normal position in space and resist forces acting to displace it. ¬† They allow the animal to orient itself and regain its balance. ¬† Mice that do not die from the seizures¬† regain the righting reflex and appear normal within a few minutes.
The researchers identified daidzein as a component of soy protein that elicited a strong wild running phenotype in wild type mice — i.e. normal mice as found in nature.¬† ¬† Three days of eating chow spiked with daidzein induced plenty of wild running, but no statistically significant increase in seizures. As yet, the researchers have not identified other components found in soy protein that work in tandem with the daidzein to trigger the progression into seizures and death.¬† ¬† As for the Alzheimer‚Äôs mice, soy protein increased seizures but daidzein did not, though there was a strong trend for increased wild running in the females.19
Interestingly enough, daidzein but not genistein led to increased ‚Äúwild running.‚ÄĚ¬† The non soy chows enhanced with genistein or the combination of genistein and daidzein, failed to provoke seizures in the wild type or Alzheimer‚Äôs disease mice. ¬† Indeed the genistein may have counteracted that,20 a finding that will surely lead the soy industry to put a positive spin on the study with a headline such as ‚Äúsoy genistein stops seizures.‚ÄĚ
To understand the mechanism underlying the activity of the soy isoflavone daidzein, the researchers performed in vitro experiments in which they ‚Äúassessed dendritic Aő≤PP expression in primary, cultured, wild type neurons treated with daidzein or genistein‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúfound altered Aő≤PP expression.‚ÄĚ¬† ¬† They concluded both the in vivo and in vitro findings ‚Äúhave important implications for individuals on soy-based dies as well as for the rodent model.‚ÄĚ21
It is also extremely interesting that daidzein alone appears to have caused the seizures and increased A√ü processing. ¬† According to neurosurgeon and excitotoxin expert Russell Blaylock, MD, ‚Äúthis is a mechanism unrelated to excito-toxicity‚ÄĚ though it is possible ‚Äúdaidzein may trigger excitotoxicity indirectly–say by activating microglia.‚ÄĚ22 Much research shows seizures are generated by MSG and other excitotoxins, which are widely found in modern soy products. Glutamate, for example, is created as a byproduct of the industrial processing methods used to manufacture soy protein isolate and other fractionated protein products. ¬† In addition, food manufacturers often add MSG — often¬† hiding under the alias ‚Äúnatural flavoring‚ÄĚ –¬† to improve taste and smell.23 However, this would also be true of manufacturing methods used to produce acceptable tasting casein products.
In terms of seizure control, it would seem useful to optimize the daidzein to genistein ratio in soy feeds and soy foods, but that‚Äôs easier said than done. ¬† Isoflavone content varies greatly from one batch of soybeans to another, much to the dismay of the soy industry, which finds it cannot reliably either minimize risks or maximize alleged benefits. ¬† Predicting isoflavone content remains elusive because the levels are influenced by many factors, including crop year, geographical location, number of daylight hours, temperature, humidity, rain, fertilizers, types of pathogens and the plant‚Äôs response to attack or disease.24
The significance of research on diet and seizures cannot be overstated. ¬† Westmark et al provide sobering figures: ¬† Seizures occur along with Alzheimer‚Äôs disease in 10 to 22 percent of patients;¬† Fragile X Syndrome, 18 to 23 percent;¬† Down syndrome, 8 percent; autism, 21 to 38 percent; and traumatic brain injury, 53 percent.‚ÄĚ25
Expanding on Dr. Westmark‚Äôs warning in Translational Medicine about the risks of high soy diets during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood, the current study includes this warning:
‚ÄúHigh exposure to estrogenic compounds during fetal and early childhood development through soy-based food products could disrupt the function of the natural steroid hormones and contribute to the high incidence of seizures associated with many childhood, neurological disorders including autism and FXS (Fragile X Syndrome).¬† Understanding the role of soy constituents, such as daidzein, on Aő≤PP (amyloid-ő≤ protein precursor) synthesis and metabolism and modulation of intake during pregnancy and infancy could reduce seizure incidence and prevent neurological damage.‚ÄĚ26
Westmark et al furthermore report work in progress in which the data — as yet unpublished — point to higher incidence of febrile seizures in autistic children fed soy-based formula.27
The current study states more research is needed and concludes with,¬† ‚ÄúThus,¬† a clearer understanding of the environmental factors, such as soy, that modulate synaptic Aő≤PP levels may provide a dietary intervention to reduce Aő≤ levels and seizures.‚ÄĚ27
What to do in the meantime? ¬† Those smart enough to value their brain health will say ‚Äúbetter safe than sorry‚ÄĚ and cut way back on soy!
