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Gluten – why to give it a rest

‘Gluten causes tiredness, anxiety and stress. The medical world accepts it can damage the gut, but it can also damage the brain, skin and nerves. Until now, many of these illnesses have been blamed on everything, from stress at home, to other medical conditions, including depression’
Dr. Rodney Ford, NZ World-Renowned Food-Allergy Expert.


Gluten is a protein prolamine in wheat, rye and barley and their by-products. Modern wheat used in pasta and couscous is up to 37% higher in gluten content than it was 30 years ago. Gluten is only one of over 35 allergenic proteins; albumins, globulins, gliadins or glutenins. Modern gluten comprises 78% pure gliadin. Gliadin is an extreme intestinal irritant. Gluten intolerance is now four times more common than it was 40 years ago. If you are unaware of your gluten intolerance or coeliac disease, then you have a four-fold increase in your risk of death. Sadly, just 1 in 7 people have been diagnosed correctly. The modern high-gluten, wheat grain is a new addition to our food chain.

Gluten is addictive glue

Gluten has adhesive properties that hold bread and cake together, giving you that lovely, spongy texture but unfortunately often also causes sticky, bound-up bowel movements and eventually chronic constipation. With the amount of wheat added to almost all commercial foods, you can end up eating gluten 5-6x daily. This is where the trouble kicks in – overexposure.

Gluten can cause nutritional deficiencies

Gluten can lower your ability to absorb your nutrients, leading to other debilitating illness. One in ten people get negative reactions from gluten be it skin problems, gut bloating or nerves. The acids from accumulated intestinal gluten leftovers can eat through the walls of the intestines allowing the waste materials to leak into the bloodstream.

Health problems attributed to gluten

Stomach ache, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), poor appetites, poor growth, unexplained weight-loss or obesity, gall bladder disease, liver disease, arthritis, skin conditions, eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis, chronic fatigue, lethargy, lymphoma, low iron levels, anaemia, osteoporosis, poor attention, difficult behaviour or learning problems, irritability, headaches, frequently run down and unwell, lowered immune function,  severe hay fever, sinusitis, asthma, anxiety, depression, psychiatric problems, epilepsy, alcoholism, recurrent pancreatitis, and most importantly, organ damage.

Regardless of whether you suspect you have an intolerance or not, my advice is a period with no consumption of gluten and see how you feel. You may be amazed at how much clearer and more energised you feel. My mother had stomach problems her entire life until she was diagnosed a celiac in her 70s. If she stays off gluten now, she is a different person. Just try it for a few weeks and see.

References available here

Forget Meat. Forget Fake Meat. Eat Real Plants.

‘PBMAs [plant-based meat alternatives] may have some role in improving human and planetary health, but there is no evidence to suggest that they can substitute for healthy diets focused on minimally processed plant foods. Nutrition policies and dietary guidelines should continue to emphasize a diet rich in plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, and legumes or pulses, which are rich in protein and many other nutrients but require little industrial processing’
Frank Hu, MD, PhD, and colleagues, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston.

Real plants or fake plants?

There is a huge trend in the world right now towards a more ethical and environmentally caring way of eating. And not a day too soon it is. We all need to change our food habits for our health, for our workforce and our world, this much is clear. The real question is, how do we do it? Do we eat more of a plant-based diet? Absolutely. Can we consider cutting back on meat or giving it up? Yes. Do we then try to make plants look, taste, feel and bleed like animal meats…? Maybe not so much.

Real plants vs fake plants

Let’s look at the difference between super healthy longevity wholefoods like soybeans, tofu, tempeh, legumes, wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds VS a chemical-rich, genetically engineered GMO mash up made in a laboratory.

Real plant-based diets increase longevity

As I have written extensively about in my first book ‘Eat Less, Live Long’, the longest lived and healthiest cultures in the world, eat a predominantly plant-based diet. The Hunza, Longevity Village in Bapan – China, Abkhazia, Icaria, Japan, Sardinia, Loma Linda and more, the list goes on. These regions, sometimes known as ‘Blue Zones’, also have much lower rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The single most impressive is Okinawa. The diet amongst these centenarians has been between 90% and 97% plant-based for hundreds of years.

‘Overall, these data highlighted the importance of adhering to plant-based diets to achieve or maintain good health, and people should choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, tofu, and other healthy plant foods as the cornerstone of such diets. Plant-based diets can promote metabolic health and reduce diabetes risk through many pathways, including preventing excess weight gain, improving insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation, and other mechanisms’
Senior Author Dr Qi Sun, Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

What do the centenarians eat?

Chemical laden laboratory-created-Frankenfoods? No. They eat a local, seasonal, carotenoid-rich, plant-based, wholefood diet of brightly coloured fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes, with a strong emphasis on soybean foods such as tofu, alongside local seaweeds, seafoods and green tea. Their diet is 80% or more carbohydrates such as sweet potato, quinoa, bananas and beetroots (busting the current myth that you need to ‘eat less carbs’). They avoid alcohol, refined sugary foods, meats, dairy products and takeaways.

Eat more real plants

Emeritus Professor Yukio Yamori has spent over 20 years looking into epidemiology and longevity in 25 countries. Professor Yamori found the people with a higher daily intake of soybean foods lived longer, healthier lives. The people studied who ate less soybean foods had shorter lifespans. Research confirms that following a healthy plant-based wholefood diet – rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes, will lower your risk of type II diabetes and extend your lifespan. This research provides ‘the most comprehensive evidence to date’ for the link between a healthy plant-based diet and reduced risk of TII diabetes incidence¹⁻⁵⁰. The researchers found that people who followed the healthy balanced diet the closest had ‘a 23% lower risk of type 2 diabetes’ compared to people dipping in and out of their good food habits. Type II diabetes is a very strong marker for health and longevity.

Soybeans are a near-perfect food, just as they are thanks…

Soybeans, known as the “meat of the fields,” are a near-perfect balance of protein (34%), carbohydrates (30%) and fat (20%), while being rich in fibre, magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamins, lecithin and folic acid. Switching from meat to healthy natural soybean foods such as tofu and tempeh has been tied to lower mortality risk, lower heart disease risk and longer healthier lives⁵¹⁻⁵³. The U.S. National Cancer Institute ranks soybeans, cabbage, carrots and garlic as ‘the most important foods for possible cancer prevention’.

‘Our study suggests that encouraging diets with higher plant-based protein intake may contribute to long-term health and longevity’
Dr Norie Sawada, MD, PhD, Japan’s National Cancer Center in Tokyo.

Which soybean foods should I eat?

Stick to healthy, wholefood soybean foods such as tofu, tempeh or edamame. Many soy-based foods in the West are quite different from the wholefood soybean foods consumed in the traditional Asian diet. Western soy foods are often made with extracted soy proteins, concentrates or isolates, and there is a distinct lack of agreed data about the health benefits of soy protein isolates⁵⁴⁻⁵⁹. According to the USDA, over 90% of soybean farmland in America now grows genetically engineered (GE/GMO) soybeans. There is much controversy and global concern about the growing and consuming of genetically modified soy⁵⁴⁻⁵⁹. So read your labels carefully then go ahead and grab your favorite certified organic tofu or tempeh without concerns that it may put you at risk of anything more than eating too much of it!

Not all tofu is created equal

Look for the WSB logo as this guarantees your wholefood soybean product is:

  • Vegan, dairy-free & gluten-free
  • An ethically sourced, supplied & produced product
  • Premium non-GMO, Biogro® ‘Certified Organic’ whole soybeans
  • Free from soy extracts, isolates, powders & defoaming agents
  • Free from artificial additives, preservatives or fillers
  • Made traditionally, with natural nigari (not calcium/magnesium sulphate)
  • Made using the timeless Japanese stoneground process

References available here

Calcium Myths – how do I get my calcium?

Calcium is one of the most important and abundant minerals in the human body. Your bones are living tissue made of a protein-based matrix onto which hard minerals such as calcium and silicon are deposited. The heart, muscles, blood, nerves, cell membranes and bone structures all rely on calcium. The calcium in plant foods is very well absorbed. Just two tablespoons of tahini or five figs deliver almost 200mg of calcium each. Children in Japan, China and other countries consume around 300mg of calcium daily on a plant-based wholefood diet with a fit, active lifestyle and still develop strong, healthy lifelong bones.


Calcium myth #1: You need to take pills to get your calcium

This is totally incorrect. Making dietary changes to increase your intake, uptake, absorption and utilization of calcium is a smart idea but calcium in natural plants should always be the choice for calcium supplementation. The amount of calcium absorbed depends on its interaction with other constituents. Food calcium is nine times more absorbed into the blood than calcium carbonate pills and three times more than calcium gluconate pills. The single most important aspect when eating calcium foods is that it is digested, utilized and retained in the body by getting into the bones, as absorption into the bones is key.


Calcium myth #2: You need to take calcium/magnesium pills in a 2:1 ratio

This is also 100% incorrect. The ultimate bone-building superfood (human breast milk) is at a natural ratio of 10:1. The world’s healthiest older centenarians did not eat foods that were ‘2 parts calcium’ to ‘1 part magnesium’ at the same time and they lived long healthy lives with strong bones without any pills. The Chinese, Polish, Japanese & African Americans have had strong bones for thousands of years without ever taking calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio. The only people who tell you to get your calcium in a 2:1 mix with magnesium are the people selling man-made calcium pills (usually made from b-grade, degreased cow bones, rock or chalk, with added sheep-lanolin-extract).  Calcium and magnesium can fight for absorption so eating foods rich in both nutrients spread out through the day is the smartest and easiest solution.


Calcium myth #3: You need to take calcium pills with vitamin D

This is 100% incorrect. Vitamin D is fat soluble, and the body stores it so it is available when required for calcium utilization. Your bone health is about far more than just calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Vitamin D is the primary biological regulator of calcium metabolism and bone health and with enough vitamin D a healthy body absorbs about 30% of the bioavailable calcium available. Without enough vitamin D the absorption drops to 10%. However, calcium absorption is about way more than just vitamin D.


Calcium works like a team

Calcium absorption, bone re-mineralization and osteoporosis-prevention requires; naturally derived omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, natural food enzymes, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, proteins, strontium,  potassium, glycoproteins, collagen, non-collagenous proteins, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), serotonin, zinc, manganese, magnesium, copper and phosphorous and more… These nutrients are all highly bioavailable on a plant-based wholefood diet.


What are the best, easiest and healthiest food sources of calcium?

Leafy green vegetables, tofu, parsley, almonds, sardines, sesame seeds, tuna, broccoli, cauliflower, seaweed, sea vegetables, tempeh, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, pinto beans, adzuki beans, oysters, soybeans, watercress, rhubarb, nuts, bok choy or kale are all good sources of highly bioavailable calcium.

For example; Two cups of broccoli contain 300mg of calcium, no saturated fat, lots of healthy fibre and 250mg of vitamin C (which significantly improves calcium absorption). One glass of commercial cow’s milk also contains 300mg of calcium, but it comes with high levels of saturated fat and phosphorus (both of which prevents calcium absorption), and zero amounts of healthy fibre or vitamin C – both of which are required for full calcium absorption.



The best way to absorb your calcium, grow strong bones and to prevent osteoporosis is by consuming a varied, healthy, alkaline-rich diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, good quality protein, essential fatty acids & soaked, sprouted or fermented wholegrains and legumes. Lifestyle changes include regular outdoor exercise under sunlight (avoiding getting burnt of course), getting enough rest, and avoiding fizzy drinks and acidic refined foods.

Soybeans, marketing, agendas and the scientific truth

This article was published by John Robbins on December 19, 2012.


