Is Soya Safe For Women?

There has been a lot of attention in recent years about whether soya is safe for women or whether it can cause or exacerbate breast cancer because of the phyto-oestrogens it contains.

My own view has always been that it is positively beneficial for women – because it contains the phyto-oestrogens. The weaker soya oestrogens actually compete with the stronger body oestrogens at the receptor sites and that can have the effect of protecting women from oestrogen dominance and especially if the woman has a lot of the most risky oestrogen types (which you can see in a hormone test). Less strong or risky oestrogen at receptor sites means less risk of breast cancer. That’s how I see it anyway.

If, however, a woman is not producing a lot of oestrogen and is low (check your adrenals as they have to pick up the slack after 40ish!), the extra that comes from soya can really help pick levels up. But, women have been reluctant to follow that advice because of the soya breast cancer worry.

Anyway, I was interested to see an article in the Natural Medicine Journal today which gives more weight to the safety of soy. Have a read; it’s interesting if not totally conclusive research-wise (more needs to be done), but they do say:

To date, not a single study of moderate soy consumption has found detrimental effects in any women with a history of breast cancer (premenopausal or postmenopausal, ER-negative or ER-positive).

Soy and Breast Cancer

More research in defense of soy

That’s encouraging isn’t it? For more on oestrogen dominance, check the factsheet in the A-Z here:

Oestrogen Dominance

And for more on low oestrogen, check here:


Hope that helps! Just one last tip: make sure the soya foods you consume are good ones – none of yer soya protein isolates please, check the packets!!

Gimme Some Choc!

One of the foods I missed the most when I was so restricted was chocolate. It wasn’t even that I ate a lot of it before but, boy, you miss it when it’s gone. I felt I’d lost a real treat.

Image result for marou chocolate uk So you can imagine how delighted I am to have got it back in now. For my recent birthday, I received a ‘chocolate box’ full of really good pure chocolate from various countries. All over 75% pure choc and most with only cocoa butter and cane sugar. Bliss. My current fave is this Marou Vietnamese bar; really silky smooth and the type you have to let melt slowly rather than chomp.

One of the other things I missed was a hot drink. One Winter, I recall being so cold – it’s amazing what the loss of hot drinks does to your temperature. Sure, I could have hot water, but who enjoys that – when you can’t have lemon or anything in it?

I got coffee back in quite early – grinding my own beans of course. Then, a month or two ago, I regained tea – Golden Monkey and Black Rwandan, no less – extremely pure, of course.

Image result for hot chocolateThis week, though, the holy grail of drinks went back in – hot chocolate! A simple soya milk (made in my soya milk machine) whizzed up with a little Cornish honey and a teaspoon of raw cacao powder was flamin’ bliss.

And It’s Good For You!

Anyway, far from feeling guilty about all this chocolate, I know it is doing me good and I am using proper chocolate as a superfood, if you like.

For example, the hot chocolate is part of my strategy to raise phyto-oestrogen and flavinol levels as I approach the menopause. These things have just got to be done!

And, the few squares most days do two key things: after a meal, pure chocolate, like pure coffee in actual fact, helps stimulate the production of digestive enzymes to help you digest better. I even included this in my Stomach Acid & Enzyme Factsheet here.

Second: pure choc boosts your antioxidant and magnesium levels. In fact, it’s thought by some experts that many people’s cravings for the brown stuff is actually magnesium deficiency. I would not be surprised. 80%+ choc has about 64mg of magnesium per ounce (28g) – that is whopping! See here for more on magnesium-rich foods.

It’s a shame but I suppose I do HAVE to eat some 😉

Anyway, I am feeling even more smug about it today as this message came in to me this morning from our friends at NutriLink (one of my preferred suppliers here). I’m sure they won’t mind me sharing it. Essentially, now chocolate flavinols are shown to help lower blood fats like cholesterol and tryglycerides and also help control blood sugar and insulin. Both really important things for the health state of our nation.

