How to Convert into an Equol Producer

How to Convert into an Equol Producer
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Certain gut bacteria can supercharge the benefits of soy foods, resulting in even more bone protection, better control of menopausal symptoms, and lower prostate cancer risk. The question is how can we foster the growth of these good bacteria?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Menopause is characterized by a decrease in estrogen, which triggers the uncomfortable symptoms of hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. Among these menopausal symptoms, hot flushes [also known as hot flashes] are reported by many women to be the most bothersome.” I already summarized the available evidence on the role of soy phytoestrogens to help alleviate those symptoms. Here’s the latest meta-analysis. Although the balance of evidence point to soy benefits, the individual study results are all over the place. Yes, some studies show 20, 30, even 40% better than control, but some showed no effect.

This is something that’s been noted by the professional societies, like the American College of OB/GYNs. Yes, these supplements may work, but the evidence is so inconsistent. This may be partly because the supplements used were extracted from different parts of the soybean. Maybe it would be better if they just used soy foods rather than supplements. The dosing would be about “two servings of traditional soyfoods” a day—like two cups of soy milk, which is what you see older women in Japan doing, who have some of the lowest reported rates of hot flashes in the world. But, even the studies on soy foods, as opposed to supplements, have had “conflicting results.” Why all the inconsistency? It may have to do with our gut bacteria.

People who eat foods made from soybeans, which have these “health-promoting isoflavones,” tend to have lower rates of a variety of chronic diseases. So, we can garner this protection by eating more soy foods, right? Well, it may be a little “more complicated” than that. There are certain gut bacteria that can convert isoflavones in soy into a potentially even more beneficial compound, called equol. Not all individuals can make this conversion, though, because not all individuals have the specific types of good bacteria in their gut that do it. So, there’s two types of people in the world: “equol producers” and “equol nonproducers”—depending on their gut flora. And so, this may help account for the variations in health benefits we see in clinical studies. It may help explain why some people seem to benefit from soy more than others.

For example, in the study I covered before, about how soy milk appears to prevent bone loss in the spines of postmenopausal women, if you split the women into equol producers and nonproducers, soy did work in non-equol producers, but seemed to work even better in the women whose gut bacteria is able to take the soy to the next level.

The more equol Japanese women make from the soy they eat, the fewer menopausal symptoms they may have. Some studies suggest equol-producing men may get less prostate cancer. If that’s the case, maybe we should look into improving the intestinal environment to enable equol production. Only a minority “of the Western adult population” is able to produce equol, though almost every other animal species appears to produce it; no problem.

In fact, that’s how it got its name. It’s named equol because it was first discovered in horses. But, interestingly, horses during the summer, not winter—because that’s when their gut bacteria had access to the phytoestrogens in clover. That was our first clue equol was made from plants. If you’re not Mr. Ed, though, “can [you] take someone who [doesn’t] make equol and convert them [in]to an equol-producer? Certainly, [you can] do the reverse; excessive use of antibiotics” can wipe out your good bugs. But how can you acquire the right good bugs? Suggested strategies include dietary alteration or probiotics.

The standard probiotic regimens don’t seem to help; so, how about dietary alteration? Well, about half of Japanese and Korean individuals can produce equol, but only as low as one in seven Americans. Maybe it’s because more soy is eaten in Asia? I mean, that would make sense—if you eat a lot of soy, you may foster the growth of bacteria in your gut that can digest soy. But, a month of soy isoflavone supplement exposure didn’t seem to convert nonproducers into producers. But, just two weeks of drinking three glasses of soy milk a day was able to convert three of six women into producers. For example, this woman started out not making any at all, or maybe a little bump between hours 50 and 60, but after two weeks of drinking soy milk, when they had her drink some more, she had nice equol spikes.

It didn’t work for all women, though. And, when they tried the same experiment in men, nothing happened. Hmm, back to the drawing board. Is there any group of Westerners that have high equol production rates that may offer a clue? Vegetarians have among the highest equol production rates ever recorded—more than four times as “likely to be…equol producers as their nonvegetarian counterparts.” The question is, why? They don’t think it’s because of the soy, given the conflicting soy data. Maybe it’s because they’re eating more prebiotics, like fiber?

Or, maybe “dietary fat intake decreases the capacity of gut…flora to [make] equol.” Or, maybe it has something to do with cholesterol intake? Analyzing the diets of equol producers, they do seem more likely to be eating more carbs, plant protein, and fiber. But, researchers have tried giving people fiber supplements along with soy, but that didn’t seem to work. Whatever it is about those eating plant-based diets, they may soon be the only remaining majority equol producers, as Asian populations continue to Westernize their diets.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Vladimir Belochkin, Ben Davis, and Ross Butcher from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Devanath via Pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Menopause is characterized by a decrease in estrogen, which triggers the uncomfortable symptoms of hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. Among these menopausal symptoms, hot flushes [also known as hot flashes] are reported by many women to be the most bothersome.” I already summarized the available evidence on the role of soy phytoestrogens to help alleviate those symptoms. Here’s the latest meta-analysis. Although the balance of evidence point to soy benefits, the individual study results are all over the place. Yes, some studies show 20, 30, even 40% better than control, but some showed no effect.

This is something that’s been noted by the professional societies, like the American College of OB/GYNs. Yes, these supplements may work, but the evidence is so inconsistent. This may be partly because the supplements used were extracted from different parts of the soybean. Maybe it would be better if they just used soy foods rather than supplements. The dosing would be about “two servings of traditional soyfoods” a day—like two cups of soy milk, which is what you see older women in Japan doing, who have some of the lowest reported rates of hot flashes in the world. But, even the studies on soy foods, as opposed to supplements, have had “conflicting results.” Why all the inconsistency? It may have to do with our gut bacteria.

People who eat foods made from soybeans, which have these “health-promoting isoflavones,” tend to have lower rates of a variety of chronic diseases. So, we can garner this protection by eating more soy foods, right? Well, it may be a little “more complicated” than that. There are certain gut bacteria that can convert isoflavones in soy into a potentially even more beneficial compound, called equol. Not all individuals can make this conversion, though, because not all individuals have the specific types of good bacteria in their gut that do it. So, there’s two types of people in the world: “equol producers” and “equol nonproducers”—depending on their gut flora. And so, this may help account for the variations in health benefits we see in clinical studies. It may help explain why some people seem to benefit from soy more than others.

For example, in the study I covered before, about how soy milk appears to prevent bone loss in the spines of postmenopausal women, if you split the women into equol producers and nonproducers, soy did work in non-equol producers, but seemed to work even better in the women whose gut bacteria is able to take the soy to the next level.

The more equol Japanese women make from the soy they eat, the fewer menopausal symptoms they may have. Some studies suggest equol-producing men may get less prostate cancer. If that’s the case, maybe we should look into improving the intestinal environment to enable equol production. Only a minority “of the Western adult population” is able to produce equol, though almost every other animal species appears to produce it; no problem.

In fact, that’s how it got its name. It’s named equol because it was first discovered in horses. But, interestingly, horses during the summer, not winter—because that’s when their gut bacteria had access to the phytoestrogens in clover. That was our first clue equol was made from plants. If you’re not Mr. Ed, though, “can [you] take someone who [doesn’t] make equol and convert them [in]to an equol-producer? Certainly, [you can] do the reverse; excessive use of antibiotics” can wipe out your good bugs. But how can you acquire the right good bugs? Suggested strategies include dietary alteration or probiotics.

The standard probiotic regimens don’t seem to help; so, how about dietary alteration? Well, about half of Japanese and Korean individuals can produce equol, but only as low as one in seven Americans. Maybe it’s because more soy is eaten in Asia? I mean, that would make sense—if you eat a lot of soy, you may foster the growth of bacteria in your gut that can digest soy. But, a month of soy isoflavone supplement exposure didn’t seem to convert nonproducers into producers. But, just two weeks of drinking three glasses of soy milk a day was able to convert three of six women into producers. For example, this woman started out not making any at all, or maybe a little bump between hours 50 and 60, but after two weeks of drinking soy milk, when they had her drink some more, she had nice equol spikes.

It didn’t work for all women, though. And, when they tried the same experiment in men, nothing happened. Hmm, back to the drawing board. Is there any group of Westerners that have high equol production rates that may offer a clue? Vegetarians have among the highest equol production rates ever recorded—more than four times as “likely to be…equol producers as their nonvegetarian counterparts.” The question is, why? They don’t think it’s because of the soy, given the conflicting soy data. Maybe it’s because they’re eating more prebiotics, like fiber?

Or, maybe “dietary fat intake decreases the capacity of gut…flora to [make] equol.” Or, maybe it has something to do with cholesterol intake? Analyzing the diets of equol producers, they do seem more likely to be eating more carbs, plant protein, and fiber. But, researchers have tried giving people fiber supplements along with soy, but that didn’t seem to work. Whatever it is about those eating plant-based diets, they may soon be the only remaining majority equol producers, as Asian populations continue to Westernize their diets.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Vladimir Belochkin, Ben Davis, and Ross Butcher from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Devanath via Pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

What was that about safely helping to control hot flashes? Check out the previous video: Soy Phytoestrogens for Menopause Hot Flashes.