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Thanks to Sylvia Onusic PhD for research assistance.
1. ¬† Westmark CJ, Westmark PR, Malter JS.¬† Soy-based diet exacerbates seizures in mouse models of neurological disease.¬† J Alzeimers Dis. 2012 Oct 3. [Epub ahead of print]
2.¬† Daniel, Kaayla T. ¬† The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America‚Äôs Favorite Health Food (Washington DC, New Trends, 2005) 251-258, 307-308, 355, 371-372.
3.¬† Westmark et al.
4.¬† Daniel, Kaayla T.¬† ¬† The Soy-ling of America: Second Hand Soy in Animal Feeds
This article can also be found at www.westonaprice.org and www.farmtoconsumer.org.
5.¬† For more information about the Israeli, French and German warnings:
6.¬† Daniel, Kaayla T. The Whole Soy Story, 353-354.
7. ¬† For more information about the lawsuit:
8.¬† Lambert NK, Young QD.¬† Increased prevalence of seizure disorders among prisoners. ¬† JAMA, 1978; 239 (25); 2674-2675. ¬† doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280520046016.
9. ¬† Westmark et al.
11.¬† Westmark et al.
12.¬† Westmark et al.
13. ¬† http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/people/pi/Westmark_Cara.html
14.¬† Westmark, Cara J.¬† Editorial:¬† Concocting the right diet for brain health.¬† Translational Medicine, 2011, 1:3.¬† http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2161-1025.1000106e
15.¬† Sugiyama K, Ohkawa S, Muramatsu K. Relationship between amino acid composition of diet and plasma cholesterol level in growing rats fed a high cholesterol diet.¬† J Nutri Vitaminol (Tokyo), 1986, 2, 4, 413-433.
16.¬† Sugiyama K, Muramatsu K.J Significance of the amino acid composition of dietary protein in the regulation of plasma cholesterol. Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1990, 36 Suppl 2:S105-10.
17.¬† The Weston A. Price‚Äôs submitted a 65-page petition to the FDA,¬† asking the agency to retract the 1999 soy/heart health claim, written by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, and signed by Kilmer S. McCully MD,¬† Mary G. Enig, PhD, Galen D. Knight PhD and Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation.¬† It is available online at:¬† www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/soy-heart-health-claim.
18. Westmark et al.
19.¬† Westmark et al.
20. Westmark et al.
21. Westmark et al.
22. Email from Russell Blaylock, MD, to Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, October 7, 2012.
23. Daniel, The Whole Soy Story, 128.
24. Daniel,¬† The Whole Soy Story, 295-299.
25. Westmark et al.
27.¬† Westmark et al.
Posted in WAPF Blog
Tagged Alzheimer's, audiogenic seizures, autism, Cara J. Westmark, casein, convulsions, Down syndrome, febrile seizures, Fragile X, seizures, soy protein, Waisman Center
In the movie Forks over Knives, T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and Caldwell Esselsytn, MD, promote the myth that low-fat, plant-based diets confer protection from heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn even flat out guarantees that vegans will never have a heart attack.¬† Ever.
Sadly, plenty of vegans suffer or have died from heart disease, as well as cancer, diabetes and other serious health problems.¬† My dear friend Peter Berg¬† — gifted artist, animal activist and committed vegan — died of a sudden death heart attack at age 42.¬† Peter believed his “kind diet” would not only honor the animals he loved so much but grant him good health and longevity.
The death of my friend Peter will surely be dismissed as ‚Äúanecdotal evidence,‚ÄĚ but nearly all the MDs, NDs, CCNs and other health practitioners I know attest to finding plenty of heart disease among vegan patients and clients.
And last week we learned the sad news of PETA spokesman actor Michael Clarke Duncan, whom PETA said was ‚Äúenjoying the best health of his life‚ÄĚ after adopting a diet high in fruits, vegetables, beans, peanuts, and tofu. ¬† ¬† Bill Clinton, though certainly thinner since going vegan, is looking poorly and the National Enquirer and similar tabloids all refer to him as ‚Äúdying.‚ÄĚ
We also see cardiovascular problems among meat eaters on the Standard American Diet (SAD) diet,¬† of course. ¬† I believe Dr. Esselstyn may well be telling the truth when he says his patients show better health markers after adopting a vegan diet.¬† But the likely reason is not that his patients have eliminated animal products from their diets but because they‚Äôve also thrown out their supersized servings of junk foods full of the sugar, starchy carbs and trans fats that have been well proven to cause heart disease.
