Which Soy Foods Are Safe?

This is an excerpt from Lesson 26 of The Mastery Program. This lesson is written by Brenda Davis, RD.

Which Soy Foods Are Safe?

Let’s consider the evidence.
Soy has a long history of use in Asia, and within vegetarian populations throughout the world. Two of the healthiest, long-lived populations in the world – the Okinawan Japanese and the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California – are frequent soy consumers. The traditional Okinawan diet derives about 5-6% of calories from soy or about two servings a day.[1]
If soy foods were dangerous, its effects would be reflected in the health and longevity of these populations. Soy has been extensively researched. In fact, about 2,000 new studies on soy are released yearly. The value of soybeans for human health depends on the form and quantity eaten.
There is considerable negative press about soy, especially via the internet. There are some legitimate concerns about soy, especially if your thyroid is compromised. Another concern is overuse of soy, particularly in the highly processed forms.
However, the vilification of all soybeans and other soy foods can usually be traced back to groups promoting animal-based diets. These groups are strongly invested in encouraging the consumption of meat, eggs and dairy. They do an exceptional job of convincing consumers to steer clear of soy.
When plant-based enthusiasts jump on the anti-soy bandwagon, they remove a category of food that has the potential to make their diets more nutritious, more healthful and more enjoyable. While it is not necessary to eat soy, it is not necessary to avoid it either. Some individuals need to avoid or limit soy due to allergy or thyroid challenges. However, for most people, soy foods are both safe and nutritious.

What Soy Foods Are The Most And Least Healthful?

Traditional soy foods are generally the most healthful choices. They fall into two categories: fermented (e.g. tempeh, miso and natto) and non-fermented (e. g. tofu, soymilk, edamame soybeans and soy nuts). Both are healthful.
The soaking and cooking that occur when soybeans are prepared for use in non-fermented products – such as soy milk and tofu – reduces anti-nutrients while also improving digestibility and mineral availability. The same came be said for fermented soy products such as tempeh.
The fermentation process has an additional benefit too; it helps to support beneficial gut bacteria. In certain foods, it can even add vitamin B12 (e.g. in tempeh fermented in some Asian countries such as Indonesia) and/or vitamin K2 (e.g. in natto).
More heavily processed soy products, such as veggie meats and protein powders, are rich sources of digestible, high quality protein. However, most veggie meats are much higher in sodium and added fats than traditional soy foods. Read labels, and limit these veggie meats to special occasions. A few soy products, such as soy cheeses, contain partially-hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and should be completely avoided.[2]
In some cases, the soy protein isolates and concentrates used in energy bars and veggie meats (e.g. burgers, sausages, deli slices and wieners) are extracted using a solvent called hexane. Hexane is also used to extract oil from soybeans, corn, nuts, seeds and olives. Why? It’s more cost-effective than squeezing the oil out by pressing. However, hexane is a petrochemical solvent, an air pollutant, and a known neurotoxin!
Negative health consequences associated with hexane have been reported in factory workers with chronic exposure. Although hexane evaporates during food processing, trace residues can remain in food products, and the long term health consequences of these trace amounts are unknown.
The FDA has not set an upper limit for hexane residues in food. The European Union has set an upper limit of 30 ppm (parts per million) in soy products, as they are sold to the consumer. The Cornucopia Institute sent a sample of soy meal and soy grits to the FDA for testing, and these samples contained 21 and 14 ppm hexane respectively.
Some companies that use hexane processed soy claim they only source products which are free of residual hexane (you can search websites online or check with the manufacturer). Although testing for hexane residues in soy foods has been very limited, evidence suggests levels are very low – a small fraction of what one would receive through exposure to gasoline fumes, quick-drying glue or cleaning solvents.[3-5]
But as long as you have a choice, wouldn’t you rather choose products that are free of hexane residues and limit the intake of these products?
To avoid soy protein that has been processed using hexane, purchase certified organic products (in the United States, this means products with the USDA seal). The Cornucopia Institute has a list of hexane-free products on their website: cornucopia.org.

Is Non-GMO Edamame Considered Healthy, Even Though It’s Not Fermented?

Yes, edamame is a very healthy soy food. Edamame are immature, green soybeans. They can be purchased in or out of the pod (usually frozen). Edamame is unprocessed, and has all the benefits of an unprocessed bean, with the added benefit of phytoestrogens.
Many people believe that fermented soy is the only healthful soy. They claim that Asians eat mostly fermented soy. While fermentation increases friendly bacteria and improves digestibility, this doesn’t mean that unfermented soy foods are unhealthy.
In Japan, about half of the soy consumed is fermented (miso and natto); the rest is unfermented (mostly tofu). In the rest of Asia, a much smaller proportion of total soy intake is fermented soy foods.[6]

Is All Conventional Soy GMO?

Although not all conventional soy is GMO, the vast majority is. In 2013, 93% of the soy grown in the United States was genetically modified.[7] Globally, about 6% of soy crops are used directly as human food (mostly in Asia), and most of the balance is used as animal feed.[8]
Many people who avoid soy due to concerns about GMO do not stop to consider that the beef, pork, chicken and dairy products they are eating came from animals raised on GMO soy!

Can Soy Be Trusted To Be Non-GMO When Organic?

The U. S. National Organic Standards Board prohibits the use of GMOs, and processors cannot accept GMO-contaminated ingredients to be used in organic products. However, they have not established thresholds for adventitious GMO presence. Nor have they introduced testing requirements.
Contamination of “organic” crops can result from drifting pollen and other natural forces while they are still in the fields, or during the harvest, storage or shipment of the product. However, the extent of this contamination is unknown.
Until routine testing is required, we cannot be certain. However, choosing certified organic is our best bet for minimizing exposure to genetically modified crops. Some companies do their own testing for GMO. One example is Eden Foods. The bottom line is that it’s possible for certified organic products, including soy, to be contaminated by GMO crops.[9-11]

Is Soy Allergenic?

Yes, soy is allergenic. Soy is among the top eight foods that cause 90% of allergic reactions. The other seven foods are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, fish and shellfish. The prevalence of soy allergy is estimated at about 0.4% of children in the United States.
It is estimated that 10-14% of infants who are allergic to cow’s milk develop an allergy to soy when provided soy infant formula. Soy allergy tends to be a transient allergy of infancy and childhood, which is commonly outgrown by the age of ten years. The prevalence of soy allergy among adults is unknown, but is thought to be very small.[12]
The most common symptom of soy allergy is eczema. In infants, soy allergy can trigger diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal distress, irritability, intestinal blood loss and failure to thrive. Some people also react with respiratory symptoms such as cough, asthma, wheezing or rhinitis. Anaphylactic reactions to soy are extremely rare.
If you are allergic to soy, you will need to be diligent about label reading, since soy is used extensively in processed foods. In the United States, all foods that contain soy must list it in the ingredients or in a “contains soy” statement. TVP (textured vegetable protein) and HPP (hydrolyzed plant protein) are derived from soy. Some people who are allergic to soy can tolerate soy lecithin and soy oil.[12,13]

What Benefits Does Soy Have?