The message: drop the crap chocolate and eat proper flavinol and magnesium-rich pure chocolate. Sure, it’ll taste more bitter for a while because your palate is too used to sugary foods, but you will get used to it quickly and, by its very nature, you can’t eat a lot of it. I’d call that a superfood, wouldn’t you?

Note the other sources of the favinols mentioned include wine and apples. I’ve just got apples back in and a teensy amount of champagne or Cava. I am just SO healthy…

I hope you can enjoy some too x

Cacao – Christmas Guilt Eased

Cocoa Flavanols, some of the active components found in dark chocolate have benefits for human health. To the tantalising delight of chocolate lovers everywhere, a number of recent studies employing various methods have suggested that these flavanols could benefit cardiovascular health. Now a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of cocoa consumption reveals some further pieces of supporting evidence.

The meta-analysis which is published in the Journal of Nutrition, is an assessment of the combined evidence from all 19 RCTs, focused on whether consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa products was associated with improvements in specific circulating biomarkers of cardiometabolic health as compared to consuming placebos with negligible cocoa flavanol content. In all, 1,139 volunteers were involved in these trials (lucky them!).

In short they found that cocoa flavanol intake may reduce dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides), insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, which as you know are all major subclinical risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases. Now one must also flag at this stage that there are some limitations to this data, smallish studies, varying flavanol content and varied outcome targets, let alone different eating rates.

But after accounting for these elements, or at least accounting for them as best one can, a target volume of intake was suggested – this is the bit you have been waiting for: – 200 – 600mg of flavanol intake per day is able to improve cholesterol ratios and modify blood glucose and insulin output. There appeared to be no difference in benefit for men or women, and how it was consumed also raised no variances, simply that dark chocolate is the source.

So, for now, why not enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., 1 ounce/30gms) a few times per week, and don’t forget to eat other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries. It may also enhance some cognitive function, as this paper that made its way into the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, identified that insulin changes related to flavanols also helped improve cognition. At least you should be able to remember where you hid your special bar of 75% cacao chocolate!

Yours in health
Mike and Antony

New FreeFrom Products ‘Rolling News’

Time was when I had chance to tell you about new freefrom foods you might like to try. I don’t really have as much time for that now as I would like, but, thankfully, Cressida at Foodsmatter, has started a rolling news page for what’s new and looks good, and now I don’t have to worry 🙂

The Gluten Free Kitchen So, if you want to know what new freefrom foods are hitting the shops – such as Tesco’s six new bakery products or Gluten Free Kitchen’s new tarts and crumbles now available in Waitrose – that’s where you’ll find out.

Go and take a peek and bookmark the page. Thanks Cressida, makes my life easier and suggests some new tasty ideas for us all!


‘Safe’ Gluten Food Tests In Question?

Interesting – this casts doubt on ‘safe’ samples of oats and other grains being within gluten ppm limits on testing.

In fact,  I remember sitting next to the owner of a major food testing lab who told me the very same thing years ago and explained how difficult the actual testing process is, so this does not surprise me at all!

Nuts: Natural Anti-Inflammatories and Not Fattening!

I am always asked if it is ‘OK’ to eats nuts if you’re trying to lose weight because they are ‘fattening’. Er, yes it is and no they are not. In fact, the opposite is often found in studies, see here, for example:

Nuts Whole Hazelnuts

13 Healthy Reasons to Eat More Walnuts

Eat Almonds For Breakfast

Crumble rhubarb Français : Crumble à la rhubarbe The latter also includes my nutty crumble breakfast recipe, which I have happily started making again now I’ve got nuts back into my diet 🙂

Anyway, nuts generally help keep you fuller for longer, are nutrient-dense and help control blood sugar, so stop the ‘fat-hormone’ insulin from going too mad and sticking fat on your belly! For more on this, see my Belly Fat book.

