Dear Doc: Soy products are primarily GMOs (genetically modified organisms). When you process the soybean to make a veggie burger, the DNA is not recognized by our DNA. And that can lead to severe gastrointestinal problems. Your readers should know this. Tell them. – R.B. from Nebraska
Dear R.B.: Sorry, but you’re wrong. Our bodies digest GMO soy ingredients the same as they do heritage soy.
But let’s look at that artificial product, the veggie burger, usually loaded with soy. The one I found had vegetable ingredients (sounds good), textured vegetable protein (soy), wheat, egg whites, cooked brown rice, rolled oats, corn oil, calcium caseinate (a milk-based protein) and soy sauce.
This is artificially constructed, made to look and taste like a burger product, so you need to beware. I worry more about what goes into making this stuff than I do GMOs. Which means if you want a non-burger “burger,” you need to shop well. Pick one that has more natural ingredients.
Now, does the DNA present in GMO soy differ from the DNA in natural soy? You bet. That’s why the Monsanto agricultural company introduced the genetically modified soybean in 1994. By some estimates, it is now more than 80 percent of the soy cultivated in the U.S.
If you’re a non-GMO fan, there are many fine stores that carry non-GMO products. You also might want to learn more about Michael Pollan; he’s the guy who wrote books such as “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
Pollan believes that once you get past five ingredients on a food label you have artificial food. The more ingredients you have, the closer you come to the king of artificial foods, the Twinkie. Pollan is a great food writer. His work is scientifically based, well-researched and a good read. He’s said that veggie burger I just mentioned is as artificial as the day is long.
My spin: If you’re interested in food, I recommend you read Pollan. If you want a healthy alternative to a burger, toss the veggie version and try roasting slices of eggplant. Top that with roasted bell peppers and serve on a fine whole wheat bun – it’s a yummy and healthy homemade alternative to an industrialized product.
Or take advice from one of my radio listeners below.
Hi, Zorba: I love your show. I just heard you talking to the soy-eating guy from Jacksonville and I wanted to add something to your answer about eating soy. Not all fake meats are created equal; some are worse than others. Whole grains, vegetables and edamame would be better than multiple servings of fake meats per day.
Dear Doc: Are statins advisable when my cholesterol levels are good? I’m an overweight diabetic with abnormal liver tests. My doctor says I have fat in my liver. I’m worried that the statin will make my liver worse. Life’s a tradeoff. Which way should I go? – D.Q. from Nashville
Dear D.Q.: Yes, there is balance regarding what a drug does on one hand and what the side effects are on the other. When it comes to statins, I’ve lived through their development to their widespread use. About 15 million people take statins, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only one in two who need them are on them.
Why? Lots of misinformation. For example, yes, your cholesterol numbers are good, but as a diabetic, you are at risk for a premature heart attack or stroke. Statins help drive that risk down even though your numbers are good.
Then there are those men who are thin as a rail, exercise all the time and eat right but have a strong family history of heart disease. These people should be on statins but say, “No, not me. I don’t need a drug. I’ll do it naturally.”
For some, that might be the right answer. But for others, they need to sit down with their doctor and map out just what their risk is, then make a decision. Knowledge is power.
My spin: You need a statin and many others do, too. I know you’ll probably be stunned by what I am going to proclaim next, but everything you read on the web isn’t true. Shocking isn’t it? Stay well.
Dr. Zorba Paster is a family physician, professor at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and host of the public radio program “Zorba Paster on Your Health,” which airs at noon Wednesdays on 91.1 FM, and noon Sundays on 91.9 FM. His column appears twice a month in The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.