Yes, the nutritional benefits of soy are similar to other legumes, although soybeans are higher in protein and fat, and lower in carbohydrates. Soybeans derive 25-38% of their calories from protein, compared with about 20-30% for other legumes.
The quality of protein in soy is similar to that of animal products, and is better than that of other legumes. (See Lesson 14, on Protein, in The Mastery Program for details.) Soy foods provide an excellent, easy way for children and adults to reach recommended intakes of the amino acids lysine and tryptophan.
While most legumes are generally low in fat (2-15% of calories), soybeans derive about 40% of calories from fat. (This is why tofu is such a useful ingredient for creamy salad dressings and other creamy recipes.)
The fat in soybeans is mainly polyunsaturated, including 7% alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). Whole soybeans are a rich source of fiber, but processing diminishes fiber content. Soybeans are high in B-vitamins, especially niacin, pyridoxine and folic acid. They are also good sources of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and copper.
Calcium is often added to soymilk, and tofu is commonly set with calcium, so these products are particularly rich calcium sources. For many years, experts thought iron was poorly absorbed from soy. However, more recent evidence suggests absorption is quite high.[14, 15]
When you consume them with fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin-C, iron absorption is further enhanced. Nutrient absorption is also improved when soy is soaked, cooked or fermented. Soy products can contribute very significantly to nutritional needs of people during every stage of the lifecycle.[16]
Evidence suggests that regular soy consumption may provide a variety of health benefits, including lower risk of coronary heart disease, reduction in hot flashes, protection against some forms of cancer, and possible protection against osteoporosis.
In addition, compared with animal protein, soy protein may protect kidney function.[17, 18] (If you have compromised kidney function, many studies show that soy preserves renal function better than meat.)
Coronary heart disease (CHD) – Both clinical and epidemiologic evidence suggest that soy foods favorably alter CHD risk, and reduce risk of heart attacks.[19, 20] A 2011 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials assessing the effects of soy protein on serum lipid levels estimated that a median intake of 30 grams of soy protein per day was associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol of about 5%. Soy intake also increased HDL cholesterol levels and reduced triglycerides.
The authors concluded that one to two servings of soy protein (15-30 grams) has a significant, favorable impact on serum lipoprotein risk factors.[21] Research suggests that soy intake is inversely associated with an emerging risk factor called carotid IMT (carotid intima-media thickness). [22, 23] Carotid IMT is a test that measures the thickness of the intima and media in coronary arteries, and when carotid IMT is thicker, CHD risk is elevated.
Reduction in Hot Flashes – Experts have long speculated that the lower incidence of hot flashes in Asian women, especially Japanese women, could be explained, at least in part, by their more generous and consistent intake of soy foods.
Although data has been somewhat inconsistent, the weight of the evidence is favorable. A 2012 systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 trials reported that isoflavone supplements reduced the frequency of hot flashes by 21% and the severity of hot flashes by 26%.
Isoflavone supplements containing at least 18.8 mg of genistein were more than twice as potent as lower dose supplements.[24] Evidence to date is stronger for isoflavone supplements than for soyfoods.[25] So if you are a women who experiences very frequent hot flashes, you may receive the greatest benefit.
Reduced Risk of Prostate Cancer – Evidence suggesting that soy intake reduces risk of prostate cancer is encouraging. Prostate cancer is significantly lower in soy-consuming Asian populations, compared to North American or European populations. However, people who migrate from Asia to America and adopt Western diets quickly forfeit their advantage. [26, 27]
Asian men who consume about two servings of soy foods per day are about 30 -50% less likely to develop prostate cancer than Asian men who are not soy consumers.[28] A 2009 meta-analysis of 14 studies reported a 26% reduction of prostate cancer risk in the highest compared to lowest categories of intake.
It’s interesting to note that when fermented and non-fermented soy foods were analyzed separately, the non-fermented products cut risk by 30% while fermented soy foods did not affect risk.[29] A 2013 meta-analysis found a 51% risk reduction with intake of soy foods/soy isoflavones in men with clinically-identified risk of prostate cancer. [30]
Possible Protection Against Osteoporosis – Evidence from epidemiologic studies suggests that consumption of soy foods is protective against fractures.[31, 32] Results of clinical trials have been less encouraging, with most trials finding no benefit of soy intake.[33] However, a two year trial from Italy reported a 5.8% improvement of bone mineral density in postmenopausal osteopenic women given 54 mg genistein per day (about four servings of soy), compared to a 6.3% decrease of bone mineral density in the placebo group.[34]
Although the evidence to date has been disappointing, it is possible that soy benefits bone health over the long term, and the exposure time in short term clinical studies is insufficient to produce significant changes in bone density. It is also possible that the benefits of soy are due to components other than the isoflavones, and that long term interventions using traditional soy foods would yield better results.

Garlic Vegannaise

Makes 1 pint.
  • 10½ ounces (1 carton) silken tofu
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon brown rice syrup, maple syrup or date paste
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
1. Combine ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, using as much water as needed to achieve desired consistency.


1. B J Willcox, et al. Caloric restriction, the traditional Okinawan diet, and healthy aging: the diet of the world’s longest-lived people and its potential impact on morbidity and life span. Ann. NY Acad Sci. 2007; 1114(1):434 – 455.
2. Davis, B and Melina, V. Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition. The Book Publishing Co. Summertown TN. 2014.
3. Directive 2009/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the approximation of the laws of the member states on extraction solvents used in the production of foodstuffs and food ingredients. Official Journal of the European Union.
4. Berkeley Wellness. May 1, 2012. berkeleywellness.com
5. Cornucopia Institute. Behind the Bean. 2009. cornucopia.org
6. Zhang X, et al. Soy food consumption is associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease in Chinese women. J Nutr. 2003; 133: 2874-8.
7. USDA. Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S. ers.usda.govx
8. Soy Facts. Soyatech. soyatech.com
9. Gillam, Carey. U.S. organic food industry fears GMO contamination. Reuters. 2008. reuters.com
10. National Organic Standards Board GMO ad hoc Subcommittee Discussion Document GMOs and Seed Purity. Feb. 6, 2013. ams.usda.gov
11. Riddle, Jim. University of Minnesota. Southwest Research and Outreach Center. GMO Contamination Prevention. What does it take? 2012. swroc.cfans.umn.edu
12. Vickerstaff Joneja J. The Health Professional’s Guide to Food Allergies and Intolerances. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013
13. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). Soy Allergy. http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/soy-allergy
14. Murray-Kolb LE, et al. Women with low iron stores absorb iron from soybeans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 77: 180-4.
15. Lonnerdal B, et al. Iron absorption from soybean ferritin in nonanemic women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006; 83: 103-7.
16. Davis, B and Melina, V. Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition. The Book Publishing Co. Summertown TN. 2014.
17. Anderson JW. Beneficial effects of soy protein consumption for renal function. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:324–8.
18. Bernstein AM, et al. Are high-protein, vegetable-based diets safe for kidney function? A review of the literature. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:644–50.
19. Zhang X, et al. Soy food consumption is associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease in Chinese women. J Nutr. 2003; 133(9):2874–2878.
20. Kokubo Y, et al. Association of dietary intake of soy, beans, and isoflavones with risk of cerebral and myocardial infarctions in Japanese populations: the Japan Public Health Center-based (JPHC) study cohort I. Circulation. 2007;116(22):2553–2562.
21. Anderson JW, Bush HM. Soy protein effects on serum lipoproteins: a quality assessment and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled studies. J Am Coll Nutr. 2011 Apr;30(2):79-91. Review.
22. Zhang B, et al. Greater habitual soyfood consumption is associated with decreased carotid intima-media thickness and better plasma lipids in Chinese middle-aged adults. Atherosclerosis. 2008;198(2):403–411.
22. Hodis HN, Mack WJ, Kono N, Azen SP, Shoupe D, Hwang-Levine J, Petitti D, Whitfield-Maxwell L, Yan M, Franke AA et al: Isoflavone soy protein supplementation and atherosclerosis progression in healthy postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Stroke. 2011; 42(11):3168–3175.
23. Taku K, et al. Extracted or synthesized soybean isoflavones reduce menopausal hot flash frequency and severity: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause. 2012;19(7):776-90.
24. Levis S, Griebeler ML. The role of soyfoods in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. J Nutr. 2010;140:2318S-21S.
25. Shimizu H, et al., Cancers of the prostate and breast among Japanese and white immigrants in Los Angeles County. Br J Cancer. 1991;63(6): p. 963-6.
26. Cook LS, et al., Incidence of adenocarcinoma of the prostate in Asian immigrants to the United States and their descendants. J Urol. 1999;161(1): p. 152-5.
27. Yatani R, et al., Trends in frequency of latent prostate carcinoma in Japan from 1965-1979 to 1982-1986. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1988;80(9): p. 683-7.
28. Yan L, Spitznagel EL. Soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men: a revisit of a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1155-63.
29. Yan L, Spitznagel EL. Soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men: a revisit of a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(4):1155-63.
30. van Die MD, et al. Soy and soy isoflavones in prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BJU Int. 2013 Sep 5. doi: 10.1111/bju.12435. [Epub ahead of print]
31. Zhang X, et al. Prospective cohort study of soy food consumption and risk of bone fracture among postmenopausal women. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:1890–5.
32. Koh WP, et al. Gender-specific associations between soy and risk of hip fracture in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2009;170:901–9.
33. Marini H, et al. Breast safety and efficacy of genistein aglycone for postmenopausal bone loss: a follow-up study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008;93:4787–96.
34. Lagari VS, Levis S. Phytoestrogens in the prevention of postmenopausal bone loss. J Clin Densitom. 2013;16(4):445-9.

13 Victories in Animal Rights and Environmentalism

Have you heard any good news lately? To get you into the grateful spirit of Thanksgiving, we’ve compiled thirteen victories to bring a smile to your face and a warm glow to your heart. We’d love it if you contributed further victories to be thankful for in the comments section.

Animal Rights Victories in the U.S.

A growing number of airlines are refusing to carry shipments of shark fins and Jet Airways joined their ranks earlier this month.
According to Humane Society International (HSI), India wildlife campaign manager, Chemudupati Samyukta, “…Sharks are important to the survival and maintenance of healthy marine ecosystems… We are thrilled that Jet Airways has taken this environmentally-responsible decision.”
By instituting this ban against the carriage of shark fins, Jet Airways has joined the growing league of environmentally conscious airlines such as Emirates, Philippines Airlines, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Qantas and Air New Zealand, all of whom have made a public commitment to stop carrying shark fins
If SeaWorld is looking to build a new park in California, it will be steering well clear of San Francisco, writes Laura Bridgeman. Following a campaign backed by scientists and hundreds of high school students, the City has declared cetaceans’ right to be free and ‘unrestricted in their natural environment’.