So, today, I was also pleased to see a report on nuts being linked to lower inflammation levels:

Nuts are natural anti-inflammatories

People who eat nuts five or more times a week have lower markers of inflammation compared to people who never eat nuts—and inflammation levels dropped dramatically among people who substitute three servings a week of red meat, processed meat, eggs or refined grains for nuts.

Ok, so it’s not fabulous science but my clinical experience backs this up. The good fats and nutrients such as magnesium and B vits are probably the reason why – and also because if you substitute rubbish food with good food, of course your inflammation will come down.

I also recalled the other day that you can get a whopping 50mcg of the very important selenium from just one large brazil nut! Make sure any men are having a couple a day for prostate health at least and if your thyroid is not quite firing on all four cylinders, selenium is crucial. I am finding a lot of people are having hidden thyroid hormone conversion problems from simply a lack of the selenium required in that pathway. Similarly with iodine, but I digress. See the Thyroid Problems factsheet for more on that

Anyway, the upshot is: get some nuts! as the advert says – your insulin, cravings, glands and inflammation will thank you!


Call To Change ‘Low Fat’ Advice in UK

Great blog post from Cytoplan this week about the increasingly-urgent call from experts and public health bods to change the advice UK citizens are given about eating fat. Why? Cos it just ain’t working, check this out:

Official guidelines on fat intake: Are we in need of a “major overhaul”?

Urging people to follow low-fat diets is having “disastrous health consequences”, a health charity has warned”….

Recently, this has been more in the public eye than usual as a result of a recent report by The Public Health Collaboration – titled “Healthy Eating Guidelines & Weight Loss Advice For The United Kingdom” (you can download the full report here) – which questions the healthy eating guidelines recommended in ‘The Eatwell Guide’, with the topic of fats (i.e how much we should be eating) at the forefront of the report….

Indeed, the report goes as far to say that “the advice to follow current healthy eating guidelines has resulted in 25% of adults being obese, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes doubling in 20 years, 35% living with pre-diabetes and 20% living with the early-stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”

See. If the advice was right, this just would not have happened. Sugar is a major culprit too – and some people believe it is an even bigger threat to our health overall than fat by a long way. I have long bemoaned the low fat lobby and I directly link it to mental health issues such as depression and brain illnesses including Alzheimer’s as we simply are not feeding our brains enough of the right fats.

The advice to go low fat has harmed us in my opinion and not just because of the rise in diabetes and obesity talked about here in this report. I suspect the need for the right fats in cell membranes and our barriers has had a major effect too – are they more permeable or leaky than they were because of it? I suspect so. Plus, fats are needed for prostaglandin production – and those control inflammation. Almost every disease has now been linked to some form of inflammation. I truly hold my head in my hands with this daft low fat advice.

Anyway, I like the recommendation here that people should be encouraged to eat fat but from good natural sources rather than from processed ‘low fat’ foods the industry has created to fit the niche created by such advice.

OK, I’ll stop ranting now. Do get a cuppa – green tea for heart protective antioxidants? – and sit and read this if you are still one of the low fat weight loss believers. I won’t say I told you so, even though I did about 15 years ago 😉

In fact, it reminds me of when I used to teach the Stop Dieting and Lose Weight cookery courses (remember those in Poulton le Fylde College anyone?). I used to fling olive oil, avocado, nuts etc into the recipes with gay abandon and simply loved the look of shock on participants faces. They had the last laugh too because every one of them lost weight and felt better in themselves. Nuff said.

Not low fat: good fat.

Fava Bean (no Chianti..), Pea and Quinoa Flours

It’s always nice to see new flours to play with, so I was pleased to see’s recent recipes using pea and fava bean flour – new ones on me.


I particularly like the sound of the courgette and wasabi pancakes which turn out literally pea-green because of the flour! Look yum and would make a tasty, spicy lunch.

Have a look here – you’ll need to adapt the other recipes a bit but I’m writing about the flours to show you a couple of new options really:

Hodmedod’s Pulse and Quinoa Flours

And sorry about the Chianti joke; you knew I’d have to..!