In recent years, I’ve received quite a number of requests from people asking for my views on soy products. Many of these inquiries have mentioned a stridently anti-soy article written by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, titled “Tragedy and Hype,” that has been widely circulated. This article presents a systematic series of accusations against soy consumption, and has formed the basis for many similar articles. Large numbers of people, as a result, are now seriously questioning the safety of soy. The litany of dangers with soy products, according to the article by Fallon and Enig, is nearly endless. Tofu, they say, shrinks brains and causes Alzheimer’s. Soy products promote rather than prevent cancer. Soy contains “anti-nutrients” and is full of toxins. The pro-soy publicity of the past few years is nothing but “propaganda.” Soy formula, they say, amounts to “birth control pills for babies.” “Soy is not hemlock,” they conclude, “soy is more insidious than hemlock.”

Fallon and Enig say the soy industry knows soy is poisonous, and “lie(s) to the public to sell more soy.” They say that soy is “the next asbestos.” They predict that there will be huge lawsuits with “thousands and thousands of legal briefs.” They warn that those who will be held legally responsible for deliberately manipulating the public to make money “include merchants, manufacturers, scientists, publicists, bureaucrats, former bond financiers, food writers, vitamin companies, and retail stores.” Given the rapidly expanding role that soy in its many forms has come to play in the Western diet, these accusations are extremely serious. If they are to be believed, the widespread trust that many people have come to have in soy is not only misplaced, but disastrous. Soy foods have come to play such a significant role in the diets of many health conscious people, and the allegations that have been made against soy are so many and so grave, that I think the topic warrants a careful, detailed and meticulous look.  What follows is my attempt to provide an objective appraisal of both the benefits and the dangers of soy.


Are Soy Foods a Blessing or a Curse?

It’s not that long ago those soybeans were considered by most Americans to be “hippie food.” But then medical research began accumulating, affirming that soy consumption reduced heart disease and cancer risk, that it lengthened lives and enhanced their quality, and that it provided an almost ideal protein to substitute for animal proteins that almost inevitably come packaged with cholesterol and unhealthy forms of saturated fat. The mainstream culture began taking note. In a 1999 article titled “The Joy of Soy,” Time Magazine announced that consuming a mere 1.5 ounces of soy a day can significantly lower both total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. The evidence was becoming so convincing that even the ardently pro-pharmaceutical FDA wound up affirming that soybeans are a food that can prevent and even cure disease.

As the evidence of soy’s health benefits kept accumulating, sales and consumption skyrocketed. Books like The Simple Soybean and Your Health, Tofu Cookery, and The Book of Tofu helped spread the word. Annual soymilk sales, which amounted to only a few million dollars in the early 1980s, have now soared to more than a billion dollars.  And it’s not just soy milk, it’s all soy foods.  From 1996 to 2011, annual soy food sales in the U.S. literally quintupled — increasing from $1 billion to $5 billion.

But, according to the article by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, this is all a tragic mistake, because soy is far indeed from living up to the many health claims that its proponents have made for it. Quite to the contrary, Fallon and Enig say, “the soybean contains large quantities of natural toxins or ‘anti-nutrients,’ (including) potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion… They can produce serious distress, reduced protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.”

These are serious allegations, because soy is often consumed precisely for its considerable protein levels. In my view, there is a kernel of truth behind these charges, though one that Fallon and Enig greatly overstate. It is true that the protein in cooked soybeans is slightly less digestible than that found in most animal foods.

However, when soybeans are made into soymilk, tofu, tempeh, and the other common forms of soyfoods, their protein digestibility is enhanced and becomes similar to animal foods. Any negative impact on protein digestibility due to the presence of the enzyme inhibitors found in soybeans is rendered nearly irrelevant in such foods. And even simple soybeans, with their reduced digestibility, are so high in protein and in all the essential amino acids that they could still easily serve as the sole source of protein in a person’s diet if that was necessary for some reason.

“Soybeans also contain haemagglutinin,” continue Fallon and Enig, “a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together. Trypsin inhibitors and haemagglutinin are growth inhibitors… Soy also contains goitrogens — substances that depress thyroid function.” It is true that soybeans contain these substances.  How then do we explain that moderate amounts of soyfoods have been eaten happily by entire civilizations for thousands of years? Fallon and Enig’s case is built on animal studies in which test animals fed extremely large and unnatural amounts of soy containing these substances “failed to grow normally,” and developed “pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.”  But the fact is there is little to no evidence that the quantities of these substances found in a typical diet including soybeans would represent a health danger to humans.


Animal Studies

Animal studies are at the very foundation of many of the accusations against soy. But humans are different from any other animal, so foods that affect them in one way may well affect us differently. Protease inhibitors are substances that retard the action of digestive enzymes that cause the breakdown of protein. Fallon and Enig refer to studies that show that protease inhibitors isolated from soybeans can cause cancer in some animal species, but there is no evidence even suggesting that they have the same effect in humans. In fact, protease inhibitors found in soybeans have been shown to reduce the incidence of colon, prostate and breast cancer in humans.

Fallon and Enig make much of a 1985 study which showed that soy increases the risk of pancreatic cancer in rats. But researchers with the National Cancer Institute point out that the pancreas of a few species of animals, notably rats and chicks, are extraordinarily sensitive to dietary protease inhibitors such as those found in soy. This sensitivity has not been found in other species such as hamsters, mice, dogs, pigs, and monkeys, they say, and is “not expected to occur in humans.” In fact, while rats fed nothing but soy run higher risks of pancreatic cancer, human populations consuming high levels of soy have decreased rates of pancreatic cancer.

Species, even those that seem quite closely related, often function quite differently at a molecular level. It is true, as Fallon and Enig point out, that baby rats fail to thrive on soy. But they also fail to thrive on human breast milk. This is because rats and humans have vastly different nutritional requirements. Human milk, for example, is 5% protein; rats’ milk is 45% protein.

The difference in nutritional requirements and responses for different species can be enormous. Foods that are highly nutritious for one species are often inedible or even poisonous to other species. Soybeans are high in isoflavones — phytoestrogens, or plant substances that behave like weak forms of the hormone estrogen.   Fallon and Enig select a few animal studies that appear to show a correlation between soy isoflavone consumption and cancer risk.  But soy consumption has been repeatedly found to lower breast cancer risk in humans, precisely because of the isoflavones in soy.

Why the difference?  K. O. Kline, M.D., of the Department of Clinical Science at DuPont Hospital for Children in Delaware comments in a 1998 article in Nutrition Reviews. “It is clear from the literature,” writes Kline, “that different species and different tissues are affected by (soy) isoflavones in markedly different ways.” Fallon and Enig, however, do not agree. They denounce Kline’s comments, fuming that “this is scientific double talk.”  Another interpretation would be that Kline is simply acknowledging the reality that there are physiological differences between species that must be taken into account.

Remember thalidomide, the drug that caused horrendous birth defects in children born to mothers who took the drug during their pregnancies? Thalidomide had been widely tested on animals, where it appeared to be totally safe. Similarly, the combination of fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine, recently touted to be the answer to dieters’ prayers, was extensively tested on animals and found to be very safe. Unfortunately it caused heart value abnormalities in humans. When the arthritis drug Opren was tested on monkeys, no problems were found, but it killed 61 people before it was withdrawn. Cylert was fine for animals, but when it was given to hyperactive children it caused liver failure.


Soy and Cancer: What is the Connection?

The important question, then, is what is the relationship between soy consumption and cancer in humans?  Despite the allegations of those wishing to build a case against soy, the evidence strongly suggests not only that soy does not promote cancer, but that it reduces cancer risk. For example, the elders of Okinawa have repeatedly been shown to be healthiest and longest-lived people in the world.   This was demonstrated conclusively in the renowned Okinawa Centenarian Study, a 25-year study sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Health. The researchers conducting the study analyzed the diet and health profiles of Okinawan elders, and compared them to other elder populations throughout the world.  They concluded that high soy consumption is one of the main reasons that Okinawans are at extremely low risk for hormone-dependent cancers, including cancers of the breast, prostate, ovaries and colon.  Compared to North Americans, they have a staggering 80% less breast cancer and prostate cancer, and less than half the ovarian cancer and colon cancer. This enormously reduced cancer risk arises in part, the study’s authors say, from the Okinawans large consumption of isoflavones from soy.  This is an important finding.  The lowest cancer rates in the world are found in the Okinawans who consume the most soy.

Other studies have confirmed the link between soy consumption and reduced cancer risk.  The Japan Public Health Center Study found the lowest breast cancer rates in those prefectures where women ate the most soy products.  A recent study published in the British medical journal Lancet showed that women who ate the most flavonoids (mostly isoflavones from soy products) had a substantially lower risk of breast cancer than those who had lower flavonoid intake. Perhaps most tellingly, a huge study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2003 found that women with a high intake of soy reduced their risk of breast cancer by 54% compared to women with a low intake of soy. The anti-soy campaigners repeatedly say that soyfoods raise the risk of cancer.  But such charges are incompatible with the findings of the prestigious Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which found a 70% reduction in prostate cancer for men who consume soymilk daily.

Kaayla Daniel is a protégé of Fallon and Enig and the author of a prominent anti-soy book, titled The Whole Soy Story:  The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food.  The book is edited by Fallon, who owns the small book company that publishes it.  In her book, Daniel says that “soy can almost certainly be blamed for at least some of the increase in thyroid cancers in that soy isoflavones [the type of phytoestrogen found in soy] induce… thyroid tumors.”  But that’s not what the Cancer Prevention Institute of California found when it undertook the Bay Area Thyroid Cancer Study.  Quite the contrary.  They found that those who consumed the most phytoestrogens from soy foods, whole grains, nuts and seeds, had a markedly lower risk of thyroid cancer.  Women who consumed the most soy had about half the risk of thyroid cancer compared to those who consumed the least.

It is true that if you eat too much soy and your diet is deficient in iodine, your thyroid gland may become swollen and underactive, you may develop symptoms of hypothyroidism (such as lethargy and depression), and your risk of thyroid cancer could increase.  But the answer isn’t to avoid soy.  It’s to make sure you consume enough iodine.  Soy does not cause thyroid problems in people who consume adequate amounts of iodine. In the U.S., iodine deficiency is very rare, because common table salt is fortified with iodine, and a mere quarter teaspoon of iodized salt provides the needed daily dose.  Those not consuming iodized salt, however, should make sure they are obtaining reliable sources of the mineral.  The iodine content of plant foods depends greatly on the amounts found in the soil in which they are grown.  Sea vegetables and seaweeds are excellent and reliable sources of the mineral and most multi-vitamin supplements contain iodine.

Meanwhile, Kaayla Daniel’s book has misled many health conscious people into believing that soy increases the risk not only for thyroid problems and thyroid cancer, but for many other forms of cancer.  As a result, increasing numbers of people have become frightened of eating soy. Health researcher Syd Baumel was one of the first to challenge the promotion of soy as a miracle food and to question the idea that the more soy you eat the better.  But when he looked into Daniel’s claims, he was anything but impressed.  He says Daniel’s book “consistently deceives and manipulates the reader in order to build a false case…  Pretty well anywhere you dip into this book, the waters are muddied with half-truths, misrepresentations, errors, lies and other tricks of false persuasion.”  Baumel gives this example: “Daniel cites a five-year clinical trial in which six out of 179 post-menopausal women taking a very high dosage soy isoflavone supplement developed endometrial hyperplasia.  None of the 197 women who took a placebo did.  ‘Endometrial proliferation is a precursor of cancer,’ Daniel warns, implying the women can look forward to a date with the oncologist.  She doesn’t mention that all of them developed the relatively benign, non-atypical form of endometrial hyperplasia.  Research suggests this condition carries a 2 percent risk of progressing to endometrial cancer – little different from the 1 to 2 percent risk for women in general.”