Plant-based eating has a variety of healthy effects on our good gut bacteria. See, for example:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

172 responses to “How to Convert into an Equol Producer

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  1. Dr Greger said “it’s more complicated than that ” that has to be the understatement of 2018 . It is very complicated and at least some of the bad press about soy is true .
    Good news about vegetarian diet however , that is the way to go .

      1. Dear Dr. Greger,

        For some time now I have been avoiding soy unless fermented as in miso soup. I guess I should rethink this. Is it only soy milk and not edamame beans or tofu. You are my hero I saw you at the Vegan Festival in Boston this year in October!! Thank you

      2. Susan – not to mention the disease-transferring aspect of cows milk to consumers. Bovine leukemia virus is now quite strongly linked to breast cancer and is found in cows milk. It does not appear to be completely killed off by pasteurization and is found in virtually all of the milk supply because milk is transferred to large vats. One can consume organic milk but that does not stop any transfer of bovine leukemia virus. American dairy herds are not tested for BLV because for years it was thought that the BLV virus cannot jump the species barrier. However, new testing shows that BLV is found in the cancerous breast tissue removed from women with breast cancer. One can read more here:
        http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/09/15/bovine-leukemia-virus-breast-cancer/
        European dairy herds are tested for BLV from my understanding.
        Just from the physiological aspects of dairy consumption (saturated fat, concentrated calories, etc.) I would never consume dairy. But also from the disease producing aspects of dairy (and there are a lot more than just BLV) it will not by found in my diet – ever. And, btw, I stopped drinking milk and most dairy when I was a young girl – tore up my intestines. Fifty years later I have no osteopenia, osteoporosis which doctors warned me about. I figured if a cow, elephant, giraffe, water buffalo, elk, deer, whale . . you get the idea . . . didn’t need to drink cows milk then neither did I. :-).

    1. To be healthful, soy needs to be whole, non-GMO/organic and eaten in the right quantities. There’s an excellent nutritionfacts video explaining how up to 2 servings a day of whole soy is beneficial, while any more than that is detrimental. I was unable to locate this video so I’m hoping someone can link it for us. Definitely worth a second look.

      1. Hi Julie, thanks for your comment. I am one of the volunteer moderators on the site and the video that Susan mentioned for you as well as this one explains in more details how soy phytoestrogen can be beneficial and explains about alpha estrogen receptors, and beta receptors. And mentions ” if we ate like 30 cups of soybeans a day, that could be a problem. But, at the kinds of concentrations one would get with just normal soy consumption, no wonder this is a problem with drug estrogens—but not soy phytoestrogens.”
        Who Shouldn’t Eat Soy?

        1. My question is a different one about soy milk. I carefully select soy milk without added sugar. I now use a common brand that states per 100 ml carbohydrates 0, sugars 0.
          As I have diabetes type I it is very important to know how many carbs/sugars I ingest in order to correct with an insulin bolus if needed in order to keep my blood glucose level within the range and avoid spikes. However whenever I I drink this soy milk my blood sugar levels double!! If I do change to another brand and adjust for the stated nr of carbs the same thing happens. As a consequence I do have to inject extra insulin before drinking soy milk- to an amount that far exceeds any possible expected rise in blood glucose levels. I do wonder how this could be explained as this is a mystery to me. Would you happen to have an explanation? Same for tofu etc.

          1. Hi I’m a moderator with NutritionFacts.org. Thanks for your great question. That is a little perplexing. One thought is that, although soy is healthy, soy milk and tofu are both highly processed foods. It’s not like just eating soy beans. That may be part of. Maybe they are so processed that they are digested very rapidly. You probably would not have that issue if you ate unprocessed soy beans. I know I switched to tempeh instead of tofu because it is much less processed and found I like it more. Another issue might be with labeling. It sounds a little odd if the serving size is 100 ml. That is a very small amount of soy milk. I know with fat, the food companies have a loop hole in that they are allowed to say fat free if there is less than 1 gram of fat per serving. But if a serving is very small and has 0.9 grams of fat, that doesn’t mean a large amount of it is fat free. Maybe there is a minuscule amount of carbs in 100ml that adds up if you drink a normal portion of it. Are you drinking soy milk alone or having it with anything else that could be raising your sugar?
            Sorry I don’t have a real good answer for you. But if you want some soy in your diet, maybe try some edamame (I add frozen edamame to meals all the time because it’s so easy) or tempeh and see if you have better blood sugar results.
            All the best,

            NurseKelly
            NutritionFacts Moderator

    2. A vegetarian diet is a diet of vegetables as the name clearly implies. A vegetable is any edible plant.
      “In everyday usage, vegetables are certain parts of plants that are consumed by humans as food as part of a savory meal. Originally, the traditional term included the flowers, fruit, stems, leaves, roots, tubers, bark, seeds, and other plant matter ……. The original meaning of the word vegetable, still used in biology, is to describe all types of plant, as in the terms “vegetable kingdom” and “vegetable matter”.”

      Claiming that a vegetarian diet is simply a diet that excludes meat is a modern but simple-minded misconception. Dairy products are clearly not vegetables and are not part of a truly vegetarian diet

        1. the term vegetarian comes with the whole context of the structure of a meal according to the western diet, where meat is often a staple. that’s how it came to be that including milk and eggs is “vegetarian” but to be entirely plant based you’re “vegan”. greger further escalates this to the mouthful “whole-food plant-based” because oil, refined protein, flour and other such things are “vegan”. it’s getting even worse where “intact-grain” and “raw” diets take the subdivision further.

          vegans already suffer from a PR problem as being moralists. i personally did not get into it for empathy toward animals, although that did eventually manifest once i took my blinders off. we need a singular, simple term, rather than dividing into further factions.

          1. Adam, I think this problem is largely solved by describing those who feed off of animals in any form as “carnists” and vegans as everyone else. I admit to having an issue with “plant based” because I’ve had too many conversations with people who believe eating a lot of salad and not so much steak qualifies. But it doesn’t seem to be a great burden to the progress of plant based eating.

            1. I agree there are problems with the terms “plant based” including the fact that mushrooms and yeast are not technically considered plants. I think using the terms “whole foods vegan” is adequate, though it is a mouth full (pun intended)

              1. I don’t think whether mushrooms and yeast are technically plants is really relevant, is it? They aren’t “technically” animals or animal products, so they don’t violate any of the principles of avoiding harm in terms of health, environment or animal rights and they do have nutritional value and are whole foods, so for anyone’s purposes they fit a healthy, non-carnist diet. That’s the point, right? Not sorting taxonomy?

          2. Adam Where did you get that from and who is talking about factions anyway? I am talking about the correct meaning of words.and the misconceptions that confound their use.

            Calling a completely vegetarian diet a “vegan diet ” is another error/misconception. Vegans use no animal products in their life, no leather or wool clothing etc. They also necessarily eat a completely vegetarian diet. However I suspect that the great majority of people who eat a completely vegetarian diet are not vegans as such. So calling a completely vegetarian diet a vegan diet is simply highly misleading.. it stems from the same logical error that calling people who don’t eat meat vegetarians stems from, ie

            1) vegetarians don’t eat meat, therefore all people who don’t eat meat are vegetarians, and
            2) vegans eat a completely vegetarian diet, therefore everybody who eats a completely vegetarian diet is a vegan

            As for your observation “vegans already suffer from a PR problem as being moralists”, the whole point of veganism is surely that it is a moral stance? My understanding is that veganism is an ethical position not a dietary approach.

                1. There are people that think they are vegan , but nobody really is . Look up all the uses for byproducts of cattle . Surely I am not going to bore you with a list . But how well do you think we would do without flame retardants at airports , footballs (takes 35000 cow hides per year) almost every supplement uses byproduct from cows , not to mention cow bones used to clean sugar , beer , wine ,I could go on for about 200 more .
                  Point is a pair of leather shoes is pretty small potatoes .

                  1. TG does explain it is as practicable and possible. A absolute causing of no harm is not possible for human. Vegans at least grown up ones know no harm is not possible. We do the best we can.

                    That is allowing peoples to call themselves what they want and the parmeters of that. AS per the vegan society. Peoples sometimes are not inclined always by agenda to allow others to call them what they want to be called. After Muhammad ALi adopted that muslim name as per his religion quite a few sports announcers back in that day still called him Cassius Clay.
                    It is widely now accepted a person or group of people are the authority on what others may call them not the others.

                    If you want to make up your own ideas on who is vegan and who is not no one can of course stop you. But you are not correct in that.

                    1. I meet a guy and his girlfriend about 3 years ago who both claimed to be total vegans ,they wore canvas shoes , cotton shirts , they even showed me their belt which was made from sort of like hand tied cotton . They never ever buy any animal product at the grocery store . They drove a vw diesel that ran on used french fry oil , I was very impressed . They invited me to look at their car and listen to it running . Very interesting As I looked into the car there was 2 empty boxes that had held Big Macs . I said somebody left some garbage in your car ? Oh no that was ours we just love Big Macs , we eat them everyday .
                      Those crazy vegans .

