Nourish Mama by Sherry Rothwell
Nourish Mama, a nutritional program by Sherry Rothwell

The truth about hormones in meat.


Don’t be scared of cabbage!!

Let me deconstruct it for you so that you don’t have to spend hours studying to figure out what is ‘off’ about this message (references at the bottom).

First we need a little context here, so we can look at this subject from a systems perspective, not in isolation (which is basically what this info graphic is doing, making it very confusing for the consumer).

I will start with phytoestrogens and then I will get to the beef part, because this graphic is misleading, without seeing the bigger picture.

Phytoestrogens are not bad and they are NOT actual hormones, although they are similar in structure and can block estrogen receptor sites. Here is a link to my soy article deconstructing the controversy:

Here is a link to my soy article deconstructing the controversy:

Phytoestrogens are not bad for already healthy people who do not already have severe symptoms of estrogen dominance (although the concentration in soy is cause for concern for people who eat processed soy products and babies who drink soy formula).

The way north americans consume soy is not at all comparable to how it is traditionally consumed in Asia (different ballpark altogether). Vegans eat too much of it and so does everyone who eats processed food because it is a ‘filler’ in just about everything.

The reason there are phytoestrogens (phyto meaning plant) in meat is because of what the animals are fed. Which is why some super sensitive people, can NOT eat conventional animal products, because the animals are fed soy – and it triggers their estrogen dominance symptoms. They should eat meat from animals who are fed their natural diet (as would be best for all humans in general).

There is no such thing as hormone-free beef, even if they didn’t add any. Hormones are a naturally occurring substances that all animals and mammals produce.

So the whole point of this infographic is questionable. It is a marketing ploy (obviously) intended to minimize people’s concerns about hormones in general by focusing on phytoestrogens and making them the ‘bad guy’ and saying hey look “we hardly have any of THOSE in our product”.

Plus, they make the numbers look extreme because usually these things are measured in micrograms, not nanograms which makes cabbage look like it is really high in phytoestrogens, but in relationship to other plants it is actually has a much lower content than the majority of phytoestrogen rich foods. However, when I converted it to nanogram, the cabbage converted to 80,000 nanograms using an online calculater, not 2381 as the photo shows! And that is both based on 100g so I don’t know why they would post it as less when trying to make their point. It is probably due to the reality that phytoestrogens in meat are just residue from the plants the animals are eating and so in order to give the phytoestrogen content a number, they had to make it nanogram. But because it would seem so outrageous, people might actually do their research to confirm that number (seems intentionally misleading to me, but maybe just an error?)

They are probably using this info graphic to come out publicly that synthetic and bio identical hormones are in fact used in the conventional farming of beef (because for a while there, everyone thought that Canadian meat was free of added hormones and it was JUST the evil american farmers using them).

Although, it is still not legal in Canada to use (rBST) a synthetic growth hormone that is approved in the US for dairy cattle. Health Canada has approved three bio identical hormones and three synthetic hormones for use in cattle in Canada.

It is the nature of our society to be short sighted, instead of considering the accumulative affect of exposure to exogenous hormones (meaning ones not made in the body).

Phytoestrogens are less of a concern, I would be more concerned about endocrine disrupting xeno estrogens (of which synthetic hormones are) that have been indicated in many conditions including: breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes.

Examples of harmful xeno estrogens: birth control pills, petro chemically-derived pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, Bisphenol A (used in plastic bottles, containers and almost all food-can liners, solvents, found in nail polish and polish remover, glue, cleaning supplies, car exhaust emulsifiers in soaps, plastics etc.

With all that exposure on a day to day basis, do we now also want it added to our food? I for one don’t.

Let’s face it, the added hormones are not for the well-being of the animals, nor to improve the nutritional value of the food, but they are there to increase production and make the meat cheaper to buy.

I am personally willing to pay more for better quality and healthier food. I have been eating organic dairy products even in the days when I made minimum wage. Back then I just ate organic dairy (since I was a vegetarian).

I eat meat now, but I choose quality over quantity. And so I can pretty much guarantee that I don’t spend more than the average meat eater on meat, I just eat less of it. Many people eat too much anyway. Instead of complaining about the cost of good quality meat, just eat less and it will even out in the end. And we get to be healthier in the process.

We can also learn a lot from bio-identical hormones and synthetic hormones prescribed to humans to look at what the impact could be. What is synthesized in a scientific lab is not the exact chemical structure as what is organically derived from nature.

