Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pre-Christmas Gathering of Some Friends

“Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and the stars have been worshiped. Shall we then pluck them out of the sky? …see how much he [God] has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. Had I wished I might have started a conflagration at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.” (Martin Luther, quoted in: Drinking with Calvin and Luther – A History of Alcohol in the Church, by Jim West)

The occasion was a friend from Hawaii was out and another friend just took a job back east (New York) and has 3-weeks left here in SoCal... not to mention this was probably the only time we can get together for Christmas. So I opened some bottles and the "boys" brought some wine.

The prices range from $6.00 a bottle to about $65.00 a bottle.  The least pricey was the Minage A'Trois, which held its own against some of the other wines.  My favorite was the Barolo.  It was full bodied but smooth on the finish.  I like very little aftertaste on my wines except for a bit of fruit.  The color was that slight brown tinge to the red, which means it was perfect for consumption and perfect to open if not kept in a cellar or wine fridge, considering the 02' vintage on it.  The next wine in my taste range was almost a tie.  The Rombauer Cabernet was an 04' and could have sat another year or two, but considering the occasion, I opened it up.  This bottle sat and I turned it on a consistent basis (fighting my wife who turns the labels towards eye-site range for aesthetic purposes that only women know).  I was quite surprised to see that the wine had mellowed out... and not just a small bit but turned into the wine I am sure the makers had in mind.  Foresight is everything.  Tied in taste but deep color (dark plum color) was the 2005 Rafanelli Cabernet.  This wine was excellent.  It was my first introduction to Rafanelli and I would definitely purchase a bottle if the chance was presented (I believe this is sold only through the winery?).  These three were the ones that stood out.  I am sure the Bridlewood Zinfendale was excellent as well, but that was the last bottle opened and it would not be fair to rate this wine with the skewed pallet of five previous wines, pizza, pesto cheese, and the like.  All-in-all it was a good night.  The wine I liked the least?  The Grgich Hills Cab... too strong and meaty for my buds.  Seemed to have too much tannins/oak for me.  That is not to say I would ever turn down a bottle of this (*wink*).


Thursday, December 17, 2009

(Wall Street Journal) The Science of Champagne Bubbles -- Follow Through to Interactive Link... Very Cool

There are 20 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne and every one of them alters the taste, scent and fluid dynamics of the sparkling wine, say researchers studying the chemistry of carbonation and the physics of fizz.

During centuries of artisanal trial and error, winemakers had learned surprisingly little about how a sparkling wine's most active ingredient affected its chemistry of aroma and flavor. To understand the essence of its effervescence, the researchers analyzed champagne bubbles with mass spectrometry, laser tomography and high-speed microphotography, and then tested its carbonation on genetically engineered mice.

To a vintner, the bubbly in a crystal flute may be vintage Dom Perignon or Pol Roger. But to these scientists, it is a complex hydroalcoholic solution supersaturated with carbon dioxide molecules and laced with proteins, lipids and amino acids.

Their experiments, described recently in Science, the American Scientist and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal the unexpected ways in which the microscopic and molecular behavior of carbonation make champagne tingle in the nose and tap-dance on the tongue. Champagne owes much of its magic -- its savor, scent and glow -- to the micro-mechanics of CO2 bubbles, they reported.

"I could not imagine such beautiful hydrodynamic phenomena hidden right under our noses," says Gerard Liger-Belair, professor at the laboratory of enology and applied chemistry at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France, who has devoted a decade to deconstructing the fluid mechanics of sparkling wine.

Every bottle of champagne is a blend of many wines, but it owes its signature sparkle entirely to pent-up carbon dioxide. In fact, an average bottle of champagne contains about five or six times its volume in carbon dioxide, so compressed that when the champagne cork pops, it typically kicks out of the bottle's neck at about 30 miles per hour, Dr. Liger-Belair says. The champagne will actually taste better, he says, if the cork can be released with a more subdued CO2 sigh.

