Menopause: Hemp vs. Soy


Menopause

Menopause.

For some, the M word brings up thoughts of felonious females flirting with fiery flashes of fitful frustration.

However, not every woman experiences menopause in the same way.

As I stated on an earlier post, some common symptoms of menopause are (this is a partial list):

  • Hot/cold flashes
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Night sweats
  • Dizziness/loss of balance
  • Mood swings
  • Bloating
  • Confusion
  • Hair loss/weakened fingernails/dry skin
  • Depression/panic disorder
  • Headaches
  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Digestion problems
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Aching joints

The changing levels of estrogen and progesterone can last a few months, or they can last a few years.  Some women may experience all of these symptoms, some may not.

HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is another way, but more women are avoiding that avenue, since HRT has been shown to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer.

One way to manage symptoms is with nutrition and diet. For quite a while soy has been one of the dietary staples of menopausal women, especially those who wish to avoid HRT.  It has been widely thought that soy isoflavones helped prevent menopausal bone loss, but according to JAMA, “Conclusions  In this population, the daily administration of tablets containing 200 mg of soy isoflavones for 2 years did not prevent bone loss or menopausal symptoms.” (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1106084)

I am seeing more often articles and stories debunking the benefits of soy.

Many menopausal women turn to soy to stave off nasty effects, like decreased bone density and hot flashes, because estrogen therapy is associated with risks for breast cancer and heart attack. But now researchers are calling for alternatives because a new study showed soy might not even work.” (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20090000-10391704.html)

The vast majority of soy at your local market is not a health food. The exception is fermented soy, which I’ll explain more about later and even worse GMO soy that is contaminated with large pesticide residues as the reason it is GMO is so they can spray the potent toxic herbicide Roundup on them to improve crop production by killing the weeds.

Unlike the Asian culture, where people eat small amounts of whole non-GMO soybean products, western food processors separate the soybean into two golden commodities—protein and oil. And there is nothing natural or safe about these products.

Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, points out thousands of studies linking soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility—even cancer and heart disease.” (Mercola.com)

Today, depending on which source you go by, 86-94% of soy planted and grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. That is reason enough to avoid soy altogether.

If soy were to be avoided, what would be an alternative? HEMP.

Hempseed is a natural anti-inflammatory. It also helps to balance and restore the cellular structures.

Hempseed is a natural source of GLA, and is one of the few plants that contains GLA. This is important, because during menopause the body’s ability to convert LA to GLA is lessened.

The Omega 3 fatty acids found in hemp are the perfect ratio for the human body, and it is especially important for women to have a sufficient intake of them.

Low levels of Omega 3s are associated with inflammation, and inflammation is the root cause of many disorders and diseases. Hemp can reduce the effects of muscular pain, hot flashes, headaches, cardiovascular problems, hair and skin dryness and nail strength.

Hemp has been shown to reduce the effects and decrease the instances of depression and memory loss. The brain is mainly comprised of fatty acids, and having enough Omega fatty acids will help improve memory and brain function.

Osteoporosis, another symptom of menopause, is helped by the intake of hemp and Omega fatty acids. The essential fatty acids in hemp help with absorption of the calcium and vitamin D and aid in bone growth and calcification, and reduce calcium excretion in the urine (calcium loss and excretion through the urine can also cause kidney stones).

Hemp seeds are also rich in vitamin E, which is also important for those suffering from menopause.

One last note:

Hemp protein vs other proteins:

The edestin protein in hemp is one of the most easily digestible proteins.  It is very similar to human globulin.

Omega fatty acids help reduce bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and may lessen the possibility of stroke or heart attack.

Hemp does not contain phytoestrogens. Soy does. These hormones mimic estrogen and have been linked to cancer. Soy also contains natural toxins that hinder protein digestion.

There are no known allergies to hemp. Hemp is safe for anyone to consume, from toddler to octogenarians and beyond.

photo: Angry Woman by Vera Kratochvil

Are Poor Nutrition, Soy, and Gluten Disrupting Your Thyroid?


