Letters, Summer 2001

Mixed Farms

When I was a child (born in 1948) we had a mixed-use farm. We raised milk cows (Holstein), pigs and chickens which could run outside and scratch. I remember well butchering them. What an experience for a kid!

We also had sheep which we raised for the wool. Lambs were the most fun. We sold some sheep each year, too. A little later we had ducks and horses. My mother’s eggs always won the county contest! But it was a lot of work for her–carrying water to chickens, raising a garden, canning and freezing and raising three children with little money and little or no help.

Later when I was in high school, we no longer had a dairy. It was get big and modern with piped milk, or get out. My Dad had been carrying his milk to the milk house where it was put in large milk cans, and immersed in ice cold well water. It was regularly tested by the creamery. Each week the milkman bought our butter, bright yellow in spring, and probably each day he picked up the milk.

We changed from dairy to black Angus beef. It was a lot less work for my father. We no longer had other animals. . . just a couple of horses and a dog and cats–all outside. By then we only had corn and soybeans–no oats or hay. We took out fences and had larger fields. The new system was to plant fence-row to fence-row! We sprayed fields or hired it done and did a lot less mechanical weed control.

When I look at my family, I see my father and mother with perfectly straight teeth. Mine were not quite as good but my children have both needed braces and jaw widening!

One other striking difference I see is in health then and now. Children in my school were not overweight. We had delicious lunches cooked by ladies in town. Kids were not hyperactive either. I remember only a couple who were mildly heavy and they were town kids! There were only two deaths of my friends’ parents–both suicides. But when I look at my children’s friends’ parents, it is terrible to see so many with degenerative illnesses. A large number have died. A friend who graduated from St. Stephens–my children’s school–says the same thing. She did not see deaths of parents then like now!

I believe restoring real health should become a campaign issue for our rural politicians. We only hear about containing health care costs or paying for drugs. That doesn’t create good health or really heal anyone. Healing comes from one’s own body if the right nutrients are available and are not blocked by toxins. Most of all, we need to make it possible to return to the mixed-use farms of our ancestors.

Janice Curtin
Alexandria, VA

According to Weston Price, most traditional communities have depended chiefly on either dairy products or sea foods (“Vitamins in Immunity and Growth,” Wise Traditions, Spring 2001, page 31). The enclosed two photographs illustrate the magnificent facial structure that can develop with either type of diet.

let_L2001su_AgnesMcPhail let_L2001su_Philapina

The first is of Agnes McPhail, the first woman to be elected to the Canadian parliament. During the late 1900s, she was a great champion of women’s rights, soldiers, prisoners and the elderly. She grew up on a dairy farm in Gray Bruce County. The second photograph was taken in a small village in the southeast Philippines by the photographer Francisco de Van Camp. The original is in the British Museum of Cultural Sciences in London. The magnificent facial structure of this woman was due to a diet high in seafood.

Here in Toronto we are working hard to bring back the kinds of foods that people need to reach their genetic potential of splendid development. Raw milk from pasture-fed cows is becoming more available through cow-share programs, as are naturally raised meat and eggs. We have found sources for various types of seafood and lacto-fermented drinks. The goal is the return of excellent physical development and superb health in the next generation.

Joseph Ouimet
Toronto, Canada

We know that hormonal problems start with poor diet and life-style (not the least of which is stress) and hope that with education the day will come when all food that is consumed will be whole and unadulterated. However, we were shocked at your dismissal of progesterone therapy (“Wise Choices, Healthy Bodies,” Wise Traditions, Winter 2000, p15).

The women who come to us for counseling are already in severe trouble with fibroid tumors, breast tumors, infertility, osteoporosis, depression and unbearable hot flashes after a hysterectomy. These women do not have the time or finances to make much improvement in their diet and it would be cruel to tell such women that their hot flashes are preparing them for a lustier life as forager and sage–Lord help them, they are already doing that, and caring for grandchildren and most likely never had a cloistered life in the first place. We do not believe that hot flashes are normal as they are unknown in primitive cultures. We believe hot flashes are brought on by a lack of estrogen and progesterone supply to the brain, and primitive diets and life-style supply ample building blocks for both, before and after menopause.

