Phytoestrogens Plant Estorgenics

Phytoestrogens, Endocrine Disruptors Plant Hormones Fitness Health Healthy Green Scheme Dallas-Fort Worth DFW North Central Texas North Texas

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Fitness: Phytoestrogens  Hormone-Like Chemicals from Plants

Phytoestrogens are estrogen hormone-like chemicals found in plants.Although medical data remain inconclusive, recent epidemiological studies suggest manyand varied benefits ofphytoestrogens. 

For example, Asian populations consuming diets high in the phytoestrogens found in soybeans have lower incidences of hormone-dependent cancers (including breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers) compared to western populations. Also, theprevalence of osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms are lower. In addition, the incidence of coronary heart disease is lower in Asian populations. However, when Asian populations immigrate to western countries and adopt westerndiets and lifestyles, the risk for those diseases rises.

A survey of a variety of populations of women showed that urinary phytoestrogens (a measure of phytoestrogens in the diet) are highest among vegetarians, particularly macrobiotics, and lower among breast cancer patients, suggesting an association between low disease risk and high phytoestrogen intake. 

Unfortunately, we Americans and our food industry have a badhabit of thinking, "If a little of a substance is good, then a lot will beeven better."

If you remember, we did this with soyprotein, as well as many other food fragmentations and other substances alongthe way. . 

Phytoestrogens follow our same pattern. 

Whenphytoestrogens are consumed in whole foods, their effect seems to be beneficial.When a particular phytoestrogen or group of phytoestrogens are concentrated and/orconsumed in a fragmented state, they not only are not beneficial, but in someinstances, they also seem to be harmful. The best advice is to stay away from concentrated or isolated forms ofphytoestrogens, including genistein pills.

Also, remember that variety in foods isextremely important, something that many of us don’t do.  We woulddefinitely increase the variety in our diet If we follow the healthy Japanesediet which incorporates three simple points:

1. Eat a variety of30 foods per day in very small portions.
2. Eat a balance of different colors in these foods.
3. Do not  repeat those same foods the next day.

Although we would eat at least 60 foods perweek if we followed the Japanese, the average Japanese diet actually containsabout 100 different foods per week. If we Americans eat about 30 different foodsper week, not per day, we are among those with the most varied diets. 

Nutrition scientists have identified about 12,000 phytochemicals that play some role in preventing disease.They know that some of these compounds work together for prevention. They alsosee that there is much more to food than protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins,minerals, and fiber. Some foods are low in the nutrients many of us think aremost important (examples: proteins or B vitamins) but are high in phytochemicals(example: tea). 

Does it make sense to follow the Japanese and cast a wide foodnet? Would that cause us to ingest as many of these phytochemicals, includingphytoestrogens, as possible?

Sources: U. S. Environmental Protection Agency; Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 104; American Journal ofClinical Nutrition

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