All this gas is the natural product of fermentation, created as yeast transforms sugar into ethanol. For centuries, though, winemakers treated so much CO2 as a hazard that, unvented, could make their wine bottles explode. The original developer of champagne is lost to legend, but an innovative 17th century Benedictine monk named Dom Pierre Perignon did invent the wire collar, called a muselet, which holds a cork in place to withstand the fermentation pressure. With that simple twist, he turned a gassy nuisance into a luxury industry that last year sold about 322 million bottles of champagne world-wide.

Today, champagne makers ensure their lucrative bubbly is sufficiently saturated with CO2 by subjecting a base wine to a second round of fermentation inside tightly sealed bottles. After that, the CO2 pressure in the bottle is about six times the normal atmospheric pressure. When the bottle is uncorked, most of that gas quickly dissipates in a distinctive mist around the open bottle neck, but enough remains in the liquid to sire millions of bubbles, Dr. Liger-Belair says.

Traditionally, champagne bubbles were prized for their size and an aesthetic appeal that 19th century poet Lord Byron praised as "foaming whirls, as white as Cleopatra's pearls." Substituting the tools of chemistry for a wine-taster's more subjective judgments, Dr. Liger-Belair and his colleagues documented the expanding bubble universe within a glass of champagne.

In their findings, a bubble's biography begins inside a microscopic cellulose fiber clinging to the glass surface, usually fallen from the air or left by a towel. Gas builds up in the fiber as champagne splashes into the glass. When the combination of pressure, surface tension and viscosity is just right, the fiber starts leaking bubbles, the researchers said. Once settled after pouring, a glass of highly carbonated champagne effervesces at the rate of about 400 bubbles per second, compared with a rate of about 150 bubbles per second for beer, they reported. Champagne bubbles also are more flexible than beer bubbles, which affects how long they linger at the surface before popping.

As they rise, the bubbles swell to slightly less than a millimeter or so in diameter, absorbing other chemicals from the champagne. At the surface, they burst in a piquant froth.

Each exploding bubble sprays hundreds of droplets of concentrated compounds into the air, wreathing anyone drinking it in a fragrant mist, mass spectroscopy studies show. "These tiny droplets are highly concentrated, and this makes you feel directly through your nostrils all those aromatic molecules," Dr. Liger-Belair says.

Researchers used fluorescent dyes and laser imaging to monitor flow patterns. They discovered that the shape of a champagne glass can affect how thoroughly bubbles mix the beverage, which could affect its scent and flavor. Bubbles appeared to mix champagne more completely in a narrow, engraved flute than in the broad, shallow glass called a coupe.

Fizz, they found, seems to please the palette. Carbonated bubbles in sparkling wine, beer or soda actually activate our taste buds, researchers at Columbia University and University of California, San Diego recently reported.

Their discovery was inspired by reports of mountaineers who had lost their taste for bubbles after taking a medication called acetazolamide, which is used to prevent altitude sickness. After reaching the mountaintop, the climbers found that their beer tasted flat and soda tasted like dishwater. They dubbed the effect the champagne blues.

In October, biochemists Charles Zuker at Columbia and Jayaram Chandrashekar at UC San Diego showed that carbonation triggers an enzyme in taste buds that normally sense sourness. First, they implanted electrodes in normal mice to monitor a nerve connecting taste cells on the tongue. The nerve reacted to a taste of club soda or even a squirt of CO2 gas. The researchers then bred genetically engineered mice lacking those taste receptors and repeated the CO2 tests. "We can make a mouse with all its sour cells gone," Dr. Zuker says. "And when we make such a mouse, all CO2 sensing is gone."

Eventually, they identified a single sour-cell gene, called Car4, responsible for the enzyme sensitive to the taste of CO2. They found that the Car4 enzyme is also blocked by the altitude medication. "The zing and the tingle you get on your tongue is the stimulation of the sour receptors," says Dr. Zuker.

Write to Robert Lee Hotz at


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wine Library TV: Thanksgiving Wine Episode (Episode #586, 2008)

Thanksgiving Wines -- NYT (6-years in the making)

New York Times Dining & Wine Section

FOR six consecutive years, the Dining section’s wine panel has gathered for an early Thanksgiving meal. The mission: to taste potential holiday wines, to determine what works and what does not with a representative feast, and to offer coherent answers to the annual question of what to serve with the bird.