Natural progesterone is not dangerous but protective against breast and endometrial cancer. Progesterone helps keep the myelin sheaths of the nerves in repair and is involved in bone-building. It helps regulate the menstrual cycle and protects against depression.

Progesterone levels can be checked with a saliva test–blood serum tests are not as accurate. However, we know that once the adverse symptom has cleared or is improving, that the patient’s levels are again normal.

One of the first reports I receive from women starting on the therapy is that their memory is improved, or that an elderly mother suffering from diagnosed senility is again able to function as a full member of the family. I have had two contacts who report that their doctors declared their Hashimoto’s thyroiditis completely cleared after being on the progesterone cream for less than six months. Blood sugar is often normalized, fibroids shrink and symptoms of severe PMS clear up.

When organic foods are the norm in markets, and all dairies sell raw milk and society realizes that women are under undue stress and no xenoestrogens invade our bodies, we hope that progesterone will not be necessary. In the meantime, a large percentage of women need support, counseling and a little progesterone to help them realize a fuller, safe and pain-free life.

Pat Stanley
Oakdale, CA

Editor’s response: We certainly agree that women often need help and counseling and we do not want to minimize the success you have had with progesterone treatments. However, we believe that the first step in the treatment of reproductive and hormonal problems should be good nutrition. If it is true that primitive women never have hot flashes, this indicates that diet is probably the key. Some of the changes that we are suggesting–cod liver oil supplements, use of butter and lard instead of vegetable oils, avoidance of soy foods, minimal use of sugar and white flour–are neither expensive nor difficult to implement. In the same issue, we included a report by Krispin Sullivan who, in her clinical practice, has found through saliva testing progesterone levels in excess of many thousands of units above normal in women using progesterone creams. Some of the symptoms of progesterone overdose include headache, weight gain, fatigue, water retention and depression. Hormones are powerful substances that are cyclical in nature. The best approach is to supply the nutrients the body needs in order to make the hormones it needs at the right time and in the right amounts. Should hormonal therapy be necessary in addition to a program of good nutrition (as, for example, after a hysterectomy) it needs to be done under the care of a qualified health practitioner who can monitor symptoms and saliva levels as frequently as possible.

Unsuspected Soy

I was diagnosed 30 years ago with what was described as mild hypothyroidism. I had very few problems with mental ability but suffered mostly with weight problems. However, a few years ago I became premenopausal and that was when my problems started. Intermittent at first but over the years as the menopause progressed I got worse and worse. I suffered from short term memory problems, inability to concentrate, and couldn’t even comprehend what I was reading. I am a receptionist and word processor operator and I was making so many mistakes in my work that I was eventually threatened with dismissal. More often than not as the years passed I would type a word backwards without even realizing I had done so. I would proofread my work and would just read right over my mistakes.

I had no idea what was happening to me, and neither did my doctor. He eventually referred me to an endocrinologist at my local hospital to arrange for me to have tests done for possible Alzheimer’s–yes, Alzheimer’s. Yet, what is the claim about soy? That it protects against aging! My tests showed that I was above average for my age in every other category except mental acuity. As time wore on I got to the stage at work where I couldn’t even remember how to answer the phone when it rang!! The phone would ring, I would pick up the receiver and. . . blank–what do I say? By this time my speech was slurring, and still no one could come up with an answer.

One day while I was shopping, I found myself walking down the street and the next thing I knew I was walking across a very busy intersection against the lights with the drivers of vehicles trying desperately to miss me.

One doctor told me that my serotonin levels were way down as a result of being hypothyroid and the only medication he could put me on was Prozac. However I didn’t take it for long because I found my appetite increased so much I couldn’t stop eating.

