Taking soy for cancer prevention and hair loss

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Taken from an Article from “The Weekly Gleaner” Journal - www.jamaica-gleaner.com

Although I have repeatedly expressed my opinion that soy is a food that offers exceptional health benefits, I still get questioned about possible negative effects from eating soy. The facts are that medical research continues to find more and more health advantages from consuming soy foods.

Recently, scientists have claimed that eating soy could help men from developing prostate cancer and from going bald. US researchers found a molecule produced when soy is eaten that stops a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can fuel prostate growth or cause baldness. Writing in the journal, Biology of Reproduction, they said the finding could explain why Japanese men, who eat more soy, rarely have prostate cancer. This should be of particular significance to Jamaican men as we are ranked as having the highest level of prostate caner in the world.

A little known molecule called equol – not to be confused with the sweetener Equol, is produced when daidzein – one of the main isoflavones found abundantly in soybeans – is digested in the intestines. It completely stops in its tracks the male hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which normally stimulates prostate growth in men and causes male pattern baldness in both men and women. DHT has been repeatedly implicated in research into the causes of prostate disease as well as male pattern baldness. The researchers say this discovery could be particularly important for men who have been diagnosed with either an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), or cancer of the prostate. Several human studies have suggested that eating soy reduces the risk of prostate cancer. This new research could explain why, and also lead to treatments for other hormone related diseases in men. The team found that equol, “handcuffs” the male hormone DHT – a by-product of testosterone, without affecting testosterone itself. Drugs aimed at blocking the effect of DHT have been widely developed and are now widely used to treat prostate tumours. However these drugs, while stopping the converting of testosterone into DHT, were found to cause many side effects.

Ideal Soy food – The Empowering Shake
Although many Jamaicans have still not acquired the taste for soy-based foods, I have found that the simplest way to include enough high quality soy protein (with the equol producing isoflavones) in our diet is with soy based protein shake drinks. Dr David Heber, a renowned expert on human nutrition has highlighted the many benefits of soy protein meal replacement drinks in his best selling book “The LA Shape Diet”. Here is his recipe for what he calls “The Empowering Shake”.
To a blender:-
1. Add 8 ounces of soymilk
2. Ass 2 tablespoons of meal replacement powder (I recommend Herbalife Formula 1)
3. Add 2 tablespoons of soy protein powder (I recommend Performance Protein Powder)
4. Add 1 cup of fresh fruit (papaya or bananas are my favourite) and 4 cubes of ice
5. Blend to the consistency of a smoothie.
6. Drink or eat your shake with a spoon slowly. This allows your system to digest this liquid meal easily while you practice to eat your other meals more slowly.
For more than a decade my routine breakfast has consisted of an empowering shake along with fruit and a mug of green tea.

Soy Plus Green Tea
Why green tea? Well another recent study of Japanese and Korean men has found that production of significant amounts of equol in the body is associated with consumption of not only soy and also of green tea. This may suggest that for us Jamaicans, adopting just one feature of the Asian diet – either soy or green tea – may not carry as much benefit as taking a more holistic approach and including both. As real green tea has a number of other healthy benefits, I drink it throughout the day as a hot or cold drink. Remember – Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food.
You may email Dr Vendryes as [email protected]

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