Monday, April 27, 2009

The 3 Foods Busy Dads Should Never Eat. EVER.

I got into a heated discussion with some of my clients after one of my bootcamps last week. The topic of "discussion" was healthy food OR what one perceives to be healthy food.

Big business does a great job of running genius marketing campaigns telling you what you should eat and what you shouldn't eat. As a result, we've relied less on logic and more on commercialism to decide what we put in our bodies.

It makes you wonder if the goal of some of these food companies is to really provide us with the best quality nutrition (probably not) or to just push mass amounts of FOOD PRODUCT on us by telling us we need it so that we can pad the wallets of their share holders (most likely).

The next time I see a commercial that says that some boxed, preservative-laden, high-fructose-corn-syrup cereal has "7 Essential Nutrients" and is "part of a daily healthy diet", I think I'm going to puke!

In saying that, I've outlined below the 3 Foods that us Dads should NEVER, EVER consume. EVER. (Oh yeah, and DON'T feed your kids this stuff either!)

1. Soy. Soy is a phyto-estrogen ("phyto" meaning plant based) and can be found in pretty much EVERYTHING - hot dogs, breakfast cereal, processed cheese, cookies. In ancient Japan, soy was used as fertilizer before big business got a hold of the stuff and started turning it into food products. Now it's found everywhere and, next to coffee, is the most sprayed and chemically treated crop.

The problem with soy is that if consumed excessively, strapping virile men like you and I start to turn ESTROGENIC - both from the natural estrogen from the bean itself and from the reaction that our bodies go through when we consume the food products with all the chemicals it's been treated with.

And when I say ESTROGENIC, I mean Man-Boobs and Belly Fat and a prescription for little blue pills because certain things don't function properly.

Now I don't know about you, but with a wife and 4 daughters there's already enough estrogen in my house and I don't need any more.

Let me make a point here to emphasize that this isn't a knock against vegetarianism. Quite the contrary, I've recently been learning the benefits of consuming a plant-based protein diet and supplementing with animal protein here and there. However, many vegetarians believe that soy is one of the ONLY ways to get protein in their diets. Not true, as there are many legumes, vegetables & nuts that contain adequate amounts of protein for our diet.

Also, there has been some speculation as to HOW MUCH PROTEIN we actually really need...long story short...WE DON'T NEED AS MUCH AS SUPPLEMENT COMPANIES & BODYBUILDING MAGAZINES LEAD US TO BELIEVE (surprise, surprise).

2. Commercially raised meat. If you've been reading my blog, you probably know how and why I feel this way already, so let's look to Dr. Johnny Bowden, Author of "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth", and see what he has to say....

"The hormones in factory-farmed (feedlot) meat can have all sorts of effects on the body, none of them fully understood and almost certainly none of them good. And it's not just the hormones. These miserably treated animals are shot full of antibiotics and fed an unnatural diet of grain, which makes them sick and tilts the balance of their fat towards inflammatory omega-6's."

OK, I understand that with the state of the economy more people than less are struggling financially and when regular meat goes on sale at your local supermarket you probably stock-up because it's cheap. Just remember, it's cheap for a reason.

Cheap meat = cheap (low quality, mass produced) meat.

Cows were meant to graze in a pasture and eat grass, not be cooped up in a barn and fed saw dust and grain fillers to fatten them up. Even beef that claims to be organic usually means that the cows were fed some type of organic grain/feed. When choosing your beef, choose GRASS-FED CATTLE.

Same goes for chicken & their eggs. Chicken were also meant to run around and get some exercise and lay their eggs wherever they darn-well please. When buying chicken or eggs, FREE RANGE is best.

For fish, go for the WILD/CAUGHT variety and not farmed fish that get fed grains and anti-biotics and live in closed tanks no larger than the size of my bathtub with 5000 other fish.

3. NON-organic Coffee. (You know I HAD to have coffee in here somewhere). As mentioned above, coffee is THE MOST COMMERCIALLY PRODUCED SPRAYED CROP in the world. The coffee industry is a booming business and the pressure is on for farmers to produce, produce, produce!!! But at what cost? Our health?

It's reality that 3 out of 5 North Amercians drink coffee daily. So for me to tell you to give up your daily cup of joe wouldn't be very realistic. Heck, I enjoy my daily double espresso more than most people.