                    2. Buster as per your 6:38 comment….
                      It has always been up to peoples to define who they are called. In this specific the vegan society has outlined the definition. How one individually calls themselves may or may not be consistent with the perameters of the larger group. I can change my name to man from mars and say I come from mars. As there is no group saying who may or may not be from mars it is consistent. If a person says they are vegan and are not they may still call themselves vegan. However if their behavior is inconsistent with how vegans act by a majority of vegans it in no manner means the definition of that majority is faulted or inadequate.

                      If a person claims to be native American and is not… does that hinder or modify the definition of the tribes on what they consider to be a native American….not a bit. It is not relevant. The majority definition applies by the peoples who legitimately hold that status.

                      No offense but you are using a form of backwards logic which is as it leads from a basic faulted premesis will prove only a point in a field of faulted premesises.A individual opinion on status in a group does not define that groups definition unless the individuals opinion represents a majority.

                  2. There is sugar made without bone chard and vegans buy that. We also avoid supplements with animal products – all have vegan options available. But your main point is true, and that’s why the definition of veganism includes the phrase “as far as is possible and practicable”.

                2. There is no complete purity in this thing. I have to have a dependable car as I live in a rural area and have specific needs individually and in relationship.
                  I assume somewhere in a car are animal products. It may be as remote as a lubricant for a gasket used in the engine that has some animal fat derivative as the lubricant..But I can safely presume somewhere in a car is a animal product even if not as overt as leather seats.

                  So we all do the best we can. And with the means we have. If one is poor can one spend 150 USD for a new pair of shoes that are certified vegan or 25 for one we presume appears vegan….25 of course, we are poor.
                  I buy loads of stuff for food that I presume is vegan by checking the ingredient list. I buy the same items certified as vegan in Whole Foods and I pay twice as much. So I take a change and do what is reasonable but not absolutely necessarily pure.

                  We just will not find absolute purity in veganism. Things are killed in harvest, always. But that we cannot be absolute has no logical standing in the trying of that thing.

            1. TG you’ve gotten yourself into logical trouble by wrongly assuming one definition of a word is the only definition. A vegan can be defined as one who doesn’t consume any animal products for food OR one who doesn’t use any animal products period — see for example https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vegan or http://www.dictionary.com/browse/vegan. Assuming the definition given by the Vegan Society (obviously biased) is the only definition is a logical misstep.

              1. JK I don’t think so. Dictionaries only document common usage of words. They do not provide authoritative definitions of what words actually mean. Once we go down the route of saying words also mean whatever a number of perhaps ignorant or biased individuals think it means, all sorts of confusion can arise.

                Look at the cranks who say that evolution is only a theory because they do not understand what the term theory means. Then there are people who don’t understand what the word “plausible” means and use it as if it means the same thing as “credible”. There are plenty of other examples.

                ““When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

                The point is that unless we use words precisely all sorts of confusion arises, people argue at cross purposes, they dream up their own definitions and we are all at risk of disappearing up our own collective wazoo.

                1. We abbreviate in common discussion. I do believe the correct use would be one is vegan in diet. Vegan itself is a lifestyle choice..
                  We can’t however abstract the present use from its current meaning. Veganism in diet has become very popular by many times overshadowing vegan in lifestyle. So the meaning has changed.

                  Similiar perhaps to atheism. A word coined back in the 16th century in England to my dim recollection whose meaning was directly hence connected to the god of England and Christianity. A creator singular god. Now it basically has morphed into anyone who does not believe in God at all usually coincided with a disbelief in any supernatural thing.
                  .

                2. The point is TG that Dr. Greger used the word vegetarian , which to most people if they see a restaurant with that name they could go in there and expect there might be such products as cheese ,egg and milk however no killed animal products . Now if Dr. Greger had evidence that it was actually vegan or WFPB diet I’m sure he would have used that . It is quite possible that type of evidence simply was not available and he had to use the broader term vegetarian . It does not automatically make your points wrong .

                  1. Buster

                    I agree with you and I recognise that “vegetarian” is commonly used to describe any diet excluding meat and “vegan” to describe a diet that excludes all animal foods. And I also recognise that people commonly now use “less” when they mean “fewer”, and “outside of” when they mean “outside”. Common usage isn’t necessarily correct usage.

                    And, yes, Dr G uses the term vegetarian because that is the term used in the study referred to in the video.where “A subject who normally consumed meat no more than once per week was classified as vegetarian”
                    jn.nutrition.org/content/136/8/2188.long

                    My inner pedant emerges from time to time. This is one of those times!

              2. Peoples are the authority on what they may call themselves, not others. In native American terms all tribes call anyone with 1/8th lineage native American. A average American may think it is majority lineage. It matters not what others think of that the natives decide not others.

                WE define how we are called and the perameters of that calling not others.

                It is a free world and peoples may call others however they feel. If they don’t call it as the subject calls themselves they are usually called a foul word which starts with a A.
                So then what goes around comes around.

                1. Of course Rom, native simply means “born” so a native American is anybody born in the Americas, whatever their ethnicity. However, political correctness cares naught for such things.

                  I remember seeing old photos from around the beginning of the 20th century of some parades (celebrating Australia Day I think). There were were floats there from the Australian Natives Association. These weren’t Aboriginals but mainly white people who were born in Australia – they sought to distinguish themselves from the overseas settlers/immigrants who were still a substantial part of the population then.

                  1. Yes DG in a literal sense of the word. But in the America’s one identified as Native American puts one in a particular class of peoples who receive benefits and at times limitations from the Federal government established by treaty.
                    The tribes themselves operate as semiautonomous entities who hold their own elections at times run their own legal system and set determinations on who may exert legal ownership of lands.

                    So it is a legal definition which may oppose a generally held opinion. Most of these determinations in America stem from slavery days when it was important to determine exactly who was a slave and who was not. Slaves were in the constitution given a part of the rights of whites..Native American historically were given rights as per their treaties signed. In several states Natives were a separate class who did not receive rights to vote in local elections until the 1940’s.

            2. Indeed, Tom, and many vegans eat truly appalling diets stuffed with chips and fried veg and all sorts of weird processed food like substances meant to resemble meat and cheese.

              The problem comes when the ethics run up against health issues. Presumably this is not a problem for those on this site who are only interested in maximising their health. They would go back to eating meat tomorrow if some piece of science convinced them it was the heart healthy thing to do? Presumably Dr Greger himself would be happy to publicise that? Or would they? Would he?

                1. No Jerry. Nobody associates those people eating the Okinawan and Japanese traditional diets (which included small amounts of meat) with people eating the SAD. Everybody here, I think, agrees that those diets were very healthy and were in fact WFPB diets.

                  As noted before, WFPB diets can include small amounts of animal foods or even processed foods. The point is to keep the proportion of such foods very low. In the Okinawan and Japanese traditional diets they represented about 4% and 7% of total calories I think. If people don’t or won’t use supplements, then small amounts of animal foods may be necessary to obtain sufficient B12, zinc, iodine etc. However in wealthy Western countries, this is unnecessary since supplements are cheap and available while meat, dairy, eggs and fish have drawbacks. Also, many of the cattle, poultry, farmed fish etc that people eat are fed such supplements in the first place, so why not obtain them directly instead of through the medium of animal flesh and related product?

              1. hi Gillian

                i adopted a WFPB diet for purely health reasons but I have since come to also appreciate the ethical and environmental reasons for eating this way. Consequently, I wouldn’t go back even if thre was solid evidence of some benefit from animal foods (not that there is).

                I think Dr G has mentioned on several occasions studies which found a benefit from eating certain animal foods. He has also made it quite clear that many vegetarian and “vegan” diets are unhealthy so I suspect that Dr G would acknowledge any such research. However, I believe that he would also discuss vegetarian alternatives which carry less baggage/risk than the animal food solution. If memory serves me right he has done this before with eg DHA/EPA, vitamin D etc

                1. He has stated in interview he would report such a finding immediately if it was ever found. Something to the effect of a keto diet reversing cardiovascular disease a solid scientific study result.

                  But likely that will never prove out.

          3. Adam Jensen, I agree. Whole Foods Plant Based is both a mouthful and not descriptive enough at the same time.

            Vegan doesn’t really work, because if you say you’re vegan many people immediately think of other vegans they know who are very unhealthy. We know they’re the French fry and diet Coke vegans, but the world doesn’t make that distinction.

            I sometimes say whole food plant ONLY, but again, that’s too long. Rip Esselstyn, and now John and Ocean Robbins, use whole foods plant STRONG diet – again, too many words and it sounds like it includes animal products.

            Some wordsmith out there must surely be able to come up with a descriptive word that fits our eating style without being a mouthful of its’ own.

            By the way, I’m pretty sure it was Dr Campbell who coined the phrase whole food plant based. Or it could possibly have been Dr Esselstyn.

              1. I think that when the term was first conceived, fungi were included in the vegetable “kingdom” – we still occasionally use the ‘expression animal, vegetable or mineral’. Putting fungi in their own kingdom is a relatively modern development. Most people seem to regard them as honorary plants because of this. Talking about a whole food plant and fungi based diet would be a bit much perhaps?