In 1997, the American Institute for Cancer Research, in collaboration with its international affiliate, the World Cancer Research Fund, issued a major international report, Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. This report analyzed more than 4,500 research studies, and its production involved the participation of more than 120 contributors and peer reviewers, including participants from the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Agency on Research in Cancer, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute. In 2000, Riva Bitrum, the President of Research for the American Institute for Cancer Research, said that “Studies showing consistently that just one serving a day of soyfoods contributes to a reduction in cancer risk are encouraging.”

Of course, any foods with such potent biological properties — even healthful ones — are bound to have some unwanted side effects in some people under some circumstances. Although soy consumption on the whole reduces cancer incidence, there are questions about its effect on women who have estrogen-positive (ER+) breast tumors. These tumors are stimulated by estrogen. Might they therefore be stimulated by the weak estrogenic activity of the isoflavones found in soy? The jury is still out.  There is some evidence this may be the case, though there is also evidence that soy consumption favorably alters the metabolism of estrogen so that it is less likely to stimulate tumor growth.   For healthy women, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, “even two or three servings a day of soyfoods should be fine as one part of a mostly plant-based diet.”

Soy supplements are a different story. Soy pills and powders can contain amounts of isoflavones (usually daidzein and genistein) far in excess of the amounts possible to get through diet. Very little research has been done on the effects of such mega-doses. Although there is no firm evidence to demonstrate that ingestion of isoflavones has adverse effects on human beings, there is also no clear evidence that large doses are safe. Some manufacturers of soy protein isolates and supplements recommend that people consume 100 grams of soy protein a day (the equivalent of 7 or 8 soyburgers).  I believe it’s probably safer, until more is learned, to avoid concentrated soy supplements entirely.


Does Soy Inhibit Mineral Absorption?

Fallon and Enig are adamant in their beef with soy, however, and their indictment of the bean continues. They fault soy for its phytic acid content. “Soybeans are high in phytic acid,” they say, “a substance that can block the uptake of essential minerals — calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract… Vegetarians who consume tofu as a substitute for meat and dairy products risk severe mineral deficiencies.” It is true that soybeans are high in phytates, as are many plant foods such as other beans, grains, nuts and seeds, and it is true that phytates can block the uptake of essential minerals, and particularly zinc. This would be a problem if a person consumed enormous amounts of soy. But the phytic acid levels found in a plant-strong diet including as much as three servings of soy a day are not high enough to cause mineral absorption problems for most people.

Furthermore, when soy products are fermented — as they are in tempeh, miso, and many other soyfoods — phytate levels are reduced to about a third their initial level. Other methods of soy preparation such as soaking, roasting and sprouting also significantly reduce phytate content. While phytates can compromise mineral absorption to some degree, there is absolutely no reliable evidence that vegetarians who eat soyfoods “risk severe mineral deficiencies.”  Even the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has acknowledged the nutritional adequacy of meatless diets. In an official statement, these representatives of the beef industry declared, “Well planned vegetarian diets can meet dietary recommendations for essential nutrients.”

Let’s look, one by one, at the minerals Fallon and Enig claim to be lacking for those who consume tofu rather than meat:

  • Zinc: It is wise for vegetarians to include plenty of zinc-rich foods in their diets, but the levels of zinc found in the hair, saliva, and blood of vegetarians are typically in the normal range. Zinc deficiency would be particularly harmful in pregnant women, but studies of pregnant women have consistently found no difference in zinc status between vegetarians and nonvegetarians.
  • Iron: Plant-strong diets are much higher in vitamin C, and vitamin C greatly enhances iron absorption, so even without eating red meat (which is high in iron), and even with the reduction in iron absorption from phytates, vegetarians are no more prone to iron deficiency than are nonvegetarians.
  • Copper: Vegetarian diets tend to be higher in copper, and vegans, in particular, consume considerably more copper than meat-eaters. Those eating plant-strong diets are typically at little to no risk of developing copper deficiencies.  But many studies, including the Chicago Health and Aging Project, have found strong links between excess copper consumption and the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.  The fact that phytates in soy reduce copper absorption may be one of the reasons vegetarians and vegans, despite their higher rates of copper consumption, have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease.  (If you eat a plant-strong diet and take multi-vitamin pills, it’s a good idea to get vitamins that do not contain copper.)
  • Magnesium: Although the higher phytate content of soybeans and grains slightly reduces magnesium absorption, vegetarian diets are typically so much higher in this crucial mineral that vegetarians consistently show markedly higher serum magnesium levels than do nonvegetarians.
  • Calcium: Calcium from soy is nearly as bioavailable as calcium from cow’s milk.  Many studies have found a correlation between the consumption of isoflavones from soyfoods and increased bone health.


Soy Foods and Bone Health

Without providing any supporting evidence, Fallon and Enig go on to say that “soyfoods block calcium and cause vitamin D deficiencies… The reason that Westerners have such high rates of osteoporosis is because they have substituted soy oil for butter, which is a traditional source of vitamin D…needed for calcium absorption.” Vitamin D is indeed needed for calcium absorption, and is crucial to human health in many other ways.  But skin exposure to sunlight, not butter consumption, has always been the primary source of vitamin D in humans. In fact, people whose skin is not exposed to direct sunlight have difficulty getting enough vitamin D from their diets without supplementation. A 1999 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that blood levels of vitamin D in sunlight-deficient people don’t begin to rise until 4,000 units of dietary vitamin D are consumed. Someone relying on unfortified butter for this amount would have to eat four pounds of butter a day.

Why, then, do Westerners have such high rates of osteoporosis? We have become sedentary, plus we consume a highly processed, high-salt, high-animal protein diet. The calcium-losing effect of animal protein on the human body is not a matter of controversy in scientific circles. Researchers who conducted a recent survey of diet and hip fractures in 33 countries said they found “an absolutely phenomenal correlation” between the percentage of plant foods in people’s diets, and the strength of their bones. The more plant foods people eat (particularly fruits and vegetables), the stronger their bones, and the fewer fractures they experience. The more animal foods people eat, on the other hand, the weaker their bones and the more fractures they experience.

Similarly, in January 2001, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that reported a dramatic correlation between the ratio of animal to vegetable protein in the diets of elderly women and their rate of bone loss. In this seven-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health, more than 1,000 women, ages 65 to 80, were grouped into three categories: those with a high ratio of animal to vegetable protein, a middle range, and a low range. The women in the high ratio category had three times the rate of bone loss as the women in the low group, and nearly four times the rate of hip fractures.

Might this have been due to other factors than the ratio of animal to vegetable protein? According to the study’s lead author, Deborah Sellmeyer, M.D., Director of the Bone Density Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center, researchers found this to be true even after adjusting for age, weight, estrogen use, tobacco use, exercise, calcium intake, and total protein intake. “We adjusted for all the things that could have had an impact on the relationship of high animal protein intake to bone loss and hip fractures,” Sellmeyer said. “But we found the relationship was still there.”


Does Soy Protect Against Heart Disease?

If the articles written and spawned by Fallon and Enig were to be believed, just about everything we’ve been taught to believe about soy’s benefits is completely backwards. What about soy’s vaunted reputation (and FDA approval) for bringing down cholesterol levels? “For most of us,” say Fallon and Enig, “giving up steak and eating veggieburgers instead will not bring down blood cholesterol levels.” Someone once said that people are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.  A review of 38 studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1995, found that soy consumption reduced cholesterol levels in 89% of the studies.

If there is a grain of truth in Fallon and Enig’s statement, it is that while soy consumption tends to bring down total cholesterol levels most in people whose cholesterol levels are high, it may not do so in those with healthier levels.  But even people with normal levels still benefit from eating more soy, according to dozens of studies, because it improves the ratio between HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol. This ratio is now recognized by the American Heart Association to be an even more important factor than total cholesterol levels in heart disease risk.

In 2000, the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association published a major statement in the peer-reviewed journal Circulation, officially recommending the inclusion of 25 grams or more of soy protein, with its associated phytochemicals intact (i.e., not in the form of an isolated soy protein supplement), in the daily diet as a means of promoting heart health. This recommendation is consistent with the FDA’s ruling allowing soy protein products to carry the health claim: “25 grams/day of soy protein, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

What do the soy pooh pooh-ers say to this? They say that lowered cholesterol levels, even those lowered by diet, are dangerous: “The truth is that cholesterol is your best friend,” they write.  “When cholesterol levels in the blood are high, it’s because the body needs cholesterol… There is no greater risk of heart disease at cholesterol levels of 300 than at 180.” That’s quite a point of view, ignoring as it does just about everything that has been learned about heart disease and cholesterol in the past 30 years of medical science. The Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial, for example, is considered the broadest and most expensive research project in medical history. Sponsored by the federal government, it took over ten years of systematic research, and cost over $150,000,000. George Lundberg, M.D., the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, where the gargantuan study was first published, said that the study proved that even small changes in our blood cholesterol levels produce dramatic changes in heart disease rates. Charles Glueck, M.D., director of the University of Cincinnati Lipid Research Center, one of the twelve major centers participating in the project, noted: “ For every 1% reduction in total blood cholesterol level, there is a 2% reduction of heart disease risk.”


Does Soy Cause Birth Defects?

One of the most alarming allegations that Fallon and Enig and other anti-soy campaigners make is that, due to the phytoestrogens in soyfoods, vegetarian diets promote birth defects. They repeatedly refer to a study published in the British Journal of Urology that found baby boys born to vegetarian mothers were five times more likely to suffer from hypospadias, a malformation of the penis correctable with surgery. I find this disturbing, but I know of no other study that links vegetarian diets with a higher rate of any birth defect, including hypospadias, and there are a number that show the opposite — lower rates of a variety of birth defects in babies born to vegetarian mothers. If the findings of this study were valid, however, it would be extremely important. We certainly need more studies to determine what is going on, but after reading the actual study I am not nearly as concerned as I was upon reading Fallon and Enig’s description, because what they neglect to mention is the significant fact that the total number of baby boys in the study born with this condition to vegetarian mothers was only seven.

It’s hard to know just what to make of this small and isolated study. To my eyes, it highlights how much we have yet to learn about the impact of the phytoestrogens contained in soy. Given our current state of knowledge, I think that pregnant women should largely avoid soy-based supplements. But there is no cause to conclude that vegetarian diets, or soyfoods, are suspect in pregnancy. Vegetarian diets have consistently shown profound benefits for pregnancy and lactation, including much lower levels of the toxic chemicals that typically concentrate higher on the food chain in meat, fish and dairy products. A report in the New England Journal of Medicine on the levels of contamination in human breastmilk found that vegan mothers had dramatically lower levels of toxic chemicals in their milk compared to mothers in the general population. The highest level seen among these vegan mothers was actually lower than the lowest level seen in nonvegetarian mothers. In fact, the levels of contamination found in the milk of the vegetarian mothers was only 1%-2% as great as the level found in the milk of nonvegetarians.


Infant Soy Formulas: Birth Control Pills for Babies?

Another of the disturbing charges made by the soy bashers is the allegation that “an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least five birth control pills per day.” Soy formula, say Fallon and Enig, amounts to “birth control pills for babies.” In my view, there could be some basis here for concern. For an adult to regularly eat soy characteristically produces a reduced risk of developing breast or prostate cancer. But the same phytoestrogens that produce this effect in adults may produce very different effects in infants. “With adults, half their phytoestrogens are freed into the bloodstream to bind to estrogen receptors, which helps to fight breast cancer,” explains Patricia Bertron, dietitian director of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “But with infants, less than five percent are available to bind to receptors.” There is a possibility that this could pose a risk to the sexual development of infants and children. Because the milk source makes up nearly the entire diet of infants, babies fed soy formulas may be at increased risk of harm.