Environmental Victories in the U.S.

Paul D. Miller is a composer, performer, author, DJ, teacher, artist, film editor, activist, and software designer—often all at the same time.
His multimedia performances immerse audiences in a blend of genres, engaging them on topics ranging from climate change and sustainability to the role of technology in society.
“Music and art can be vehicles for provoking thought, overcoming inertia, and helping people engage with issues that are exponentially reshaping our information-driven world,” he says. “My art uses electronic music and digital media to help people make sense of a world defined by an explosion of data and hyper-accelerated change.”
President Obama has made it clear that we have a moral obligation to our children and future generations to leave behind a planet that is not polluted and damaged. That is why, as part of his effort to combat climate change, the President launched a Climate Action Plan last year to cut carbon pollution, prepare communities for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address this global challenge.
“We have shown that reducing meat and dairy consumption is key to bringing agricultural climate pollution down to safe levels,” says Fredrik Hedenus, one of the study authors. “Broad dietary change can take a long time. We should already be thinking about how we can make our food more climate friendly.”

Food Victories in the U.S.

These seven stories will inspire you and bring tears of joy to your eyes. Even though these people had been depending on dairy/meat industries to make their living, the call of their hearts was too strong to remain in the industry.
The Heath Toffee Bar that was once a central ingredient of the popular “Coffee Heath Bar Crunch” had to go. “It’s no longer Heath bar,” notes Ben & Jerry’s spokeswoman Kelly Mohr of the coffee crunch motoring through the automated assembly line in front of her.
To meet the non-GMO and Fair Trade standards, Ben & Jerry’s had to find new sources for some 110 ingredients that go into the chunky, funky flavors, no small change for a company that throws “Everything but the…” into its ice cream.
Susan Reese lost 30 pounds and helped University of South Carolina researchers prove a point. Reese was among the participants in a study to see which kind of diet was best for losing weight.
They were more interested in losing weight than backing a hypothesis. Many of the participants did both.
The study showed a strict vegan diet is more effective for losing weight than a vegetarian diet or those that include fish or red meat.

International Victories

Nearly five months after banning cosmetic animal testing within the country, India has now also imposed a ban on importing such products that test on animals and thus become the first country in south Asia to do so.
The central African nation of Gabon this week declared almost a quarter of its territorial sea off-limits to commercial fishing. This creates a first-of-its-kind network of marine protected areas in the region, which is home to several threatened species including great hammerhead sharks, manta rays, and whale sharks.
Rapidly increasing concentrated livestock production in East Asia has taken a hard toll on the environment. In China, Thailand and Viet Nam 500,000 pig places were introduced to better managed livestock waste, improving livelihoods and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
The organization 1 Million Women aims to get one million women to pledge to take small steps in their daily lives that save energy, reduce waste, cut pollution and lead change.
Since its creation in 2009, the organization has become the largest women’s environmental organization in Australia, with nearly 83,000 women having joined the campaign, and members have committed to cut over 100,000 tonnes of carbon pollution.
When they reach their ultimate target of a million women as members and over a million tonnes of CO2 pollution saved, this will be equivalent to taking 240,000 cars off the road for a year.
Two days after taking the pigs off of GMO feed, something very good was happening — the pigs were not getting diarrhea any more.
The farm was using two thirds less medicine, saving £7.88 per sow. Not just my farm but three other farms in Denmark that switched from GMO to non GMO feed have also seen the same.
Medication after the changeover in the weaners barn also went down dramatically by 66%. One type of antibiotic has not been used since.
We have seen an aggressive form of diarrhea disappear altogether from the farm. It affected young piglets in the first week of life, killing up to 30% of the animals. It has completely gone now for over three years.

What good news do you have?

What victories have you seen for wildlife?
What victories have you had in your own household?
Comment with triumphs globally, locally and personally. We’d love to hear all of your good news. The more detail, the better. We’ll take the best comments and incorporate them into this blog post. Looking forward to hearing from you!

How To Absorb More Iron From Your Meals

By Michael Klaper, MD (excerpted from Lesson 7 of the Vegetarian Health Institute's Mastery Program.)

Problems With Too Little Iron

If there is a chronic shortage of iron in the body from…

  1. not eating enough iron containing foods
  2. being unable to absorb the iron in the food (from intestinal disease, chronic ingestion of absorption inhibitors, etc.) … or…
  3. iron being lost from the body

…then blood-producing cells in the bone marrow will not have enough iron to make hemoglobin for the red blood cells – and iron deficiency anemia will result.

The most common symptoms of such an anemia is a lack of physical energy (exhausted walking up a hill, etc.) but headache, irritability, and in advanced cases, shortness of breath, lightheadedness upon standing and weight loss may also occur.

Those most at risk for iron deficiency anemia:

- Menstruating women (by far, the most common group – especially women who have heavy menstrual periods.)

- Pregnant women, or those who have just given birth.

- People who are losing blood from the intestines (the most ominous cause – can be a sign of colon cancer, bleeding ulcer, etc.)

- Long distance runners (blood cells break up in soles of feet from repeated foot-strikes)

- Anyone who does not eat enough iron-containing foods, including vegan and vegetarians, or who do not absorb enough, due to consuming substances that inhibit absorption.

Problems With Too Much Iron.

More is not always better! Too much iron in the body can increase oxidation in tissues, which promote oxidation, aging, and tissue damage in the heart, liver and pancreas.[3]

There is a rare condition called hemochromatosis, where too much iron is absorbed. But a more common problem is that an individual, especially men and post-menopausal women, ingests too much iron in food and, more commonly, in supplements, and thus creates “iron overload.”[4]

This is important: Unless you have a blood-test proven iron deficiency, do not take multivitamins and other supplements that contain iron. READ THE LABEL!

Since many iron supplement tablets look like candy, iron poisoning in children is common and dangerous. Keep all iron-containing supplements out of the reach of children.

Testing For Iron Deficiency, or Excess

If there is any question of iron deficiency or anemia, your health care provider will order a Complete Blood Count (“CBC”) and measure levels of: (1)ferritin, (2)iron, and (3)carrier proteins (Total Iron Binding Capacity  -“TIBC”).

If iron deficiency is discovered, a search must be made for the cause (not eating enough in the diet, absorption problem, “silent” blood loss through heavy menstruation or GI bleeding, etc.)

Strategies to Assure Iron Adequacy.

Eat plenty of iron containing foods.

  1. These include dark leafy greens, beans, quinoa, oats, or soaked almonds or pumpkin seeds.

  2. Enhance iron absorption by employing the “iron and acid” combination.

  3. Acids include:

    1. Your own stomach acid. Avoid chronic use of “acid blockers”, like Zantac, Pepsid, etc. Occasional use is safe.
    2. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Squeeze lemon juice over greens, or add vitamin C foods like bell peppers, cucumbers, or celery to your iron-rich dishes.
    3. Lactic acid. Include sour kraut or fermented veggies when iron-rich greens or legumes are served.
    4. Acetic acid (vinegar). Use vinegars on salads, greens, etc.

    NOTE: The acid-containing foods should be eaten at the same time as the iron-containing foods.

  4. Reduce inhibitors of absorption.

    The most common inhibitors are phytates (a carbohydrate in whole grains and legumes,) calcium in dairy products, and polyphenols [5], [6] such as tannic acid in tea, coffee, etc.

    To reduce phytate inhibition of iron absorption:

    Soaking, sprouting, leavening and fermenting whole grains break down phytates and thus will greatly reduce phytates inhibition. [7]

    Acidic substances specifically reduce phytate inhibition [8], so adding citrus (lemon juice, orange slices, etc. for vitamin C,) vinegar, and other acids to dishes with legumes and whole grains significantly decreases inhibition of iron absorption.

    To reduce polyphenol inhibition of iron absorption (tannins and flavonoids in tea, coffee, cocoa, red wine) – avoid consuming these beverages with iron-containing foods.

    To reduce calcium inhibition of iron absorption – avoid eating dairy products with iron-containing foods.

    The effect of soy products on iron absorption is controversial. Some studies report an inhibitory effect, others do not. However, it is agreed that fermented soy products like tempeh and miso increase iron absorption. [9]

    Despite common beliefs, it appears that spinach and chard and other foods containing oxalic acid do not seem to significantly inhibit iron absorption. [10] If oxalates are a factor at all in iron bioavailability, their effects should be minimized by cooking and/or by serving the greens with acidic toppings and complements.

    All foods in the vegetarian diet, whether raw or cooked, should be chewed thoroughly to break down the cell walls. That allows maximal absorption of their minerals, including iron.

[1] Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2004 Nov;74(6):403-19.

Enhancers of iron absorption: ascorbic acid and other organic acids.

Teucher B, Olivares M, Cori H.