              1. You would be vegan in dietary preference only, not a vegan in strict definition of the term. As TG correctly states a vegan is a statement classically stated on lifestyle.

                And you would by lying if you stated you were healthy. Just eating those two I would venture to safely state you would not be.

                  1. Thanks Darwin – I’m glad you got a chuckle today. I just couldn’t resist. JL is such a horses ass – and he freely admits to being at cross purposes with what we are about on this site – that it’s just way too easy to dish-back to him what he dishes out.
                    best – Ruth

                1. Please, no name calling of anyone, regardless of their views and comments. Jerry’s comments (and those of other people) may be erroneous, illogical, inflammatory, and so forth, but please don’t attack the person by naming calling (“idiot,” in this case). As a long time user of NF I simply skip his comments. We’ve had other people in the past spewing inane comments but they eventually go away. Thankfully people like Tom Goff and others (including Rami and Daryl from years past) correct the misinformation. I think is a very useful service to newer reader to this site. This is an extraordinary comments site and I have learned much from many commenters, in addition to Dr. Greger’s incredible work. This site is valuable in part because the discourse remains civil and focused on evidence. Thea and other early moderators helped to establish this standard. I encourage all serious members to maintain the standard. Thank you.

      1. Don’t play with words, TG.

        A vegetarian or vegan is a person who blindly and fanatically insist to eat only plant foods even when it is detriment to their health. In the quest of avoiding animal foods at all cost, they came up with some theories to scare people off animal foods, such as the saturated fat and cholesterol theories.

        1. Jerry, its actually the health of meat eaters, the state of people on the average hospital ward and their animal based diets, that scares me off. But you chow down… mind over matter, right?

        2. Jerry-
          Why do you have such animosity toward vegans and vegetarians? By and large this is a friendly forum, or at least it had been, until you decided to repeatedly attack others, both individuals and groups, as well as repeat over and over your pet theories about food.

          1. You have to look yourself in the mirror. Your “friendly” forum trashes meat eaters everyday, albeit they eat a lot of plant foods too, and twist the fact to fit your agenda. Just look at 2 posts above as example. You guys are very friendly indeed.

            1. I concur with Jerry Lewis , I post on a number of boards , this site wins hands down as the most hostile environment I ever been on .
              I have been belittled ,called every name you could think of . My answers to some people get deleted by the moderators . Every day TG comes on the first thing he says on any thing I post , is what I do for a living . Yet you notice he doesn’t say what he does . If your looking for a fair respectful debate or conversation don’t come here .

              1. Oh come on Buster, the fact that you are employed to promote dairy products is highly relevant when you are posting on a nutrition site. Yet you don’t always disclose this fact when you post comments here. Failure to disclose such a conflict of interest could even be argued to be deceptive – although I give you full credit for disclosing your background when you first came here.

                Sure you support Jerry’s views. You would. He has previously disclosed that he comes here with the intention of disparaging Dr G, the NF website and “vegans”. Your intentions here are presumably similar. No wonder you make common cause with him (although admittedly you seem considerably more rational).

                To be blunt, many people would regard you as an industry “shill” and Jerry as an obsessive troll, and see both of you as here primarily to make mischief. It is hardly surprising that people are as unfriendly to Jerry and you as you are to them. Both you and Jerry, if I remember correctly, have made some pretty unkind remarks about Dr Greger and the people here. It’s a bit hypocritical that Jerry and you should complain about being repaid in your own coin. Jerry’s comments have never been “respectful” and you have been known to make less than respectful remarks yourself.

                As for your comments being deleted by moderators I don’t know about that. Jerry gets away with murder. I don’t see why your comments would be deleted unless they blatantly contradicted the etiquette guidelines. However, a number of my comments ‘disappear’ too but this has nothing to do with the moderators. The WordPress system used for the comments section of the site apparently goes into a tizz and loses posts if they contain some types of link. I can’t figure out what exactly the problem is but it happens. It happens to Jerry. It happens to me. Perhaps it happens to you as well. The only solution I have found is to compose posts in eg Wordpad first, then copy paste them here. If the post disappears, then try again but without one or more of the weblinks until the post appears.

                As for me, I am a retired civil servant with no financial or other ties to the food industries. Or pharmaceutical industries etc for that matter. Nor have I ever had any such ties. Unlike you.

                1. Not sure if I agree with anything that Jerry says . Lets assume most people who come to this site don’t register , so they can’t or don’t comment . My guess is a huge part of the people who come might agree with Jerry from time to time . A lot of time he most likely represents the guy in the street , as they say .
                  Before this job I was a produce buyer for a major grocery chain , my current job is a contract job . My boss will never sign me up again , we both know that which is fine . He has a system in place that now works for him . I don’t expect to be in the unemployment line as I have offers but you never know……………

                  1. OK Buster. But you did say that you concurred with Jerry on his earlier point.

                    Jerry does make some sensible comments occasionally but he clearly has an agenda and has said as much. Also, I have a hard time getting my head around the fact that he just dismisses all the evidence around dietary saturated fat and blood cholesterol levels as “faked” and “bogus” as he puts it. This seems entirely irrational to me and I am doubtful if he represents the guy/gal in the street although there is admittedly a fair degree of anti-vegan venom in some people. Not being a vegan, that doesn’t trouble me so much as puzzle me.

                    Nor do I mind him (or you) offering a contrary viewpoint. That’s healthy – we all need to have our opinions challenged. However, I just wish he’d spend more time offering some rational arguments instead of making blanket assertions over and over again. Jerry expresses his opinions robustly. So do you on occasion. I think it’s fair enough if my or other people’s responses are equally robust. No offence is intended. I happen to think that Jerry is entirely sincere and means well but I think that he is, well, deluded. I also have no doubt that you are sincere but disagree with you about dairy products. They may be beneficial in certain populations that have trouble obtaining sufficient calories or nutrients because they live in poverty stricken communities with limited diets. But I believe that there are healthier alternatives available to wealthy Western populations that have access to a wide range of foods and nutrients (including supplements).

              2. No offense Buster but you are completely totally wrong in that. I have posted since the late 1990’s on all sorts of boards here and internationally. Some select places like India where there is a ingrained cordiality are very polite. Some restricted member only sites are polite as well.
                Open forums which this basically is this one exceeds by many degrees consideration for others.

                I consider that statement completely absurd. Have you never visited any sports site in America? How about any political site?
                The guardian is better now than in the past but really have you never visited their site in the past?

                I have had my life threatened quite explicitedly and with method stated. I don’t fear any internet bullies tt is all for show, but really you can’t be serious in that.
                The allowance of you as a paid spokesperson on this site is really quite remarkable. No sites allow that.
                Rt perhaps they have changed but not to long ago the place was filled with peoples threatening each others lives.
                ..Sites that governments interact with are likely the worst political sites. Operatives in the intelligence fields are pros and will stop at nothing to bend discussions their way. Threats and follow ups of hacking to disrupt the place if their ploys do not work..

                I can only believe you are making that statement so the moderators here will continue to allow you.
                You seem pretty reasonable so perhaps they should. But we are better all if you do not expect peoples to believe claptrap such as this referenced.

                1. Your comment is highly offensive since I do not get paid by anyone to post comments . I post comments on my own time and on my own beliefs .

                  1. Well then I apologize I was under that impression.

                    What is your status with the dairy industry? Is there no relationship between you and them?

                    1. What offends me Buster,are half truths misstatements designed to mislead and covert untruths.

                      I ask again what is you status as regards the dairy industry?.
                      And ask now also what are you doing here on a whole foods plant based nutrition site expressing a view of contrary nature ?.

                      You are certainly allowed to do so, this is a free world after all….but I may also ask why?
                      It seems you pursue this with diligence. Most adverse commentators would tend to come and go.

              3. Buster – if you’re so unhappy about the individuals and conversation on this site – per your whiny complaints above – let me remind you that you are not being forced to participate. If you feel so unhappy here, no one is strong-arming you stay. Make your own decision to be happy – or not.
                Frankly, you sound like a two year old whining to Mommy. Grow up.

            2. Jerry Lewis –
              I’ve read a lot of your comments on many topics, and I think it is clear to anyone else who for whatever fruitless reason has done the same that you are the one who has instigated any non-friendly comments.

        3. Jerry, I will defend you when others are being unfair to you, but I will not defend you when you are being unfair to others. Blindly and fanatically is not a fair way to call it.
          John S

        4. Yes, Jerry, all the evidence identifying dietary saturated fat and blood cholesterol levels as risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, dementia and some cancers was “faked” as part of a global, century-long dastardly vegan plot.

          Do you even realise just how crazy your posts appear?

          1. To add in diet. TG is correct vegan by the classical definition is as he describes, one who tries basically to do less harm to animals.

            It amazes me that peoples who are not vegan think they can define vegans themselves and not allow vegans as per the vegan society to do so.
            Should then all races be called as others call them not as they call themselves? I think it is certain quite a few races would find objection to that The Navajo nation per example has formally protested the calling of the team in Wash redskins as it is offensive. But others call them that.. In diet then we must allow others to call us as they see us and not allow our opinion?