These theoretical risks are quite disturbing, but they appear at this point to be merely theoretical, because we have yet to see any substantive evidence of this harm in people. There have been no reports of hormonal abnormalities in people who were fed soy formula as infants — and this includes millions of people in the past 30 years. In fact a major study published in the August, 2001, Journal of the American Medical Association found that infants fed soy formula grow to be just as healthy as those raised on cow’s milk formulas. If the phytoestrogens in soy were affecting the reproductive system of infants fed soy formulas, then soy-fed babies would develop reproductive health problems as adults. The study evaluated 811 men and women between the ages of 20 and 34 who had participated in soy and cow’s milk studies as infants. No significant differences were found between the groups in more than 30 health areas. The only exception was that women who had been soy-fed reported slightly longer menstrual periods (one-third of a day) than women raised on cow’s milk formulas.

The debate as to which is better, formulas based on soy or cow’s milk, is unresolved. Each seems to have its own dangers. What is indisputable is that babies reared on breastmilk have phenomenal health advantages over babies reared on any type of formula.


Compared to babies who are fed soy or cow’s milk based formulas, babies who are beast-fed for at least six months have:

  • Three times fewer ear infections
  • Five times fewer urinary tract infections
  • Five times fewer serious illnesses of all kinds
  • Seven times fewer allergies, and are
  • Fourteen times less likely to be hospitalized.


The health advantages of breastfeeding are almost impossible to exaggerate.  Babies who are breast-fed:

  • Spit up less often
  • Have less diarrhea
  • Have less constipation
  • Are 30 times less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Are only half as likely to develop diabetes
  • Half an average I.Q. seven points higher


The health benefits of breastfeeding are lifelong. As adults, people who were breast-fed:

  • Have less asthma
  • Have fewer allergies
  • Have less diabetes
  • Have fewer skin problems including dermatitis
  • Have lower risks of heart attacks and stroke
  • Have lower cholesterol levels
  • Have less ulcerative colitis (ulcers in the large intestines)
  • Have less Crohn’s disease, and
  • Have protection from certain chronic liver diseases.


The evidence that breast is best is utterly overwhelming.  Yet the anti-soy crusader Sally Fallon would evidently prefer that an infant be fed a cow’s milk formula rather than breast milk, if the mother is a vegetarian. She writes that “breast milk is best if the mother has consumed a …diet…rich in animal proteins and fat throughout her pregnancy and continues to do so while nursing her child.”


Why would someone make a statement like that? Where are these soy antagonists coming from? What are they trying to prove?

Fallon and Enig, like Kaayla Daniel and many of the other headliners in the anti-soy campaign, are proponents of the philosophy that in order to be healthy people must eat large amounts of saturated fat from animal products.  They advocate feeding pureed meat to infants.  And they deplore the fact that soy products are increasingly replacing animal products in the American diet.


Cow’s Milk vs. Soy Milk

Some anti-soy crusaders, most notably the U.S. dairy industry, clearly have a financial agenda. In recent years, the dairy industry has been waging war particularly against soymilk. They have attempted to keep soy beverages from being included in the milk group in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They have sued the manufacturers of soy beverages for using the word milk, claiming that the dairy industry alone has a right to use the term. And they have tried to keep soy beverages from being sold alongside cow’s milk in the grocery aisles. A spokesperson for the National Milk Producers Federation made it clear why the industry was upset. “It is,” he said, “a clear attempt to compete with dairy products.”

Heaven forbid.

Meanwhile, the dairy industry has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars on ads and other forms of promotion trying to convince the public that cow’s milk is vastly preferable to soymilk. For example, the Dairy Bureau tell us that…. “Unfortified soy beverages contain only half of the phosphorus, 40 percent of the riboflavin, 10 percent of the vitamin A, (and) 3 percent of the calcium . . . found in a serving of cow’s milk.”


Let’s look at the Dairy Bureau’s claims carefully for a moment.

  • Only half the phosphorus?  That sounds bad.  But we actually get plenty of phosphorus in our diets, and possibly even too much. Providing only half the phosphorus of cow’s milk is an advantage, says dietician Brenda Davis, not a disadvantage.
  •  Only 40 percent of the riboflavin? It’s true that unfortified soymilks contain only about half as much of this nutrient, also known as Vitamin B2, as cow’s milk.  But riboflavin is plentiful in nutritional yeast and green leafy vegetables, and is found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes, so getting enough riboflavin isn’t a problem for people who eat a variety of healthy foods. In fact, vegans (who consume no dairy products) consume as much, or nearly as much, of this vitamin as lacto-ovo vegetarians and non-vegetarians. A mere teaspoon of Red Star Nutritional Yeast powder contains as much riboflavin (1.6 mg) as an entire quart of cow’s milk.
  • Only 10 percent of the vitamin A? Vitamin A is plentiful in plant-based diets. We don’t need milk to get sufficient amounts of this nutrient. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is quite rare among North Americans and Europeans who eat plant-based diets. Furthermore, vitamin A is high in cow’s milk only because it’s added to it, and there is no reason it could not be added to non-dairy beverages if there was some advantage to doing so.
  • Only 3 percent of the calcium provided by cow’s milk? Where does the dairy industry come up with this stuff? All of the most popular soy beverages sold in the United States provide vastly more calcium than the 3 percent claimed by the Dairy Bureau. Most enriched versions provide 100 percent as much. Even those soy beverages that have not been enriched provide two to nine times as much calcium as claimed by the Dairy Bureau.


Meanwhile, there are a few more things the dairy industry isn’t telling you about the nutritional comparison between cow’s milk and soymilk that you might want to keep in mind. For example:

  • Cow’s milk provides more than nine times as much saturated fat as soy beverages, so is far more likely to contribute to heart disease.
  • Soy beverages provide more than 10 times as much essential fatty acids as cow’s milk, and so provide a far healthier quality of fat.
  • Soy beverages are cholesterol-free, while cow’s milk contains 34 mg of cholesterol per cup.
  • Soy beverages lower both total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, while cow’s milk raises both total and LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Soy beverages contain numerous protective phytochemicals that may protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. Cow’s milk contains no phytochemicals.



Still, there are legitimate questions about soy. To my mind by far the most disturbing stems from the fact that 90 percent of the U.S. soybean crop today is genetically engineered. These are beans that have been genetically altered to enable the growing plants to withstand being sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. Because so much Roundup is used on these crops, the residue levels in the harvested crops greatly exceed what until very recently was the allowable legal limit. For the technology to be commercially viable, the FDA had to triple the residues of Roundup’s active ingredients that can remain on the crop. Many scientists have protested that permitting increased residues to enable a company’s success reflects an attitude in which corporate interests are given higher priority than public safety, but the increased levels have remained in force.


While Roundup has been shown to cause reproductive disorders and birth defects in a large number of animal studies, its impact on humans is far less understood.  But a laboratory study done in France in 2005 found that Roundup caused the death of human placental cells.  And a 2009 study found that Roundup caused total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells within 24 hours. It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that eating genetically engineered soybeans could pose serious health risks to people.  In 2001, the Los Angeles Times published an exposé revealing that prior to being granted FDA approval, Monsanto’s own research had raised many questions about the safety of their Roundup Ready soybeans. Remarkably, the FDA did not call for more testing before allowing these soybeans to flood the marketplace. Since 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the United States are now Monsanto’s Roundup Ready variety, and because soy is contained in such a wide array of processed foods, tens of millions of people are unknowingly eating these inadequately researched foods daily.  It’s a mass experiment, except that there is no control group, data is not being systematically collected, and virtually the entire human population are the guinea pigs.

According to Monsanto’s own tests, Roundup Ready soybeans contain 29 percent less of the brain nutrient choline, and 27 percent more trypsin inhibitor, the potential allergen that interferes with protein digestion, than normal soybeans. Soy products are often prescribed and consumed for their phytoestrogen content, but according to the company’s tests, the genetically altered soybeans have lower levels of phenylalanine, an essential amino acid that affects levels of phytoestrogens. And levels of lectins, which are most likely the culprit in soy allergies, are nearly double in the transgenic variety.

Compared to regular soybeans, the genetically engineered beans have more of the very things that are problematic, and less of the very things that are beneficial.  As well, there is growing evidence that Roundup Ready soybeans disrupt the bacterial milieu of the human gastrointestinal tract. In 2011, one of the nation’s senior scientists, Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, informed Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack of a dire new development.  A new pathogen had been discovered that may already be doing irreparable harm to both plants and animals.  Dr. Huber pleaded with Vilsack to understand that… “It is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready soybeans and corn… This could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies…  For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman’s terms, it… is an emergency.”

Recognizing that virtually all U.S. beef cattle, dairy cows and pigs are fed Roundup Ready soy, Huber went on to write: “The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%… “It is well-documented that [Roundup’s primary active ingredient] glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders… “I have studied plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem. It deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.”

There is a very real danger taking place in the world of soy.  While the anti-soy brigade had been saying that soy foods are hazardous to human health, they have been missing the true peril.  It’s not the soy that’s the problem, it’s what’s been done to the soy.  It is likely that that many if not most of the allergic and other adverse reactions we are seeing today to soybeans are actually reactions to the genetic engineering of our soy crop. If the soy foods you eat are not either organically grown or Non GMO Project certified, you can be pretty sure they are Roundup Ready.


Should We Eat Soy At All?

While soy foods have much to offer, they have certainly been at times heavily over-promoted. As a result, some people have gathered the impression that as long as they eat enough soy, they don’t have to worry about the rest of their diet and lifestyle. This is a dangerous and mistaken belief. Just as taking vitamins can’t atone for a poor diet, consuming soy can’t make up for a diet that’s otherwise poor. Nor can it compensate for a lack of exercise, or other destructive lifestyle habits.

The hype has also made us forget something important. We are eating soy products today at levels never before seen in history. Advances in food technology have made it possible to isolate soy proteins, isoflavones, and other substances found in the bean, and add them to all kinds of foods where they’ve never been before. The number of processed and manufactured foods that contain soy ingredients today is astounding. It can be hard to find foods that don’t contain soy flour, soy oil, lecithin (extracted from soy oil and used as an emulsifier in high-fat products), soy protein isolates and concentrates, textured vegetable protein (TVP), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (usually made from soy) or unidentified vegetable oils. Most of what is labeled “vegetable oil” in the U.S. is actually soy oil. And most of our soy products are now genetically engineered.

This has never before been done in human history. It is an experiment, and should be undertaken, if at all, with great humility, watchfulness, and caution. Instead, under the influence of an almost mystical belief in soy’s virtues, we’ve tended to fall prey to an illusion that has haunted American culture in all kinds of ways — the illusion that if a little is good, then surely more must be better. The anti-soy crusaders, on the other hand, tell us that any amount of soy is too much. They are correct that there are substances in soy that if eaten in too high a concentration can cause problems.  The reality, though, is that this is true of almost all foods. In fact, if you made it your policy to eat no food that contained substances which can in large enough concentrations cause damage, there would be literally nothing left for you to eat.

It’s true that soybeans contain substances that in excess can be harmful. But to imply, as some do, that eating soy foods poses a risk to human health is twisting and distorting the evidence. There would be dangers in eating a diet based entirely on soybeans. But, then, the same could be said for broccoli or any other healthy food. This is one of the reasons why varied diets are so important. Diversity protects. For most people under most circumstances, organic or non-GMO soy products are a healthful addition to a balanced diet that includes plenty of vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, and other legumes. For most people, substituting organic or non-GMO soy foods for some of the animal foods they now eat is one of the healthiest dietary changes they could make.

In my view, the best way to take advantage of soy’s health benefits is to follow the example of the traditional Asian diets. As a population, these are cultures that, when they have eaten their traditional diets, have tended to be healthier and live longer than Americans. The Okinawa Japanese, the longest living people in the world, average 1-2 servings of soy each day. They have traditionally eaten regular but moderate amounts of whole soy foods such as tofu, soymilk, and edamame, as well as the fermented versions, tamari, and miso. These are the soy foods that I prefer to eat — rather than the soy products made with soy protein isolates, soy protein concentrates, hydrolyzed soy protein, partially hydrogenated soy oil, etc. Whole soy foods made from organic or non-GMO soybeans are more natural, and are the soy foods that have nourished entire civilizations for centuries.