This year, I think we really got it right.

Oh, I don’t mean the advice we offered was ever wrong. We are committed as always to the idea that Thanksgiving requires agile, nimble wines that can refresh and satisfy over the course of a long and possibly fatiguing meal.

The wines need to be versatile, to complement a wide assortment of dishes, including the idiosyncratic variations that every family knows and loves. They must be modest but confident wines that assert their flavors in harmony with the food rather than trying to dominate the proceedings. And they must be modestly priced.

This, of course, assumes that like mine, your Thanksgiving will be an exuberant extended-family gathering. For my family feast, I buy a white and a red by the case, and everybody helps themselves, pouring into glassware that we are none too picky about. If your Thanksgiving is a more intimate candlelight and crystal affair, by all means break out the exceptional wines you’ve been hoarding for the right occasion.

So what do I mean about getting things right? Well, this year, for the first time, all the wines we tasted fit the meal beautifully, though each was very different. The wines produced none of the sneering and ridicule — I mean, constructive analysis — that has characterized past wine panel Thanksgivings. It couldn’t be that our bubbly brother Frank Bruni left his job as restaurant critic and so could not grace our table with his provocative wine choices and sharp wit, right?

Absolutely not. This year, Julia Moskin, Florence Fabricant and I were joined by our new restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, and, as always, Bernard Kirsch, our tasting coordinator. We each chose two bottles, one red and one white, maximum price $25, and we tasted them blind with our Thanksgiving-style meal.

The wines we brought approached the problem from multiple angles, demonstrating that the Thanksgiving wine issue has no right answer, but many excellent solutions.

Take the five whites we chose, one each from the United States, France, Austria, Spain and Sicily. Tasting them blind, I was in a most uncomfortable situation as for the first time I couldn’t even identify the white I had brought! It was the 2008 Rueda Pie Franco from Blanco Nieva, a wine I’ve loved year in and year out. It is made from old, pre-phylloxera verdejo vines that manage to survive in the sandy Rueda soils (pie franco means ungrafted), and I’ve prized its subtle fruit and mineral flavors.

This year, however, it seemed brasher — minerally, yes, but with a twang to its fruit. I still loved it, but I pegged it as a Sancerre, which is a sauvignon blanc wine. Meanwhile, the real sauvignon blanc in the group, a 2008 Charles Krug from Napa Valley brought by Florence, had an unusual white-pepper element to it that made me think it was grüner veltliner. Not even close! We all really liked the Krug, while my Rueda was a trifle polarizing. Julia, who also typed it as sauvignon blanc, called it too strong, although she allowed it would be perfect with a dozen oysters.

My favorite of all the whites was a 2008 Beaujolais blanc from Château de Chatelard, which Bernie brought. This fresh, stony chardonnay was one I could drink for hours, I thought.

Sam brought the 2007 grüner veltliner from Domaine Wachau — the one I didn’t guess was a grüner. It’s a delicious, light, grassy wine that would be just right, Sam thought, for the shellfish course that leads off his family’s Thanksgiving. That left Julia’s 2008 Sicilian white from Feudo Montoni, which had the kind of ripe, floral character I often associate with Rhone whites.

Each of these wines fit the Thanksgiving white wine paradigm: lively, dry and thirst-quenching, with enough character to continually pique the interest. Sam, for one, felt that white wines aren’t taken seriously enough as companions to the Thanksgiving feast.

“Most people think white wine is something you drink after yoga class,” he said.

All the whites were under 14 percent alcohol, which helps over the course of many hours of imbibing. On the good chance that those individual bottles won’t be available, other wines with similar characteristics would include whites from the Mâcon, Muscadet, light sauvignon blancs and whites from Campania.

The reds didn’t hit the target quite as squarely as the whites. My favorite was the 2007 Morgon from J. Chamonard, which Bernie had brought. Good Beaujolais is always a great Thanksgiving choice, as are gamays from the Loire. By contrast the candied Beaujolais nouveaus that are common this time of year can be noxious.