Even if it is chemically structured the same (bio identical hormones) I want to know exactly what was used to create that synthetic substance? Synthetic hormones are not created structurally the same as human endogenous hormones, and that’s why they have side effects.

“While synthetic hormones can mimic the effects of endogenous hormones on certain biological pathways, they rarely offer the same effectiveness at a deeper, molecular level. Bioidentical hormones mimic the affinity of human endogenous hormones; therefore they are effective on more biological pathways, at all levels. Because bioidentical hormones are an exact structural replica of endogenous hormones, side effects are rarely observed.”

But there actually are side effects of bio identical hormones too: women who have had breast cancer or endometrial cancer, strokes, or blood clots would not want to take bio-identical hormones.

At the end of the day, I prefer to eat food as nature intended. I don’t want to eat synthesized hormones, nor be part of the experiment. I avoid synthetic chemicals where ever I do have control over that, including choosing to purchase organic grass fed (not just grass finished) meat that has no additional hormones added.

If you really want to know how to avoid estrogen dominance and heal your hormones, listen into this free ‘Hormone Harmony’ training:

I am sure you are going to LOVE it! It is straight talk about what it really takes to heal.


Straight talk on cattle steroids

Xenoestrogens – What are they? How to avoid them.

Estrogen Foods List: 50 High Natural Phytoestrogen Sources

p.s. plus they make the numbers look extreme because usually these things are measured in micrograms, not nanograms which makes cabbage look like it is really high in phytoestrogens, but in relationship to other plants it is actually has a much lower content than the majority of phytoestrogen rich foods. However, when I converted it to nanogram, the cabbage converted to 80,000 nanograms using an online calculater, not 2381 as the photo shows! And that is both based on 100g so I don’t know why they would post it as less when trying to make their point. It is probably due to the reality that phytoestrogens in meat are just residue from the plants the animals are eating and so in order to give the phytoestrogen content a number, they had to make it nanogram. But because it would seem so outrageous, people might actually do their research to find out why…..don’t want people doing research and making their own decisions now, do we?!!

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Carob vs Chocolate?

In the mood for some late night chocolate flavour without the caffeine? Watch the video to learn about the health benefits of carob vs. chocolate : )

Not sure which one is best for you, watch the video below to find out!

Now that you know which one, learn how to make your own quick and easy delicious homemade ‘chocolate’ bars!

Everyone around here LOVES this recipe (you can use chocolate or carob)!

Perfect when you want chocolate, but can’t have it. No caffeine, no theobromine and no oxalic acid.

Which one do you like better? Carob or chocolate? I love them equally!

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Sensational Soy

While in North America soy used to be reserved for hippy’s past, today soy is mainstream and these days has become controversial in the natural health community.

As an ex vegetarian, I fell in love with the versatility of tofu decades ago. As a nutrition educator, I am well aware of the arguments for and against soy.

I believe that the truth comes down to context, so let’s take a look.

October 1 002You may have heard that the Okinawans (the world’s longest-lived people), have eaten whole, organic and fermented soy foods like miso, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, and edamame (young soybeans in the pod) for more than five millennia.

Today soy is recognized as a healthy food with it’s long history of safe use in Asia.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “Human studies on soy while limited, have demonstrated that soy may help lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, increase bone density, protect the kidneys of people with diabetes, and relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.”

It is believed that the beneficial effects come from isoflavones, which are considered weak plant (phyto) estrogens, that can block the absorption of more powerful human estrogens and harmful xenoestrogens (toxic environmental chems).

On the other hand you may have also heard that…

Soy might promote breast cancer, block thyroid function and prevent the absorption of minerals and interfere with digestion.

Here is what Dr. Hyman has to say about these concerns…..

He says that studies that show poor outcomes with soy were done with unusually high amounts of soy, much more than the average person would ever eat on a daily basis and goes on to say “breast tissue density is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. Breast tissue density increases with estrogen replacement, but decreases with isoflavone consumption in postmenopausal women. That’s a good thing.”

He says that studies also show that “Eating soy foods at an early age (childhood and the teen years) appears to have a significant protective effect against breast cancer.”

As for the impact on thyroid health, he says, “A review of the research found no significant effects of soy on the thyroid except in people who are iodine deficient — a condition that is rare in this country. Based on my assessment of this and other research, I am convinced that normal amounts of traditional soy foods pose no risk to thyroid function.”

