Do You Know Nutrition:

By Phylis Canion
Jan. 1, 2013 at midnight
Updated Dec. 31, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.

Can you please shed some light on soy? I recently read in a book that babies who are fed soy formula receive a dose of estrogen equivalent to several birth control pills. Is this true?

Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that are able to act as bodily estrogens (thus the prefix "phyto," meaning "plant") and soy plants happen to possess more phytoestrogens than any other food source in the world.

Also, soy is goitrogenic, or thyroid suppressing, which means it prevents your thyroid from getting the necessary amount of iodine it needs to function properly. Another problem with soy is that it is very high in phytates. Phytates are enzyme inhibitors that block mineral absorption in the human digestive tract.

Soy must be fermented in order to be digestible to humans. Fermented soy products are miso, tempeh, natto or a naturally fermented soy sauce like tamari.

Lastly, soy is very high in trypsin inhibitors. The human body needs trypsin to properly digest protein. A body deficient of trypsin can experience many digestive problems including stomach cramps and diarrhea, and could lead to problems with your pancreas. Some studies express an opinion that more research is needed to answer the question of what effect phytoestrogens may have on infants.

With all the controversy and unanswered questions regarding its safety, I would recommend that soy be avoided for infant consumption.

How did it come about that we should eat black-eyed peas for good luck in the New Year? I am not a fan of black-eyed peas although I do eat a spoonfull on Jan. 1. Do I really need to eat them on New Year's?

The tradition of eating black-eyed peas dates back to the Civil War. The peas were first planted for livestock and were totally ignored when Sherman's troops destroyed and stole crops. By leaving the crops of peas, they became a major food source for the confederates. Now the tradition has evolved into the thought of bringing good luck and prosperity. So, sorry to say that eating just a spoonfull may not be enough-for the best chance of good luck in 2013, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas one for each day of the new year. Please do not hold that recommendation against me. Happy New Year's, 2013.

Thought for the week: Don't believe you have to be better than anyone else. Believe that you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.

Next free nutrition class will be at Organic Emporium on Jan. 14.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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