            Are we then lesser than all others vegans? You can define us and we cannot self define us?

      2. Not being a troll but avoiding the ingestion of any animals is impossible because dust mite and others for exemple are insects which are animals…

        1. We all, vegans who do it for cause of morality do the best we can to avoid causing suffering and death. That one may not act perfectly In a moral fashion does not imply in any manner no moral actions may then be taken.

          I hear that versed often when peoples consider veganism in lifestyle.It makes no rational sense. We as a society for instance never can completely stop murdering from occurring. Does that then infer we should as our moral effect is incomplete in its aim then we should stop professing against murder and in fact murder ourselves?
          Individually I may think a fair equal distribution of wealth is morally preferable. I may then give to various charities with that aim in mind. I should then as I may never see a fair equal distribution of wealth in society stop contributing to all charities?

          If you are just intending to state that you are correct. Some teenagers I have known have entered into veganism for a period of a week or so with that aim and once it is found out there exist things like dust mites skin mites and other things such as death in the harvesting even of grains, they disavow it. No offense to teenagers but it is a bit a part of growing up to learn about how things are.

          Jains do attempt to stop all this negative karma we accumulate as humans which binds us here. Very religious jains will stop eating in the last several months of their lives when very old to that aim. Barring that touching ones skin or eyes not moving we can overtly stop that. But none can live like that except when very old and inviting death and for a very short period .

    3. Soy produces phytoestrogen, the same as most other plants do. Phytoestrogen binds to a specific receptor that regulates animal estrogen, moderating its effects. Another one of nature’s balancing acts.

      Any “bad press” concerning soy derives from Big Pharma and the AMA, who together account for the third leading cause of death in advanced countries: iatrogenisis.

    4. Dr. Bernard Jensen used to fast his patients on water for forty days to wash out morbid accumulation from the bowels with high colonics- anus to illeal cecal valve, usually clogged by chunks of dead flesh to effect appendicitis via severe constipation.He initiated the discovery of reversal symptoms, where previous disease and ingested products. would now be eliminated. This was part of a healing process. Whether one agrees or not, this is an intensely interesting study erudited in his work: THE SCIENCE AND PRACTICE OF IRIDOLOGY. first published in 1952. Quacks are not the naturopaths, but the allopaths and heavy metal adherrents under Hanaheim, from a Bavarian mining town,who supposedly believed that if metals were purified by other metals then the human body could be too. Thus oil (1859) and chemicals, pharmaceuticals and the whole Bayer/Monsanto scheme of eradicating nature as we dearly pay for today, worldwide, in the wake of the very profitable Viet Nam era defoliating scheme.Plus you get worldwide war and famine.

    5. I know that you guys are anti Dr Gundry and so is Dr G. But you guys need to look at his videos with an open mind and see where he is coming from and educate yourselves..

      His theory is that people in the world are eating lectin rich foods without any problems but some people in the U.S. can have major digestive problems eating them. Why? It’s because other cultures eat lectin rich foods but they also eat other foods to counter the lectin and therefore they have no problem. So the remedy is for us to eat the other foods too, or take Dr Gundry’s lectin blocker supplement.

      I don’t recommend any of you to buy his supplement but just look at what it contains – I see a few ingredients that I recognize which are NAC, Okra extract, vegetable peptase.

      Soybean contains lectin. On top of that, it also has estrogen. Perhaps we need to eat along some foods that are estrogen blocker. Asian people eat a lot of soybean without any problem but some people in the U.S. do, and so we need to look at what other cultures eat as a whole and not just one food.

      It’s just like the Whole Foods that we eat.

      http://lectinblocker.com/170526A.php?n=db

      http://lectinblocker.com/secureOrder.php

      1. Gundry’s the plant paradox is refuted by Dr Greger in his video. It was his seventh most popular video last year.
        You need to see it. You, no offense, but you are being lied to and do not know it.

      2. Dear Jerry,

        As soon as you saw Dr Gundry selling a supplement, an alarm should have gone off. Dr. Greger is not trying to sell us any worthless supplements. Sure, he sells books…but he is not trying to exploit any confusion we have about dieting.

        1. A distinction perhaps worth considering. Dr Greger up to recently was on payroll as the chief medical officer of the Animal Humane association. That has since terminated, the position was eliminated. Now he is employed for salary by the charity he has set up nutrition facts. The book proceeds go to nutrition facts and not to Dr Greger personally. To my understanding.

    6. It’s also complicated by the other ingredients in many soy foods. Take soy milk, for example, most brands have added inorganic phosphates such as calcium phosphate, disodium phosphate etc. These inorganic phosphates can cause hardening of the arteries, and kidney damage. Have only found one brand, Westbrae, on the shelf that contains nothing but soybeans and water.
      Same goes for almond milk, and maybe other nut milks. Really nasty additives in them also.
      Cola drinks and packaged meats are loaded with them, but of course, people here don’t eat that stuff. But another reason to tell our kids no fast food or soda!

        1. Liisa, Did not know Eden foods had soy milk. I already buy their black soybeans and love them. Because of your post I looked up their website and found other good products. Thanks a bunch!

      1. There are many Youtube videos on how to make soy milk. It just takes organic soybeans (available at some stores and online), a nut milk bag or paint strainer from the paint or hardware store, a pot, a blender, and anything you may wish to add, such as vanilla.

        You soak the beans overnight, grind them, strain out the soy milk and simmer it 15-20 minutes, add vanilla if you wish, and chill.

        The ground up soybeans left in the strainer are called okara, and they can be used for other things. My doctor friend dries or toasts them and puts the dried okara into whatever she wants to boost the protein of.

    1. Hi Lisa, Thanks for your question. I was very interested to see this new video of Dr Greger. I did a search and it seems that prolonged soy food consumption appears not to be a factor driving equal formation (114). In this study below it indicates that , one possible explanation for the differences in the frequency of equal-producers among populations, was may be related to the type of soy foods consumed (115). There are marked differences in the isoflavone composition of Western and Asian soy foods (Fig. 3) (41). Asians consume a high proportion of isoflavone aglycons, because fermented soy foods account for about one-third of the total intake of soy foods (116,117). Based upon the typical 20–50 mg/d intake of total isoflavones by Asians, we estimate that 10–30 mg are ingested in the form of aglycons, which in most adults are absorbed faster than glycosides (43,102,118–121) and may be more easily converted to equal than glycosides. I hope that is helpful to you.
      Equol: History, Chemistry, and Formation

      1. I question the estimate of how much soy is in fermented form until I look at some other sources. For one thing, natto is far from a universal food in Japan. It is popular only in the Tokyo region. I looked at the abstracts of the sources cited for this fact. Percentage of fermented of soy food was not the subject or a conclusion listed in the abstracts, they were looking at sources of soy isoflavanones. The first article was a rather small food diary study in an unspecified area (though natto as a top four soy food would make me guess Tokyo).

        The fermenting is health trend brought out a lot of shaky assertions about how much fermented soy is consumed in Asian countries. We need more reliable information before assuming that this is the difference. It might be the key, but we shouldn’t make the assumption and possibly miss the real key.

        1. Tofu is not really fermented the way it is done today, even in Asia.

          But some foods such as soy sauce is fermented soybean.

          But why concentrate on just fermented soybean because other cultures eat a lot of fermented foods that are not from soy?

      2. Thank you for that reply! That makes sense. I had to digest that article slowly- but wow, what a wealth of information!

        So that leads me to the following questions:
        1. Which soy products in the US are isoflavone aglycons-containing? Which would not be (I am thinking perhaps soy milk would not be). How would I go about finding which foods are? I will definitely need to do some research, but do let me know if you have any ideas. For example, I am wondering if the organic blocks of tofu I purchase in the cold section of my grocery store is the aglycon-containing type.

        2. Is it a urine test that can be taken to see if one is consuming isoflavone aglycons-containing soy?

        1. Hi, Lisa. In this study, the greatest bioavailability of isoflavones was from tofu, followed by soymilk, then natto, and then supplements. Take advice from users here with a grain of salt, as they may or may not know what they are talking about. The only commercially available test for equol detection is a Japanese one, and all of the instructions and information about it are in Japanese. After decades of disuse, my Japanese is very rusty, so I cannot really comment on its effectiveness or usefulness.

      1. What a ridiculous theory. If you want some fat that will never go rancid then pick saturated fat. Because it is saturated then by definition it cannot take in oxygen or oxidize.

    1. On another discussion here, calcium and lead in pregnancy, I did a bit of a link/copy thing on fish.

      To summarize mostly from the EPA before they became what they are now… all wild caught fish in the US contained some PCB’s. Not enough often for what the industry tells us is dangerous for us…..but does one want to consume them?

      And quite often excessive levels of contaminants 44% in one sample above thought to be safe levels are found in predator fish.
      Farmed fish are notorious for problem level of contaminants.
      .
      Globally it is not as well studied. But I surmise if it was one would find comparables.

