Greg O’Gallagher & Chris Walker Are WRONG About Flax & Soy!

A viewer of mine, via Facebook messages, recently directed my attention to a video of Greg O’Gallagher, who is also known as Kinobody, and some guy named Christopher Walker, who I had never heard of up to this point.

This viewer specifically asked me to debunk the parts concerning flax and soy.

Consider your request honored. I will try to keep this succinct, for those with short attention spans.

And I will only be focusing on the flax and soy segments, per request.

This doesn’t mean these guys are correct about everything else, I just didn’t watch those segments. The two I did watch were bad enough!

I am not going to splice in clips from their video, but rather give you the time codes, so you can go check them out yourself in full. I’ve linked the video in the description below.

I will instead summarize what was said, and respond accordingly.

Starting at 3 minutes and 5 seconds in, they kick off with flaxseeds. Chris makes the claim that lignans, which flaxseeds contain in substantial quantity, are “highly estrogenic compounds”.

The truth is, lignans are a class of phytoestrogen, which are estrogen-LIKE compounds, but not ACTUAL estrogens.

In fact, phytoestrogens have been shown to BLOCK receptor sites AGAINST actual estrogen! [cite book: Theresa L. Crenshaw and James P. Goldberg: Sexual Pharmacology.]

An effect that is quite the opposite of what you’d see with animal products, like milk, which failed to make Chris’ list!

With regards to milk, the animal estrogens are ACTUALLY absorbed, and subsequently cause a SIGNIFICANT reduction in hormones like testosterone in both men and children.

Chris claims that research shows flaxseeds to be “highly estrogenic”, and thus decrease testosterone levels.

But I’d like to see his references. Specifically any well-controlled, large sample-size studies on HEALTHY human test subjects that led him to that conclusion.

For now, I simply see no warranted concern regarding flaxseeds, because what little damning HUMAN research DOES exist appears to be either conducted with too a small of a sample size… as in ONE female test subject, aged 31, who suffers from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Or in overweight and obese women, which are not poster-children for quality health.

In fact, the largest human study on flaxseeds and hormone levels that I could find, which was conducted on 28 adult human females, with no noted health issues, didn’t find any negative impact on endogenous hormones such as testosterone.

Given the current body of human data, there simply appears to be no QUALITY, well-controlled, ample-sized research on HEALTHY humans, demonstrating ANY effects of lignans on estrogen levels. Whether by combination, activation, or increase.

And if any of my viewers actually possess such human research, that meets quality standards, by all means hit me up with links in the comments so that I can properly review it.

For now, there appears to be no convincing reason to avoid flaxseeds simply out of fear of negative hormone or reproductive consequences.

And to claim otherwise grossly misrepresents the current data on this subject.

Just one tablespoon of whole flaxseeds contains approximately 117% of the European Food Safety Authority’s recommended daily intake for ALA omega-3 fatty acids.

As well as nearly 3 grams of dietary fiber, and about 2 grams of protein, all in just shy of 55 calories.

So, don’t let these unsubstantiated myths about this nutritious food scare you from enjoying its benefits.

Moving along.

Later, at 19 minutes and 10 seconds in, they get to soy. Chris implies that soy is unhealthy, and rushes in with the ubiquitous “phytoestrogen” argument, as well as citing harmful pesticides utilized in soy agriculture.

Let’s get the latter out of the way first… when it comes to conventional pesticides or even GMOs, IF either truly bothers you, simply buy organic or non-GMO certified soy products.

Pretty simple, guys. It is nitpicking to even bring this up.

And those sorts of products readily exist, at least here in the States, as well as in the UK. And they aren’t that pricey. Think $1.99 US for 14 oz. of organic extra-firm tofu, as sold by the Whole Foods Market.

That’s about 2 bucks for 45 grams of high-quality protein!

A protein that is on-par with eggs and beef, according to its protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score.

But back to the main phytoestrogen argument… Chris supports his claim by verbally-citing a couple human studies, which would’ve been kind for him to actually link, so that people could review the research for themselves.