My tips?

Try to get your coffee ORGANIC from a specialty shop where the baristas (the cool folks behind the bar who make the drinks) actually CARE about what they do. Have you ever tasted the difference between freshly pulled coffee that comes right from the bean and coffee from the corner store that's been sitting on a burner for 1/2 an hour? You can actually taste hints of caramel or blueberries in finely pulled espresso by people who know what they're doing.

OR

Buy ORGANIC coffee beans yourself and brew your own coffee at home. Everyone is trying to save money these days, so buying a 1/2lb bag of good organic coffee beans and then grinding them and brewing them at home will actually save you about $25-$35 a week if you usually indulge in a Venti-1/2 caf-no foam-2 raw sugar-latte at the local big chain coffee place.

My point to all of this is that we should be demanding better, high-QUALITY, REAL FOOD for ourselves and our families. I'm not saying that we shouldn't indulge here and there and be so anal about what we eat that we end up driving ourselves crazy...BUT, I just think that our primary focus should be on eating REAL FOOD the way Mother Nature intended...no preservative, no pesticides, no anti-biotics, no crap.

CL
The FitAndBusyDad

P.S. Are there any foods that you feel strongly about that I should have put on this list? Weigh-in, leave a comment and let me know please!

20 comments:

fireballs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fireballs said...

I've been worried about my soy intake ever since I started reading some of the same criticisms you present here. The thing that kills me is how hard it is to tell which foods have soy content and how much is OK.

Other than avoiding ALL processed foods, where can we find information on what ingredients to worry about, and in what amounts?

Tyler - Building Camelot said...

Great post and I love how you backed up each food with good reasons why we should avid it in the first place. Gave it a stumble

MikeG said...

I honestly think your statement about food out of a box and the companies advertising them as healthy meal should be your #1 food not to eat. I have so many friends who rip open the box of cereal every morning thinking they are consuming a healthy breakfast. They are suprised when I show them the list of ingredients and second on the list is usually Sugar!!

TechyDad said...

I keep kosher at home. Since Kosher meat is so pricey, we usually eat vegetarian. This translates into eating a lot of soy products to replicate meat products. I haven't noticed any "Estrogenic" symptoms at all. No man-boobs, no increase in belly fat (beyond what's been there since before my first taste of soy), and certainly no need for blue pills.

I've searched a bit online and found a study that indicates that soy doesn't have an adverse reaction. ("found no changes in serum concentrations of estradiol, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone or luteinizing hormone in men consuming a tablet containing 40 mg/d of soy isoflavones.") http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/132/3/570S

Obviously, anything eaten to excess can be bad for you. (Too many carrots will turn your skin orange!) This doesn't mean, however, that you should avoid that food entirely and never, *EVER* eat it. The key is moderation. Don't eat soy-based meals every single day. Mix it up with some fish, meat, beans, or even completely vegetable-based meals. But don't be afraid that a few meals containing soy will suddenly make you less of a man.

FitAndBusyDad said...

@Fireballs...I think the rule of thumb, as far as ingredients are concerned, is not to eat anything that sounds like it came from the Periodic Table. If it's got more than 5 syllables, it's probably not that good for you - "Ap-ple"=good; "Mo-no-so-di-um Glu-ta-mate" = not so good ;-)

@Tyler - Thanks for the stumble! Loving the new look of the blog...still owe you an email about it! I'll get in touch soon!

@MikeG - Great point, I'll add that to the list. I'm not a huge fan of breakfast cereal for breakfast either. Natural is the way to go.

FitAndBusyDad said...

@TechyDad...thanks so much for the rebuttal response. I'm glad that someone out there took an opposing stance.

I took a look at a few studies and here are the ones that I found with my first search...