  2. Very interesting video! One point that wasn’t addressed that I am curious about is how horses get their good bacteria from eating clover. I wonder where else this good bacteria is. Sprouts maybe?

    1. I suppose most of us could go out in the yard and find clover to put into our smoothies…what do you think? And, apologies to those of you in much of the nation whose clover is under a few inches, or feet, of the white stuff!

      1. Clover seeds are sold for sprouting in every health food store – or you could buy the sprouts – but it would be cool to know what’s the magical thing about clover wouldn’t it? I know everyone loves to brilliantly observe that “correlation is not causation “ but it’s a damn fine clue, isn’t it. I grow clover inside for year round micro greens but do plant lights grow clover that grows equol? Do I need horse manure to get this gig going? Does that lovely lighter green tart clover work too? Will a horse small enough to live inside my house be necessary? Because I’m all about that last part. Anyway, someone please test some menopausal human clover eaters and get back to us please.

        1. As a Westerner living in Asia and menopausal, my gut bacteria led me to avoid soybeans because I was not used to tofu’s taste… until I had hotflashes every 2-3 hours, even at night. Sleep deprived, I drank 3-4 cups of soymilk and ate 2 bowls of tofu each day, for a month, but to no avail. Than, I used red clover as supplement, but I needed a high dose which gave me red spots (allergy). Later, I found that a supplement imported from California with soy extract and red clover extract combined helped me tremendously. Now, I am able to sleep again.
          Thank you Dr. Greger, I understand now more why soybeans alonedid not help me! Most intriguing, as always.
          I love your videos and view them for already 2-3 years now.
          Monika
          P.S.: I am mostly a plant based eater, but occasionally I need chicken bone broth.

          1. How in the world do you know that you need chicken bone broth? What are the symptoms? How much do you need? What does it do for you?

            My yoga instructors are always saying “Listen to your body.” But my body never tells me anything that specific! Sometimes I feel like eating greens or chocolate, but I do think that’s just a psychological or taste thing…

    2. I believe the video implies the gut bacteria are only able to produce it in the winter using clover as the precursor. Not 100% clear.

    3. Sandy Bruner, et. al, . . Your clover question is a good one. Interestingly, clover, like soy, is a legume. Legume plants are unique in that they are nitrogen fixers. This means that they harbor a bacteria in their roots – Sinorhizobium meliloti – that “fixes” nitrogen in the soil. This allows the plant to produce a high protein plant in poor soils. Because these plants ‘fix’ nitrogen, they can also improve soils and many legumes are planted by farmers as cover crops to protect and improve their soils.
      Most beans and peas are legumes including soy beans (edamame) and green peas. So I am going to take a very wild stab at this and propose that, possibly, the equol population is somehow getting into their systems something that comes from the green parts – the leaf – of the legume. In my local Asian store they sell a wild variety of greens that I have no idea what to do with. But they also sell sweet pea vines that many Asian populations eat. I’ve tried them in stir fry and they are tender, sweet, and delicious. I can’t help but wonder if it is the green leafy part of the legume that holds a portion of the key to this mystery. As well, alfalfa is another legume plant that is regularly given to livestock by farmers – alfalfa hay. I’ve grown alfalfa plants in my garden as cover crops and the newest shoot can be tender. The small purple flowers that alfalfa produces are just as sweet as can be. We know that B12 is made by plants.
      So I am just musing out a hypothesis that perhaps the greens of the legume plant and perhaps its associated bacteria are a part of the picture.

      1. Since horses on pasture eat right down to the ground, unlike cows, who leave a few inches of grass, maybe horses are getting some soil bacteria, and perhaps that’s part of the equation.

        1. Yes that is true , horses have both upper and lower front teeth do they can eat closer to the ground , while cows have no upper front teeth so they need grass longer . However anytime you see horses in a pasture where the grass is lower than about 5inches you are being cruel to that animal as a horse’s skeleton is not capable of continually having their head that low . They can easily splay themselves .

  3. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago (it runs in my family, though I was diagnosed at an older age) and my husband with prostate cancer 13 years ago. We now eat a wfpb diet; though I’ve been an “ovo-lacto vegetarian” for more than 45 years, my husband became one when we started dating 10 years ago.

    We both find it curious that neither one of us has ever been counseled about diet — though we do volunteer the information that “we’re vegetarian” and now “we’re vegan” (then explain about wfpb eating). And when I mention that I eat soy products, I get very negative reactions. (The same negative — horrified, really — reaction occurs when I mention soy foods to fellow breast cancer patients.) So I plan to bring in some references on my next visit, and I hope I can use the comment that I think I heard Dr. Greger use, paraphrased: “My goodness! Does your position mean that you haven’t cracked open a book about nutrition in the last 7 years?”

    Does anyone have a few really good references summarizing the benefits of soy foods — as well as wfpb eating — for breast cancer patients that I could take with me? Thanks in advance. (Otherwise, I will peruse the videos and use my best judgment, as well as recommend this website.)

    1. Your right about the looks you get if you mention soy to people . Soy has been attacked and many times mistakenly attacked by people who should know better . To-days video was a pretty balanced look at it .

        1. Birt, have you tried other soy foods besides the soy milk? I can’t handle that either, but am fine with tofu, edamame and black soybeans, all good veggie protein.

        2. Another option Birt is to continue to regularly eat small amounts of soy (tofu and tempeh are both fermented which makes digestion easier) until your gut bacteria adjust and accommodate to the food. When I switched to WFPB and added beans it took quite a while for my intestinal world to not become so gassy. I had a “real situation” there for a while. But I kept at it and ate some beans every day. Over time my flora and fauna adjusted and I can now eat beans all day long with almost no undesirable gassy outcome. I also eat soy often, again with no problems Hope this is helpfu.

    2. Hi Dr J, thanks for your comments and your story. I found this below video of Dr Greger very powerful regarding breast cancer survivors and soy consumption. I shall include the link and the sources that was cited in that.

      Is Soy Healthy for Breast Cancer Survivors?

      Chen FP, Chien MH. Phytoestrogens induce differential effects on both normal and malignant human breast cells in vitro. Climacteric. 2014 Dec;17(6):682-91.

      Chi F, Wu R, Zeng YC, Xing R, Liu Y, Xu ZG. Post-diagnosis soy food intake and breast cancer survival: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(4):2407-12.

      Setchell KD, Brown NM, Zhao X, Lindley SL, Heubi JE, King EC, Messina MJ. Soy isoflavone phase II metabolism differs between rodents and humans: implications for the effect on breast cancer risk. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Nov;94(5):1284-94.

      Messina M, Messina, VL. Exploring the Soyfood Controversy. Nutrition Today: March/April 2013 – Volume 48 – Issue 2 – p 68–75.
      Rock CL, Doyle C, Demark-Wahnefried W, Meyerhardt J, Courneya KS, Schwartz AL, Bandera EV, Hamilton KK, Grant B, McCullough M, Byers T, Gansler T. Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012 Jul-Aug;62(4):243-74.

      Korde LA, Wu AH, Fears T, Nomura AM, West DW, Kolonel LN, Pike MC, Hoover RN, Ziegler RG. Childhood soy intake and breast cancer risk in Asian American women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009 Apr;18(4):1050-9.

      Ziegler RG, Hoover RN, Pike MC, Hildesheim A, Nomura AM, West DW, Wu-Williams AH, Kolonel LN, Horn-Ross PL, Rosenthal JF, Hyer MB. Migration patterns and breast cancer risk in Asian-American women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1993 Nov 17;85(22):1819-27.
      Kelsey JL. A review of the epidemiology of human breast cancer. Epidemiol Rev. 1979;1:74-109.
      Shu XO, Zheng Y, Cai H, Gu K, Chen Z, Zheng W, Lu W. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. JAMA. 2009 Dec 9;302(22):2437-43.
      Guha N, Kwan ML, Quesenberry CP Jr, Weltzien EK, Castillo AL, Caan BJ. Soy isoflavones and risk of cancer recurrence in a cohort of breast cancer survivors: the Life After Cancer Epidemiology study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Nov;118(2):395-405.

      Kang X, Zhang Q, Wang S, Huang X, Jin S. Effect of soy isoflavones on breast cancer recurrence and death for patients receiving adjuvant endocrine therapy. CMAJ. 2010 Nov 23;182(17):1857-62.

      Caan BJ, Natarajan L, Parker B, Gold EB, Thomson C, Newman V, Rock CL, Pu M, Al-Delaimy W, Pierce JP. Soy food consumption and breast cancer prognosis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 May;20(5):854-8.

      Zhang YF, Kang HB, Li BL, Zhang RM. Positive effects of soy isoflavone food on survival of breast cancer patients in China. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2012;13(2):479-82.

      Paruthiyil S, Parmar H, Kerekatte V, Cunha GR, Firestone GL, Leitman DC. Estrogen receptor beta inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation and tumor formation by causing a G2 cell cycle arrest. Cancer Res. 2004 Jan 1;64(1):423-8.

      Mueller SO, Simon S, Chae K, Metzler M, Korach KS. Phytoestrogens and their human metabolites show distinct agonistic and antagonistic properties on estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) and ERbeta in human cells. Toxicol Sci. 2004;80(1):14-25.