On that note, ALL of my references are linked over at my blog entry for this video… which is linked in the description below.

Now, let’s just cut to the TRUTH of the matter!

Based on two different meta-analysis of existing data, extracted from over 51 human studies, 15 of which were placebo-controlled, neither soy protein nor its isoflavone intake demonstrates ANY significant effect on testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin, free testosterone, or free androgen index in men. Furthermore, the isoflavones do NOT exert ANY feminizing effects on men either, even at intake levels equal to and considerably HIGHER than what is typical for Asian males.

Even furthermore, a 2015 Harvard study, on 184 men undergoing infertility treatment, found that soy intake did NOT play ANY role in fertility outcomes.

And another paper, which reviewed the data from three intervention studies, found NO concerns regarding soy isoflavone intake and reproductive hormones or semen quality.

Additionally, yet another paper, which reviewed a total of 73 human studies, with a median soy intake equivalent to 1 pound of tofu per day, or 3 soy protein shakes, found NO statistically significant effect on testosterone levels or follicle-stimulating hormone levels, and in women no statistically significant changes menstrual cycle length. In 12 of those studies, there was even a minor REDUCTION in estrogen levels from soy consumption in female test subjects.

So, there you have it! I’ve just presented data from approx. 137 total HUMAN studies.

And when I scoured the journals for damning evidence regarding soy intake, I primarily found n=1 case studies, which is really no better than personal anecdote when it comes to drawing conclusions.

Or I found studies on folks with one or more existing health conditions, such as Diabetes, which in and of itself has been associated with low serum testosterone levels in research.

Or I found studies on non-humans, such as rodents, which is NOT conclusive for humans, due to species-specific differences in isoflavone metabolism.

Essentially, Chris is perpetuating a ubiquitous soy myth that just won’t die. And it is because of people LIKE Chris that it doesn’t go away.

A myth that is NOT supported by the larger body of quality research.

At this point, I feel it is worth noting that phytoestrogens are also found in other popular foods and drinks — and not just those popular among vegans, such as tofu.

Examples include apples, oats, beans, lentils, yams, rice, carrots, pomegranates, and EVER-popular beverages like beer, whiskey and coffee.

Did you hear that Greg? Coffee. While you sit there going along with soy being demonized, you actually promote another phytoestrogen-rich product.

And you even SELL it!

The moral of the story is… even IF you choose to avoid soy or flax seeds, and even IF you aren’t a vegan, you are STILL likely getting a solid dose of phytoestrogens in your system on the daily.

So, why jump on a bandwagon by demonizing one or two foods from a particular category? And falsely, I might add. Doesn’t make any sense.

I am left to assume that this Chris guy either genuinely doesn’t understand the research, or he was simply cherry-picking, and therefore being incredibly disingenuous for some reason.

All the while, Greg responds with mock surprise, anecdote, and/or supportive banter.

In the end, I suppose it is really Chris who is wrong here… but, Greg does need to educate himself. Especially since he deals in nutrition and fitness services for paying clients.

Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments below.

REFERENCES:

Road To Ripped Episode 11: 5 “Healthy Foods” That Are Killing Your Sex Drive https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiJixMGuQ50

Theresa L. Crenshaw and James P. Goldberg: Sexual Pharmacology. [BOOK REFERENCE]

Exposure to exogenous estrogen through intake of commercial milk produced from pregnant cows. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19496976

The Effect of Flaxseed Supplementation on Hormonal Levels Associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Case Study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2752973/

Effect of dietary flaxseed on serum levels of estrogens and androgens in postmenopausal women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18791924

Flaxseed consumption influences endogenous hormone concentrations in postmenopausal women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11588903

Soybean isoflavone exposure does not have feminizing effects on men: a critical examination of the clinical evidence. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20378106

Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19524224

Male soy food intake was not associated with in vitro fertilization outcomes among couples attending a fertility center. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26097060

Hormonal effects of soy in premenopausal women and men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11880595

Effects of Soy on Health Outcomes: Summary https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11870/

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