Sam brought our top-rated red, a 2007 Three Valleys zinfandel from Ridge. I always run counter to the Thanksgiving bromide that zinfandel is the perfect American wine for the most American holiday. Zinfandel is often too big and alcoholic. But at 14.3 percent, this zin was well balanced and almost sleek.

My own wine was the 2008 Il Frappato from Valle dell’Acate, kind of a Sicilian Beaujolais in its earthy chuggability. Sure, it drew a few snipes — Florence said it wasn’t her kind of wine, and Sam called it “the kind of wine someone would bring to your house,” which I inferred would be unwelcome. Yet I couldn’t help but feel they really liked it as much as I did.

Julia also brought a Sicilian wine. Her 2007 Colosi Rosso, made of nero d’Avola rather than the frappato grape, was jammy like some zins, but likeable enough.

Florence’s red, a 2007 Sonoma cabernet sauvignon from Louis M. Martini, was polished and redolent of the vanilla flavors that come from new oak. She called it an “uptown wine.” It’s not to my taste, but still, if you like that sort of wine it won’t overwhelm the food.

With so many different types of wine that work so well with a Thanksgiving dinner, can anybody really think that choosing wines for the holiday is a problem? Just between you and me it’s easy. But don’t let this get out, or we’ll have nothing to talk about next year.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hormonal Imbalance, Thyroid Issues, and Asian Soy Intake History

  • (graph linked to study) Environmental Health Perspectives Supplements Volume 110, Number 3, June 2002 // Goitrogenic and Estrogenic Activity of Soy Isoflavones // Dr. Daniel R. Doerge and Dr. Daniel M. Sheehan // Division of Biochemical Toxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, Arkansas.
  • Abstract -- Soy is known to produce estrogenic isoflavones. Here, we briefly review the evidence for binding of isoflavones to the estrogen receptor, in vivo estrogenicity and developmental toxicity, and estrogen developmental carcinogenesis in rats. Genistein, the major soy isoflavone, also has a frank estrogenic effect in women. We then focus on evidence from animal and human studies suggesting a link between soy consumption and goiter, an activity independent of estrogenicity. Iodine deficiency greatly increases soy antithyroid effects, whereas iodine supplementation is protective. Thus, soy effects on the thyroid involve the critical relationship between iodine status and thyroid function. In rats consuming genistein-fortified diets, genistein was measured in the thyroid at levels that produced dose-dependent and significant inactivation of rat and human thyroid peroxidase (TPO) in vitro. Furthermore, rat TPO activity was dose-dependently reduced by up to 80%. Although these effects are clear and reproducible, other measures of thyroid function in vivo (serum levels of triiodothyronine, thyroxine, and thyroid-stimulating hormone ; thyroid weight ; and thyroid histopathology) were all normal. Additional factors appear necessary for soy to cause overt thyroid toxicity. These clearly include iodine deficiency but may also include additional soy components, other defects of hormone synthesis, or additional goitrogenic dietary factors. Although safety testing of natural products, including soy products, is not required, the possibility that widely consumed soy products may cause harm in the human population via either or both estrogenic and goitrogenic activities is of concern. Rigorous, high-quality experimental and human research into soy toxicity is the best way to address these concerns. Similar studies in wildlife populations are also appropriate.

  • The below is taken from Health & Learning Info, A 2 Z of Health, Beuaty, and Fitness -- an online magazine:

    What Does the Thyroid Do? "The thyroid’s main job is to produce thyroid hormone. Hormones are chemicals that are secreted by glands which act like messengers telling specific body parts what to do. Thyroid hormones help the body make energy, keep body temperature regulated and assist other organs in their function. The thyroid produces two major hormones: triiodothyronine and thyroxine, commonly referred to as T3 and T4. (The “3” and the “4” relate directly to the amount of iodine molecules which are used to create these hormones.)" .... "Soy contains goitrogens, plant chemicals that inhibit thyroid function. And 99% percent of the soy we consume is genetically modified, otherwise known as GMO. Soy has one of the highest percentages of contamination by pesticides of any of our foods. Soy is rich in phytic acid, a chemical that blocks the uptake of essential minerals. Soy has the highest phytate levels of all the grains and legumes. The phytates have been found to be resistant even to long slow cooking in an effort to denature them. There exist hundreds of research articles on phytic acid and their effects, including binding with certain nutrients like iron to inhibit their absorption." Health, Diet & Fitness

