Straight Talk About Soy

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In the last few years we have all heard a ton of conflicting recommendations on consuming soy. So what’s the real deal with soy?

Well first of all, there is good soy and bad soy. Consider soy that is genetically modified, moderately/highly processed, and/or not organic, to be “bad soy.” The effects of these types of soy products are unclear, but we do know that they do not offer the same benefits as good soy. “Good soy” is that which is organic and unprocessed (whole soy beans) or minimally processed (tempeh and tofu). Also, keep in mind that we are discussing a moderate intake of soy (3-4 servings/day). A healthy vegan diet involves consuming a wide variety of legumes, vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. More than 3 servings of soy per day, for most people, means that you will not be getting enough of a variety of other foods with important nutrients our bodies need to be healthy. Another tip is that I recommend using non-soy milks such as almond or coconut to “save” your soy servings for edamame, tofu, and tempeh so you are getting unprocessed soy with all the fiber and protein in tact!

That being said, let’s address the common concerns in regards to GOOD soy, based on the latest, most conclusive findings.

One question that’s simple to answer is, “Are soybeans really a quality protein source?” The answer is YES! Soybeans contain a tofu-tempehlarge amount of high quality protein. They are also a complete protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids we need to build muscle. The great thing about soybeans is that you can consume the protein without the cholesterol that you get with meat.

Getting a bit more complicated and controversial is the question, “Does soy contain estrogen that could cause breast cancer in women and have adverse side effects on men?” Simply put, soybeans contain isoflavones, a class of “phytoestrogen” that has been found to have some meaningful health benefits to humans. For a more detailed explanation of the physiological effects of phytoestrogen in the human body click HERE. A majority of studies have shown that phytoestrogen from soybeans act as a protective factor for breast cancer as well as increase one’s chance for survival from breast cancer. In addition, it appears that soy may reduce the risk of other cancers, particularly prostate and colon cancers.

Another common concern is the belief that soy will cause thyroid dysfunction. Based on the available research, this is not the case. The issue comes only with people who have an existing thyroid condition for which they take medication. Soy can alter how some thyroid medications are absorbed in the intestines and  it is therefore important to discuss your soy intake with the doctor upon being prescribed such medication.

Last, you may be wondering if soy is good for your heart. It seems that soy does have a positive effect on heart health. The isoflavones in soy have a dilating effect on our blood vessels, reducing blood pressure. Soy is also high in fiber, which is a protective factor for heart disease.

So there you have it… the simple, condensed answers to your common soy-related questions and concerns. The verdict, for most people, a moderate intake of organic, unprocessed soy is a healthful choice, although you certainly don’t NEED to consume soy in order to maintain a healthy, balanced plant-based diet.

I am providing a few solid resources that go into more detail on the latest research if you are interested in learning specifics.

www.diseaseproof.com

nutritionfacts.org/video/breast-cancer-survival-and-soy/

nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-soy-is-too-much/

pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/ask/ask-the-expert-soy

www.doctoroz.com/videos/soy-good-bad-and-best

Top 5 Tips for a Sexy Fit Midsection

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Who doesn’t want a beautifully sculpted, sexy stomach?! I hear it from students and clients all the time. “How do I get rid of this?” they ask, as they grab and pinch belly fat. Well I have compiled a list of what it takes to achieve that toned tummy you are longing for. If it were easy, everyone would have a shot at the cover of Fitness Magazine! But it is do-able… And YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Jump-Rope-Crop 1. Cut “empty calories” from your diet.

Your first thought might be that you don’t want to “deprive” yourself of the soda and chips you love so much. But here’s the deal. You are actually depriving yourself by eating them! What I mean is that you are filling up on foods that are missing the nutrients your body needs to survive and thrive. Make this a habit and our body actually goes into starvation mode and holds onto your body fat because of it. By replacing the empty calories with nutrient-dense ones, your body gets what it wants and allows fat to be eliminated. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying never splurge, but even when you splurge, you can do it without filling yourself full of empty calories! For example, I make a killer popcorn with coconut oil on movie night. And when I get a sweet tooth, one of my favorite treats is coconut milk ice cream. Give it some time and you will never miss that chemical, fake buttered popcorn or Ben & Jerries!

2. Get in your cardio workouts.

Cardio workouts (workouts in which you have your heart rate elevated for over 30 minutes) are important in two ways. First, it’s the way to keep your heart beating strong, which keeps you alive. And second, it burns fat. Pretty simple.

TireFlip-Edited 3. Choose exercises that involve “core strength.”

Your core basically encompasses your body from your chest to your butt. Increasing your core strength means not only sculpting a sexy, toned midsection, but also strengthening your body in such a way that will improve your posture, give you stability, and prevent injuries. If focus only on your abs, you will set yourself up for bad posture, back problems, and injury. Most exercise machines take your core out of the exercise by acting as your stabilizer. This is neither functional nor efficient. Instead of doing the leg press machine for example, do squats. Instead of chest press, do push-ups (you can add weight to your back to make it more challenging! Get creative, have fun with it! Flip tires 😉 Do dumbbell rows from a plant position, so you work your back and core at the same time! For examples of exercises that utilize your core, click here.

4. Stay hydrated.

Water retention leaves us puffy and bloated. Not so helpful when your goal is a flat stomach! The most effective ways to prevent water retention are to stay hydrated with plenty of water throughout the day, keep your sodium intake low, especially iodized salt found in processed foods (I use either Celtic or Himalayan Sea Salt at home), stay away from junk food and eat whole foods with lots of fiber, and exercise.

5. Eat anti-inflammatory foods daily.

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Chronic inflammation can be one of the main underlying causes of illness and premature aging. It can also cause weight gain and swelling, which is why its included on this list. But the truth of the matter is, reducing inflammation in your body can literally save your life. The good news is that there are some simple ways to prevent and treat inflammation. Eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties, while eliminating inflammation-causing foods is first and foremost. Eating a whole-foods, fiber rich, nutrient-dense vegan diet is synonymous to an anti-inflammatory diet. Processed food, refined sugar, and saturated and trans fats cause inflammation. Regular exercise is also helpful in reducing inflammation, as is avoiding allergens (such as dairy, gluten, and peanuts for some people), and managing your stress.