[2] Structure and Function of Ferritin

Dr. Robert R. Crichton *

Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Genetik, Berlin-Dahlem, Ihnestrasse 63/73 (Germany)

*Correspondence to Robert R. Crichton, Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Genetik, Berlin-Dahlem, Ihnestrasse 63/73 (Germany)

[3] Screening for iron overload: Lessons from the HEmochromatosis and IRon Overload Screening (HEIRS) Study.

Adams P, Barton JC, McLaren GD, Acton RT, Speechley M, McLaren CE, Reboussin DM, Leiendecker-Foster C, Harris EL, Snively BM, Vogt T, Sholinsky P, Thomson E, Dawkins FW, Gordeuk VR, Eckfeldt JH.

Can J Gastroenterol. 2009 Nov;23(11):769-72.

[4] Genetic mechanisms and modifying factors in hereditary hemochromatosis.

Weiss G.

Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Nov 17.

[5] Effect of tea and other dietary factors on iron absorption.

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2000 Sep;40(5):371-98.

Zijp IM, Korver O, Tijburg LB.

Unilever Research Vlaardingen, The Netherlands.

Iron deficiency is a major world health problem, that is, to a great extent, caused by poor iron absorption from the diet. Several dietary factors can influence this absorption. Absorption enhancing factors are ascorbic acid and meat, fish and poultry; inhibiting factors are plant components in vegetables, tea and coffee (e.g., polyphenols, phytates), and calcium. After identifying these factors their individual impact on iron absorption is described. Specific attention was paid to the effects of tea on iron absorption. We propose a calculation model that predicts iron absorption from a meal. Using this model we calculated the iron absorption from daily menus with varying amounts of enhancers and inhibitors. From these calculations we conclude that the presence of sufficient amounts of iron absorption enhancers (ascorbic acid, meat, fish, poultry, as present in most industrialized countries) overcomes inhibition of iron absorption from even large amounts of tea. In individuals with low intakes of heme iron, low intakes of enhancing factors and/or high intakes of inhibitors, iron absorption may be an issue. Depletion of iron stores enhances iron absorption, but this effect is not adequate to compensate for the inhibition of iron absorption in such an inadequate dietary situation. For subjects at risk of iron deficiency, the following recommendations are made. Increase heme-iron intake (this form of dietary iron present in meat fish and poultry is hardly influenced by other dietary factors with respect to its absorption); increase meal-time ascorbic acid intake; fortify foods with iron. Recommendations with respect to tea consumption (when in a critical group) include: consume tea between meals instead of during the meal; simultaneously consume ascorbic acid and/or meat, fish and poultry

[6] Inal Research Communications

Inhibition of food iron absorption by coffee

TA Morck, SR Lynch and JD Cook

Dual isotope studies were performed in iron replete human subjects to evaluate the effect of coffee on nonheme iron absorption. A cup of coffee reduced iron absorption from a hamburger meal by 39% as compared to a 64% decrease with tea, which is known to be a potent inhibitor of iron absorption. When a cup of drip coffee or instant coffee was ingested with a meal composed of semipurified ingredients, absorption was reduced from 5.88% to 1.64 and 0.97%, respectively, and when the strength of the instant coffee was doubled, percentage iron absorption fell to 0.53%. No decrease in iron absorption occurred when coffee was consumed 1 h before a meal, but the same degree of inhibition as with simultaneous ingestion was seen when coffee was taken 1 h later. In tests containing no food items, iron absorption from NaFeEDTA was diminished to the same extent as that from ferric chloride when each was added to a cup of coffee. These studies demonstrate that coffee inhibits iron absorption in a concentration-dependent fashion.

[7]  Adv Exp Med Biol. 1991;289:499-508.

The effect of food processing on phytate hydrolysis and availability of iron and zinc.

Sandberg AS.

Department of Food Science, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden.

[8][+] Effect of phytates on iron absorption.

Nutrition Research Newsletter, Feb, 1989

Although it is generally accepted that phytates inhibit iron absorption in humans, little is known about the relationship between the amount of phytate consumed and the extent of inhibition of iron absorption, or about effects of other food components on this interaction. In a study conducted at the University of Goteborg, Sweden, the effects of different phytate doses on iron absorption were measured with and without added meat or ascorbic acid. On successive days, healthy volunteers consumed wheat rolls with and without various doses of added sodium phytate. The phytate-free and phytate-supplemented rolls contained different radioisotopes of iron, enabling iron absorption from the two types of rolls to be measured separately. In some trials, 50 mg ascorbic acid or 50 g meat (as a hamburger patty) was given along with the rolls. There was a dose-response relationship between increasing amounts of phytate and increasing inhibition of iron absorption: 2 mg phytate inhibited absorption by 18%; 25 mg by 64%; and 250 mg by 82%. The addition of ascorbic acid significantly counteracted this inhibition at both 25 and 250 mg doses of phytate. The effect of meat was less well defined. It did not improve iron absorption at the 25 mg phytate dose level but did so at the 250 mg level. The authors observe that “the marked inhibitory effect of even small amounts of phytates” was unexpected, and that the ascorbic acid/phytate interaction has “wide nutritional implications.” Ideally, if the phytate content of a diet is high, ascorbic acid intake should also be high. “The most feasible way to improve iron nutrition in populations where the traditional diet has a high phytate content would probably be to increase the ascorbic acid content.”

[9]  Article: Effect of Indonesian Fermented Soybean Tempeh on Iron Bioavailability and Lipid Peroxidation in Anemic Rats

Seiichi Kasaoka, Mary Astuti, Mariko Uehara,§ Kazuharu Suzuki,§ and Shiro Goto*§

Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Agriculture, Tokyo University of Agriculture, 1-1-1 Sakuragaoka, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 156, Japan, and Laboratory of Science of Food and Nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural Technology, Gadjah Mada University, Jalan Sosio Justitia Bulaksumur, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

J. Agric. Food Chem., 1997, 45 (1), pp 195–198

[10] Oxalic acid does not influence nonheme iron absorption in humans: a comparison of kale and spinach meals.

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;62(3):336-41. Epub 2007 Apr 18.

Genannt Bonsmann SS, Walczyk T, Renggli S, Hurrell RF.

Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. stefan.storcksdieck@ilw.agrl.ethz.ch

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the influence of oxalic acid (OA) on nonhaem iron absorption in humans. DESIGN: Two randomized crossover stable iron isotope absorption studies. SETTING: Zurich, Switzerland. SUBJECTS: Sixteen apparently healthy women (18-45 years, <60 kg body weight), recruited by poster advertizing from the staff and student populations of the ETH, University and University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland. Thirteen subjects completed both studies. METHODS: Iron absorption was measured based on erythrocyte incorporation of (57)Fe or (58)Fe 14 days after the administration of labelled meals. In study I, test meals consisted of two wheat bread rolls (100 g) and either 150 g spinach with a native OA content of 1.27 g (reference meal) or 150 g kale with a native OA content of 0.01 g. In study II, 150 g kale given with a potassium oxalate drink to obtain a total OA content of 1.27 g was compared to the spinach meal. RESULTS: After normalization for the spinach reference meal absorption, geometric mean iron absorption from wheat bread rolls with kale (10.7%) did not differ significantly from wheat rolls with kale plus 1.26 g OA added as potassium oxalate (11.5%, P=0.86). Spinach was significantly higher in calcium and polyphenols than kale and absorption from the spinach meal was 24% lower compared to the kale meal without added OA, but the difference did not reach statistical significance (P>0.16). CONCLUSION: Potassium oxalate did not influence iron absorption in humans from a kale meal and our findings strongly suggest that OA in fruits and vegetables is of minor relevance in iron nutrition.

How To Meditate To Decrease Anxiety

By Kevin Schoeninger
Have you heard of “Inner Smiling”? It’s a simple, inner Qigong meditation technique that can be used to connect to the healing power of your heart.
You’ll release stress, feel more calm and joyful, improve your immune response and connect with your own inner clarity and intuitive guidance system. You create all of this in your life by consciously generating feelings of acceptance, trust, gratitude and care.

Health Benefits of Inner Smiling:

Inner Smiling can lower your blood pressure, calm your nervous system, improve your brain function, improve hormone balance, and give you a positive feeling of well-being. These positive benefits begin by bringing your heart rhythms into balance which facilitates coherent brainwaves and integrated whole brain function. Generating an inner smile also brings your parasympathetic nervous system online, which is your relaxation and recovery mode.

When you activate your “relaxation response”, your levels of muscle tension decrease, your digestive system receives more blood which helps it perform better, and your immune system gets the energy it needs to function at a peak level.

When you relax your body you decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol, and increase DHEA production, which regulates your body’s healing and repair abilities.
Your higher level brain functions also come online. In contrast, when you feel fear and stress, you actually shut down your higher brain functions.
It simply feels amazing!

