The Soy Controversy

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The soy industry has managed to market a waste product as a health food, and gullible consumers are eating their way to health problems.

Soy is often touted as healthy, and it can be if you pick your soy products carefully, but most of the soy that is on the market is actually very hard on our systems.

I was completely fooled by the propaganda on soy and bought into this one hook, line and sinker, feeling virtuous switching to soy milk when I found out I was sensitive to poor quality dairy.

Now I realize that pretty much all soy that is not organic is genetically modified. And GMO soy is in almost all non-organic packaged food and processed food.

Like all grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, soybeans – GMO or not, have a phytate layer to stop the beans from sprouting unless there is adequate moisture and warmth.

The phytate layer in soybeans is much thicker than in other grains and legumes and cannot be eliminated with soaking, sprouting or long slow cooking. This means that soybeans are very difficult to digest, and the phytic acid reduces assimilation of calcium, magnesium copper, iron and zinc.

Soy interferes with protein digestion, and the soy estrogens are endocrine disruptors, (by binding with estrogen receptors) potentially creating fertility problems and breast or uterine cancer in women, and reducing testosterone in men.

These soy phytoestrogens also are anti-thyroid agents, causing sluggish thyroids, possibly thyroid cancer, and weight gain.

Soy increases the body’s requirement for B12 and Vitamin D. Soy food processing results in the formation of MSG, which is a well known neurotoxin (nerve poison), and soy contains high levels of aluminum which is known to be toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys. Unless labeled organic, assume that all soybean products are genetically modified.

It is worth noting that in January 2006, the American Heart Association reversed its position recommending the consumption of soy to lower the chance of heart disease, after reviewing 22 recent studies, and noted that the FDA's original recommendation was based on a single study funded by the soy industry.

The soy that should be avoided are soy isolate products like:

  • Soy milk
  • Soy protein powder/bars
  • Soy nuts
  • Soy cheese
  • Soy burgers
  • Soy yogurt
  • Soy ice cream
  • Soy baby formula

By avoiding packaged food, one can avoid soy disguised on food labels as:

  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Textured plant protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Vegetable protein concentrate
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Lecithin (usually from soy)
  • Vegetable oil (usually from soy)
  • Vegetable broth (usually from soy)
  • Bouillon (usually from soy)
  • Natural flavour (usually from soy)
  • Mono-diglyceride(usually from soy)

Soy infant formula is a very bad idea, as the baby gets far too much phytoestrogen for its bodyweight, which messes with the baby’s hormones even more than in adults.

The estrogenic effects of soy on infants can be irreversible, resulting in delayed or absent sexual maturation in males, and extremely accelerated sexual maturation in females. Soy formula predisposes females to breast cancer and fertility problems later in life.

For those of you that are dairy intolerant and want a milky substitute for your whole-grain cereal, you may be able to tolerate a non-homogenized organic plain yogurt (raw is better if you can get it), or look for a rice milk or almond milk that does not have a vegetable oil listed in the ingredient list, or try organic full-fat coconut milk. Yummy!

(No, the fat in coconut milk will not make us fat – lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty-acid that is metabolized immediately by the liver, and is very healthful for the body due to its antibacterial and antiviral factors.)

If you are a soy fan, naturally fermented and/or cultured ORGANIC soy (to avoid GMO) is very healthful, so look for foods like:

  • miso – try to find it with unrefined sea salt
  • Tamari – wheat free
  • Natto
  • Tempeh
  • Extra-firm tofu with nigari
  • Organic Edamame, cooked
  • Organic soybean sprouts

For more information on the problems with soy, read, The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food by Kaayla Daniel.

Related Tips
GMO – Crossing the Species Barrier
Vegetable Oils – Friend or Foe?

Daniel, Kaayla T. The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food NewTrends Publishing, Inc., March, 2005.

Sacks, Frank M. et al. Soy Protein, Isoflavones, and Cardiovascular Health; An American Heart Association Science Advisory for Professionals from the Nutrition Committee Circulation 113: 1034-1044, 2006.

Sharpe RM et al. Infant feeding with soy formula milk: effect on testis and on blood testosterone levels in marmoset monkeys during the period of neonatal testicular activity. Human Reproduction Jul;17(7):1692-703, 2002.

Bell, DS et al.Use of soy protein supplement and resultant need for increased dose of levothyroxine Endocrine Pract. May-June; 7(3):193-4, 2001.

Gardner-Thorpe D. et al. Dietary supplements of soya flour lower serum testosterone concentrations and improve markers of oxidative stress in men. European J. of Clinical Nutrition Jan; 57(1):100-6, 2003.

Ju YH et al. Dietary genistein negates the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen on growth of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer Cancer Research May 1;62(9):2474-7, 2002.

Doerge DR and DM Sheehan. Goitrogenic and estrogenic activity of soy isoflavones Environmental Health Perpectives June;110 suppl 3:349-53, 2002.

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6 Comments

  1. tanea brooks said,

    October 26, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

    what about expeller pressed soy bean oil? good or bad?

  2. Vreni said,

    December 4, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

    Hi Tanea,

    So sorry to take so long to respond – I’ve been having a problem with not getting notification of new comments, and my spam filter not working.

    To answer your question – expeller pressed soy bean oil – bad.
    1) unless it’s organic it’s genetically modified
    2) it’s an omega 6 oil which is highly inflammatory to the body
    3) omega 6 oils are very sensitive to heat, so one should not heat them or the fats will be damaged.
    4) All the problems with soy listed above apply. Estrogenic, endocrine dysruptor etc.

    Hope that helps, even if I responded so late.

    Vreni

  3. Jodi said,

    August 1, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

    It is very easy to make your own almond milk. No extra ingredients.
    Soak 1 C almonds shelled overnight
    After soaking put them in a blender,
    Measure 3- 4 C water add what will fit with out overfilling into blender
    Blend until almonds are a fine pulp
    Strain through cheese cloth
    Add any remaing water to strained milk
    Refridgerate
    Amount of water used is determined by indivual taste.

  4. Stephanie said,

    April 29, 2012 @ 10:18 am

    Hi Vreni,
    What do you think of the new coconut beverage by So Delicious? There is an unsweetened version. It is organic, and does contain carrageenen and guar gum.

  5. Vreni said,

    April 29, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

    Hi Stephanie,
    I’m never happy to see carrageenen in foods, and to be honest I simply don’t trust “beverages” put out by big food companies, since there are so many loopholes with respect to what they can get away with not putting on a label.

    Maybe it’s fine, but I’d rather chop up a coconut and make my own beverage. Or canned coconut milk? I wonder if Eden Organics makes a canned coconut milk, because then there would be no BPA in the lining.

    How about coconut milk with chunks of pineapple? Or juiced pineapple? Love that blend. Pina colada anyone? :D

  6. E. DeMasi said,

    May 3, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    Great article, thank you so much!

    My son never tested as allergic to soy but I decided to remove it from his diet 3 years ago when I noticed his allergies getting worse and he began having digestive issues. I’m trying to convince the rest of my family to avoid soy as well.

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