This seems to be my modus operandi when it comes to choosing what to write about in my blog:

I either find some noteworthy article, which leads me to another related article, which shows me an interesting fact that I feel I must write on, or I surf the net for information on my own symptoms or symptoms of someone I know, and then the topic falls into my lap(top)!

For the past few years I’ve had in the back of my mind the question of whether or not my thyroid function is healthy. No, I haven’t had it checked, but I have done the little self-tests that one can easily find online. The results are varied, of course.

So, what exactly does the thyroid do?

The thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body is to other hormones.  It participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones, the principal ones being triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine which can sometimes be referred to as tetraiodothyronine (T4). These hormones regulate the rate of metabolism and affect the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body.  T3 and T4 are synthesized from both iodine and tyrosine.  The thyroid also produces calcitonin, which plays a role in calcium homeostasis.” (wikipedia)

Thyroid hormones are needed for brain development, growth, reproduction, and metabolism (which also may be a reason for some people to have difficulty losing weight, or alternatively, GAINING needed weight).

Hypothyroidism is the result of an underactive thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is actually considered an autoimmune disease. Other factors contributing to thyroid disease include poor nutrition, age, radiation, prescribed medications (Lithium, for one), heredity, and environmental toxins (fluoride, bromine, and petrochemicals, to name a few).

Let’s discuss one of the ways we can naturally increase thyroid health ~ proper nutrition.

We all (or most of us) know that proper nutrition ~ sufficient intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, micronutrients, and macronutrients ~ is nature’s best medicine (along with sufficient water intake and motion ~ AKA exercise).

Now, if you look at the list I just wrote in the above paragraph, you will see the words vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, micronutrients, and macronutrients.  Did you know that these are all found in Hemp? Hempseed is a complete protein and very nutritionally dense. I’m not saying that you should ingest huge amounts of hemp just to get your proper nutrients, but it is an excellent daily food source, along with fruits and vegetables and herbs that are high in nutritional value.

Before I go any further, I want to mention soy. Yes, I know there are many who will read this who are pro-soy, and many who are anti-soy. I happen to be part of the latter. I do not eat or drink anything that contains soy. I do not drink milk any more, but I do not replace dairy with soy milk, I drink hemp milk or almond milk. I do not eat soy protein in solid form, I eat hempseeds instead.

Also, the majority of soy is now genetically engineered (GMO):

Twenty years ago, no genetically engineered food crops had been planted in the United States. Then, beginning in 1987, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began to receive what has turned out to be 11,600 applications for the testing of genetically engineered food crops. By the year 2000, over 50% of all soybeans planted in the U.S. were genetically engineered. As of 2007, that number increased to 91%. Soybeans currently surpass both corn and cotton as the genetically engineered crop with the greatest planted acreage. (For a more detailed look at genetically engineered soybeans and the history of crop planting, you can visit the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) review published by its Economic Research Service, at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/biotechcrops/ExtentofAdoptionTable3.htm).

Let’s get back to soy for a moment. Soy contains isoflavones and phytic acid. Isoflavones and phytic acid can POTENTIALLY disrupt thyroid function, because they block the assimilation of the needed nutrients by the thyroid.

Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.” (tetrahedron.org)

One more item to note about soy: In patients with diabetes, there may be a correlation between celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity and thyroid dysfunction.

Patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D) are at a great risk for developing autoimmune diseases. It is well recognized that T1D can be associated with celiac disease (CD) and autoimmune thyroid disorders (ATD). Recent studies regarding CD and T1D have indicated that the frequency of this association can vary from 1.7% to 16%.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc)

I know this is a LOT of information, and it may seem as if I am jumping around with the topics, but if you read closely you will see that most of our body’s functions are interrelated.

If you are looking to supplement your diet to improve or to prolong your thyroid health, it is easy to do.  Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, eat foods that are high in micro and macronutrients, AND add hemp to your diet – it is non-allergenic, clean, gluten-free, and an excellent non-animal protein source.
*This information is for educational purposes only and is NOT meant to replace the advice of a doctor. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your primary care provider.