Sunday, 9 January 2022

Are soy products are adequate substitutes for meat and dairy products?

It is typical for vegans and vegetarians in the Western world to rely on various soy products for their protein needs. There is little doubt that the billion-dollar soy industry has profited immensely from the anti-cholesterol, anti-meat gospel of current nutritional thought. Whereas, not so long ago, soy was an Asian food primarily used as a condiment, now a variety of processed soy products proliferate in the North American market. While the traditionally fermented soy foods of miso, tamari, tempeh and natto are definitely healthful in measured amounts, the hyper-processed soy “foods” that most vegetarians consume are not.

Non-fermented soybeans and foods made with them are high in phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that binds to minerals in the digestive tract and carries them out of the body. Vegetarians are known for their tendencies to mineral deficiencies, especially of zinc and it is the high phytate content of grain and legume based diets that is to blame. Though several traditional food preparation techniques such as soaking, sprouting, and fermenting can significantly reduce the phytate content of grains and legumes, such methods are not commonly known about or used by modern peoples, including vegetarians. This places them (and others who eat a diet rich in whole grains) at a greater risk for mineral deficiencies.

Processed soy foods are also rich in trypsin inhibitors, which hinder protein digestion. Textured vegetable protein (TVP), soy “milk” and soy protein powders, popular vegetarian meat and milk substitutes, are entirely fragmented foods made by treating soybeans with high heat and various alkaline washes to extract the beans’ fat content or to neutralise their potent enzyme inhibitors. These practices completely denature the beans’ protein content, rendering it very hard to digest. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a popular and widespread flavouring, a known neurotoxin, is routinely added to TVP to make it taste like the various foods it imitates.

On a purely nutritional level, soybeans, like all legumes, are deficient in cysteine and methionine, vital sulphur-containing amino acids, as well as tryptophan, another essential amino acid. Furthermore, soybeans contain no vitamins A or D, required by the body to assimilate and utilise the beans’ proteins. It is probably for this reason that Asian cultures that do consume soybeans usually combine them with fish or fish broths (abundant in fat-soluble vitamins) or other fatty foods.

Parents who feed their children soy-based formula should be aware of its extremely high phytoestrogen content. Some scientists have estimated a child being fed soy formula is ingesting the hormonal equivalent of five birth control pills a day. Such a high intake could have disastrous results. Soy formula also contains no cholesterol, vital for brain and nervous system development.

Though research is still ongoing, some recent studies have indicated that soy’s phytoestrogens could be causative factors in some forms of breast cancer, penile birth defects and infantile leukaemia. Regardless, soy’s phytoestrogens, or isoflavones, have been definitely shown to depress thyroid function and to cause infertility in every animal species studied so far. Clearly, modern soy products and isolated isoflavone supplements are not healthy foods for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone else, yet these are the very ones that are most consumed.

Ref: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/42914559/the-myths-of-vegetarianism-stephen-byrnes-phd 

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Gene-edited Crops

Gene editing of crops and livestock may soon be permitted in England for the first time under a consultation launched by the government on Thursday.

Ministers said changing the current strict rules, which originate from the EU and make gene editing for crops and livestock almost impossible, would bring widespread benefits to consumers and farmers, including healthier food, environmental improvements and better animal welfare.

But some environmental and animal welfare groups raised concerns that loosening the rules could lead to lower animal welfare, for instance if the technology was used to promote faster growth over animal health, or to enable livestock to be kept in crowded conditions.

Gene editing involves cutting and splicing sections of DNA within a single genome to bring about changes that were previously possible only through lengthy selective breeding of plants and animals. 

This is a different process from genetic modification, which involves introducing DNA from one species into another, and which will continue to be subject to a near-total ban.

George Eustice, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said:

Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that mother nature has provided, in order to tackle the challenges of our age. This includes breeding crops that perform better, reducing costs to farmers and impacts on the environment, and helping us all adapt to the challenges of climate change.

Through gene editing, crops could be developed that require fewer pesticides or

fertilisers, or which have enhanced nutritional properties. For instance, tomatoes that can lower blood pressure have recently been licensed for sale in Japan. 

Animal genes could also be edited in ways that would allow the breeding of livestock that was resistant to key diseases, which would reduce the need for antibiotics and so the likelihood of developing resistant superbugs.

