In 2017, Vitamin D3 was in the spotlight! Health organisations that make and influence policy, those working with patients, and the media, were talking about it. This article includes 6 things, and one of them, is the most recent advice by Public Health England.Read More
Filtering by Tag: children
I am extremely grateful to Stella for sharing how she experienced being a vegan mum who raised her children as vegan, during a time when restaurants and supermarkets weren't as vegan friendly as they are now.Read More
I met Shashi and Socrates at VegFest some time ago and was drawn towards their products. I was intrigued by how different they were, whilst being natural, gentle and effective. In this article, you'll find out about the various products that Living Naturally makes using soapnuts, and what motivated the owners to create this brand that will result in lots of people benefiting from chemical free detergents and cosmetics.Read More
Interviewing vegan businesses
I've been interviewing vegan businesses for a while now. It started off by creating articles in which I invited the business to share some of the following information:-
- raise awareness about what they sell,
- discuss what made them create the business,
- share what their goals are
- how customers can buy their products
- express if their product is affected by the use of vegan 'ingredients'
However, more recently, I've ventured into the world of video. I have started recording short interviews with vegan businesses, through which they share what's new and show how they've grown since they began their journey.
Read on to find out about my journey to a vegan lifestyle.Read More
This post is part two of a four part series. You can find the introduction (part one) here. I've heard a lot of varying comments about soya so I asked a friend to write an article examining whether it's safe to consume or not! Over to Sagar Kirit Shah.
Media coverage about soya
Every few months a study in the media comes out noting beneficial or harmful effects of soya products with some media stories reporting beneficial effects and others reporting harmful effects – it is not surprising that many people are confused about whether soya is beneficial or harmful for health.
Health benefits of soya
The main health benefit associated with soya is cholesterol-lowering effect.
It is claimed that when 25gm of soya protein per day is consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat, studies have shown a cholesterol lowering effect among people with raised cholesterol levels. This is a well-established result, though it is likely that some of the cholesterol lowering effect may come from the composition of diets with a high soya content.
Is soya isoflavone beneficial or not?
Many of the other health benefits and risks associated soya relate to isoflavones and the impact they may have on humans. Isoflavones are a class of phyto-oestrogens, hormone-like chemicals that occur in small amounts in many plants, seeds and grains.
Claims have been made the soya isoflavones may have beneficial effects for menopausal symptoms, breast cancer protection (by counteracting oestrogen’s cancer-causing potential) and bone health.
At the same time, claims have been made that soya isoflavones may have adverse effects for breast cancer risk and male fertility, and concerns have been raised regarding the impact that soya isoflavones may have on children.
A good 'story' vs. ignoring the results of lots of evidence
While many media articles have been written about these claims, in attempt to generate interesting stories, most overlook the wide evidence base examining the impact of soya on health (it is one of the most studied foods in the world), and exaggerate the importance of a small finding in a single paper.
The reality is that a majority of the studies on these issues are contradictory and inconclusive. Some studies show a weak beneficial effect, while others examining the same issue show a very weak adverse effect or find no effect at all. It is thus unsurprising that many end up getting confused at the contradictory stories reported in the media.
Summary - is soya healthy or not?
Overall, there is nothing to suggest that consuming soya products is unhealthy poses a health risk, at least in the quantities consumed by most vegans in the UK (around 15gm of soya protein per day).
Other factors that should not be ignored
If you do not already lead a very healthy lifestyle, the conclusion that most experts have reached is that it is likely there will be much bigger gains to health from increasing intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, reducing processed/fatty foods, increasing exercise or reducing smoking/alcohol than there would be from doubling/halving or eliminating your soya intake.
How to get more nutrients out of soya
That said, it is worth noting that there are differences in the healthfulness of different soya foods. Soya beans, like all other plant foods, contain a wide range of beneficial macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and other compounds). Heavy processing typically strips away many of the beneficial micronutrients, so lightly processed, whole foods are the best way to ensure these nutrients are absorbed.
Lightly processed soya foods include soya milk made with whole beans, and the soya products traditionally consumed in East Asian countries: tofu, miso, natto, edamame, and tempeh.
Soya oil, soya flour, texturised soya protein and soya lecithin are typically much more processed. In fact, the process for obtaining texturised soya protein involves crushing the soya bean at very high temperatures, and then passing the crushed soya bean through chemical solvents. Many of the beneficial nutrients and compounds in the soya bean are lost during this process.
Products made using processed soya ingredients (e.g. meat analogues, soya ice creams and soya alternatives to scream) are thus likely to be less healthful than their lightly processed counterparts.
1] British Nutrition Foundation (2002) ‘Soya and Health’ Briefing Paper
 Jenkins DJ et al (2006) Assessment of the longer term effects of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods in hypercholesterolemia Am J Clin Nutr Mar 83(3) 582-91
Part 3 - Is soya good for the environment?
Part 4 (final part) - Conclusion: The effects of soya on health and the environment
"You never hear anybody talk about mad tofu disease."
- John Robbins
It's funny, as a vegetarian, I didn't get asked about where I source iron from. However, when I shifted to a vegan diet, one of the questions I'd be asked is 'But where do you get your iron from? Don't you need to eat meat for it?' Some of us are comfortable in answering such questions, others don't want to, and for some, they'd like something to help them articulate a response.
Whichever category you fall into, it's worth reading what Gary L. Francione & Anna Charlton have to say about vegans and iron.
But…Will I get enough iron if I don’t eat meat?
We need iron for the formation of blood. Women need more iron than do men and pre-menopausal women, and especially pregnant women, need more than post-menopausal women. Iron is a central part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to our tissues. It is also a constituent of certain enzymes. Iron is found in two forms, heme iron, which is about 40% of the iron found in meat, poultry, and fish, and non-heme iron, which makes up the other 60% of iron in animal tissue and all the iron in plant foods. Heme iron is more easily absorbed than non-heme iron and this leads some people to fear that a vegan diet will not have enough iron.
Have no fear.
Studies have shown that iron deficiency anaemia is no more common among vegans than among the population generally. Many plant foods are actually higher in iron than animal foods. Spinach has 15.5 mg. of iron per 100 calories; steak has 0.9 mg. per 100 calories. Lentils have 2.9 mg per 100 calories; a pork chop has 0.4 mg per 100 calories. Whole grains, dried fruits, nuts, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and beans are also good plant sources of iron. Moreover, vegan diets tend to be higher in vitamin C, which increases the absorption of non-heme iron.
It is easy to obtain all the iron you need on a vegan diet, whether you are a man, woman (pre- or post-menopausal, or pregnant) or child. Indeed, it is easier to get all the iron you need from plant foods than from animal foods, and you’ll certainly have to consume fewer calories of plant food to get the iron you need.
Link to a book by Gary L. Francione & Anna Charlton: An exploration and rejection of the various excuses — the “Buts” — that keep us eating animal foods.