4 Simple Steps to Practice Inner Smiling

  • Step 1 — Close your eyes and take several slow deep breaths.
  • Step 2 — Imagine that you are breathing in and out through your heart to focus your attention there.
  • Step 3 — Smile into your heart with acceptance, appreciation, gratitude, and care.
  • Step 4 — Imagine and feel your Inner Smile expanding from your heart to infuse every cell in your body.
Bringing your mind to someone whom you care for unconditionally can help you generate Inner Smiling in your heart and body as a whole. You may think of a child, partner, parent or pet. You can also think of doing something that you love or being with someone who makes you smile.
Bring your appreciation for those people, pets or events into your heart and then send this love and appreciation outward into your whole body. If you find this challenging at first, spend a little extra time focusing on deeply breathing in and out through your heart. Allow any feelings of tension or irritation to dissolve in your breath.
Next, imagine someone or something you effortlessly appreciate or simply accept yourself and whatever is happening unconditionally. Be grateful for “what is.”
Merely putting a little smile on your lips may be enough to bring an Inner Smile into your body. Inner Smiling is a doorway to feeling your inner essence and transforming your life from the inside out.
Enjoy your practice!

About the Author

Kevin Schoeninger graduated from Villanova University in 1986 with a Master’s Degree in Philosophy. He is Certified as a Personal Trainer, a Qigong Meditation Instructor, and as a Reiki Master Teacher.

Kevin’s life work is self-development and spiritual growth through daily practice. He has written several programs including Core Energy Meditation that are available through The Mind-Body Training Company.

Stress, PMS, Adrenal Fatigue and The Surrounding Myths

Period Problems: Clearing Up 5 Common Myths About Your Monthly Cycle

By Saida Desilets
There’s no end to the questions and concerns a woman might have when it comes to “that time of the month.”
Perhaps you feel extra tired during your period or you’ve heard female friends and family members complain about exhausting periods?
Maybe you’ve read of practices that women can use to stop having periods and you’re curious about whether or not this is a good idea?
It’s possible you’ve wondered if somehow your period was a time for detoxing?
Or, you’ve even heard that if you don’t bleed on the new moon, there is something out of whack with your femininity?
Myths about the menstrual cycle abound and it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. The very existence of these myths can even create a variety of neuroses that evolve into health challenges for women.
Here are 5 common myths about menstruation and a mindset shift for each that can help you tune into your own embodied wisdom.

Myth #1: Women lose energy during their menses

This is an interesting myth because it’s a learned idea. Unless you are the rare woman who is actually exhausted during her period, this myth simply isn’t true. Yet because we believe it to be true, we behave accordingly — blaming our period for our exhaustion versus our own lifestyle choices.
On the level of our body and psyche, the menstrual phase of our cycle is a natural reset and rest time. It’s a time for us to enjoy going inward, to attune ourselves to what is working and not working in our lives, and to enjoy nourishing activities.
As for blood loss, unless we are excessively bleeding, the amount of blood loss is not enough to cause fatigue. We lose an average of 35ml of blood with our menses. By way of comparison, when donating blood we give around 450 ml — more than 10x the amount of blood!
In Western culture we often attribute slowing down and being still with being tired or sleepy. But these are unrelated states. What is important here is to note that we have a strong ‘meme’ (a mental virus propagated as truth) interplaying with poor lifestyle habits.
Mindset Reset: Our menses is a time to go inward, to contemplate, to slow down, to reset and realign ourselves with what is most important in our lives. If we’re tired, then when we slow down, we let ourselves relax and rejuvenate.

Myth #2: Our kidneys are adversely affected by the menses

What is actually meant here is a statement on our adrenal health, not so much our kidney health. This confusion comes from attempting to translate an Eastern concept (kidney health) into a Western paradigm (adrenal health). Furthermore, this meme is backwards…
It is the exhaustion or depletion of our adrenals that adversely affects our menstrual cycle, not the reverse. However, it’s common that in the natural rest and reset time of the actual menses, we experience greater awareness of our adrenals and their imbalances.
What fatigues our adrenals? Stress, of all kinds. When the adrenals are in a stress cycle, they can no longer support producing our healthy hormones in a balanced way. This can lead to issues such as estrogen dominance which is linked to the experience of PMS, fibroids, endometriosis and irregular menstrual cycles, just to name a few.
Mindset Reset: By having a good look at our lifestyle, we can begin to make some positive changes towards enjoying more down time and practicing being quiet more regularly. Many women report a positive change in their cycles simply by regaining their adrenal health.

Myth #3: The Taoist premise that encourages early menopause (cessation of the menses)

This idea is spread through different texts that state that a woman loses her JING when she menstruates, therefore leading to the assumption that in order to stay young and healthy, we must prevent the loss of our JING as much as possible.
Here again we have the difficulty of translating an ancient concept with modern medicine. In a very simplistic way, the concept of JING can be loosely related to adrenal health. As we already noted, lifestyle is the main culprit to eroding adrenal health and I have found this to be true in regards to women’s health issues.
What is more draining than our actual menses is our lack of introspection and emotional responsibility. PMS, in my experience, can be diminished or eliminated. We can do this by having the willingness to examine ourselves more deeply and to take ownership of our choices and of shaping our lives into one that is supportive of our natural, rhythmic, womanly cycle.
Mindset Reset: Menstruation is natural. Our environment, our lifestyle and our psychological well-being all play a big part in how we experience our cycle.
When we begin to live more in harmony with our own cycles, we return to our optimum state of vibrant womanly health.

Myth # 4: Menses is a natural detox program

This is another interesting meme that implies that we are somehow ‘dirty’ and must be ‘cleansed’ once per month. Yet, menstruation is one of the four natural expressions of fertility cycle.
I want to jump immediately into the reset for this myth.
Mindset Reset: As mentioned in #3, we do well by owning ourselves emotionally. Often we use our uterus as a sort of psychic garbage can. I’ve noticed, however, that women who honestly begin to use the PMS/menstrual time of their cycle as a time to blossom in their emotional maturity find that their menstrual pain diminished or ceases all together.
Of course, there are ways to exercise, eat, and supplement our lives that equally support the transformation of living in harmony with our feminine rhythm.

Myth #5: If we don’t bleed on the new moon, we are out of sync with our femininity.

This meme is very harmful because not all women menstruate on the dark moon and this does not, by default, prove that they are out of sync with their femininity. In fact, women who follow the recommended protocol to bleed on the new moon may be doing everything right and still not bleed at the ‘right time of the month’.
Mindset Reset: If your cycle is healthy and you feel attuned with yourself, then whenever you bleed is perfect. We must let go of forcing ourselves to live according to external constructs and instead start to live according to what is true for our own unique self.
When it comes to our own deep feminine wisdom, nothing replaces attuning ourselves with ourselves and being willing to challenge and question everything that we believe to be true about what it means to be a woman in modern times. This is a true and courageous act of claiming and living according to our embodied wisdom.
About the Author:
Saida Desilets is a teacher, speaker, author and “Succulence Revolutionary” on the growing edge of researching how women can use their minds, bodies, and spirits to create richer lives through their sexuality and sensual selves. Born with her “erotic innocence” intact, she is the founder of the Desilets Method, a system that creates more pleasure, sexual aliveness, and deep self-love. Saida has led sold-out workshops and seminars for women around the globe for the past 12 years. She is the author of the Emergence of the Sensual Woman: Awakening Our Erotic Innocence, and serves as a guide to women who believe in transformation as a lifelong path of learning, discovery, and walk to freedom.

What is yoga? What integral yoga can do for you.

Before watching the yoga videos below, first, let’s look at what yoga will do for you.
  • Yoga will help you stop over-eating
  • Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating. By causing you to become aware of your breathing and posture, regular yoga practice strengthens your connection to your body. Your newfound awareness allows you to tune in to emotions involved with your cravings, opening the door to releasing the strong desire to indulge in foods that make you feel less than great.
  • Yoga will help you sleep better at night
  • Researchers from Harvard found that daily yoga over a period of two months significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia. Another study found that yoga twice a week helped cancer survivors sleep better and feel less fatigued. This can be attributed to yoga’s ability to help you deal with stress. If you don’t sleep well at night, it is similar to anxiety. If your head can’t stop spinning and you don’t know how to relax, then yoga may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. Yoga allows the mind to slow down, training your mind to enter a relaxed state at will.
  • Yoga will assist with migraines and pressure headaches
  • Research has shown that migraine sufferers have fewer migraines and less painful migraines after three months of regular yoga practice. While migraines are not fully understood, it can be theorized that migraines stem from mental and physical stresses that are relieved through stress-relieving yogic practice.
    One common cause of physical stress is hunching over a computer or cell phone. This causes your shoulders to bunch up and puts your head forward, leading to overlifting your trapezius. This tightening of the muscles around the neck and shoulders pulls the head forward and creates muscle imbalances that can contribute to headaches and migraines.
    And these are just the beginning. Yoga can also…
    • boost your immunity
    • improve posture
    • relieve back pain
    • increase flexibility
    • balance blood pressure
    • improve lung capacity
    • strengthen bones
    • and improve memory

    What is yoga?