However, Peter Stevenson, chief policy adviser at the campaigning group 

Compassion in World Farming, said the ways in which livestock had been bred for profitable traits in the past suggested the development of gene editing would be harmful to animals.

He pointed to genetic selection for broiler chickens, whereby the fast growth rates gave rise to leg abnormalities and lameness, and in laying hens, selecting for high egg production caused osteoporosis, leaving the hens vulnerable to bone fractures.

Breeding animals resistant to diseases would only encourage farmers to stock them more intensively, he added, leading to overcrowding and lower animal welfare. “This is pushing us down the industrial farming route,” he warned. “It is entrenching an antiquated system of farming that we would do better to abandon.”

Gareth Morgan, head of farming at the Soil Association, said: “We question the speed with which the government is using Brexit to pursue a deregulatory agenda in this area. It is vital that citizens and farmers who do not wish to eat or grow gene-edited crops or animals are offered adequate protection.”

Prof Gideon Henderson, chief scientist at Defra, said the government had made clear its commitment to upholding animal welfare standards: “The motivation for this is not lowering animal welfare standards – it’s about the benefits

Gene editing has been made possible through the development of tools such as Crispr Cas9,  which allows scientists to finely target sections of DNA to remove or change and it’s got to be better.

Ref: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/jan/07/gene-editing-of-crops-and-livestock-may-soon-be-permitted-in-england

Sunday, 23 May 2021

The Health Benefits of Raw Honey

Many people believe that raw honey provides more health benefits than regular honey. Is raw honey more healthful, and what are the differences?

Honey is a sweet, syrupy, golden-coloured liquid made by honeybees. Honeybees store honey in the beehive to use for food and nutrients. Raw honey comes directly from the hive while regular honey undergoes processing before being bottled.

In this article, we look at the differences between raw and regular honey, including processing, health benefits, uses, and possible risks.

Raw honey vs. regular honey

Raw honey comes straight from the hive.

People use honey for food and medicine. Humans may have been using honey medicinally for as long as 8,000 years.

Originally, people would have used raw honey, but today, most honey on supermarket shelves is processed, usually through pasteurization, which involves intense heating. Many of these processed types of honey may contain added sugars.

What is raw honey?

Raw honey comes straight from the honeycomb. The beekeeper will usually just filter the honey to remove small bits of debris, including pollen, beeswax, and parts of dead bees. They do not pasteurize the honey.

Raw honey appears cloudy or opaque because it contains these extra elements. It is still safe to eat.

What is regular honey?

Regular, or pasteurized honey, is clear and smooth. The pasteurization process improves the honey’s appearance, increases its shelf-life, and kills yeast cells that can affect the taste of the honey.

However, some people believe that pasteurization reduces the number of antioxidants and nutrients in the honey.

How do they differ?

Raw honey is naturally cloudier than regular honey due to honeycomb debris that is too small to be filtered out.

Raw honey tends to have more variation in colour and texture than regular honey. The colour of raw honey may change depending on what flowers the bees pollinated.

While no large studies have confirmed that raw honey is more nutritious than regular honey, some small studies suggest that raw honey may offer extra health benefits.

Benefits

Studies show that raw honey contains a variety of beneficial ingredients.

Raw honey contains specific components that can offer health benefits. Pasteurization and other processes may remove or reduce some of these elements, which include:

  • bee pollen, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • bee propolis, a glue-like substance that helps keep the hive together
  • certain vitamins and minerals
  • enzymes
  •  amino acids
  •  antioxidants

There is a lack of controlled studies comparing pasteurized and raw honey. However, some source
s report that pasteurized honey contains few — if any — of the health benefits of raw honey. Because pasteurization exposes the honey to high temperatures, it may destroy or remove honey’s natural properties.

This means that raw honey may offer more powerful health benefits, in terms of healing wounds and fighting infections, than regular honey. 


Many studies have found that raw honey has health benefits. Usually, these benefits come from natural ingredients that regular honey may not contain.

A 2015 review study about the benefits of bee pollen reports that it has:

  •  antioxidant properties
  • anti-inflammatory effects
  • antibacterial and antifungal action
  • pain-relieving properties

These properties make bee pollen a useful addition to honey and can contribute to honey’s natural ability to heal wounds and kill bacteria.