He believes that the effects on the thyroid are not relevant unless you are deficient in iodine and that one can mitigate the effects by eating fish, seaweed or sea vegetables, or iodized salt.

Not everyone agrees…..

The Weston A. Price Association, an organization that promotes staying true to the traditional foods of our ancestors, is strictly against the use of soy products. And that’s because the way that North American’s consume soy is not in keeping with the safe and time tested traditions of Asia.

The organization stresses that soy should never be consumed without being first fermented – and then only served in small amounts, alongside animal foods like meat and iodine rich fish broth, to mitigate their goitrogenic effects, as well as to prevent mineral depletion from their naturally occurring phytic acid content.

They discourage the consumption of any unfermented soy, as they say it has been shown over and over to have many detrimental effects in animal studies.

Soy seems to be both good and bad, so which one is it?

It is very possible that negative outcomes associated with soy are based on the consumption not of the whole bean, but of SPI (soy protein isolate) and hydrolyzed soy (HVP) which is a second cousin to MSG (the soy is boiled in hydrochloric acid and then neutralized with sodium hydroxide leaving a brown powder that contains a form of MSG used by food producers as an additive to make things taste savory – in place of meat broth). SPI is the type of soy used in processed foods and meat substitutes.

According to……

“About 85 percent of the world’s soybean crop is processed into meal and vegetable oil, and virtually all of that meal is used in animal feed.  Some two percent of the soybean meal is further processed into soy flours and proteins for food use… Approximately six percent of soybeans are used directly as human food, mostly in Asia.”

Processed soy foods are made from soybean meal that has been dehulled and defatted and processed into three kinds of high protein commercial products: soy flour, concentrates, and isolates used in soy junk foods and animal feed.  Not to mention these types of soy are most often genetically modified (typically Monsanto’s Roundup Soyabeans) unless they are certified organic.

Examples of these processed and harmful soy foods include:

  • soy supplements
  • soy cheese
  • soy ice cream
  • soy oil
  • soy burgers
  • soy hotdogs
  • soy margarine

These poor quality foods don’t have the thousands of years of traditional use that whole soy foods do. Not only are they processed, but they contain unhealthy fats and other toxic additives.

Processed forms of soy can sometimes be hard to detect……

In order to avoid hidden forms of soy, you must also avoid products that list these ingredients:

  • soy protein concentrates or isolates
  • hydrolyzed
  • TSP textured vegetable or soy protein,
  • “boullion,” “natural flavor,” and “textured plant protein.”
  • Mono-diglyceride
  • Soya, Soja or Yuba
  • Lecithin
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)

But is there a healthier form of soy?

The health benefits from soy are most likely attributed to soy consumed in moderation in a fermented form.

Fermented soy is definitely a better choice than non-fermented soy, and of course it beats out SPI and TSP by leaps and bounds.

Here is why……

Soybeans (as well as other legumes contain phytates- naturally occurring food chemicals that binds to minerals, thus reducing their absorbability).

The Asian cultures that have traditionally consumed soy, typically ferment it first thus reducing the phytic acid, and through fermentation adds extra nutrients and beneficial bacteria (probiotics).

Fermented and safe soy foods include:

  1. Miso
  2. Natto
  3. Tempeh
  4. Fermented Tofu (identifiable under the following names: fermented bean curd, sufu, tofu cheese, or preserved tofu and can be found in Asian markets)
  5. Naturally brewed soy sauce
  6. Fermented soymilk (the most recently developed and the only one to have originated in Europe in the early 1900s).

To be on the safe side, Dr. Hyman recommends limiting yourself to 2 servings a day.

But what about the minimally processed unfermented tofu and soymilk, edamame and sprouted soya?

A little every once in a while in small amounts should be fine (but only if they feel easy for your body to digest).  These foods are eaten occasionally in Asia, and specifically, sprouted soy beans have been a consistent part of the Korean diet (and seemingly so without harm).

In my home, we eat certified organic tofu occassionally (never soy milk) and first ferment it in a marinade that includes at least one ferment: traditionally brewed soy sauce and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or Kombucha…..but we pass on both processed soy based meat alternatives and non organic tofu.

Practicing moderation, eating according to the food traditions of our ancestors and avoiding processed foods is just good common sense.