1) This one reduced testicular & serum testosterone...Strauss, et al. "Genistein exerts estrogen-like effects in male mouse reproductive tract," Mol Cell Endocrinol 1998 Sep 25;144(1-2);83-93

2)This one found that genistein (found in soy) causes testicular cell death...Kumi-Diaka J, et al. "Cytotoxic potential of the phytochemical genistein isoflavone and certain environmental chemical compounds on testicular cells," Biol Cell, 1999 Sep;91 (7): 515-23

3)And this one showed a high incidence of infertility & liver disease (albeit in cheetahs, who have similar reproductive structures as humans)...Setchell, et al. "Dietary Estrogens a probable cause of infertility and liver disease in cheetahs," Gasteroenterology 1987 Aug;93(2);225-33

What I'm trying to say is that with soy being one of the most chemically sprayed and processed foods in the world, it should be outright avoided. Maybe the feminizing effects of it don't come from the plant itself (but I highly doubt that), but definitely in the amount of unnatural chemical compounds that you're consuming when ingesting soy in its various forms - soy burgers, soy milk, tofu, soy protein powder. All of these products had to go through some type of processing in order for it to get to this state...that would make it a PROCESSED FOOD.

I'm emphasizing eating as natural as possible when it's economically viable and available for you. Supplementing is fine, but I just think that there are better options to choose from especially given the convenience of obtaining food nowadays.

CL

p.s. The first time the issues about soy caught my attention was when I read a study that mothers who consumed soy gave birth to boys with abnormally small genitalia...I'm still trying to track that one down...but that was enough info for me to raise a red flag on the issue.

AC said...

Great stuff Chris. I honestly did not know about the coffee issue myself - never been a huge coffee gut but I have it enough that I need to question the quality & source.

I'm actually more interested in the lead-in you wrote via the newsletter. I swear you & I were on the same wavelength this weekend. I was working at a huge event we had at the University I work and did some serious people watching. I was dismayed by the shear size of most people and questioned much of what they were eating. I am not perfect. I have weight to lose. I've been known to eat those same poor food myself and carry even more pounds than I do now, so I hate to judge. But it was disturbing just the same.

Ernie Razzano said...

I haven't seen ONE scientific study proving that NATURAL SOY causes Estrogen levels to rise and possibly be a cancer / heart disease factor.

I have yet to find a study proving Soy to be bad. Thereis a new scientific study proving a diet of soy will lessen significantly your chances of cancer and heart disease! But...I said "natural soy".

It's the stuff that is processed and loaded with chemical preservatives that will make you sick.

In this study, Asian women who ate a TRADITIONAL (NO PRESERVATIVES - AND THAT'S THE KEY) Soy diet had a 58% less chance of getting breast cancer. Heart disease rates are significantly less also, according to a study by the National Cancer Institute published in the Journal "Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention."

But when these same people emigrate to the United States, and start eating our Trans-Fat-High-Fructose-Preservative HELL Diet, their cancer and heart disease rates go up.

Soy is Good. Lets get that straight. But Soy that is processed is bad and there is evidence of those preservatives in processed soy (which doesn't even taste like the real thing) cause many metabolic problems.

Read it for yourself.
Alessio Amadasi et al. Identification of Xenoestrogens in Food Additives by an Integrated in Silico and in Vitro Approach. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 2009; 22 (1): 52 DOI: 10.1021/tx800048m

Fred said...

Looks like a loaded and much debated topic, Chris...

I will say this, reading the phrase "causes testicular cell death"... pretty much seals it for me.

Not crazy about soy anyway...didn't know it was in so many food items. Kind of disturbing...

Brent said...

Yo Chris,

I agree with the meat issue (and not because I'm veg) and am absolutely on board with Organic coffee BUT dude your SOY stance is baiting and under researched:

Myth: Soy foods contain estrogen compounds that may cause hormonal disturbances.

The isoflavones found in soy foods are sometimes called phytoestrogens (plant-estrogens) because they have a chemical structure similar to the hormone estrogen. Also, isoflavones can bind to estrogen receptors and exert some estrogen-like effects in cells.

That said, isoflavones are actually quite different from estrogen. Estrogen-like effects are rarely observed in clinical studies measuring the ingestion of soy foods or isoflavones.

This is not surprising since receptor binding – a common in vitro measure of estrogenicity – is a poor predictor of in vivo activity.

Compounds that bind to estrogen receptors often have different, and sometimes opposite, physiological effects depending upon how the isoflavone and receptor interact within different cells.

Clinical studies do show that neither soy foods nor isoflavones affect serum levels of testosterone or estrogen. In fact, several studies have found no effects on testosterone despite ingestion of isoflavones at levels that were 20- to 30-times higher than the typical Japanese intake.