    White, for one, worries that soy may speed the aging of brain cells. He recently found evidence that the brains of elderly people who ate tofu at least twice a week for 30 years were aging faster than normal. Tests designed to assess memory and analytical ability showed that their brains functioned as if they were four years older than their actual age, White says of his study published in the April 2000 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

    Another fear is that the estrogen-like substances in soy may dampen the function of the thyroid. Consuming 40 milligrams of isoflavones a day can slow the production of thyroid hormone, says Dr. Larrian Gillespie, author of "The Menopause Diet" and "The Goddess Diet." (One tablespoon of soy powder contains about 25 milligrams of isoflavones, while most isoflavone supplements come in 40-milligram pills.)

    According to Gillespie, within a few weeks of regularly consuming 40 milligrams of isoflavones, some women feel fatigued, constipated and achy all over. Some also gain weight and have heavier menstrual periods. Menopausal women are at particular risk, since they're already prone to hypothyroidism. "Women think it's because of hormones and don't realize they're symptoms of hypothyroidism," Gillespie says. "Once they stop the soy, they say, 'I'm feeling fine again.' " ...

    ....Messina, for instance, recommends a daily serving of soy: perhaps 1 cup of soy milk or 3 to 4 ounces of tofu.

    So, how much soy did Asians eat?

    Not much, even though we, as a society have been led by expert mass marketing to think otherwise. Soy has never, ever been a food staple in Asian history. The exception was that the poor often used the soybean to fill their empty bellies during times of famine. Even then, the soybeans were prepared in such a way as to neutralize the natural and inherent soy toxins thus proving that even ancient Asians understood the soybean better than we do today.

    To consume a serving of tofu and a couple of glasses of soy milk has become commonplace for many Americans. Soy is also touted as the original protein source for those perusing a vegetarian lifestyle.

    This is absolutely in excess of the amount of soy that Asians consume. In native Asia, from where so much of this "research" is purported to have originated, a tablespoon or two of soy is simply used as a condiment. According to K. C. Chang, the editor of Food in Chinese Culture, the total caloric intake of soy in the Chinese diet during the 1930's was only 1.5 percent as compared to 65 percent for pork products.

    The huge concern about consuming large amounts of soy products lies in the mega dosing of isoflavones. If consumers follow the nutritional advice of Protein Technologies International (manufacturers of soy-isolated protein) their daily genistein intake (an isoflavin found in soy) could exceed 200 milligrams per day. It goes without saying this level of genistein intake should be avoided.

    Up until only two decades ago, soy was considered unfit to eat. By Asians, mind you! To see the hold soy products have on the USA marketplace is truly a miracle. Agricultural literature clearly depicts the soybean and its first and foremost use as a crop rotation plant used to fix nitrogen in the soil. Soybeans did not serve as any form of food until the advent of the Chow Dynasty. During this period, fermentation techniques brought us some of the soy edibles we see today, such as tempeh, soy sauce and natto. In the second century B.C., the Chinese discovered a porridge of cooked soybeans could be precipitated with calcium sulphate or magnesium sulphate (Plaster of Paris or Epsom salts) to make tofu. Sound healthy?

    The Chinese did not eat unfermented soybeans as they did other legumes because the soybean contains large amounts of antinutrients (toxins). First among them is hemagglutinin, a clot promoting substance that makes red blood cells clump together. Soy is rich in enzyme inhibitors that block the action of much needed enzymes required to digest proteins. These inhibitors are not deactivated during cooking. They can cause gastric distress and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake. Protein inhibitors and hemagglutinin are scientifically proven to inhibit growth, as evidenced in studies of weanling rats that eventually failed to thrive.