      1. Excellent response. Seems like 11 or so should about cover it. America, what a tragic comedy at times. Breast cancer and not one consult on diet?
        And I wonder if she would have received the same shocked looks if she had mentioned she had a baloney sandwich on white bread with a nice cold glass of milk to wash it down for lunch.
        No shocked looks would follow that statement of course.

        Glad to see this person on the right track and hope it all works out well. My mother had breast cancer in her 40’s and it all worked out well. With of course never a consult on diet ever.

    3. Dr J

      You could also consider printing out and taking with you this 2016 article which offers a fairly good summary of the evidence. Here is the abstract

      “The relationship between soy food intake and breast cancer has been rigorously investigated for more than 25 years. The identification of isoflavones as possible chemopreventive agents helped fuel this line of investigation. These diphenolic compounds, which are found in uniquely-rich amounts in soy beans, possess both estrogen-dependent and -independent properties that potentially inhibit the development of breast cancer. Observational studies show that among Asian women higher soy consumption is associated with an approximate 30% reduction in risk of developing breast cancer. However, evidence suggests that for soy to reduce breast cancer risk consumption must occur early in life, that is during childhood and/or adolescence. Despite the interest in the role of soy in reducing breast cancer risk concerns have arisen that soy foods, because they contain isoflavones, may increase the likelihood of high-risk women developing breast cancer and worsen the prognosis of breast cancer patients. However, extensive clinical and epidemiologic data show these concerns to be unfounded. Clinical trials consistently show that isoflavone intake does not adversely affect markers of breast cancer risk, including mammographic density and cell proliferation. Furthermore, prospective epidemiologic studies involving over 11,000 women from the USA and China show that postdiagnosis soy intake statistically significantly reduces recurrence and improves survival.”
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27161216
      https://www.karger.com/Article/Fulltext/444735

      However, it is from a German complementary medicine journal so I am not sure how authoritative it would be considered. However, the same author did a similar review in 2014 which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which US clinicians may find more credible
      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/100/Supplement_1/423S.long

    4. Hi Dr. J this is Dr. Sozanski, PhD in Natural Medicine in Atlanta Ga and Moderator for Nutritionfacts. I was myself confused for many years and throughout my studies. I got a flash of light from Dr. Greger’s site on this topic. One talking point should be: Unlike body produced estrogens and other chemical or xeno estrogens which bind to type alpha receptors, isoflavones present in soy have the ability to bind to estrogen receptors beta. This makes all the difference, as they operate in different ways. For instance, the beta estrogen receptors inhibit the growth effects of estrogens…. read more here, I think you will enjoy it: :https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-soy-healthy-for-breast-cancer-survivors/ Daniela

  4. I have been making soy kefir- and I’m pretty sure it made equol because it extended the duration of my menstrual cycle by 4 days.. so now I have 2 cups a day of my soy kefir

  5. Many thanks for this article to Dr. Greger from a woman suffering from the consequences of lower estrogen production.
    Is there anyway I can test myself for presence of equal?

      1. Hi, Kathy. The studies used in the video measured equol in urine and/or blood after consuming soy. This is not a test commonly performed, and so I don’t know where you could have your equol measured, unless you became a subject in a research study on this topic. A Swiss company has applied for and been granted patents in several countries, including the US, for a test strip to detect equol. As far as I know, it is not yet on the market, or is only available to researchers. There is a Japanese test kit available online, but I cannot comment on it. It appears that all of the information about it is in Japanese, and my Japanese is very rusty after decades of disuse. I wish I had a better answer for you.

  6. Surely, it is the greenery consumed, like horses eating chlorophyl rich diets over the summer, that is key? Would wheatgrass juice consumed with a soy rich diet cause equol to spike? I am just surprised the experiment was not done. Why is it so often about supplements… like fibre supplements rather than just taking in the green veg? Is the latter too much to ask of the subjects, or is it that those conducting the trials are looking for routes to supplement manufacture and pills, not dietary solutions?

    1. Gillian 23 – I, too, was curious about the greenery question. I posted some thoughts and a mild hypothesis above (don’t want to repeat it here and bore everyone to death). But take a look at it perhaps – it regards the greens of legumes, which soy is one.
      Also, I share your frustration about the pills of fiber. But I also understand that when researchers are trying to conduct a science experiment the idea is to control as many factors as possible. So standardizing one of the components of the question trying to be teased out is a way to tease out information. That’s why fiber given as a supplement is part of the experiment – the researchers know exactly what type, amount, and timing (if necessary) of fiber is given. It isn’t necessarily a goal for them to support supplement manufacturers but to standardize the testing as much as possible. Thx!

  7. Some of us may have genetic deficiencies to overcome – I’m still trying to figure out how to counteract being a non-secretor. It would be nice if greenery were all I needed to at least produce equol. I had very few hot-flashes at menopause, so maybe I do. I have been consuming tofu most of my adult life. Soymilk, not so much. It would be nice to know how two glasses of soy milk convert to ounces of tofu.

    1. Maybe the calcium in the tofu making process suppresses equol production and you don’t get that with soy milk so long as you avoid the claim enriched (sic) ones.

    2. Anne, I also would like to know. I get stomach upset from soy milk, but love my tofu scrambles with lots of mushrooms and chopped veggies added, also fine with black soybeans or edamame. I only do organic, non gmo though. I have to wonder if that is why so many conflicting studies. Gmo foods are not exactly the same genetically as the heritage varieties.

      1. Directly unrelated but may be related in the matter of variable related outcomes.
        One male prostate cancer soybean study seemed on the quick read a pretty solid case against the use of soy for such. A large large group of peoples I think a control and adverse association with severe cases and soybean use. Moderate cases I think did show benefit.

        The kicker was the fine print…the amount of soy product they used was something in the range of 1/50th of the amount a person would find in just one serving of soy milk. So the study for this purpose was not useable.
        So to a extent it may be necessary to read the fine print on studies which show adverse results compared to the majority. It may be up to us to find that.

  8. American Vegaterians seem to like the liquid aminos and miso. Could it be that these fermented so products are cultivating their biome with the needed flora?

  9. Two points. Fermented soy must alter gut bacteria. This could be the missing link. Vegetarians often consume tofu.
    Second. Hot flash sufferers. If all else has failed, give blood. It stops them for several weeks.

  10. There is so much variance to this thing of soy. It is consumable in so many forms. Even tofu has variance in the type of firming agent. Sweetened unsweetened calcium no calcium in milk. The beans themselves, someone is consuming them I see them always when I shop.Soy protein tempeh, and on and on.

    And has anyone even yet considered such things as tofu made from sprouted soybeans…..they sell such a thing really.
    I buy it ;)

  11. They should hire someone new for the metric conversions in the cookbook, I’m making the bean burgers with harissa and it says add 1 1/4 inch turmeric fresh or 3 mm. The blade of my knife is probably 3 mm :-) so I thought that was probably wrong, I looked it up and indeed it is 3.17 cm. Better. Also this morning I was making a salad from the cookbook and it called for 900 grams of fresh spinach (converted from 2 cups baby spinach) but that was just a crazy amount and alot more then 2 cups worth. I used 500 grams instead. Bad conversions! But what a great book, everything I made from it is super tasty!!! Can’t wait for the second edition already.

  12. Hi, I have a question about soy that I hope you will address someday. I have had estrogen-receptive breast cancer and after testing, I have been told I have a high possibility of recurrence. Since soy mimics estrogen, I have been avoiding soy. But some of your videos have mentioned the protective effect of soy with breast cancer. So I don’t know whether to avoid it or eat more of it. I was wondering if any research has been done on estrogen-receptive (breast) cancer and soy. Thank you!

    1. How to block breast cancers estrogen producing enzymes sounds like that video may be applicable.

      Sorry I can’t link on this medium. Perhaps a moderator can link for you or you can just put the title in the search bracket here. I would look at all the videos on soy related to breast cancer. Quary that as well.many will show up.

  13. It all comes down to gut biome, but is the test for what’s in your stomach have a medical billing code? If not, then docs will never look there first as an option for a cure. Will insurance companies pay for these tests? Are some insurance companies becoming more progressive in what they’ll cover given that diet could keep people OFF their payout sheet? Just wondering…

    1. Munty23 – you may be interested in this book “10% Human” by a Ph.D. gut researcher. Lots of interesting information on the gut biome. Of particular interest to me was a study she relays where she found a group of high meat eaters and a different group of non-meat eaters in different parts of the world. She took gut biome samples of each. Then, she switch both groups diets. The meat-eaters ate the African non-meat eaters diets and vice versa. Interestingly, the biome of each person changed completely to accommodate the new diet. And the change took only about 2 weeks. So this is evidence that our gut biome changes with with our diet i.e., we are not stuck with it.
      When I went WFPB I swear I could have powered a rocket ship to the moon when I increased my bean amount in my diet. Now, years later, I can eat pots of beans and absolutely no problem and no gas increase.
      Our intestinal biomes are flexible it appears. Here’s the book in case you’re interested:
      https://www.amazon.com/10-Human-Microbes-Health-Happiness/dp/0062345990

  14. Munty23,

    Good point and yes there are multiple codes that can be used to order a gut/stool evaluation…..however it takes a bit of questioning and understanding of the biome issues related to diseases…. not yet on the conventional radar screen. And yes many insurance companies will pay for the testing when prior authorized and properly coded.