For me, the best of the soybean includes foods like:

* Tofu. The soaking process used traditionally to make tofu reduces the trypsin inhibitors and phytates. High in protein, tofu has a bland and neutral taste, and can be added to all kinds of foods. As with all soy products, get organic if you can.

* Tempeh. Extremely high in protein and fiber, and produced in a way that greatly lowers trypsin inhibitors and phytates, tempeh is, from a nutritional perspective, an ideal way to eat soybeans.  Most people feel it needs considerable seasoning to taste good.

* Miso.  Widely used as a salty condiment and a basis for soups, miso is a potent probiotic, containing many kinds of friendly bacteria that are beneficial to the intestinal tract. The fermentation process used to make miso deactivates the trypsin inhibitors and phytates.

* Tamari (or Shoyu).  This is a fermented soy sauce that is very flavorful and salty.

* Soymilk.  Often called soy “beverages,” or soy “drinks,” because the dairy industry refuses to allow them to use the word “milk.” Trypsin inhibitors and phytates are low. I prefer the brands made with whole soybeans, and avoid those made with soy protein or soymilk powder. (There are also milks made from rice, almonds and oats that offer their own advantages to cow’s milk.)

* Soy Nuts and Soy Nut Butter.  These are particular favorites with many children. Roasting helps reduce phytate levels.

* Edamame.  This is a green vegetable soybean harvested while immature, so that the seeds fill 80% to 90% of the pod. Cooked for about 15 minutes in lightly salted boiling water, it’s served as a snack, mixed with vegetables, or added to salads or soups.

* Soy ice creams (non-dairy frozen desserts).  These may not technically belong on a list of the healthiest of ways to eat soy, but I must admit I’ve got a weakness for them. I eat the ones made with organic beans and/or organic soymilk, and not those (like Tofutti) made with soy proteins or soy protein isolates. (There are also frozen desserts made from coconut milk and other plant foods that also offer advantages to cow’s milk ice cream.)


My conclusion

Genetically engineered soybeans present us with a historically unprecedented problem.  The health benefits of soy beans may be negated by the dangers of GMO soy.  Becoming a soy-a-holic and automatically downing anything made from soybeans is not the road to health.  But neither is shunning and stigmatizing high quality soy foods. The anti-soy crusade has needlessly frightened many away from a food source that has long been a boon to humankind, a food source that can, if we are respectful of our bodies and of nature, nourish and bless us in countless ways.

John Robbins, December 19, 2012.

Eat a Local, Seasonal, Balanced, Plant-Based Wholefood Diet (Golden Rule #7)

Good quality vegetables are essential to life and they should form the biggest part of the diet. Eating and ingesting a wide variety of vegetable nutrients gives you a strong gastrointestinal and immune system, a powerful heart, improved eyesight, a protected brain, increased fat-loss and weight-management and a far lower risk of almost every disease known. There are thousands of vegetable nutrients that build and add to these benefits and protection.


The health benefits of eating a plant-based wholefoods diet

  • Helps slow various aspects of the ageing process
  • Improves the cardiovascular system
  • Scavenges the free radicals that cause devastating internal damage
  • Improves our natural detoxification processes
  • Reverses and removes the lipid peroxidation of rancid fat
  • Prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol building up in the arteries
  • Reduces the incidence of age-related macular degeneration
  • Counteracts inflammation of body tissues
  • Protects the skin from sun damage
  • Protects your genetic code from corruption
  • Contributes to a far lower overall risk of disease including cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and cognitive decline


Some tips to help your transition to a plant-based diet

  1. Eat 40% vegetables and the rest mainly plant-based food
  2. Eat 5 servings of raw fruit and 10 servings of vegetables daily
  3. Plan meals where vegetables are the main event, not the side dish
  4. Have a main salad (not a side salad), then add your protein
  5. When making steamed vegetables, have them cover the bottom of the plate and drizzle a tasty sauce on top of them. Then add the extras
  6. Eating your salad with good quality salad dressing or avocado means you absorb the fat-soluble carotenoids more effectively
  7. Make a 100% vegetable soup and then add a little protein in at the end if required
  8. Raw cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots or cucumbers are all great snacks. Eaten raw, they are packed with living nutrition and the chewing slows down the possibility of overeating, as you get full earlier
  9. Dip your celery stalks into tahini to get a massive hit of calcium, potassium and many other bone-building nutrients


Vegetables are the single most important life-extending foods. Eat more, eat them now and learn to love them!


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

There’s Value in Paying the Living Wage

Co-Managing Director extraordinaire Jesse Chalmers talks about the benefits of paying our employees (our family, our whanau) a Living Wage. Watch the video here

Eating traditionally made tofu helps prevent breast cancer

Emerging research again confirms long-standing epidemiological data that eating traditionally made whole soybean foods, such as tofu, may decrease the occurrence of breast cancer. Women in Asian countries, who consume high amounts of these natural foods, have breast cancer rates up to five times lower than those in the West¹.

Interestingly, the daughters of Asian women who immigrate to Western countries – eating far less tofu – have significantly higher breast cancer risk²⁻³.

‘What we know about soy consumption in humans is that whole and minimally processed soy foods, such as edamame, tofu, and tempeh, have been shown in several studies to protect women from breast cancer recurrence’
Maggie Neola, Barnard Medical Center and Physicians Committee, Washington⁴.

Global research shows tofu to be a powerful preventative

Many large Japanese and American studies have found that relative risks of postmenopausal breast cancer were lower among women with higher intakes of soybeans⁵⁻⁸. The Shanghai Women’s Health Study and an additional 13 prospective cohort studies reported the same thing; the more traditionally made soybean foods in the diet, the higher the protection against breast cancer. Good quality tofu does not increase breast cancer risk and seems to exhibit a protective effect on breast health, regardless of other lifestyle and diet choices. Tofu – made the old-fashioned way – was the most consumed soy food in the research⁹⁻³¹. Natural tofu contains compounds such as isoflavones which have the “putative ability to inhibit carcinogenesis” (cancer growth) ³²⁻³⁹.

The modern diet and disease rates

The traditional Japanese plant-based diet – rich in tofu – is the opposite of the modern Western diet. Could our lack of plant-based foods alter our hormone production, metabolism, or immune system at the cellular level? Epidemiologic evidence strongly suggests this as the highest levels of plant compounds in the diet are also found predominantly in regions with low cancer incidence⁴⁰.

‘Studies have not shown any increased risk of breast cancer recurrence or death linked to soy consumption. In fact, higher amounts of soy were linked to a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence or death’
Wendy Chen, MD, MPH, Breast Oncologist, Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, Dana-Farber.

Natural wholefood soybean tofu is a nutrition-packed complete protein superfood

Tofu is easily absorbed by the body, has an amazing 12% complete protein, and contains all nine essential amino acids, making it an important protein source. Tofu is low in saturated fat, yet rich in folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin B2. Soybeans also contribute 40 times more protein per area of land than meat farming, so they are incredibly good, ethically, for people’s health and for the environment.

Which soybean foods should I eat?

If you’re a woman concerned about breast health, then stick to healthy, wholefood soybean foods such as tofu, tempeh or edamame. Many soy-based foods in the West are quite different from the wholefood soybean foods consumed in the traditional Asian diet. Western soy foods are often made with extracted soy proteins, concentrates or isolates, and there is a distinct lack of agreed data about the health benefits of soy protein isolates⁴¹⁻⁴². According to the USDA, over 90% of soybean farmland in America now grows genetically engineered (GE/GMO) soybeans. There is much controversy and global concern about the growing and consuming of genetically modified soy⁴³⁻⁴⁵. So read your labels carefully then go ahead and grab your favorite certified organic tofu without concerns that it may put you at risk of anything more than eating too much of it! Tofu is a tasty delight when placed into a curry or Asian-flavoured meal.

Not all tofu is created equal

Look for the WSB logo as this guarantees your wholefood soybean product is:

  • Vegan, dairy-free & gluten-free
  • An ethically sourced, supplied & produced product
  • Premium non-GMO, Biogro® ‘Certified Organic’ whole soybeans
  • Free from soy extracts, isolates, powders & defoaming agents
  • Free from artificial additives, preservatives or fillers
  • Made traditionally, with natural nigari (not calcium/magnesium sulphate)
  • Made using the timeless Japanese stoneground process


References available here

Record of all References – Alphabetical Order

Below is a comprehensive record of all the references mentioned in our articles, these are in alphabetical order by the article title.

Eating traditionally made tofu helps prevent breast cancer

  1. Ferlay J, Bray F, Pisani P. Cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence worldwide. IARC Cancer Base no. 5. Lyon: IARC Press; 2004.
  2. Ziegler RG, Hoover RN, Pike MC, Hildesheim A, Nomura AMY, West DW, Wu-Williams AH, Kolonel LN, Horn-Ross PL, et al. Migration patterns and breast cancer risk in Asian-American women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1993;85:1819–27.
  3. Ganry O. Phytoestrogen and breast cancer prevention. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2002;11:519–22.
  4. ‘Scientists Untangle the Soy-Breast Cancer Paradox’ By Christopher Wanjek, LiveScience, February 1, 2017.
  5. Yamamoto, S, Sobue, T, Kobayashi, M, et al. Soy, isoflavones, and breast cancer risk in Japan. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003; 95: 906– 13.
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Fermented Indonesian superfood found to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart attacks

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  • Christensen L., et al. ‘Impact of A Dietary Change on Emotional Distress.’ Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1985, 94(4):565–79.
  • Ludwig, D.S., et al., ‘High Glycemic Index Foods, Overeating and Obesity.’ Pediatrics, March 1999, 03(3):26–32.
  • Study research presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Scottsdale, Arizona, December 2008, by researchers at Princeton University.
  • Yasuhito Onodera, Jin-Min Nam and Mina J. Bissell, ‘Increased sugar uptake promotes oncogenesis via EPAC/RAP1 and O-GlcNAc pathways.’ Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2 January 2014.
  • Study by Basu, S., et al. ‘The relationship of sugar to population-level diabetes prevalence: an econometric analysis of repeated cross-sectional data.’ PLoS ONE 2013; DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0057873.
  • Du, L. Li, D. Bennett, Y. Guo, Z. Bian, J. Chen, T. Key, R. Collins, R. Peto and Z. Chen, study on 451,682 people over seven years, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, and the National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment in Beijing, European Heart Journal (2014) 35.
  • Study by Liu, L., Zubik, L., Collins, F.W., Marko, M., Meydani, M., ‘The antiatherogenic potential of oat phenolics compounds.’ Atherosclerosis, 2004, 175:39–49. Also see, Davidson, A., The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press, p. 892.

High consumption of meat and dairy is fueling climate change, UN report warns

We are passionate here at TONZU about the world and our over-riding ‘social enterprise’ values are always a deep empathy for our planet and all the people on it while leaving the world in better shape than how we found it. Our values and culture are committed to making a difference to the world through genuine love and caring for all life.  We use fairness and support with our people, to guide our decisions and processes, looking to encourage personal growth and welcoming human interdependency with each other. We welcome more plant-based meals being eaten by Kiwis every day!

Switching to a plant-based diet can help fight climate change according to a major United Nations report released today. Here’s what some of the top scientists, along with Greenpeace New Zealand and Beef and Lamb New Zealand, had to say about the findings

One News Report

Fermented Indonesian super-food found to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart attacks

Tempeh (pronounced ‘tem-pay’ or ‘tem-peh’) is a natural staple food in Indonesia but a relatively new and unusual food to Kiwis. In many Asian countries, people consume fermented tempeh every day for the extraordinary ‘long healthy life’ benefits. The famous ‘Blue Zones’ research found that cultures around the world where life-span is exceptionally long, all ate a predominantly plant-based diet – rich in beans or bean products.