What then is the relationship of meat to heart disease? ¬† If meat and other animal products full of saturated fat and cholesterol don‚Äôt cause it then what effect might meat have? ¬† Numerous writers on this website have shown science acquitting meat of charges that it causes heart disease.¬† ¬† Many of our members have concluded from this that meat either has no effect on heart disease¬† or that its positive effect comes about from displacing disease-promoting junk foods high in sugar and starchy carbs.
But can meat and animal products actually protect us from heart disease? ¬† Yes, given meat‚Äôs protective effect on homocysteine levels. ¬† Just make that meat grass fed.
Homocysteine first came on the radar in 1969 when Kilmer¬† S. McCully, MD, published the article ‚ÄúVascular pathology of homocysteinemia: implications for the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis‚ÄĚ in the American Journal of Pathology (56, 111-128). ¬† Over the past four decades,¬† homocysteine has not only been studied by Dr. McCully — known as ‚ÄúThe Father of the Homocysteine Theory of Heart Disease‚ÄĚ — but by many other researchers.
Homocysteinemia is an acquired metabolic abnormality, and Dr. McCully initially proposed it could be prevented easily and inexpensively by taking three B vitamins — B6, B12 and folate. ¬† Unfortunately, that solution proved simplistic. ¬† Although the data were clear that B6, B12 and folate were an important part of¬† any prevention protocol, some people tested with high homocysteine anyway.¬† ¬† The latest research suggests that sulfur deficiency — increasingly common in the modern world and especially common among vegetarians — might be an even more important risk factor.
Last year I reported on a study by Dr. McCully and Yves Ingenbleek, MD, that ran in the August 26, 2011 issue of the journal Nutrition. Its title ‚ÄúVegetarianism produces subclinical malnutrition, hyperhomocysteinemia and atherogenesis‚ÄĚ sounded a strong warning about heart disease risk, and the article itself detailed why subjects on mostly vegan diets can develop morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease unrelated to vitamin B status and Framingham criteria.
The fact that the subjects developed high homocysteine ‚Äúunrelated to vitamin B status‚ÄĚ is matters. ¬† Vegans, after all, have long believed they can reduce their homocysteine risk by taking supplemental B12. ¬† B6 and folate levels can be adequate in non-junk food vegan diets that emphasize grains and vegetables though the ability to convert B6 to the active form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate –¬† found readymade primarily in animal products — may be compromised, ¬† While taking this trio of B vitamins as a heart disease ‚Äúinsurance policy‚ÄĚremains important, the Nutrition article suggested high-quality protein — animal protein — rich in the sulfur containing amino acids methionine and cysteine is also needed. ¬† Plant-based proteins will not suffice.
An article published late last year by Dr. Ingenbleek entitled ‚ÄúThe Oxidative Stress of Hyperhomocysteinemia Results from Reduced Bioavailability of Sulfur-Containing Reductants‚ÄĚ expands upon the issues raised in the Nutrition article.
(The Open Clinical Chemistry Journal, 2011, 4, 34-44) http://www.benthamscience.com/open/tocchemj/articles/V004/34TOCCHEMJ.pdf
It is important to note here that high homocysteine is a major cause of CVD¬† unrelated to classical Framingham criteria,which are high cholesterol, dyslipidemia, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes and smoking. ¬† In other words, vegans are at risk for heart disease whether or not they achieve goals of low total and LDL cholesterol thought by Dr. Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell, PhD, Neal Barnard, MD, and other proponents of veganism to be protective against heart disease. ¬† It is also clear that maintaining¬† healthy habits such as getting enough exercise and not smoking may not be protective enough.
Posted in WAPF Blog
Tagged B12, Caldwell Esselstyn, cardiovascular disease, folate, heart disease, homocysteine, Kilmer McCully, Michael Clarke Duncan, Neal Barnard, PETA, sulfur, T. Colin Campbell, vegan, vegetarian, Vitamin B6, Yves Ingenbleek