9 thoughts on “The Health Edge: Are Canola Oil and Soy Good for You?

  1. Nancy

    Hi. Very surprised to hear such a negative review of soy. I’ve both attended John’s talks and had private consultations in the past and have multiple notes where John said tofu (preferably with tumeric/curry) is one of the best things one/I could eat. Also said organic unsweetened soy milk was fine. I recognize glyphosate is an issue, but your opinion of soy itself seems to have changed dramatically? It’d be helpful, if your opinion of something has changed, to acknowledge that change, as what’s best to eat can be complicated and it gets even more so when advice from someone over time is contradictory…. Interested in your thoughts, including would you recommend people not eat tofu at all? Thanks.

    • Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for your comments. When I reflect back over the last 10+ years, the perceptions which formed the basis of my self-care and how I addressed others was indeed quite different. Many principles of nutrition and health are the same e.g. whole, unprocessed foods and nutrient-dense foods, regardless of macronutrient mix, are best. Both John and I (we agree on many but not all things) embraced a Dean Ornish low fat (especially saturated fat), grain-based, legume-rich ideology.
      I was a vegetarian and consumed quite a bit of soy. Over the last 10-years there has been a lot more research suggesting a very different view of fat, particularly saturated fats from quality sources e.g. pasture-raised meats, eggs; growing concerns of glyphosate, even in organic grains-legumes, and fascinating research in “non-gluten” influences on gut permeability from lectins.

      I totally understand your cognitive dissonance. These ideologic changes have emerged more gradually and have been informed by some of the research, my personal experience, and clinical work that I share with a network of excellent clinician-caregivers. That said, I believe there are many “shades of gray” that define what is best for any individual. Philisophically, my personal approach can best be characterized as Paleo-Lite, understanding some whole grain sources and legumes-beans will serve many much better and more economically than many of the poor quality carbohydrate-dense foods that dominate our food supply. To that end, a GMO-free, organic soy product may be an enormous upgrade over poor quality meats, carbs, and commercial dairy. Glyphosate and lectins are important for sure and the extent to which they may be disrupting health for any individual is very hard to measure-prove. I will tend to suggest an elimination of soy, even organic-GMO free if an individual has gut or/and autoimmune issues as there are some alternatives that may be more biologically compatible.

      If you are feeling-doing well consuming organic soy products then I would enjoy and stay the course. As john suggested, whey protein can be a good protein source as an alternative though that may not be an acceptable option for vegetarians-vegans.

      I have been practicing medicine for 30+ years nancy and feel more humbled today than ever given how much I have had to unlearn, question, reconcile… truth is-NOBODY owns the truth…we are trying to translate the many contradictory points of view. An ancestral lens is, I believe, a good one for attempting to reconcile such opposing points of view.

      What I am certain of is that my “worldview” will likely look very different 10 years from today.
      That you are attentive to who you are and how you care for yourself, particularly if your intentions are compassionate, loving and non-judgmental, has you in a much better place than most, regardless of the means to that end 🙂 !

      Grateful for your connection.

      • Nancy

        That was a beautiful response, thank you. Just FYI, I believe the info about soy that I referenced was from 2014 so not terribly long ago….

  2. Marianne

    Terrific podcast! Like Nancy, I too wondered if your view of soy changed very recently, as I don’t recall getting this strong message before. I appreciate that you both express your current views, knowing that many of these will change over time. (I fondly recall that the first time I heard you speak, John, was years ago in a program with Colin Campbell at Kripalu about the evils of animal products!)

    If you talk about brain health in a podcast soon, please consider referencing Dr Bredesen’s work suggesting that toxin-related diseases can progress to “type 3” Alzheimer’s.

    I am deeply grateful for the information I have learned from you both.

  3. Lorraine Antosiewicz

    Hi John. You’ve convinced me to stay away from canola oil, but I’m confused about one point you made. You said that canola oil is VERY high in PUFA. However, what I’m reading says that canola oil consists mostly of monounsaturated fats (61 percent, almost as much as olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (32 percent). Please clarify. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Tara,
      The observation was how saturated fat intake was associated with higher testosterone levels. The mechanism is that cholesterol is the precursor to testosterone and other sex hormone synthesis. In addition, a lower carb, higher fat macronutrient mix is effective at reducing visceral fat. Visceral fat, via an enzyme known as aromatase, stimulates the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. By reducing aromatase activity, one diminishes this conversion, maintaining higher testosterone levels. Happy Thanksgiving! Mark

  4. Elisa

    I would be interested to hear at some point how this increase in testosterone from decreased intake of PUFAs and increased cholesterol would affect women. You mentioned the benefits to men, but how would this affect women? Would other hormones be increased in women?

    • Hi Elisa,
      This is a great question and I must say, to my knowledge there is little research here. In my own experience and with many men I have worked with both total and free testosterone trend significantly upward on a LCHF – Paleo program. Pure speculation but I suspect providing more substrate (in the form of saturated fat-cholesterol), recalibrating the HPA axis (stress response) and reducing inflammatory burden, all of which occur in the short-term on a LCHF, are at play. I have trended my total-free testosterone over the last 10 years and have seen-sustained at 50-50% increase. BTW…they were at their nadir on a vegetarian diet (two years). There are many contributors to hormonal imbalance in women that include genetic SNPs (MTHFR, GST), the gut microbiome, detoxification status, stress response and diet. Much of this looks at estrogen and progesterone balance. I have not seen good research on testosterone in women. I will ask around the caregiver community. Thanks as always for listening in. Mark

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