Eat soybeans daily for longevity

The all-time longevity champions in the islands of Okinawa, Japan, eat good quality traditionally made soybean foods (tempeh, tofu and miso) every day. So do the Loma Linda population – the longest-lived and healthiest group in America. Soybeans, when soaked and processed traditionally into foods such as tempeh, become superfoods. Soybeans also contribute 40 times more protein per area of land than meat farming, so they are incredibly good, ethically, for people’s health and for the environment.

The biggest soybean and cholesterol research ever done

In 2019, researchers performed a new meta-analysis² of 46 controlled trials on the effects of soy protein on LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol compared with non-soy protein. They found ‘soy protein significantly reduced LDL cholesterol in adults’. Almost every study done on soybeans has found that regular consumption helps remove bad LDL cholesterol from the arteries while increasing ‘good HDL cholesterol’ and reducing the risk of heart disease³⁻⁸.


“The existing data and our analysis of it suggest soy protein contributes to heart health”

Study lead author, Dr David Jenkins, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada¹.


Eating healthy soybean foods helps lower heart attacks

In another recent major study⁹, Chinese researchers looked at over 3,500 first-time heart attack sufferers and healthy individuals. They reported that ‘An unhealthy dietary pattern increased the risk of heart attack while an increased intake of vegetables, fruits, and natural soybean foods were associated with a significant drop in heart attack rates’.

Fermented tempeh is a nutrition-packed complete superfood

Tempeh contains an amazing 17% complete protein, which means that it contains all nine essential amino acids. This makes it an important plant-based protein source. Tempeh has ‘good’ probiotic bacteria and fibre, is low in saturated fat, yet rich in folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin B2. Tempeh tastes delicious, especially when lightly seasoned, with a healthy nutty flavour that sits well in many curry and Asian-flavoured meals.

“Soybeans are unique among the legumes because they are a concentrated source of isoflavones. It has been hypothesized that isoflavones reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, and help relieve menopausal symptoms”

Mark J Messina, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition¹⁰


Which soybean foods should I eat?

While many wholefood soy products are nutritionally beneficial, traditionally made, certified organic fermented tempeh is the most heart-healthy and beneficial of all. When certified organic tempeh is made, the non-GMO beans are soaked and pre-digested with the healthy ‘good probiotic’ bacteria rhyzopus culture. It is kept whole, there is no chemical extraction or nasties added, and it is naturally GMO-free. There is much controversy and global concern about the growing and consuming of genetically modified soy¹¹⁻¹³. According to the USDA, over 90% of soybean farmland in America now grows genetically engineered (GE/GMO) soybeans. Read your labels carefully. Only use traditionally made, certified organic soy foods. Tempeh is kept in the fridge of your local supermarket or health store.


Not all soy foods are created equal

If you want to be sure your soybeans are high quality, certified organic, ethical and non-GMO, then look for the WSB logo, as this certifies and guarantees:

  • Vegan, dairy-free & gluten-free
  • An ethically sourced, supplied & produced product
  • Premium non-GMO, Biogro® ‘Certified Organic’ whole soybeans
  • Free from soy extracts, isolates, powders & defoaming agents
  • Free from artificial additives, preservatives or fillers
  • Made traditionally, with natural nigari (not calcium/magnesium sulphate)
  • Made using the timeless Japanese stoneground process


References available here

PDF of article available here

The Value of Plant-Based Foods: Claire Turnbull, TVNZ Breakfast Show 01/08/2019

Claire Turnbull is often featured on TVNZ Breakfast and today she is talking about the range of options available for vegetarians and vegans featuring our amazingly delicious Tonzu and Zenzo range! Check it out by clicking below!

TVNZ Claire Turnbull on Breakfast

Is a plant-based wholefood diet the new hand washing?

Dirty infected hands are fine while dealing with infectious diseases? In the 1800s, Austrian Dr Ignaz Semmelweiss advocated hand washing between patients to keep hospitals clean and hygienic. He was branded a disgrace by the medical profession. A large number of surgeries were complicated by infection, there was a high risk of death due to poor hygiene practices and hospitals earned a reputation as death houses. However, once hand washing was widely accepted, death rates for infectious diseases in hospital wards dropped by 90%. Initially though, this radical idea was greeted with scepticism, ridiculed for being extreme and was ignored by most doctors of the day.


‘Cancer should not be a death sentence anywhere in the world as there are proven ways to prevent and cure many cancers’
Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, Russia.


Eat more plants, eat less meat

The authors of many large and peer-reviewed meta-analysis study projects covering millions of people studied from all across the world, have commented that, ‘eating far more plants and far less meat’, is one of the key steps for health and longevity. The groups and the studies include the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), the International 2013 GBD Study, the 2010 Heart and Stroke Statistics report as published by the American Heart Association (as compiled by an international consortium of nearly 500 scientists from 187 countries globally), the Harvard School of Public Health, the most comprehensive report ever issued on cancer: the 351-page World Cancer Report as issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the WHO.


‘When these patients commit to plant-based nutrition, they can not only halt but they can arrest and on occasion there will be significant evidence of disease reversal. It’s getting to the point where it will be unconscionable for patients with cardiovascular disease not to be informed that this option exists’
Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Retired Heart Surgeon, Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, January 2013.


‘This research is staggering and shows clear evidence that regular meat consumption contributes substantially to premature death. By simply replacing meat with other foods, 10% of male deaths and 8% of female deaths could be prevented’
Dr Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health, USA, commenting on the 28-year study covering 120,000 people, March 2013.


The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research had independent scientists at Imperial College in London review all the 1012 ‘cancer and diet’ studies in the medical literature. This was the most comprehensive, evidence-based research on cancer and diet ever undertaken. Following that, another Independent Expert Panel reviewed the results and made judgements. What did they recommend? ‘Consume a plant-based diet. On meat, the clear message that comes out of our report is that red and processed meat increases risk of bowel cancer and that people who want to reduce their risk should consider cutting down the amount they eat’.


Teresa Nightingale, General Manager of WCRF said, ‘Many people feel confused about cancer prevention because it can seem like a new study is published every week that suggests that a new substance either causes or prevents cancer. But this takes the latest scientific findings and adds them to the existing body of evidence in a way that ensures our advice takes the latest research into account. This means people can be confident that our recommendations are up-to-date as well as being the most evidence-based information on cancer prevention available anywhere in the world. This latest report shows that there is enough evidence to recommend that people can reduce their bowel cancer risk by consuming less red and processed meat and alcohol, having more foods containing fibre, and by maintaining a healthy weight and being regularly physically active. This report confirms that bowel cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer and we estimate that about 43% of bowel cancers cases in the UK could be prevented through these sorts of changes. That is about 17,000 cases every year’16


The combination of eating a plant-based wholefood diet, making lifestyle changes and regular intelligent fasting is the most powerful thing I have seen, witnessed, done, followed, experienced and been a part of — ever. There are studies going back 100 years involving millions of people from all over the world on this subject. They all say the same thing. Eat better, eat less and change what you do every day.


Simple isn’t it?


Why are we not doing it?


Simple changes will probably add a few decades of wonderful health and vitality to your life, and may just save your life.


However, the process requires (wait for it, take a deep breath, hold on!); changing our attitude and our behaviour.


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

Nearly 100 studies show that plant-based wholefood diets save lives

Here is another massive summary of research (released and compiled as a meta-analysis – a collection of various different studies and research project results), that defines again how powerful plant-based diets are – be they vegetarian, vegan, plant-based or very low-level meat diets. As I have recommended for the last 30 years, the science is now catching up on a near-weekly basis.


The objective of this ‘multiple health outcomes: a systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies’, according to the authors, was ‘to clarify the association between vegetarian, vegan diets, risk factors for chronic diseases, risk of all-cause mortality, incidence and mortality from cardio-cerebrovascular diseases, total cancer and specific type of cancer (colorectal, breast, prostate and lung), through meta-analysis.’


And they certainly did just that…


The method they used was a comprehensive independent analysis of published Medline, EMBASE, Scopus, The Cochrane Library and Google Scholar research papers. The results were stunning and conclusive over 86 cross-sectional and 10 cohort prospective studies.


This is almost 100 independent studies, showing that plant-based diets extend healthy longevity, protect against disease and save lives.


The authors wrote ‘The overall analysis among cross-sectional studies reported significant reduced levels of body mass index, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and glucose levels in vegetarians versus omnivores. With regard to prospective cohort studies, the analysis showed a significant reduced risk of incidence and/or mortality from ischemic heart disease and incidence of total cancer.’


What is the bottom line?

The conclusion they came to was ‘a significant protective effect of a vegetarian type diet versus the incidence and/or mortality from ischemic heart disease and incidence from total cancer.’


Exact conclusions?

The authors wrote ‘This comprehensive meta-analysis reports a significant protective effect of a vegetarian diet versus the incidence and/or mortality from ischemic heart disease (−25%) and incidence from total cancer (−8%). Vegan diet conferred a significant reduced risk (−15%) of incidence from total cancer’.


This is serious, significant, immediate and game-changing if you think about it.


Eat a plant-based wholefood diet.


That means most or all plants; most or all wholefoods.


An apple instead of an apple juice.


Brown rice instead of white rice etc.


Whole wheat naturally fermented sourdough bread instead of white flour.


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

What about pesticides & herbicides?

‘As far back as 1990, in my book Conscious Eating, I cite research suggesting that animal flesh (being at the top of the food chain) contained approximately 15 times more toxins than vegetables. Root vegetables had four times more than leafy vegetables. Cow’s milk had about 5–6 times more toxins than leafy vegetables. Depleted uranium is somewhere in estimate of 15–30 times greater in milk and in water than in plants. Eating higher on the food chain (milk, meat, chicken, and fish) is definitely exposing people to a higher level of toxins, which of course is worse if cooked’
Dr Gabriel Cousens, MD, MD (H), Diplomat Ayurveda, Diplomat Board of American Holistic Health, Holistic Physician and Scientist with papers published in Biochemical and Biophysics Journal, as edited from an open published letter, USA, January 2011.


Sprayed vegetables and fruits are better than sprayed ‘anything else’

The super antioxidant disease-preventing secondary metabolites, the unique fibres, carotenoids, polyphenols, flavonoids, alkaloids and terpenoids are all only available in vegetables. Eating more fruits and vegetables is the best way to counteract any damage from pesticides. Vegetables are packed with the most powerful protection you can get so it is always better to be eating more of them — organic or not. You can always back up your vitamin C and antioxidant requirements with a daily intake of home-grown sprouts. A $70 initial investment in your garden will yield $600 in food for a year. Growing your own sprouts triples that return.


Five key points regarding produce

Almost all foods tested have chemical residues so continue to eat lots of all kinds of vegetables. They are the best foods available and the most protective against all cancers.

The positive health-giving benefits that vegetables and plant-based wholefoods have, is much stronger than small amounts of chemical residues. Nearly 95% of the pesticide residue in the typical modern diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Try to get as many fresh fruits and vegetables from your grandma’s backyard. If you can’t do this, grow your own. Or grow a small crop and swap your parsley for your neighbour’s apples. Or carefully choose your own at farmers’ markets or wholefood health stores. You can remove the pesticide and herbicide residue on your fruit and vegetables by using the cleaning solution below.


Remove the chemical residues yourself

Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones of a good healthy diet. Washing fresh produce in water can reduce levels of some pesticides but it does not eliminate them. The best options are to grow the food you can (depending on the circumstances in your life), buy organic food when you can, eat a varied, local, plant-based wholefood diet, and lastly, wash all sprayed produce with a natural fruit and vegetable wash to remove the residue.