    Soy contains goitrogens, plant chemicals that inhibit thyroid function. And 99% percent of the soy we consume is genetically modified, otherwise known as GMO. Soy has one of the highest percentages of contamination by pesticides of any of our foods. Soy is rich in phytic acid, a chemical that blocks the uptake of essential minerals. Soy has the highest phytate levels of all the grains and legumes. The phytates have been found to be resistant even to long slow cooking in an effort to denature them. There exist hundreds of research articles on phytic acid and their effects, including binding with certain nutrients like iron to inhibit their absorption.

    The marketing push for more soy products has been relentless and global. Public relations firms help convert research projects into newspaper articles and advertising copy. It has worked like a charm. Soy protein is now found in a majority of supermarket breads. Soy can be found blended in the regular old corn tortilla. Try to find a salad dressing in a health food store whose first ingredient is not soy oil. Advertising for a new soy enriched loaf from Allied Bakeries in Britain targets menopausal women seeking relief from hot flashes. It goes on and on.

    For more information on the great soy misinformation please consult the well-written and respected book entitled The Whole Soy Story by Dr. Kaayla Daniel.

    About The Author:

    Dr. Linda Posh MS SLP ND brings a fresh perspective to natural health and nutrition. She packs a solid educational background with degrees in organic chemistry, psychology and a Masters in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Visit for information.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Soy Causes Thyroid Problems (among other things)

    (Imported Article) Soy is not the best thing for people. Not a lot of people know this, but just 5-8 ounces of soy milk is too much soy isoflavons in ones diet (30grams). The USDA site lists the isoflavone content of a total of 128 foods, including foods such as vegetarian hot dogs soybeans, chickpeas and tofu. This can help you in deciding how much soy to include in your diet. So vegetarians, count your "soy intake," rather than your calorie intake. The following link is to my "Drinking Hole" site where this article from comes from, enjoy

    (click picture for another article)

    Do Soy Foods Negatively Affect Your Thyroid? A Look at the Downsides of Soy

    by Mary Shomon

    It seems that there's isn't a newspaper, magazine or news program that hasn't recently featured a story on the amazing health benefits of soy food products and soy/isoflavone supplements. Soy is promoted as a healthy alternative to estrogen replacement for some women, as a possibly way to reduce the risk of breast cancer, as a way to minimize menopause symptoms, and as a healthier, low-fat protein alternative for meats and poultry. But what all the positive stories fail to mention is that there is a very real -- but very overlooked -- downside to the heavy or long-term use of soy products.

    Soy products increase the risk of thyroid disease. And this danger is particularly great for infants on soy formula.

    This is not information that the powerful and profitable U.S. soy industry wants you to know. The sale of soy products is big business, and the increasing demand for soy protein products, soy powders and soy isoflavone supplements is making that an even more profitable business than ever before.

    In researching my book, Living Well With Hypothyroidism, which covers the issue of soy products and the thyroid in great depth, I talked to Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, an environmental scientist and phytoestrogen researcher who has conducted in-depth studies on soy, particularly the use of soy formulas. Dr. Fitzpatrick makes it clear that soy products can have a detrminental affect on both adults and infants. In particular, he firmly believe that soy formula manufacturers should remove the isoflavones -- that part of the soy products that act as anti-thyroid agents -- from their products.

    Researchers have identified that the isoflavones act as potent anti-thyroid agents, and are capable of suppressing thyroid function, and causing or worsening hypothyroidism. Soy is a phytoestrogen, and therefore acts in the body much like a hormone, so it's no surprise that it interacts with the delicate balance of the thyroid's hormonal systems. High consumption of soy products are also proven to cause goiter, (Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean: isolation, characterization, and mechanisms of action, Divi RL; Chang HC; Doerge DR, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA, Biochem Pharmacol, 1997 Nov, 54:10, 1087-96)

    Note: The best source of information on soy and its negative impact on health can be found at the Soy Online Service, and in particular, its page on phytoestrogenic effects of soy, and impact on the thyroid.