It was about the same time I also stopped eating commercially made bread. I just had no desire for it. It was a few weeks later that I realized I was feeling really great again, with my memory returned and no problems with concentration. In the meantime I had discovered the internet so I decided to do some research on thyroid disease. In the process I came across a website on thyroid disease by Mary Shomon. It was through the bulletin board connected to this site that I learned about those who had had bad experiences with soy. The reports were horrifying but I wasn’t concerned because I didn’t consume any soy–or so I thought.

Two months or so later I was back in cyber space, and with short-term memory and concentration problems. A work colleague was quick to pick it up and suggested that maybe it was something I had been eating. She suggested I think about what I could have eaten that I hadn’t for a few months. I then realized I had gone back to eating bread. I checked the ingredients label on the packet to find that I had been eating bread laced with soybean flour, and in fact when I checked the ingredient labels on all varieties of bread at my local supermarket, there was not one that didn’t contain soybean flour. Remembering what I had read on the internet, I then realized that surely it had to be the phytoestrogens contained in the bread I had been eating all those years that had caused my problem. The slow buildup had been blocking my medication. The worst part of this story is that I was consuming soy without realizing it. I have begun to make my own bread and stopped consuming all forms of soy. I have become an expert at reading labels!

It is now ten months since I came off all soy products and although I am now 60 years of age, I feel more like 40. For years I had extreme difficulty getting my TSH count below 5+, but my December 2000 blood test showed that my TSH was down to 0.03! Again proof positive that my medication was finally working. And I am losing all the weight that I put on during the menopause years. As the absence of soy is the only change in my diet, surely that is a good indication of what caused my problems.

I dread to think of the number of folk around the world who suffer from thyroid disease, are having problems and are unaware that in all probability it is due to the soy they are consuming in one form or another. All around the world, even in China, health professionals are complaining about our children gaining weight. It is blamed on too much watching TV, playing on computers, etc. But I am not so sure. Now tests have shown that soy can cause hypothyroidism. The amount of soy our young children (indeed the population as a whole) are consuming daily within one product or another must surely build up over a period of time, which in turn means the phytoestrogens must eventually take their toll.

Jenny Smith
New Zealand

Editor’s response: Soy flour contains very high levels of phytoestrogens compared to many other soy products. So even when it is added to bread in small amounts it can have antithyroid and estrogen-disrupting effects.

More of the Same

My mother was flying into the Portland, Maine airport for a visit. This is an hour-and-a-half drive from my house but with only one exit, it’s a no-brainer. I picked her up and proceeded down the highway home. After some time, I looked at her and said, “You know that exit should be coming up soon.” This is an exit with a huge sign because if you miss it, it takes you inland and north. Well, I kept looking for the exit sign and by the time I saw one, I thought to myself, uh-oh! I’m in trouble! I had driven a good half hour past the exit I should have taken. I was not too familiar with the area but I had a fair idea of where I was. To make a very, very long story short, four hours later we arrived home! I was frazzled! My mother couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Back roads that led to nowhere I knew, road map on my mother’s lap, frequent stops to look at the map–I just couldn’t figure out where I was going. All I could do was to continue following the sun until it went down. By the time it was getting dark, I spotted something familiar and found my way home. During the same week, while out shopping, I got lost again, twice!

My cognitive awareness and mental acuity were lost. My words would jumble when I tried to speak coherent sentences. Often, right in the middle of a thought or sentence, I would get lost in outer space. Like mini-seizures, what soy was doing to my brain was frightening. Reading and comprehending became almost an impossible task. My first love is writing but now I couldn’t write without countless mistakes. I used to proofread my husband’s scientific journal articles, and now I could barely spell. I couldn’t remember sequences of numbers as with telephone numbers or writing a check. I can’t tell you how many movies I would watch where I couldn’t follow the dialogue, remember characters’ names or figure out the plot. Now when I watch them again, it’s like seeing them for the first time.

I had been eating soy for three years. As soon as I stopped, my mental acuity returned! The hypo-thyroid symptoms started to melt away and once more I could read, write, comprehend, speak in complete sentences and express myself coherently. It’s nice to be back!