    Yoga is a set of physical and mental exercises which originated in ancient India. The original goal of yoga is to attain a state of permanent peace of mind in order to experience one’s true self.
    Now, you can use yoga to improve bone density, balance, memory, mood and strength. Yoga postures stretch your muscles while also working the muscles, improving flexibility. Without working the muscles that you are stretching, you won’t retain the benefit of the stretch.
    Yoga leads you to breath deeply and fully into each posture, creating changes that stick with you and reduce cortisol (stress!) levels in your body.
    While we don’t yet have scientific proof of how it all works, testimonials around the world are popping up. Everything from weight loss to healing cancer has been attributed to regular yogic practice.
    Yoga is beneficial to people of all ages. Elderly people as well as children can incorporate yoga into their lives. Many school districts have considered incorporating yoga into their P.E. programs. The Encinitas, California school district gained a San Diego Superior Court Judge’s approval to use yoga in P.E., holding against the parents who claimed the practice was intrinsically religious and hence should not be part of a state funded program.
    While yoga can be a spiritual experience, there is nothing inherently religious about deep breathing, stretching and postures that strengthen and limber your body.
    Here is a preview of what Asana yoga looks like:

    The preview above comes from a unique program called yogasteya. Yogasteya provides a comprehensive database of yoga classes from a variety of teachers and yogic practices, creating a dynamic practice that strengthens and lengthens every part of your body.
    Here is another look at what yoga can look like.

    Whether you’re very athletic and looking for more challenge, or just beginning your journey to health, there is a yoga routine that will work for you. Here is Dianne, the founder of yogasteya:

    Yoga is all about breathing and focusing on how your body feels. By bringing your attention to your body, you’ll become more and more aware of what is right for your body. When your awareness is high, it is easy to tell when you’ve had enough to eat, when you’ve gotten enough exercise and when it is time to call it a night and get some rest. This awareness could be why yoga has helped millions of people overcome such a wide variety of physical aliments.

    Here is a full one-minute yogic flow you can do at home:

    Try becoming aware right now. How do your feet feel? Breathe deeply, and focus on your feet. How warm are they? Are they getting enough circulation? Do they feel stiff? Now think about your calves. Stretch your legs out in front of you, and feel your calves. Deeply inhale, and fully exhale, still feeling your calves. Try this process on your thighs, you abdomen, your shoulders, and your neck.
    Isn’t it amazing how many things you’re feeling that you were not aware of feeling? Perhaps you’re often cold but don’t realize it. By being constantly cold, you’re forcing your body to work harder to start warm, and also causing your muscles to be stiff. By increasing your awareness, you’ll notice how you feel and put on a sweater when you need to.
    Learn more at Yogasteya.

    What Are Allergies? Can probiotics help with allergies?

    By Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN
    Professor, Super Nutrition Academy
    Spring is in full swing and allergies abound. If you have allergies, you’re probably feeling like nature is attacking you with armies of pollen.
    Spring cleaning brings out the dust mites, plants coming out of winter slumber put out their pollen, and fungus puts out its spores.

    What are allergies?

    Allergy symptoms are your own immune system going haywire. Allergies range from common sniffles, eczema and asthma to more serious conditions such as hay fever and anaphylaxis. Some allergies, such as going into anaphylactic shock within minutes of eating nuts, are instant. Other immunal responses can be delayed, and are much harder to detect.

    Delayed allergic reactions

    Let’s say you ate some bread and you notice that tomorrow, you have a rapid heart rate, well, how do you necessarily know it’s from bread? It’s very tough to detect this stuff. You ate all kinds of other things yesterday. But let’s say you have a theory that it is the bread and you try removing bread from your diet.
    If you’re right about it being the bread, then when you stop eating bread, the symptoms will improve. For instance, if you get a runny nose every time you have bread or wheat, then you can, over time, pinpoint your sensitivity by removing the food entirely for a few weeks, and then reintroducing it. When you reintroduce the bread, then your symptoms should come back within a few days of consuming it.
    Delayed reactions are generally not acutely life-threatening. However, I’m going to argue that even though they’re not life-threatening today, this kind of chronic inflammation on a long-term basis becomes your foundation for disease. This is something you’re not going to hear from a doctor because they can’t detect it based on their testing methods.
    It all comes down to inflammation. We see that an allergic response is basically an inflammatory response in the body. Whether that’s anaphylactic shock or a more subtle response, if we have this kind of chronic systemic inflammation happening every single day of our lives, that is going to wreak havoc on our health down the road.
    To understand allergies better, let’s look at your immune system.

    What exactly is your immune system?

    The immune system is your body’s defense system against foreign invaders. The phrase “immune system” is a way describing the body’s methods of dealing with foreign substances. Because almost every organ of the body has some method of defense, almost every part of your body is part of your immune system.
    The skin, mucosal membranes, hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), and saliva provide the first barriers to entry. Next, the “innate immunity” cells like neutrophils and monocytes are called into action, in which an inflammatory response (ie. red, swelling, pain) occurs. If your body needs even more help, an antibody response (T cells and B cells) happens within your body.
    Your antibodies identify and “tag” foreign invaders (antigens) so that they can respond quicker and more effectively to that same antigen in the future.
    These foreign invaders — antigens — are identified by white blood cells created within your thymus gland and bone marrow. Your white blood cells circulate your body through the lymph system. Because your lymph fluid is not powered by a heart (like your blood), you need to physically exercise in order to get your lymph fluid moving.
    The lymphatic system is where most of the actions of the immune system take place. Inside the lymph nodes is where the “battle” and processing usually occur. This is where inflammatory responses of mast cells — histamine release — is happening within your body.

    The Cause of Allergies

    So, what is the cause of allergies? It may surprise you to discover that it is inadequate exposure to soil-associated bacteria in early childhood. That’s why we’re seeing this huge discrepancy between those who were brought up and live in the city versus those who are brought up and live in the country. Being exposed to pets, soil and germs in general builds your natural immunity. (This isn’t to be confused with exposure to chemicals, which your body cannot create antibodies for.)
    The typical medical treatment for allergies is to deal with the symptoms. Whether you are an athlete with muscle inflammation or an older woman with eczema, the doctor says, “You know what? We’re not too sure what’s going on here, but we’ll give you some corticosteroids to settle down that inflammation of the body.” They’ll give you a topical cream, pill or inhaler to settle down your inflammation.
    These prescriptions do work but they have traumatic impacts on your health over the long run. Claritin and Reactine and other antihistamines reduce the level of histamine in your body, so therefore, you won’t have the runny nose and the itchy eyes, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

    Firsthand Experience

    I can tell you firsthand. I had really bad asthma when I was a kid, up until I was about in my midteens. I remember specifically times in my life when I was trying to sleep — where I would be working so hard to breathe. It really is not fun to have that degree of asthma, where you feel you can’t even breathe.
    I remember my immunologist and my allergist telling me, “You have asthma. You have eczema. Don’t have any animals in the house. Make sure there are no carpets; everything should be clean.”
    And that’s really the opposite of what we’re seeing now to being beneficial for early-childhood development of a good immune system. Growing up with pet dogs or cats — and especially pet dogs — is associated with lower rates of allergy and asthma.
    However, if the dog stays indoors all day, like a condo in the city, you’re not going to get the same effect, but if the dog is able to go outside, do its thing, eat some dirt, dig his snout in the grass, eat some worms, whatever it does, and brings that back into the house, you’d think that’s not a great thing because now it’s getting dirty and whatever. That’s one of the best things we can do for our kids.
    So, it seems, ironically, that the earlier you are exposed to a wide variety of germs, the better off your immune system’s going to be. It’s very, very counterintuitive to what we have been led to believe, with all this, “I gotta wash her hands with antibacterial soap,” and, “I can’t get any germs. We’ve gotta clean our hands all the time, all the time, all the time.”
    The good news is that things can change if your childhood wasn’t ideal. Over the last ten years I’ve cut out allergens and changed my diet. I rarely ever use my puffer. Maybe once, if it’s allergy season.
    I have done in-depth research with respect to alopecia because that is the autoimmune condition that I have. I’ve regrown most of my hair, but doctors are doubtful that my changes had anything to do with it. Some doctors say it doesn’t really matter what you do; it’s going to come and go. I don’t believe that. I’ve noticed when my diet is clean, things definitely improve.

    Does getting sick help?

    I mentioned that being exposed to allergens, being exposed to microorganisms, bacteria and germs is a good thing in terms of populating our gut flora with the right bacteria. However, being exposed to viruses may or may not be protective. There was a 2008 study that showed children who were sick in the first year of life were more likely to develop asthma than those who were not sick during their first year of life.

    Can Probiotics Help?