1) How Soy Can Kill You and Save Your Life by Mark Hyman, MD (article)

2) History of Fermented Soymilk and Its Products by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi (article)

3) Weston A. Price Soy Alert (webpage) and

Additional Resource:

1) The Hidden Dangers of Soy

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Fluoride – Industrial Waste by Product, or Teeth Savior?

Did you know that sodium fluoride is an industrial waste by-product of aluminium and phosphate production? The sodium fluoride that is added to city water is surpassed only by Cyanide of Mercury in toxicity to human physiology.

metropure2-underIn the 1920’s and 30’s, lawsuits and health officials forced companies to install pollution control devices to trap fluoride waste. These companies began to sell sodium fluoride as rat and insect poison. Eventually, it was marketed to prevent tooth decay which explains why consuming a 7 ounce tube of toothpaste is enough to kill a 20lb infant or child!

Few know that one of the least of fluoride’s side effects can be fluorosis, a mottling or pitting of the teeth, which is dismissed by most official organizations as being a “cosmetic” issue, even though children with dental fluorosis have also been found to have lower IQ’s and other bone structure disturbances.

And yet according to The Canadian Dental Association states that, “Where fluoride has been added to municipal water supplies, there has been a marked decline in tooth decay rates” and “Children need fluoride protection while their teeth are developing”.

So what gives?  

Isn’t fluoride a necessary and health promoting mineral for the elastic fibers of the skin, the muscle tissue and the surface of the bones and teeth Yes, it is true that fluoride plays a role in healthy teeth and bones, yet sodium fluoride (the chemical waste by-product) and calcium fluoride (the fluorine found in naturally in food) are not the same.

Sodium fluoride is absorbed by organs and body systems, notably, the skeletal system and there is evidence of elevated risk of bone fractures, degenerative bone disease and bone cancer in fluoridated areas over non- fluoridated ones. And that is just the tip of the ice burg.

For more info on the side effects and on hidden sources of fluoride (besides dental care) please see

While several studies have shown that the rates of dental decay declined after fluoridation, the CDC neglected to mention that dental decay rates also declined
in non fluoridated areas and were declining before mass fluoridation occurred (you can view CDC graphs which show this at aforementioned website).

The issue is not with fluoride, but with the form of flouride. You can strengthen your bones and teeth naturally with the calcium fluoride, found in nature, in the way you were meant to ingest it- through food!

Naturally rich fluorine rich foods are:
Chinese Cabbage
Red and Green Cabbage
Goat’s milk
Black eyed peas
Juniper Berries
Lemon Grass
Bancha tea twigs

If you or you or someone in your family is suffering from dental decay, there is a calcium fluoride supplement available as a homeopathic tissue salt called “Calc. Fluor.” Homeopathic products are non-toxic and safe for use on children.

My own son had a little cavity in between his two front baby teeth to which the dentist sent us home with topical fluoride to apply at home with instruction to come back in three months. And of course, being the hippy momma I am, I didn’t use it and looked for an alternative instead. Simply, each time we brushed his teeth, we also gave him a dose of the tissue salt Calc Flour.

When we returned to the dentist’s office, he said, “you’ve been using the fluoride faith fully haven’t you?”, while he carefully examined my son’s teeth. I said no, I’ve been using a homeopathic dose of calcium fluoride. After his eyes went blank for a brief second, he said ok, well come back in six months and we’ll keep our eye on it. Well we came back for 4, 6 month intervals, after which I decided to stop bring him, because the tooth had long since stopped decaying after our initial 3 months of taking calcium fluoride (since the cavity was in a very visible location, it was obvious to the naked eye, whether or not it was decaying further).

Wondering where  you can purchase fluoride free toothpaste?

Most health food stores carry fluoride free toothpaste. Avoid tap water that has been fluoridated and if at all possible, avoid distilled water too (as it leaches minerals that your body would otherwise use to build your teeth!). A good alternative to fluoridated tap water is natural spring water bottled at the source, as it is clean and retains minerals that are naturally contained within it.

Fluoride filters for tap water are also available @

Frye. A., Holistic Midwifery-A Comprehensive Textbook for Midwives, Labrys Press Portland, Oregon, 1998, pp. 280-281.
Kroeger. H., Instant Vitamin-Mineral Locater. self-published, 1972.
Schuessler. W.H., Biochemic Handbook. Plantscan Publications, St. Edmunds, Suffolk, 1998
Crowe, D., The Fluoride Fiasco,
Pitchford, P., Healing With Whole Foods, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, 2002.

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