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The good life by Shea Vaughn

Wellness and fitness expert Shea Vaughn reminds us that what we eat plays an essential part in our health

Treating ourselves well is one of the keys to being well. It begins by feeding our bodies the right kinds of food. The first step is to be a good student of what is on the label and therefore what is in the food we eat. Being informed can help you to avoid serious disease and may even save your life!


What’s in it?

One ingredient to be mindful of is textured vegetable protein (TVP) also known as textured soy protein (TSP), soy meat, or soya chunks, defatted soy flour product, a by-product of extracting soybean oil.

First invented in the 60s and now widely purchased and used as a ‘meat extender’ or protein substitute in favourite recipes, it is often listed on a wide spectrum of ‘healthy’ products, including energy bars and veggie burgers.

TVP may sound like a good way to include vegetarian protein in your diet, until you do    some research into how this pseudo-food is created. Consume any product containing TVP and you are ingesting traces of hexane, a petroleum chemical in which soybeans are treated in order to convert them into the foodstuff. In fact, soy producers use hexane as a solvent to separate the fat from the protein.

  • During separation the hexane-treated soybean undergoes a process known as “Extrusion Cooking”; high nitrogen solubility index (NS) defatted soy flour and water are combined to form a dough in an industrial mixing cylinder before passing through the barrel of a screw type extruder to achieve the desired form
  • This highly processed ‘food’ is shipped in bulk for home cooking and is recommended for use by many vegetarian cookbooks, magazines and websites. Yet independent testing shows that hexane residue survives the extrusion cooking process and is present in products containing TVP.
  • Curiously, in the US the FDA has no requirements that food manufacturers test for hexane levels, despite the fact that the EPA confirms that it is an air pollutant and a neurotoxin. A few independent studies seem to indicate that high levels and/or long-term ingestion of hexane-contaminated foods can cause neurological problems. Workers in plants where hexane exists have developed nervous system disorders and skin problems. High exposure can cause respiratory tract and eye irritation, nausea, vertigo, headaches and possibly Parkinson’s disease. Hexane is also highly flammable. The EPA categorises hexane as dangerous, the possible cause of cancer, birth defects and other adverse environmental and ecological effects.

The take out is to read food labels and as a rule of thumb always avoid anything processed. In this case especially, there are many good ‘real food’ protein substitutes. Quinoa is one. It has a number of beneficial nutritional elements and comes in different colours to suit your cooking purposes. However, there are other protein substitutes you may prefer and I encourage you to do your own research.


Love to live the good life? Email Shea Vaughn with any questions or comments at [email protected]




Three to read…


‘Go confidently and intentionally in the direction you feel passionately about; do not let others keep you from living the life you have imagined,’

– Shea Vaughn

The Best You

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