Fruit and vegetable wash to remove chemical spray residues

1 cup of water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon white vinegar


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

Raising healthy kids is easy

With regards to kids’ food, it’s not too late to change your kids’ taste buds. It may take a bit of time but the trick is to make small changes so they don’t even notice. Try adding chunks of cucumber, some carrot sticks or slices of raw capsicum, cherry tomatoes, avocado slices or chunks, broccoli, cauliflower or freshly chopped/grated corn off the cob, onto a plate when you know they are hungry. Always offer the vegetables first. We have always given our kids raw vegetables at afternoon tea time as that is when they are ravenous and they gobble them all up without a 2nd thought or complaint.


Your kids can change at any age

The more exposure your children get to fresh vegetables and fruit, the more normal it will become. Remember, I ate crap foods until I was 20 and then I changed, so if I can change then you can and your kids can. Children usually love all kinds of fruit so keep a variety around as these are rich in antioxidants, high in fibre, are very filling and are amongst the most powerful anti-cancer foods anywhere on the planet.


As long as you are feeding your children a good variety of locally-grown and in-season fruits and vegetables; a mixed bag of different grains such as brown rice, oats and rye; a selection of the super legumes such as lentils, all types of beans and chickpeas; superfood seeds that are packed with essential fatty acids like quinoa, buckwheat, millet, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds; nuts of all kinds from almonds to walnuts to Brazil nuts to cashews; and avoiding all the processed sugary rubbish such as soft drinks, potato chips, cakes, lollies, burgers, pizza, cheese, ice-creams and more (most of the time), then you will do fine.


Raising vegetarian kids is so easy now!

Vegetarianism among kids is very widespread now. The American Dietetic Association says “Vegetarian kids and teenagers take in less cholesterol, saturated fat and total fat and eat more fruits, vegetables and fibre”. Do not be worried about iron, calcium or protein either, as a healthy and balanced plant-based wholefood diet will deliver plenty of all of these nutrients. Serious and significant studies have found that iron levels in children and teenagers being raised on plant-based wholefood diets were actually higher or similar as compared to meat-eating kids¹-². They said, “Anemia does not appear to be more common in vegetarians…” 


What your kids need the most is locally-grown vegetation

Our brain and most of our bodily functions run on glucose – from carbohydrates like vegetables. The thing that is not discussed much in Western countries such as NZ, Australia, the UK or the USA, is that most of the world’s population has traditionally been very low-level meat-eaters. The American Dietetic Association notes that “most of mankind for most of human history has lived on vegetarian or near-vegetarian diets”. I gave up red meat and dairy foods over 30 years ago and I am doing just fine. I have raised all my children without meat and they are all fine as well (and they are a mixture of blood types). In fact they are all fit and healthy athletes with my kids amongst the tallest, fastest and strongest in their classes, whether it is Joel (sprinting, soccer), Luke (soccer, running), Tove (soccer, one of the best at the school for long-distance running, volleyball, basketball) or Trey (Guinness World Record holder at 21, now at 28, a personal trainer able to do super-flexible yoga poses, handstands and who loves rock climbing…).


Be relaxed and walk the talk

The bottom line is that you control 80% of what your kids eat so what you eat at home is what they will eat at home. What you buy at the supermarket is what they will eat the most of. Babies fed home-cooked food are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables when they are older. Infants weaned on homemade meals develop a taste for what is good for them by the age of seven. What you provide for the three main meals is the most important. They will always buy crap when they are out with friends and there is no stopping that (nor should there be, as treats at the local store are fun!).


The 80-20 rule is the one to follow. Ensure they eat well for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you have done your job as a parent.


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

How do I get my kids to eat more veggies?

The moment I knew I had made it as a parent was the day Joel burst into tears at dinner because Luke had taken more salad than he had on his plate. That was the heavenly moment every parent craves. My kids have been known to fight over who gets the last serving of vegetable soup or who gets the most spirulina tablets to chew… They will happily eat raw vegetables as snacks (broccoli, cabbage, peas, carrots), vegetable soups for lunch or dinner (pumpkin, potato, vegetable), and green blossom smoothies (apples, lemons, limes and raw spinach/silverbeet/kale blended). Trey and Joel both chew on raw spirulina tablets. People often ask me what my secret is.


Funnily enough, it started out with necessity and then it became a healthy habit. When I started raising children I was barely 21 and I was earning very little money. I was 100% committed to healing my illness and getting healthy so all we ate were healthy foods. We made everything fresh and ate what there was. It was a case of  ‘here is breakfast’ and if there was any ‘I don’t want it’ then I would just say ‘ok, you are obviously not hungry. I will leave it here on the table and when you are hungry you can eat it later’.


They always came back and ate it.


Kids will not starve themselves

Do not be fooled by your kids into thinking they will starve themselves. Often we are victims of ‘too much choice’ rather than ‘if you are hungry then you will eat what you are given’. Kids behave into the environment they are allowed to. All kids are strong-willed and they all want you to lead the way for them. The other trick is to make it fun. I remember once I got really excited about cabbage and was crunching making a loud noise in my youngest boy’s ears. The boys loved this and we were all in hysterics. They have loved raw cabbage ever since. We call soaked oats ‘summer porridge’ as a way of having the kids eat raw oats through the warmer months.


The sad reality for kids

Nearly 70% of New Zealand children are not eating enough fruit and vegetables; they are watching too much TV, barely 40% are getting regular exercise, and by age 20-24, 85% are not eating well. Almost 50% of the calories many kids eat now are from deadly solid fats/added sugars. The good news is that 93% of kids growing vegetables at home or school will eat them and eat better if given the chance. If you compare the internal bacteria of children on the modern diet to African children eating primitive wholefood diets, they are completely different, leading to modern allergies and disease.


The harsh reality is YOU have to lead the way

The only other advice I will give on this subject is that if you want your kids to eat better, then you have to eat better. It starts with you. If you are genuinely walking the talk, enjoying raw fresh fruits and vegetables, then they will too. You have to change your diet first. The reason our children will eat lots of fresh raw fruits and vegetables is because Tracey and I eat lots of fresh raw fruits and vegetables. Your kids will enjoy tasty, healthy vegetarian meals if they are exposed to them by you – one awesomely delicious meal at a time.


Explain to your children why vegetables are important as all kids want to be healthy, strong, fast and fit. The more you educate your kids – the more they want to eat well.


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

Change your diet first and then change your family’s diet

‘You can have every confidence that a feeding regime that results in a slimmer child who matures slowly will produce a healthier, longer-lived adult’
Prevention, October 1973, p. 31 “Eat Less To Live More”.


You control what your children eat

What we as adults and parents serve, eat and enjoy, so this is what our kids eat and enjoy. You must walk the talk and eat well if you want your children to do the same. This is actually backed up by scientific research. Parents can increase the number of fruits and vegetables that their children eat simply by eating more themselves. Kids learn their food habits from their parents. Children as young as two notice what foods their parents are bringing into the house and copy those food choices. Poor eating habits can turn infants who gain too much weight into obese toddlers, with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.


Replace the processed sweets with naturally sweet

Evolutionarily, we are wired to prefer sweets and fats because they are quick sources of energy that can enhance survival. The food industry knows this and piles sugar, salt, fat and gluten into everything to keep us hooked on junk-food. These refined foods are addictive and dangerous. There is plenty of natural sugar and fats in wholefoods. Students with an increased fruit and vegetable intake are significantly more likely to achieve better results at school; sleep better; are more emotionally balanced; get sick less often; have much stronger immune systems; get over illness faster, and set themselves up for long-term healthy habits.


Overweight kids are in for a life of challenges

Overweight children have a far higher incidence of heart disease, diabetes, joint and bone problems and often suffer from social issues like low self-esteem and stigmatization. We also know there are clear links with lollies and high sugar foods with anti-social behaviour and criminal behaviour later in life. Long term, overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults and more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type II diabetes and then die of heart disease and cancer. At the current rate, without intervention, this generation of children will have a shorter lifespan than their parents. It is that serious. We have 25% of our children in NZ now obese before they are just 5 years old. They are highly likely to be dead in their 40s after being sick most of their short lives. This is a preventable tragedy.


Family Fun

Ask your kids “what vegetables would you like to choose?” when you are shopping. Make it fun for them – an adventure. I push the trolley and send the kids off grabbing things at the supermarket. I involve them in the choice of foods and have real laughs with it. Go apple picking at an orchard or grandma’s house and then bring them home (eating them in the car on the way), then bake a stunning apple crumble. Move more as a family. We often take our kids up an Auckland mountain on a Sunday morning. They absolutely love it. Our TV died 10 years ago and we did not replace it. We watch movies as a family but not TV daily. Too much TV has a devastating effect on kids. Children who watch less TV eat healthier and move far more.



We place a very big deal on gratitude and appreciation to the food chef in our house. If someone has worked hard to make good healthy food then our attitude is to be very thankful indeed. There are many people alive in the world that never get to experience a single meal as good as the ones we eat most days. We have taught our children that they are privileged to be able to eat as well as they do.


So walk the talk yourself, feed your kids well and give them a sense of appreciation for how INCREDIBLY lucky they are to even have the privilege of choice they do.


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

The Secret to Sustainable Health Changes

  • How do we change our bad habits?
  • How do we eat less?
  • How do we raise our children on better-quality food?
  • How do we educate them on what modern junk food does to the human body?
  • How do we lower the food-borne illness that is heart disease?
  • How do we annihilate the global pandemic that is obesity, which directly leads to preventable diabetes?
  • How do we alter our daily lives in a way that we wipe out modern lifestyle cancers such as bowel cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer and prostate cancer?
  • What are the simple things that we can all do every day that will make the biggest difference to our health, vitality, ageing, longevity, disease risk and genetic expression?
  • How do we regain control over our health to the degree that we are not relying on man-made medications and drugs to prop us up as we age?

It is about attitude and behaviour, not money

We actually know what to do. The science is rigorous, clear, unanimous and signposted by the centenarians. Inspiration, education, support, community and healthy recipes, whilst cutting through the cynicism of ‘It’s all about my genetics’ or ‘I can’t achieve that’ or ‘I have big bones’ or ‘That disease is in my family so I am going to get sick, no matter what I do’… A long healthy life is not actually about money, fame, power or medications. If your health fails, it does not matter how rich you are as no amount of money can buy health. Health must be earned through diet, lifestyle and environmental choices; through investment in healthy habits; through doing what works for the human body. You cannot buy health and longevity with money, you can only buy it through behaviour.

The secret to healthy disease-free longevity is:

  1. Changing behaviour
  2. Changing daily habits
  3. Changing your diet and lifestyle
  5. Over time

The keyword here, the scary word, the word that is most confronting, is; change.


The information and recipes on this website will help you support this change.


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

Change and the mental focus required

‘You can’t grow or change by doing what you’ve already done. Maintenance doesn’t occur when you do nothing, maintenance is working to fight entropy. Still, most people won’t leave their comfort zones. Why? The answer is simple… It hurts. By definition, what’s it like outside the comfort zone? It’s UN-COMFORTABLE, right? Change is uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s physically painful, but it’s always mentally and emotionally painful, in the form of discipline, sacrifice, uncertainty and fear’
Tom Veneto, International Trainer, Success Coach, Fitness Guru.


Charles Darwin once said, ‘It is not the strongest, who survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change’. The food cravings, addictions and preferences you have today for salt, sugar, fat and gluten, were all set yesterday. Just three weeks of eating a changed and improved diet will re-set your taste buds completely. Change can be really hard but to expect change, you first must make the change. Just because you have always done something a certain way, does not mean that you always must do it that way. People smoked for years – should they blindly continue? No. There was terrible racism written into the law – was that acceptable? No. Women were not allowed to vote – should that have remained? Of course not (NZ was the first country in the world that allowed women to vote by the way…).