    Can probiotics help? Well, the short answer is yes. A study done in The Journal of Pediatrics in 2009, looked at the effects of probiotics. Group one was fed just lactobacillus acidophilus; group two was given lactobacillus acidophilus plus bifidobacterium. These probiotics were given daily for six months. Group three was given a placebo.
    Group one, the lactobacillus acidophilus group, reduced the fever incidents by 53%; cough by 41%; antibiotic use decreased by 68%! And days absent from school was decreased by 32%!
    Group two was the combination of lactobacillus plus bifidobacterium. This reduced fever incidents by 73%; reduced cough by 62%; antibiotic use reduced by 84%; and days absent from school or kindergarten, 28%.
    It is a very straightforward conclusion that probiotics will help. It’s a great idea to supplement with probiotics and fermented foods to populate your body with the beneficial bacteria that are supposed to be there. We live in an overly germ-free environment. Adding in good germs — probiotics — is a proven aid.

    If you’d like to learn more nutrition truths and develop a solid understanding of how food and your body interact to create great health and prevent disease, then…

    Click here to learn about Super Nutrition Academy. To give you an idea of how much fascinating information the Super Nutrition Academy holds, this entire article is only about 30% of Lesson 22, which is just one of 48 lessons, not counting the bonus videos.
    – Yuri Elkaim
    Want another great article from Yuri? Check out The Truth About Fat and Best Vegan Protein Sources.

    How To Compost To Save Money & Grow More

    How Composting Can Save Money While Making You Healthier
    By Jonathan White, environmental scientist
    How do you view composting? Do you see it merely as a way to prevent your garbage can from getting smelly? Or perhaps as a way to reduce the quantity of garbage being trucked to an incinerator or being dumped into landfill each week?
    While these are certainly valid reasons to compost — it’s not the complete picture.
    I take a different view than most when it comes to compost. For me, composting is a valuable way of building valuable nutrients that will feed me and my family one day.

    I create compost as a way of collecting nutrients in one form (waste), and turning them into another form (food). I only use compost on my vegetable gardens which means that composting is an integral part of my whole food production system.
    The typical consumer buys food from a grocery store or market, consumes it and then throws away the waste. This is simply buying nutrients, taking what you need for that precise moment, and ignoring the remainder. It’s a nutrient flow that only flows in one direction.
    My goal is to keep the nutrients within my property where I can capitalize on them. By re-using the nutrients, I don’t have to buy them for a second time — which saves money. It may seem strange to think of nutrients in this way, yet all organic materials contain nutrients. My goal is to get those nutrients out of the form they are in and into a form that is useful to me and my family.
    To put it in a different way; composting is a way to create a nutrient cycle within your property. We’re part of that cycle because we consume the nutrients when they are (for a brief time) in a useful form. Then they return to the earth and slowly make their way into another useful form where we can consume them again.
    This cycle can go on indefinitely. Of course, there will be some lost nutrients, but with a little diligence you’ll be surprised at how much compost you can create — and how many valuable nutrients you can recycle.
    My composting system is large because I have a few large vegetable gardens. My belief is that the size of your vegetable garden should be determined by how much compost you can create, and not merely by the size of your backyard. To run a rich, high yielding vegetable garden you need to have some sort of soil conditioning plan.
    The best thing for your soil is a generous layer of good compost on the surface a few times per year.
    If you create your own compost from the organic waste that you generate day-to-day, then you have a vegetable garden that is self-sustainable. Once it’s set up, it will never need nutrients in the form of commercial fertilizers. You’ll have established a flow of nutrients, and your nutrient-store will grow bigger year after year.
    Applying compost to your garden has a very positive effect on your soil structure and fertility. With good soil structure and plenty of organic material, you’ll release nutrients that were previously unavailable to your plants. You’ll be speeding up the flow of nutrients, thus increasing your yield significantly.
    Your soil will become alive and healthy with micro-organisms and soil bacteria that are beneficial to creating the perfect conditions for plant growth. Your vegetables will contain all the essential nutrients in the correct proportions, giving your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally.
    Composting is very easy once you make it part of your every day life. A small container on your kitchen counter to collect scraps and a daily trip to the compost bin is all it takes. It’s a small effort for huge rewards. The golden rule in making compost is never to have large clumps of a single type of material. Thin layers of hot and cold materials work best.
    Examples of cold materials include leaves, shredded newspaper and dried grass clippings. Hot materials include fresh grass clippings, weeds, discarded soft plants and kitchen scraps.
    By making composting part of your daily routine and planting a high yield, ecological garden, you can literally save thousands of dollars per year. This is possible because you won’t have to keep buying your nutrients over and over again. You buy them once, hold onto them and then convert them into nutritious, organic food for your family. It’s that simple!

    About the Author:

    Jonathan White is a self-employed environmental consultant and landscape designer. He is the author of Food4Wealth, a program that shows you exactly how to set up and maintain a high-yield, low-maintenance vegetable garden.

    10 Eye Exercises to Heal & Reverse Eye Problems

    How to Reduce Eye Strain and Improve Your Vision Naturally
    By Duke Peterson
    It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but they’re also how we’re able to observe the world. Our eyes are important for reading, working, and even communicating. Our eyes are sensitive though; they work hard and they need time to rest and recover from the constant strain we put on them.
    Did you know that you can often cure poor eyesight simply by changing a few bad habits? Even if you’ve worn glasses for years or are prone to eye problems, learning to remove the stress and strain on your eyes can greatly improve your vision.
    Your eyes can tell you when they need a break. Your head may start hurting, your eyes start to burn a little, or a slight twitch may develop in one or both eyes. These are signs that the eyes need to rest.
    Eye problems are of particular concern if you spend much of your day in front of a computer screen. Staring at a computer and forgetting to relax and give your eyes a break can result in eye problems and permanent damage.
    It’s important to learn to listen to your body; it knows better than you do when it’s time for a break. If you work until your eyes burn then you’ve missed all the previous signs.
    Here are 7 tips to help you prevent damaging eye strain:
    Tip #1: Take a short break every hour of work. This means you need to get up at least once every hour and walk around (even if it’s just to the bathroom or the water cooler).
    Taking breaks alone, however, isn’t enough.
    Tip #2: Look away from the screen every 15-20 minutes for a minute or two. Look at things close up and far away to allow the eyes to adjust and move around. Your goal is to avoid the eye strain in the first place.
    Tip #3: Blink as often as you can to keep your eyes lubricated. Take a few minutes to roll the eyeballs around. You can do this with your eyes open or closed to avoid looking silly. Open and close your eyes often to give them a short break.
    Tip #4: Yawn when you have to (or even when you don’t). Yawning stretches out the jaw muscles which keeps them from becoming tense and causing headaches and eyes strain.
    Tip #5: Move around as much as possible. You should always be in a comfortable position, so adjust your body or chair as often as needed. Move the keyboard or monitor so you aren’t stretching your neck or looking at things at a strange angle.
    Tip #6: Try to avoid glare on your monitor. If you’re near a window then move the monitor around as the sun moves, or get a screen protector.

    Tip #7: Keep your work area bright and well lit. Bright lights lighten up the mood and keep you feeling positive. Dim lights only bring down your mood and cause you to feel sluggish.

    Making minor changes in your work space and taking breaks often can prevent eye damage from long hours spent in front of the computer. After a long day at work, though, your eyes are tired and need to relax and renew to improve your vision. Here are three exercises designed to remove eye strain.
    Exercise #1: The Dot exercise. To do this exercise find a period or comma on the page and focus on making it as clear as possible. Stare at the period until it comes into focus. Chances are after a few seconds the period will actually became less clear and blurry.
    Try relaxing your eyes. Close them for a minute and let them relax. Now look at the period without straining. Don’t stare; instead, let your eyes slowly move around the page, over and around the period. Don’t focus only on the period, the eyes need movement. Make sure to blink a bit. Try closing your eyes and picturing the dot and then look at it again. Once your eyes are relaxed it should be easier to see the period.
    Exercise #2: The Word exercise. Find a word on a page that is five or more letters in length. Stare at the word so that all the letters are in view, but don’t move the eyes. Focus entirely on the whole word trying to get the best image in your head. Again, staring and concentrating hard is going to cause the word to blur.
    Now, relax your eyes and allow them to move slowly over, around, and across each letter of the word. Blink. Allow the eyes to lead you; don’t force them to look at what you want. The word should be clearer when you look at it again. Letting the eyes move around is what will help them work best without the strain.
    Exercise #3: The Double Vision exercise. This exercise is meant to get your eyes to work together as a team. Most people use one eye to look at an object, while the other eye does its own thing. Squinting can help bring an object into focus with both eyes, but this causes unnecessary stress. The trick is to relax the eyes, focus on the object in a calm way, and allow both eyes to focus together.
    Learning and practicing exercises to relax your eyes is a great way to develop lasting habits and ensure great eyesight for years to come.
    Duke Peterson spent more than 25 years in the ophthalmology business. As a leading optical doctor, people were shocked when he left his practice to help vision sufferers improve their eyesight — naturally. Duke is the author of Vision Without Glasses and has spent many years perfecting his system that exploits a previously unknown short-cut to get your vision back, naturally and forever.

