[conspire] (non-Linux, but CABAL-relevant:) A word from our kitchen

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Jun 16 15:26:49 PDT 2009

Quoting Edward Cherlin (echerlin at gmail.com):

> As is so often the case with nutrition and health claims about
> naturally occurring chemicals, the truth is more complex than is
> commonly stated. 

This is one of the points made well in Pollan's recent book.  Lacking
reliable knowledge, one of the things one _can_ rely on is the results
of tens of thousands of years of adaptation to some dietary patterns
(e.g., damned near any traditional diet), versus almost no adaptation to
others (e.g., the industrialised Western diet).

> Much of the evidence on health effects of isoflavones is quite thin,
> and most of what is written about it is ill-informed, makes
> unwarranted extrapolations, or is mere conjecture.

Lacking time to make studies, we fall back on a reasonable guesstimate
that greatly reducing intake of foods with isoflavones or other known
goitrogens is beneficial for Deirdre, as it would be for any other
person having impaired thyroid function.  That includes almost all soy
products, and emphatically all that aren't fermented.

> Watch out for peanuts, anise, and fennel also.

The likelihood of Deirdre being mugged by an anise bush is slim-to-none.
(No licorice for her, already:  Wheat lurks there.)

Fennel is reported to have some sort of phythoestrogen in it -- dunno
whether that would an isoflavone or not[1], but Deirdre's dosage of
whatever-that-is from, say, the seasoning in my beef stew would seem
likely to be extremely trivial, and thus to poorly repay any paranoia.

Peanuts were already given the heave-ho at the same time we threw out
the soy.  Household now has cashew butter.

You might not think it, but we _do_ perform research around here,

> Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Buddhist vegetarians have used tofu as a
> primary protein source for well over a thousand years, perhaps 2000 in
> the case of China, starting in the later Han dynasty.

Maybe, but, predominantly folks overall in those countries throughout
most of history just haven't been vegetarians.  Thus my point.

> (I am an example,

No.  You are a highly modern, and historically anomalous, individual
data point, from which an attempt to extrapolate conclusions about 
historical dietary adaptation would be a laughably inept thing to do.
And I'm pretty sure you shouldn't cite yourself as a paragon of
dietarily-related good health, either.

> There are conflicting studies

Aren't there always?

Meanwhile, Deirdre's thyroid symptoms have receded.  Ditto the seeming
fibromyalgia, which might have been a misdiagnosis in the first place.
And we're eating a lot better.  And we just don't miss soy at all.

(But then, we're omnivores.  As my friend Richard Couture tends to say, 
"Sorry to hear about _your problem_".  ;->  )

By the way, data-dumping Wikipedia (and entire articles from about.com
and elsewhere) at people is really, really, really obnoxious.  Doing
that data-dumping onto _all the subscribers of a mailing list_ is doubly

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6999244

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