Change with baby steps

Do not be daunted or put off by the scope of change required. Take baby steps. Use my guidelines and recipes to alter what you eat daily; one new habit at a time. First, get into the routine of a healthy breakfast. Once you have nailed this into a real habit then change to healthy dinners. Work on being well-rested and having a few early nights each week – bed and lights out by 9pm. Then aim at lunch and being prepared through the day. Then add other new habits and changes. You can be very healthy indeed on an intermediate transition diet. There is no rush. Small steps, done well, create life-long and powerful healthy changes in your body. The positive dietary changes are the key; what you leave out of your system and what you put into your system is what will ultimately heal you or kill you.


The hardest thing for most humans to do is change

I have got to the point where my health buds over-ride my taste buds. I do not crave or miss the junk-foods anymore. I feel too good, too sharp and too alive to care. It will take a year for most people to get well and you cannot sprint for a year but you can walk at a steady pace each day for a year. So, approach your health as a consistent daily walk. Do what you can do each day, push yourself and build good habits. What you do – DO WELL. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall over. Just get back up again and keep on walking!


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

Embrace change, you cannot fight it

‘Change is not something many of us like. We like things to remain as they are, however, change is inevitable and, indeed, is the one constant and reliable thing we have in our lives. When you embrace it, miracles can happen …’
Jason Shon Bennett


Open your mind, study, learn, research; CHANGE

One of the hardest things for a human being to do is to change and then remain consistent with that change. Change does not always happen as we envision it, and it can be very hard to adjust to it. The big shift in thinking for me came when I realised that the pain of remaining the same was greater than the pain of changing. The pain of having no energy, no breath, regular back pain, cold sores, constipation and bad skin was bad enough for me to change my life.


Change, I discovered, was internal

So I studied. I studied hard. Food, diet, fasting, exercise, flexibility, calories, acid versus alkaline, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, how the body works, traditional diets, the bowels, vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, meat and dairy products, the internal organs, intolerances, food ingredients, additives … the list went on and on. What became very clear to me was that if I really wanted to get well, to get to a level of super-health, then I was going to have to change my behaviour.


I was learning at an astronomical rate and I slowly started making progress with my health.

Step by step, I learned little gems that gave me instant benefits. I went to seminars. I asked healthy people for advice about what they did. I tried different eating regimes such as macrobiotic, vegan, fasting, raw foods and elimination diets, and I found golden rules in each. I devoured books. Over six years, a miracle happened. I cured my body and totally transformed my health and my life. Was it easy? No, it wasn’t, but it was worth it. As the great Spock once said, ‘Change is the essential process of all existence’.


Change is happening to you every day, every hour, every minute, right now while you read this. The only real question to ask yourself is; ‘Is the change I make going to serve me or make me sick and unhappy?’


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

Be Prepared and Control your Environment (GOLDEN Rule #1)

In order to succeed, you need to be prepared. If you have a cupboard and fridge full of sugar-rich processed and packaged foods then that is what you will grab to eat when you are hungry. We are living in the highest stress environment which means work long hours and we are always ‘on’, and once we are hungry there is no time to prepare good food so we grab the cheapest, nastiest and most unhealthy food around us – the C.R.A.P. foods (Coffee, Refined, Alcoholic or Processed foods).


Fail to plan means you plan to fail

Change your habits now! Clean out your cupboard and fridge and change your environment. You need to alter the environment you are in, such that it serves you rather than poisons you. I know I go on and on about this but it is a fundamental part of getting and staying well. Why are we all so unwell? Our environment is an unhealthy obesogenic (fat and sick-creating) one. The key word here is: Preparation.


How do I start?

There are two distinctly different ways to approach this. The first way to approach change is to introduce the changes slowly, such as getting used to a good solid healthy breakfast and once you have that habit formed after a few weeks, move on to concentrate on creating healthy dinners. Then once you have breakfast and dinner sorted, look at bed times, wake times and changing exercise routines and so on. The second way to approach change is to jump right in and change everything at the same time. Different people will get different results and some may be more ready than others. There is no right or wrong choice here, choose the approach that suits you best.


Tips to get started

  • Put aside some time to go through your kitchen completely
  • Unpack each item one at a time from your fridge and pantry
  • Read the ingredients and ask the question “Is this food healthy?
  • If it is mostly sugar, salt, fat, gluten, chemicals, additives, preservatives and names you cannot pronounce, then it needs to be removed
  • If it’s healthy, return it to the pantry or fridge
  • Fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds (including quinoa, millet and buckwheat), wholegrains and legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas etc) remain
  • Wholegrain pasta is ok as an emergency meal when nothing else is prepared and the kids are starving but ideally gluten-free quinoa, buckwheat or rice
  • Snacks – pure muesli bars, unflavoured or naturally seasoned rice crackers or wafers (organic where possible) are a good back-up
  • Always ensure you have a large bowl of fruit out in the open where the kids can see it – keep them fresh, rotated and abundant
  • Always keep lots of the fresh yummy vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, celery and cucumber
  • Throw out commercial sweet treats as you will just eat them when stressed


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from

My Favourite Soy Company

Many people have asked me exactly what tofu and tempeh I eat and what brand I choose so I thought it was time for an article just on this. The answer is very simple, I eat TONZU tofu and tempeh because I consider them the very best available. I have looked at pretty much every soy product there is and there are very good ones (such as TONZU) and there are very bad ones (see my ‘Soybeans’ article for that). I discovered it, tried it, loved it and raved about it independently before I learnt about the company ethics and passion. The reasons I love the TONZU range are; a perfect mix of quality ingredients, following traditional wisdom, genuinely caring about how they make it, always wanting to be the best they can be, a focus on innovation, and an environmental/community focus.


‘At TONZU we make our soymilk using the traditional and original Japanese handmade process of overnight soaking, stone grinding and pressing. The fresh milk is then curdled using Nigari, a natural seawater derivative, giving our tofu its mild, subtle flavour and uniquely healthy, digestible texture. TONZU tofu is handmade, certified organic and free from calcium sulphate making it the best it can be for your body, the planet and everything else…’
Daniel Chalmers, Chalmers Organics, TONZU.


What is the company background?

Their story began in the 1970s after the unconventional healing of a young family member, Daniel Chalmers (now a key player in the business). The family’s experience of his healing through a diet of natural organic wholefoods inspired them to follow their passion for healthy lifestyles, organics and sustainable food sources. The result – Chalmers Organics; a family company dedicated to supplying organic soy products to people who share that same passion for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy planet. Funnily enough, if you have read my first book ‘Eat Less, Live Long’, then you will remember that I actually started out my own health journey at Harvest Wholefoods (one of their earlier business creations) back in the 1980s!


What’s not to like?

TONZU is New Zealand’s only 100% certified organic tofu manufactured using traditional Japanese methods of soaking, draining, filtering and cooking. The curds and whey are separated with the natural sea salt derivative called Nigari. This gives the tofu its distinct flavour and unique medium firm texture. No calcium sulphate is used. TONZU Tempeh is currently the only commercial tempeh made in New Zealand. It is created fresh daily with only 100% certified organic soybeans using the traditional fermentation methods over a period of 30 hours.


Chalmers Organics also do a range of other delicious soybean products we all love as a family. I am a REAL FAN of this small, local, family-run, NZ Company. I have personally bought their products over many years and I am thrilled they are here in NZ giving us the great options they do.


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from


There has been a great deal written about soybeans. Some say they are the wonder food to feed the world. Others say they are a terrible GMO crop that is poison. Both have some truth to them. Soybeans are simply an amazing food when processed properly (just like wheat). Wheat can become white flour and create incredible damage to your digestive system, or it can be soaked, sprouted and then ground up into fresh wheatgrass juice (notice how all animals chew grass when ill?). Soybeans were first used as a food during the late Chou dynasty (1134-246 BC). The ancient Chinese called soy ‘one of the 5 Holy Super Foods’, and learned to respect and process them to make tempeh, edamame, tofu, miso, natto and tamari.


The Okinawans LOVE tofu

In Japan and Okinawa, a day without eating some soybeans is almost unthinkable. The World Health Organization has confirmed the Japanese have the longest lifespan of any developed country and they eat more soybean foods per capita than any other culture. The Japanese Okinawans have the longest overall life-span on planet earth and they consume more soy foods than anyone else – including the Japanese population! This alone gives pause to the negative claims about soybean products. The Okinawans eat 60-120g of good-quality soybeans a day. This compares with 30-50g for Japanese, 10g for Chinese and virtually ZERO for the average westerner. The Okinawans eat a plant-based wholefood diet of traditionally prepared soybean dishes, sweet potato, disease-preventing vegetables, oily fish, garlic, ginger, onions, fresh fruits and tomatoes. The Okinawans eat 8x more tofu than the Western World and 20x more soybeans overall. The Californian Seventh Day Adventists of Loma Linda live longer than any other group in America and consume soymilk daily. Does this make tofu, soymilk and soybeans sound like deadly toxic ‘devil’ foods to you?


Soybeans – the good

The most beneficial soy products are naturally-processed and fermented miso, natto, tempeh and tamari, as they are all pre-digested by bacteria and other micro-organisms. Fermenting or sprouting soybeans (tempeh, miso, natto, tamari and fresh sprouts) de-activates both hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors (these are clot-promoting and growth-depressing), and they deliver prebiotics and probiotics to the gut. The only other good soybean foods I recommend are made from organic, non-GMO soybeans that are traditionally-prepared. These include edamame (young plants); tofu (when made traditionally via being soaked, ground, boiled and strained; then nigari coagulant is added, the whey drained off and the curd pressed). For soymilk make sure it is made from whole non-GMO soybeans and seaweeds, without sugar, and with only 4-5 ingredients.


Soybeans – the bad

The way we grow, produce, process and prepare GMO soy in the West is criminal. We take something great and then wreck it by altering the genetic structure and then just grinding or perverting the raw ingredient into soy powders, oils, protein isolates or extracts. These modern processing methods fail to remove the anti-nutrients and toxins in soybeans but leave all the toxic and carcinogenic residues created through high temperatures, high pressure, alkali/acid baths & petroleum solvents. In my opinion, there is nothing natural or safe about these soybean products and I do not recommend you eat them.


GMO soybeans

These are loaded with pesticides and they contain genes from bacteria that produce a protein that has never been part of the human food supply. The worst soy products are the fractionated products; soy protein isolates (derived from defatted soybeans and containing MSG) and hydrolyzed plant protein. They contain phytates that block mineral absorption and trypsin inhibitors that block proper digestion. Avoid TVP (texturized vegetable protein), soy protein isolates, soybean oil, soymeat, soy infant formula, supplements, soya shakes, soya burgers, soya energy bars, and soya protein powders and fake non-fermented soy sauce, which is just sugar-water with added colouring.


Soybeans – the final word

You can either eat soybeans or not; the choice is yours. The cultures, such as Japan, Okinawa, Nagano and Loma Linda, that eat the most traditionally-prepared soybean foods, live the longest, with the lowest heart disease and cancer rates. This alone tells you something. When traditionally-prepared soybeans are eaten, allergenic reaction drops by as much as 99%. I only eat and trust one brand of soybean products in NZ and that is TONZU. I know the people that make them and they use traditional methods, certified organic soybeans and handcraft their amazing tofu and tempeh. Superb.


A soy centenarian

Japanese Seiryu Toguchi, age 104, enjoyed a few minutes of sun daily in his garden. Most days he woke at 6am each day, did stretching exercises and then spent four hours working in the fields. He ate a natural, basic diet of brown rice, vegetables, miso soup, tofu, eggs, aloe and garlic. How did he do? Just fine thanks.


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from