Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mish Mash of GOOD NEWS

Its a lazy Saturday here in Marin County, the fog bank is trying its best to creep over the bay. We are protected by Mr. Mount Tamalpais, so the fog stays out of our 'hood and spends most of its time over in San Francisco and the water towns of the county. I decided to check up on my e-mails and Google searches on a variety of issues. After sifting through the pile, I am seeing the sunny side of the bay, out of the gray yucky fog.
First, I would like to share with you a sweet report from the Farm Sanctuary. Below is a movie featuring J.D. Piglet, who was rescued by a New York woman. The details read: "He was found by a kind woman, abandoned, sopping wet and shivering in a western New York yard. A recent thaw had apparently washed J.D. downstream and onto the woman's property. A phone call to Farm Sanctuary swept the little piglet away again, delivering him into a new life, full of love, caring and health at our New York Shelter."
Watch him in action, its quite possibly the cutest thing I have seen in awhile.

The CALGARY HERALD, a Canadian newspaper, featured an interesting article on Soy this week. I am including the entire article below, because its FULL of information on this controversial lil' bean called Soy.

"There's so much confusion about soy," says Mark Messina, who holds a PhD in nutrition and is president of Port Townsend, Wash.-based Nutrition Matters, a consulting company.
He has studied the health effects of soy for almost 20 years and says there is so much information floating around that it's no wonder confusion reigns. As far as he's concerned, soy is just fine."
"Soy foods are low in saturated fat, they contain a lot of dietary fibre and they're an excellent source of protein," says Carole Dobson, a registered dietitian with Calgary-based Health Stand Nutrition Consulting.
So what's the worry? The controversy stems from a bioactive compound found in soybeans, called isoflavones. Some people are concerned about isoflavones because they're a hormone-like compound.
"They have some estrogen-like effects," says Messina. "But they are much different than the hormone estrogen and probably are very selective on what tissues they affect."
This should be good news to the reader who wrote a letter to the editor saying he would not buy soy products anymore because "a man doesn't need estrogen and the effects of it became quickly obvious."
We're not sure exactly what he was referring to, but Messina says men have no reason to worry.
"There's just absolutely no effect of soy on testosterone levels," he says. "The few studies that have looked at semen quality in men have not found any adverse effects, as well."
The same reader claimed soy can cause accelerated puberty in girls, reproductive problems and increased difficulty getting pregnant.
While there are studies examining a link, there has been no conclusive scientific research to prove this.
"There's no actual study that links soy intake in men or women with specific negative health results," says Dobson.
If anything, eating soy may help slow the onset of puberty because it is low in saturated fat.
"Saturated fat is the fat that increases our bad cholesterol. It's been related to our population becoming more obese," she says.
And as we get fatter, puberty comes earlier.
"Especially in girls, puberty gets triggered by a certain amount of fat on the body," Dobson says.
Misconceptions about adverse effects are common, says Messina, considering thousands of papers are published every year about soy. With enough study and speculation, you can say almost anything about the topic.
"But you have to look at the totality of the evidence," he says. "When you look at all the data, it's pretty convincing that soy is safe."
What often happens is soy gets a bad rap because people are comparing recent study results with high expectations generated by studies from 10 years ago. Take cholesterol as an example.
"What you've seen more recently is that the effects are very modest," he says. "Even if soy protein lowers bad cholesterol by three or four per cent, over a period of many years, that alone would result in a reduced heart disease risk by probably about 10 per cent."
And that's just from the soy protein. If you're replacing foods that are higher in saturated fat with soy foods, you'll lower your cholesterol even more.
Women with breast cancer often question the benefits or dangers of soy.
"I'm definitely comfortable with breast cancer patients consuming soy foods," says Messina.
The only caveat is for women using the drug tamoxifen to treat breast cancer. There have been animal studies showing soy both enhances and inhibits the efficacy of the medication.
"I think we'll actually see that it's safe, but you have to err on the side of safety," he says.
There are many other ongoing studies looking at potential benefits for women, such as how consuming soy may lessen the severity of hot flashes or prevent bone loss after menopause. There's even a study examining how consuming soy as a young girl may reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life.
Messina says the outcomes look encouraging, but definitive results from the long-term studies are needed before confirming the benefits.
"I'm optimistic, but it's still speculative," he says.
Messina recommends consuming two to three servings of soy foods per day. One cup (250 mL) of soy milk or a half cup (125 mL) of tofu equals one serving.
If you don't eat that much soy food, he says isoflavone supplements can act as a backup. Supplements do not contain soy protein, but Messina says isoflavones are the key behind most of the purported benefits of soy. The only exception is when it comes to cholesterol reduction, because it looks as if the protein -- not the isoflavones -- is responsible. In that case, supplements may not help much.
Health Canada, for its part, maintains soy foods can be included as part of a balanced and healthy diet for both children and adults. Fortified soy beverages were added to the food guide because Health Canada deems them "a nutritionally adequate alternative to milk," and a good option for people who do not consume milk products.
But the endorsement stops there.
"Health Canada does not consider any claimed human health benefits of soy consumption such as the reduction of cancer risk, the prevention of osteoporosis and the relief of menopausal symptoms to be sufficiently supported by the scientific evidence," writes Paul Duchesne, media relations officer with Health Canada, in an e-mail.
What everyone agrees on is that soy is low in saturated fat and is a great source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. For now, it seems soy foods should be eaten like any other food -- in moderation.
"I just look at it as one other healthy food you would want to include in your diet like a fruit or vegetable. If we confirm the hypotheses that it has some of these other benefits, that's fantastic," says Messina. "If it doesn't, it still deserves a place at the table."

Now lets have a round of applause for WOLFGANG PUCK who, after hearing from the FARM SACTUARY folks, decided to take Fois Gras & Veal off the menu while adding more VEGGIE OPTIONS! Read more about the campaign on the FARM SANCTUARY website.