Bee pollen also contains amino acids, vitamins A and C, and small amounts of nutrients including calcium, magnesium, and sodium.

Raw honey contains bee propolis

Bee propolis is the sticky substance that bees use to build their hives and hold the structures together. This glue-like substance not only helps the bees, but some scientists believe that it is healthful for humans as well.

A review study from 2017 reports that bee propolis, found in raw honey, may have:

  • anti-inflammatory effects
  • anti-cancer and antiulcer action
  • antifungal effects

Bee propolis also contains B vitamins, vitamins C and E, magnesium, potassium, and beneficial enzymes.

Pasteurization may destroy antioxidants

Some people believe that pasteurization removes some of the healthful antioxidants in honey.

There are no official studies on how pasteurization changes antioxidant levels in honey, but studies show that heating processes decrease the antioxidant level in other foods.

Raw honey contains flavonoids and phenolic acids that have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in the body. Research has linked oxidative stress to many chronic health conditions, including cancers.

Studies suggest that the antioxidants in honey may have anti-cancer effects against different types of tumours.

The types of antioxidants found in raw honey vary depending on the kind of flowers that the bees pollinated.

Regular honey may contain sugars or additives

Some regular honey products contain added sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup.

Studies show that some products labelled as “honey” may not be 100 percent real honey, but contain sweeteners, such as brown rice syrup.

Raw honey does not contain any ingredients other than the honey from the beehive.

Is raw honey organic?

Not all raw honey is organic. Organic honey may still have undergone processing and pasteurization.

Therefore, if a person is looking for honey that contains bee pollen and other beneficial ingredients, they will need to make sure that the label states “raw.”

Risks

Infants under 12 months old must not eat honey. However, it is safe for people to consume both raw and regular honey, though it is a good idea to avoid types of honey that contain added sugars.

Both raw and regular honey may contain tiny amounts of a bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria can cause botulism, which is a rare form of food poisoning.

Honey is safe for most people over 12 months of age. However, infants 12 months of age and younger should not eat any honey, including raw and regular honey. A baby’s digestive tract has not yet developed enough to fight off the bacteria.

In rare cases, people who have a severe pollen allergy may react to raw honey, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. People who have severe pollen allergies should speak with a doctor or allergist before eating or using raw honey.

People who are allergic to bee pollen should also avoid raw honey and other bee products.

How to find raw honey

To find raw honey, look for products that say “raw” on the label. Products labelled as “organic” or “pure” may not necessarily be raw.

The appearance of the honey product can help a person work out whether it is raw. Regular honey looks very clear and smooth, while raw honey tends to have a mixture of colours and a cloudy or creamy appearance.

Raw honey is widely available in stores and at farmers’ markets. People can also choose between brands of raw honey online.

Raw honey may crystallize more quickly than regular honey. Placing the jar of honey in a pot of hot water will melt the crystals and turn it liquid again. Be careful not to overheat the honey, as this may destroy some of its nutrients.

Other types of honey

Regular honey may contain added sugars.

There are many different types of honey, each with their own characteristics, and some people may find it confusing to work out their differences.

Common types of honey and their properties are as follows:

  • Raw honey — comes straight from the hive and is available in filtered or unfiltered forms.
  • Regular honey — pasteurized and may contain added sugars.
  • Pure honey — pasteurized but contains no added ingredients.
  • Manuka honey — made by bees that feed on the manuka bush. It may have additional health benefits.
  • Forest honey — made by bees that take honeydew from trees instead of nectar from flowers. It is often darker than other kinds of honey.
  • Acacia honey — made by bees that feed from the flowers of the black locust tree. It is often lighter than other types of honey.

Summary

There are no definitive studies that confirm whether raw honey is better for a person’s health than regular or pasteurized honey. However, experts have found several possible health benefits linked to some of the ingredients in raw honey, including pollen and bee propolis,

Pasteurization may damage or destroy antioxidants and other beneficial elements in honey. The process of pasteurizing honey can make honey smoother and more aesthetically appealing, but it may also reduce its health benefits.

Because raw honey contains the original natural ingredients without processing, it may be the better choice for people who use honey for health reasons.

References: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324966#summary