The "toxic" foods mentioned in the news

There was a short section on Sunrise this morning about "toxic" foods we should never eat.
I was having breakfast so I only overheard the information streaming out but thought it'll be worthwhile to clarify a few things.

(image courtesy: therichest.com)

Food Additives
Certain additives, both 'natural' and 'synthetic', has shown to affect food-chemical-sensitive individuals, promoting or exacerbating existing symptoms such as migraine, stomach ache/pain/discomfort, bloating, change in bowel pattern, eczema, psoriasis, and sinus issues, only to name a few.
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit has been doing extensive research into this area, and for those who suspect food chemical intolerance, seeing an immunologist and a dietitian is a good option. You can safely investigate any food chemical intolerances so that in a few months' time you can manage your food choices to avoid getting the unpleasant symptoms.

Soy Foods
The safety of soy foods seem to pop up every few years to stir up a discussion.
In some studies, yes, excessive consumption of soy foods have shown to neutralise its health benefits. But that, we're talking about 7-18 servings of soy a day for a year. That's like eating 7-18 blocks of tofu or 7-18 glasses of soy milk every day for a year.
2-3 servings of soy foods like edamame, tempeh, and tofu, have been shown to be beneficial and even protective against various cancers including breast cancer in women. Some robust recent research even suggests that soy foods are beneficial for women with polymorphisms in genes associated with breast cancer.
There has, however, been a research suggesting fermented soy foods are linked to increased risk of stomach cancer. To note, fermented soy foods like miso, depending on the type and brand, which can be very high in salt. Salt has been shown to increase the risk of stomach cancer. So switching to a lower salt option like white miso instead of red miso may be of a help.

The Take-Home Message

Eat a balanced diet including whole grains, seasonal vegetables & fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, and meat/poultry/eggs.

The more home-cooked meals you can have the better than relying on processed foods.

I don't like talking nutritional science much, because food and eating is much more complex than that. It's so easy to go into a hall of overwhelming and conflicting information when you focus on particular nutrients for health. Health is much more simple than that.

Eat foods, not nutrients.


For self-study and more info on these topics:
Dietitians Association of Australia (daa.asn.org)
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit (slhd.nsw.gov.au/rpa/allergy)

Effect of dietary soy intake on breast cancer risk according to menopause and hormone receptor status. Cho YA et al. Eur J Clin Nutr 2010 Sep;64(9):924-32
Soy isoflavones consumption and risk of breast cancer incidence or recurrence: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Dong JY, Qin LQ. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2011 Jan;125(2):315-23.
Soy products in the management of breast cancer. Magee PJ, Rowland I. Curr Opin Nutr Metab Care. 2012 Nov;15(6):586-91
Relationship of Dietary Protein and Soy Isoflavones to Serum IGF-1 and IGF Binding Proteins int he Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial. Dewell A, et al. Nutrition and Cancer 2007;58(1)35-42.
Associations between food and beverage groups and major diet-related chronic diseases: an exhaustive review of pooled/meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Fardet Q, Boirie Y. Nutrition Reviews. 2014 Vol 72(12):741-762
Review of salt consumption and stomach cancer risk: Epidemiological and biological evidence. Wang XQ et al. World J Gastroenterol. 2009 May 14;15(18):2204-2213

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