    The 5 Key Principles of Permaculture, the Easiest Organic Gardening Method

    How to Easily Grow Your Own Organic Veggies with an Ecological Garden

    By Jonathan White

    Growing your own food is typically seen by the average person as either an art or hard work. As a result, it’s no wonder so few people do it seriously.
    But what if there was a technique that was so easy and prolific that even the busiest single mom or corporate executive could grow a significant portion of their family’s food in less time than it takes to drive to the grocery store each week?
    Ecological gardening just might be the answer. In my experience, it’s the ultimate modern-day convenience veggie plot.
    I didn’t have a light bulb moment that said, “Oh, so this is ecological gardening”. My vegetable garden was no different from anyone else’s for many years — until I made a few significant changes.
    The first change was squeezing far more plants into a given area. The second change was to never dig the soil. And thirdly, I upgraded my composting system. With these simple strategies my garden took on a life of its own.
    Weeds virtually stopped growing in the beds and plants started living much longer. The garden could endure longer periods without water. I was yielding far more than I ever had and I could harvest every day of the year.
    I wanted to know what was happening at a scientific level and applied my university training as an environmental scientist to understand why I was getting such amazing results. I had to completely let go of all my preconceived ideas as a gardener and look at the plot through the eyes of an ecologist. After some time I realized that I had created an ecosystem made up of edible plants, and it behaved in exactly the same way as a natural habitat.
    I became more of an observer than a gardener and the role of head gardener was pulled from under my feet as nature took up the reins.

    Nature works for free

    The wonderful thing about mother nature is that she works tirelessly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nature follows very simple laws and works in the same way everywhere. When you create an ecological garden you are creating a living, breathing ecosystem. By doing this, you get nature working for you — not against you.

    Why "Niche Spaces" are important

    A pristine ecosystem is made up of thousands of living and non-living components all coexisting in a given area. Each living component occupies its own niche space and the role of the niche space is very important to understand when creating an ecological garden.
    Let’s look at an example… Imagine a giant rainforest tree crashing to the ground after standing for hundreds of years. Such a large tree would have filled an enormous niche space. Lying in the soil, hundreds of dormant seeds spring to life, desperately fighting for their opportunity to occupy the best real estate in the forest — the empty niche space. Harmony is restored when that niche space is quickly filled.
    When you look at a traditional vegetable garden with this type of insight, what you see is a very unnatural system. There is very little diversity and a lot of empty niche spaces. Nature enforces her will on vegetable gardens in exactly the same way she does a rainforest. This means that empty niches spaces will be filled as quickly as possible. However, in a traditional vegetable garden there are no desirable seeds waiting to fill the niches spaces, so weeds fill them instead.
    The solution is to create a garden that has tightly filled niche spaces so that weeds don’t have any opportunities to grow. You can do this by planting the garden very tightly with a diverse range of plants of differing shapes and characteristics. The result is a dense jungle-like planting arrangement that can yield an unbelievable quantity of high quality food. The denseness also creates a highly protected micro-climate. This ideal growing environment causes your plants to last much longer. Cold sensitive plants are better protected and your greens don’t turn to seed as soon as a hot spell hits.

    Managing an ecological garden – permaculture 

    Managing an ecological garden – also known as a permaculture garden, or "forest gardening" – is different from managing a traditional vegetable garden. With an ecological garden, there is far less to do. As you become the observer and allow nature to take over as head gardener, you’ll notice that the garden is in a continual state of gentle change, just as with a natural ecosystem. In fact, the main labor in this style of gardening is harvesting!
    Humans usually feel the need to control things and it can be difficult for the traditional gardener to stand back and simply observe. This style of gardening calls for a great deal of faith in natural laws. Certainly there will be times when you need to step in and direct the system in a certain way. However this is almost always because a certain plant species is too successful and the system is at risk of losing diversity.

    The 5 Key Principles of Ecological Gardening

    • Plant densely
    • Plant a diversity of plants within a given area
    • Get a good composting system set up and use the compost as a surface mulch on bare patches
    • Allow some plants to go to seed
    • Only interfere with the system when a single plant species over-dominates (excessively crowding out other plants)

    Controlling Pests Naturally

    Pests generally locate their target plant species using sight or smell. The dense, mixed-up nature of the ecological garden creates a natural form of pest management. Imagine how much more difficult it is to see your target plant when its outline is blurred by a sea of green. And how could you smell your target plant when there are so many conflicting smells?
    In addition, more plants create more types of plant-eaters. These different species of bugs compete with one another, sometimes even eating each other. Some plants attract certain predatorial insects such as lady bugs and centipedes, which in turn will each roaches and aphids. Many insects eat mold, keeping crop rot minimal.
    The more types of plants you have, the more types of bacteria and insects you'll have. And the more types of insects and bacteria, the less that any one plant, bacteria or insect will be a problem. You'll also notice that more diversity of plants attracts butterflies and beautiful birds, further adding to the richness of nutrition and beauty of your garden.
    If the above wasn't enough, many different herbs repel certain pests. But the herbs that basil repels are different than the pests that eat basil. The same goes for fennel, onions, tomatoes and so on. By planting them close together, even without research, you increase the chances of the diversity protecting your harvest.

    Goodbye Crop Rotation

    Crop rotation is practiced by dedicated gardeners for good reason. Different plants require different minerals from the soil, in different proportions. After an area has been planted with a certain species, the soil is left depleted of certain minerals. To lessen the effects of this depletion, a different crop will be planted in the area the following year. Additionally, many gardeners rest their garden beds periodically. Crop rotation simply isn’t necessary with ecological gardening. The mixed-up planting arrangement counteracts the effects of mineral depletion because a single species doesn’t dominate a single area.


    Compost is an important part of the ecological garden and is a very valuable commodity. To me, composting is a way of building valuable nutrients that will, one day, feed me and my family. The average person buys food from a shop, consumes it and then throws the waste away. This is simply buying nutrients, taking what you need for that precise moment, and disregarding the remainder. It’s a nutrient flow that only flows in one direction.
    Your goal is to keep the nutrients within your property where you can capitalize on them. This way you’re able to use the nutrients again without having to buy them a second time. In effect, you’re creating a nutrient cycle within your property that is self-sustainable and can go on indefinitely.

    Time to throw away the hoe

    Natural ecosystems don’t require gardeners with shovels and hoes to come along every season to turn their soil. Neither does an ecological garden. However, it’s best not to walk on the garden beds as this will cause unnecessary compaction. Of course, this requires the installation of permanent pathways that are positioned in a way that you can obtain access to the plot.
    Digging soil upsets the soil structure which, in turn, reduces the soil’s ability to pass on valuable nutrients to plants. The loss of soil structure also reduces the soil’s ability to hold water. Developing good soil structure is actually the best water conserving technique I know. When practiced in conjunction with a dense planting arrangement, it creates a holistic soil ecology management plan. A dense planting arrangement will shade the soil’s surface, stopping surface crusting which causes runoff and nutrient depletion. Developing good deeper structure will allow soil organisms to do what they do best — turn organic matter into available plant nutrients.

    Self Seeding: The future of your ecogarden

    If you’re ever fortunate enough to visit a pristine rainforest, you’ll probably be awestruck by the towering canopy. However, the future of the rainforest lies in the soil in the form of seeds — tiny cells of life waiting for their opportunity to prosper. With an ecological garden, the future can be similarly ensured.
    By allowing some plants to go to seed, you can build up seed stores, just like the rainforest. And like the rainforest, you should aim to have thousands of seeds of many varieties spread right across our plot. Most of these seeds will never germinate because in the ecological garden the niche spaces are so tightly filled that opportunities for new life are limited. However, eventually a plant will be eaten and an empty niche space will appear. If you have thousands of seeds lying dormant, any niche space will likely be filled with something desirable.

    Who should set up an ecological garden?

    Absolutely everyone from farmers to inner-city townhouse dwellers can have an ecological garden. It may seem strange, but if you’ve never grown food before then you are, in some ways, at an advantage. Experienced gardeners may like to see themselves as adopting some ecological gardening techniques, but find it difficult to let go of the need to control the system. As with all industries, the gardening industry can get stuck in doing things a certain way and most seasoned gardeners will inevitably over-work the garden.
    If we can let go of our need to control every living thing on the planet, and start to work with nature, we actually gain more control by being able to grow food more efficiently than ever before. It’s a paradox — but it works!
    To learn more about converting an existing vegetable garden to an ecological garden or how to start growing your own organic veggies, please click here.

    About the Author

    Jonathan White is a self-employed environmental consultant and landscape designer. He is the author of Food4Wealth, an eBook and video package that shows you exactly how to set up and maintain an ecological garden. Learn more here: Food4Wealth

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