No hormone-related abnormalities, such as thelarche or precocious puberty, have been ascribed to soy formula use in infants.

Source:
http://www.soynutrition.com/SoyHealth/SoyMyths.aspx

Brent

(and yes the estrogen levels are high here too with only 2 ladies - Ican't imagine your house...no wait I can lol!)

Mike said...

Good call on the coffee. Can you recommend any specialty shops in and around the GTA where the baristas, as you put it, actually CARE about what they do?

FitAndBusyDad said...

Well, well, looks like we've got a bit of a debate going on...

@ErnieRazzano Great to point out that it is the chemical-laden crap that's in grocery store products that will make you sick. I agree.

The study on Japanese women, I'm not too sure about. I don't dispute the findings, I just don't see how it is relevant to a healthy male population who doesn't live in Japan (ie guys like you and me). If Japanese women who eat natural soy and have been doing it for thousands of years reduce their rate of breast cancer, then great! I don't really see how north american, european or australian men can have the same benefit or if it's even applicable.

It's like what you said "But when these same people emigrate to the United States, and start eating our Trans-Fat-High-Fructose-Preservative HELL Diet, their cancer and heart disease rates go up." So what happens when an American man, with ancestry from Europe, eats a diet that is primarily made up of foods from the far east? It's exactly what Wolcott talks about in Metabolic Typing.

The problem I see is this...the term "natural soy" in the western world is closer to an oxymoron than it is to the truth. I don't think the availability of natural soy is as prevalent here in north america as it is in Japan. When I say soy, I'm referring to all the stuff that the media leads us to believe is healthy, which essentially is "soy food products". The truth is, that outside of the fitness or health expert population, nobody really eats natural soy...they eat the stuff that they see on commercials.

Either way, the fact that it's estrogenic, plant based or not, is enough for me to leave the stuff alone.

Chris

FitAndBusyDad said...

@Mike

Definitely! Go to Dark Horse Espresso Bar on Queen E (just W of Broadview in front of the Toyota Dealership).

or

Dark Horse W on Spadina, north of Queen on the E side.

or

Lit Espresso Bar on Roncesvailles, N of Wright on the E side

FitAndBusyDad said...

@Brent

Dude, you cited SoyNutrition.com as your source!?!

Isn't that like me going to ILoveTransFats.com to get facts on why trans-fats are healthy for you?

***as an aside, Brent and I know each other personally and go back and forth all the time...you should see our uncensored conversations***

Isabel De Los rios said...

As I teach in "The Diet Solution Program" I completely agree on your stance about Soy. The soy in Asia is completely different than the processed soy we have in the U.S. and in Canada. Asians have figured out that soy must be fermented for human intake. We have skipped this step and not only are people suffering from hormonal imbalances but thyroid problems as well as a result.

Keep up the great posts :)

Isabel De Los Rios
http://TheDietSolutionProgram.com

FitAndBusyDad said...

@IsabelDeLosRios

Thanks, Isabel. I appreciate having an expert like you taking the time to read and leave an opinion on this issue.

Dave C. said...

You mentioned your day at the amusement park... so what did you and your family eat that day? How do you avoid the "junk" you encounter at public places as well as gatherings at the homes of family and friends? I'm looking for coping strategies.

FitAndBusyDad said...

@Dave C

Hey Dave, great question. I was actually supposed to film a video about that, but it started to downpour so I wasn't able to finish.
All we did was make sure that we had a really good breakfast (Rozanne & the kids had oatmeal and I had eggs) and then we packed a ton of fruit, water & nuts.
The kids had their treat of Tiny Tom donuts and then we just munched on fruit for the rest of the day. After we left, we went straight home and dinner was waiting - chicken & rice.
So, my tips are...

1) Really fill-up with something healthy before you go.
2) Don't deprive yourself of a treat...just don't go overboard.
3) Pack lots of fruit, nuts & water.
4) Eat a healthy dinner when you get home.

OR

You could just FAST for the day using Brad Pilon's EatStopEat Program (which I have also done on an all-day excursion w/lots of temptation).

Hope that helps.

Chris

btoro said...

Add hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. It's surprising how many products have this in it! At our school we try and have snacks that do not contain this - it's always a good lesson for kids when all they want to eat are hot Cheetos! Enjoying your posts....