    Isoflavones belong to the flavonoid or bioflavonoid family of chemicals, and are considered endocrine disruptors -- plants or other products that act as hormones, disrupting the endocrine system, and in some cases, this disruption involves acting as an anti-thyroid agent. (The grain millet, for example, contains high levels of flavonoids, and is commonly known as problematic for thyroid function). Flavonoids inhibit thyroid peroxidase (TPO), which disturbs proper thyroid function.

    The March 1999 issue of Natural Health magazine has a feature on soy that quotes Daniel R. Doerge, Ph.D., a researcher at the Food and Drug Aministration's National Center for Toxicological Research. Dr. Doerge has researched soy's anti-thyroid properties, and has said "...I see substantial risks from taking soy supplements or eating huge amounts of soyfoods for their putative disease preventive value. There is definitely potential for interaction with the thyroid."

    One UK study of premenopausal women gave 60 grams of soy protein per day for one month. This was found to disrupt the menstrual cycle, with the effects of the isoflavones continuing for a full three months after stopping the soy in the diet. Isoflavones are also known to modify fertility and change sex hormone status. Isoflavones have been shown to have serious health effects -- including infertility, thyroid disease or liver disease -- on a number of mammals.

    Dr. Fitzpatrick believes that people with hypothyroidism should avoid soy products, because, "any inhibition of TPO will clearly work against anyone trying to correct an hypothyroid state." In addition, he believes that the current promotion of soy as a health food will result in an increase in thyroid disorders.

    The Dangers of Soy Formulas

    Since the late 1950's, it has been known that soy formulas contain anti-thyroid agents. Infants on
    soy formula are particularly vulnerable to developing autoimmune thyroid disease when exposed to high exposure of isoflavones over time. ( Breast and soy-formula feedings in early infancy and the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease in children. Fort P; Moses N; Fasano M; Goldberg T; Lifshitz F Department of Pediatrics, North Shore University Hospital-Cornell University Medical College, Manhasset, New York 11030. J Am Coll Nutr, 1990 Apr, 9:2, 164-7) This study found that the frequency of feedings with soy-based milk formulas in early life was noticeably higher in children with autoimmune thyroid disease, and thyroid problems were almost triple in those soy formula-fed children compared to their siblings and healthy unrelated children. Dr. Fitzpatrick even believes that long-term feeding with soy formulas inhibits TPO to such an extent that long-term elevated TSH levels can also raise the risk of thyroid cancer.

    Not much is being done in the U.S. to make parents aware of the thyroid-related dangers of soy formulas, or to alert the public that heavy soy consumption may be a danger to thyroid function. Other countries, however, are far ahead of the U.S. In July of 1996, the British Department of Health issued a warning that the phytoestrogens found in soy-based infant formulas could adversely affect infant health. The warning was clear, indicating that soy formula should only be given to babies on the advice of a health professional. They advised that babies who cannot be breastfed or who have allergies to other formulas be given alternatives to soy-based formulas.

    Why more information is not available about these concerns is probably a function of the tremendous strength of the large agricultural companies that dominate America's soy market. One thing is clear, however. At the same time that health experts, and nearly every radio and television health program in the nation touts soy as the miracle health food of the new millenium, the United States pediatric and medical community needs to get more on top of this issue, and begin to counsel their patients regarding the serious impact use of soy products can have on thyroid function.

    How Much Soy is Safe?

    According to the Soy Online Service, for infants, any soy is too much. For adults, just 30 mg of soy isoflavones per day is the amount found to have a negative impact on thyroid function. This amount of soy isoflavones is found in just 5-8 ounces of soy milk, or 1.5 ounces of miso. For more information on how much soy is too much, see the Soy Online Service guidance page.

    The USDA has launched a website that is promoting the health benefits of use of soy and soy foods. The USDA site lists the isoflavone content of a total of 128 foods, including foods such as vegetarian hot dogs soybeans, chickpeas and tofu. This can help you in deciding how much soy to include in your diet.

    More information

    For more information on soy products, see: