If you were to carefully review the thousands of studies published on soy, I strongly believe you would reach the same conclusion as I have-which is, the risks of consuming unfermented soy products FAR outweigh any benefits.
Notice I said unfermented soy products.
For centuries, Asian people have been consuming fermented soy products such as natto, tempeh, and soy sauce, and enjoying the health benefits. Fermented soy does not wreak havoc on your body like unfermented soy products do.
Unfortunately, many Americans who are committed to healthy lifestyles have been hoodwinked and manipulated into believing that unfermented and processed soy products like soymilk, soy cheese, soy burgers and soy ice cream are good for them.
How Did Soy Foods Become So Popular?
If it seems like soy foods appeared out of nowhere to be regarded as the “miracle health food” of the 21st Century, it’s because they did.
From 1992 to 2006, soy food sales increased from $300 million to nearly 4 billion, practically overnight, according to the Soyfoods Association of North America. This growth came about due to a massive shift in attitudes about soy. And this shift was no accident-it was the result of a massive investment in advertising by the soy industry that’s been wildly successful.
Soy is indeed big business, very big business.
From 2000 to 2007, U.S. food manufacturers introduced more than 2,700 new soy-based foods, and new soy products continue to appear on your grocer’s shelves.
According to the survey Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition 2008 (by the United Soybean Board):
- As of 2007, 85 percent of consumers perceive soy products as healthful
- 33 percent of American eat soy foods or beverages at least once a month
- 70 percent of consumers believe soybean oil is good for them
- 84 percent of consumers agree with the FDA’s claim that consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily reduces your risk of heart disease
The Dark Side of Soy
The vast majority of soy at your local market is not a health food. The exception is fermented soy. GMO soy is contaminated with large pesticide residues as the reason it is GMO is so they can spray the potent toxic herbicide Roundup on them to improve crop production by killing the weeds.
Unlike the Asian culture, where people eat small amounts of whole non-GMO soybean products, western food processors separate the soy into two golden commodities-protein and oil. And there is nothing natural or safe about these products.
Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, points out thousands of studies linking soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility-even cancer and heart disease.
Soy proponents will argue that soy-based foods (they lump the fermented ones with the unfermented) will protect you from everything from colon, prostate and breast cancer to strokes, osteoporosis, and asthma.
But the enthusiasts never mention the studies that illuminate soy’s downside and all of the dangers posed to your health, which are based on sound research.
What Makes Soy Such a Risky Food to Eat?
- 91 percent of soy grown in the US is genetically modified (GM). The genetic modification is done to impart resistance to the toxic herbicide Roundup. While this is meant to increase farming efficiency and provide you with less expensive soy, the downside is that your soy is loaded with this toxic pesticide. The plants also contain genes from bacteria that produce a protein that has never been part of the human food supply.
- GM soy has been linked to an increase in allergies. Disturbingly, the only published human feeding study on GM foods ever conducted verified that the gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of our gut bacteria and continues to function. This means that years after you stop eating GM soy, you may still have a potentially allergenic protein continuously being produced in your intestines.
- Even more frightening is the potential for GM soy to cause infertility in future generations, which has been evidenced by recent Russian research.
- Soy contains natural toxins known as “anti-nutrients.” Soy foods contain anti-nutritional factors such as saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, protease inhibitors, oxalates, goitrogens and estrogens. Some of these factors interfers with the enzymes you need to digest protein. While a small amount of anti-nutrients would not likely cause a problem, the amount of soy that many American are now eating is extremely high
- Soy contains hemagglutinin. Hemagglutinin is a clot-promoting substance that causes your red blood cells to clump together. These clumped cells are unable to properly absorb and distribute oxygen to your tissues.
- Soy contains goitrogens. Goitrogens are substance that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with your thyroid function.
- Soy contains phytates. Phytates (phytic acid) bind to metal ions, preventing the absorption of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc–all of which are co-factors for optimal biochemistry in your body. This is particularly problematic for vegetarians, because eating meat reduces the mineral-blocking effects of these phytates (so it is helpful-if you do eat soy-to also eat meat).
- Soy is loaded with the isoflavones genestein and daidzein. Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen, which is a plant compound resembling human estrogen. These compounds mimic and sometimes block the hormone estrogen, and have been found to have adverse effects on various human tissues. Soy phytoestrogens are known to disrupt endocrine function, may cause infertility, and may promote breast cancer in women.
- Drinking even two glasses of soymilk daily for one month provides enough of these compounds to alter your menstrual cycle. Although the FDA regulates estrogen-containing products, no WARNINGS exist on soy.
- Soy has toxic levels of aluminum and manganese. Soybeans are processed (by acid washing) in aluminum tanks, which can leach high levels of aluminum into the final soy product. Soy formula has up to 80 times higher manganese than is found in human breast milk.
- Soy infant formulas put your baby’s health at risk. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. infants are now fed soy formula, but the estrogens in soy can irreversibly harm your babie’s sexual development and reproductive health. Infants fed soy formula take in an estimated five birth control pills’ worth of estrogen every day. Infants fed soy formula have up to 20,000 times the amount of estrogen in circulation as those fed other formulas!
There is also the issue of pesticides and genetic modification. Soy foods are both heavily sprayed with pesticides and geneticaly modified (GM). More than 80 percent of the soy grown in the United States is GM. Andmore than 90 percent of American soy crops are GM.
You may want to steer clear of soy products for no other reason than a commitment to avoiding GM foods… unless you wish to be a lab animal for this massive uncontrolled experiment by the biotech industry.
Tips for Avoiding Unwanted Soy Foods
For a simple rule of thumb, just remember that unless soy IS fermented (tempeh, miso, natto, or traditionally made soy sauce), you’re better off avoiding it.
Soy foods to avoid include:
TVP (texturized vegetable protein) or soy protein isolate, which contains a large amount of msg, which you should definitely not consume
- Soybean oil
- Soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy yogurt
- Soy “meat” (meatless products made of TVP)
- Soy protein
- Soy infant formula
The best way to eliminate non-fermented soy from your diet is to avoid all processed food and instead purchase whole foods that you prepare yourself.
If you do buy packaged foods, you can check the label to see if it contains soy. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which took effect in January 2006, requires that food manufacturers list soy on the label, because it’s one of the top eight food allergens.
So, even if soy is hidden in colors, flavors, or spice blends added to foods, it must be clearly stated on the label.
One other common source of soy lecithin which is used as a emulsifier in many foods and supplements. Most lecithin in the US is derived from soy but there are some newer products that extract it from orgainc sunflower.
Remember, the only way to avoid falling victim to shrewd marketing and misinformation is to become knowledgeable about what the research actually says, and this is often different from what is commonly passed around as “fact.”