    The misunderstanding of the relationship of insurance companies to health and the medical establishment will not necessarily be something that tends towards diet as the continuity of fiscal intermingling between food producers and medical schools coupled with the continual tirade of misinformation by established big food concerns will prevent the changes your assuming to be in their best interests.

    Sorry for the less than optimistic outlook, just after 33 years of practice it becomes hard to see how this change will take place. Especially when you consider that the evidence is rather obvious and clearly available. It took smoking tobacco products literally a 1/2 century to become demonized….. maybe it’s only a decade or two to become forthcoming that diet is really the first line of defense in all but acute health situations.

    Ask your doc for a comprehensive stool analysis, such as that at: GDX.net or one of the other companies doing these evaluations……. they will help them to learn the coding.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.CenterofHealth.com

    1. As a aside but perhaps having relevance. Tobacco’s popularity particularly amongst women was brought on by the use of the psychological in marketing. The proponent of that who had great great success with it did indeed change sides as he grew older and worked against Big T. I always feel his contributions to the way the thing was fought, such as the product labeling on cigarettes were responsible for its demise in America. It was not that people changed opinion on tobacco but that their opinion was changed by successful marketing against it led by this man.

      Climate change they faced the same negative marketing and psychological manipulation by the energy industry and have really failed. Action will be taken but it is all reactive action as things go from bad to worse. That thing can no longer be stopped. We can only make the results of it less bad.

      In the specific of food…. psychological marketing of unhealthy food is certainly occurring and the demonization of healthy food is also occurring. As in the thing of climate change and as opposed to the success of tobacco no one on the right side of this our side, is using psychological manipulative means against them. But certainly it is being used against us. It is the tale of entering a gun fight with only a knife, they have a unfair advantage. They hold the gun of psychological manipulative marketing while we hold only the knife of correct science.

      With my tale of climate change I know fully well who always wins that fight. Unless those on this side do as did not happen in the climate change fight, group together to provide a cohesive force which may add a strategy to this thing and a means, all means to change public perception we will loose.

      Things will not get better several decades from now they will become significantly worse. Our GDP no longer depends on a healthy fit workforce. It more and more so depends upon a unfit unhealthy workforce whose dietary habits necessitate increase in the fastest growing segment of the economy..health care.

      WE stimulate consumption of what they sell. What they sell produces disease which also leads us to medical treatment drugs and such that are also what they sell .
      They will not be driven from this by simple statements of science as the energy companies are not driven from that thing by the same. Tobacco was forced from it by a change in public perception. So diet must have a change in public perception as well. Which means…this thing of diet must be successfully marketed to oppose theirs.
      To form the marketing strategy a oppositional grouping(our side meeting together) must first occur. If not we will fail miserably. The science itself will simply not by itself win the battle of public perception. It never has and never will. All is perception.

      1. Ron, I love your post but disagree with your end point, I believe the truth always prevails and that it always has and always will. It’s slower than the glitter-in-the-eyes approach of the propagandists, but as powerful as their aggressive and relentless lies and loudness may seem, their attempts and even successes are fleeting. I find the cement vs. grass to be a fitting analogy. Man thinks he makes this seemingly indestructible, seemingly strong thing that seemingly defeats natrure with his concrete road, but no matter what, that gentle little blade of grass always pokes right through and eventually that powerful road is destroyed by that which is more powerful than anything man could create: nature. And the truth is stronger and more powerful than any lie or world of lies men can create. Their power and triumph has no staying power in the grand scheme of things. It’s false power and was never a real triumph – a joke on the world but also on themselves.

      2. S I appreciate your point of view but do continue with my disagreement ;)

        We have for all intents and purposes gone to far in the issue of change of climate. To much carbon has been produced to much heat we will see increases despite all our best intentions for centuries. WE had the raw naked science in the 1980’s. It did not suffice. The initial proponants despite the science had their careers destroyed often.

        The view in America still to almost a majority prevails…the false view, despite 30 plus years of science.

        How greater are the forces for their way of agriculture than was big oil back then arrayed. Big Agriculture big food is far far bigger more powerful and concertedly acting in one unified direction to stop the knowledge of WFPB diet from being displayed.

        The science is winning and quite clear. They prevent it from being known of with the marketing strategy of confusion.
        In the intelligence community if you want to squash a story that is true but will hinder you sides interest from being known the tact is always…to produce many many stories with slight variances to them about the same subject from your controlled media.. Holes are present in many of your made up similar stories and you then elaborate upon those to distract from the one story which is true. The end result is no one knows a thing about the real story.

        So you win. Your fact the real story is one of many and the perception of the general public never changes on the subject.
        So the fact no longer matters.
        So it is with this science. Confusion with intention. Every week at least once a week national media will come up with nutrition stories which are generated to confuse.

        So how can one counter that with science?
        The mechanism corporate media is preventing the science from being known of and displayed.
        How can your science stop that. Any amount of it produced… one/they just produces a opposite and publicizes that. Does not matter if it is junk science or how conclusive your science is….
        They make your science not matter.

        A offensive counter/marketing strategy must be enabled to change that playing field. Or you never win. They will play that scheme until it no longer works for them…..which is forever unless you change the equation in some other manner. You must switch their arithmetic based equation which works to one of algebra in marketing terms. AS was done with our one singular win the tobacco win. Marketing must be used in this thing to counter their misinformations. Anti tobacco was marketed. Good healthy food seems strange but it also must be marketed.

        First the healthy food side must meet and group together. Secondly they must unify in message. Thirdly they must identify by concensus tactics and overall strategy. Forth they must identify a management structure which will effectively manage that strategy Fifth they must implement that strategy.

        I would suggest but am no expert by any stretch in this thing that a community based locally educational focused format will counter their media control.
        But it requires no single individual such as Dr Greger just giving his videos it requires a veritable army of supporters who show his videos to nutritionists in educational medical and other venues. And likely videos tailored to that audience need.And multiple voices all speaking in unity on the subject matter.

        I think the children are their vulnerability in their campaign of misinformation but a concensus determination must be found.
        Others may have differing ideas as to strategy and specific tactics employed.
        It is clear the science is not itself working. Americans are getting sicker and sicker by the day by about any measurable statistic..
        The science is already out there. it is not changing things.

        Or we loose. I predict we will loose. The world in fact will likely be infected by this disease of false nutritional information. This is happening currently In south American nations.It is not just happening. Corporations are endeavoring carefully tailored campaigns to change diet in these places.

  15. Very interesting stuff. Any more information on antioxidants and soy? Ever since learning soy milk should not be used in tea as it binds to catechins (and same for coffee and likely cocoa… going by memory here), I’ve wondered if it then too binds to antioxidants in berries in the same way dairy protein does. So I’ve worried a bit since then about antioxidants and soy and which foods to avoid pairing it with or how much of an impact it has. So any information on this would be really appreciated.

  16. Hi, Dr. Tim. A Swiss company has been granted patents in the US and other countries for equol-detecting test strips. As far as I can tell, they are not on the market for consumers at this time, although they may be available to researchers. I am not aware of any labs that do equol tests for consumers. The only consumer-marketed test for equol is Japanese. All of the instructions and information about it are in Japanese, and my Japanese is very rusty from decades of disuse, so I cannot comment on how it works nor about its usefulness. It may be simply a matter of waiting for tests to become available. Perhaps if people began to request it from labs they might begin to offer it.

  17. Please can you tell me, why it is that I’ve needed to avoid all Soy, for all of my life, and if I do consume any, which is very difficult to manage, as having been an avid ‘label reader’ for most of my Life, Then I get bad headaches, more really, like an Sinus inflammation, and blood-shot eyes ?
    Yet, I didn’t have a Menopause, virtually ! Absolutely ‘sailed through it’ with ser symptoms.
    I have to say that I was brought up in an extremely healthy way, which, except for my 3-4 teen years, I then have maintained ever since…..
    I was told in early years, by a Naturopath, that I could try only Organic Soy… But not much luck there.
    I’ve read, over the years, very much on the contra-indications of Soy in general, and that it’s an Endicrine Disruptor ? Obviously, my eliminating it, was ‘wise for myself’

  18. Hi Barbara and thanks for your question. It sounds as if you have a dietary intolerance of soy but if you’ve done well without it for most of your life, I suppose I wouldn’t force consumption or worry about why this is the case. A healthy whole food plant based diet certainly can include minimally processed soy but is not necessary.

  19. Just anecdotal: I have been a vegetarian for over 40 years. Vegan for a lot of that. I eat huge amounts of tofu and have for many years. I went through menopause without a single symptom. I didn’t even notice it. That was 6 years ago and I still don’t have any symptoms. No hot flashes, that’s for sure.

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