Leslie Blumenberg
Waldoboro, Maine

Editor’s response: If soy in the diet does this to adults, imagine what soy infant formula does to children while their brains are developing!

Saved from Soy

Three weeks after my internist sent me to a nutritionist sharing his office, it was fortunate that I saw your article on soy. Although my cholesterol was slightly elevated (it turned out to be the good cholesterol), she went gung-ho in prescribing six weeks of soy hell–tofu milk shakes, soy cereal, soy meat substitutes, soy cheese, soy ice cream, plus salmon and tofu chunks (ugh!) four times a week. With a copy of your article in hand, I marched back into my internist’s office and handed it to him. Five minutes later he said, “Forget about it. Eat normally.”

No doubt your timely article has prevented other unsuspecting subjects from falling for the soy hype. However, I am alarmed to see even more soy-based products arriving on the shelves weekly. You need to submit your findings to major US newspapers and magazines so the message gets out to the thousands who are becoming guinea pigs.

Emily P. Cary
Scottsdale, AZ

Editor’s response: It is very difficult to get a hearing in the major newspapers. Our strategy is to get Congressional hearings on this subject so the major media can no longer ignore our message.

Coconut Oil Condemned

I have just returned from Thailand where I was lecturing. The Thais were amazed when I said that their coconut oil is healthy. They have had it ground into them that coconut oil is the worst thing around. Several even insisted that coconut oil is high in cholesterol, until I offered them money if they could show me that this was true. A few told me that they had continued with coconut oil since their parents and grandparents did so well on it, but they were the exceptions. In Thailand today they mostly use refined corn oil and soy oils to fry with.

Stephen Acuff

Editor’s response: With the decline in the use of coconut oil in Thailand, we predict that rates of cancer and infectious disease will skyrocket there. Coconut oil enhances immune function and is a vital part of the diet in tropical countries. The Thais also traditionally cooked in lard, which supplied vitamin D. The switch to commercial vegetable oils for cooking has spawned a health crisis in all parts of the world. See our articles A New Look at Coconut Oil, The Latest Studies on Coconut Oil, and More Good News on Coconut Oil, plus Sally Fallon and Mary Enig’s book Eat Fat Lose Fat to lose weight and heal using coconut oil.

No Longer Vegan

I have enjoyed reading your articles on the website and found them to be very informative. I followed a lowfat diet for years in a vain attempt to lose weight, yet I was slowly gaining until I reached 200 pounds. (I’m 5’3″.) I always felt tired and miserable on a diet of grains and vegetables, with little meat. A friend introduced me to the Atkins diet and I have successfully lost 65 pounds to date, going from a size 18 to a size 8. I buy beef, pork, lamb, chicken, trout and cheese directly from the farmer so everything is organic, mostly pasture-raised. I feel wonderful and would never, ever advocate a vegetarian diet.

I hope your site is able to help many to see how much we have been lied to. It makes me angry how I struggled with excess weight for years, thinking there was something wrong with me, suffering from self-hatred, when the information I was given was false.

Lucky for me, I was never able to consume processed foods, as many additives and preservatives make me ill, especially hydrogenated oils, MSG and hydrolyzed plant proteins. They give me unbearable migraines, violent vomiting, extreme thirst and excessive urination. It seems that my body is desperately trying to rid itself of this “poison.”

My mother-in-law is on medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and migraines and I know that she always feels awful. But I have been unable to convince her to stop following the nutritionist’s advice. She eats only chicken or fish, grains, vegetables and margarine (non-hydrogenated).

One thing I did not see on your site was something about food colorings. Our six-year-old son cannot have anything with coloring added. It causes him to lose all self-control, with towering rages, followed by laughter, then tears; his reaction is quite frightening. I wonder whether this is a common reaction to food colors?

Leona DeKoter
Calgary, Canada

Editor’s response: What a wonderful success story! Just be careful not to get too thin–and always eat fat with your protein foods. Plenty of good fats in the diet may also help with the extreme reactions to additives and colorings, although strict avoidance of these substances would be your aim.

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