Oooh, You Nasty Soy!May 29, 2012
Nastier yet is the SANA, USDA and the FDA. Don’t count on them to tell you the truth on this topic.
Earlier this year I did a 21-day Daniel Fast during which I found all kinds of wonderful uses for soy and ways to cook with tofu and other soy products. I thought this was a pretty healthy thing to do. (For many years I’ve LOVED edamame with my sashimi, or just for a snack.) Then several weeks ago my daughter introduced me to a paleolithic diet which lists soybeans as one of the no-no’s with regard to being healthful. Hmmm. So I started doing some research*. Here is what I found:
- Soy oil was unknown until the late 30’s when it was developed for paint and varnishes because it hardened so nicely on the surface.
- Unlike the Asian culture, where people eat small amounts of whole non-GMO soybean products, western food processors separate the soybean into two golden commodities—protein and oil. And there is nothing natural or safe about these products. Soybeans contain a number of toxins and they are not safe to eat raw or before they’ve been treated with harsh chemical processing–acid baths, high heat, as well as additives such as artificial flavorings, sweeteners, nitrates, which can cause carcinogens in the body.
- 91% 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 interfere 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 Americans are now eating is extremely high.
- Since the introduction of GM foods in 1996, we’ve had an upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems in the U.S. population, and animal studies thus far have shown devastating effects from consuming GM soy.
- Unless they’re sprouted, soybeans have a bad omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20 to 1.
- 80% of the cooking oil used in America is soy oil and it’s as much as 50% trans-fat, the dangerous kind.
- 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 has toxic levels of aluminum and manganese. Because 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.
- Isoflavins in soy are phytoestrogens and have powerful effects on our hormones, including antithyroid effects. 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.
- Although soy is supposed to be protective against breast cancer, studies over the last two decades found that soy-eating women had increased epithelial hyperplasia, an early form of malignancy. A chemical found in soy has been pinpointed as encouraging breast cells to metastasize.
- Soy contains hemagglutinin, 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.
- Infant formula, which used to be based on coconut oil (with its uncanny resemblance to mother’s milk and easy digestability) is now made primarily from soy oil, which, aside from being about 50% trans-fat and full of undesirable omega-6 fat, is known to suppress thyroid function and bind minerals so they can’t be absorbed. Soy infant formula puts 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 baby’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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 80% of the world’s soy is used in farm animal feed, which is why soy production is contributing to deforestation. Some soy propagandists have suggested that the solution to this is for all of us to become vegetarians—a reckless recommendation rooted in total ignorance about nutrition.
By far, research shows that unfermented soy is really the culprit here. So what is that? From what I’ve learned, fermented soy includes a very few soy products. You may have heard that Japanese people live longer and have lower rates of cancer than Americans because they eat so much soy—but it’s primarily fermented soy that they consume, and it’s always been that way. Here are the primary fermented soy products you’ll find:
- Tempeh a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
- Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
- Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
- Soy sauce, which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes; be wary because many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.
Please note that tofu is NOT on this list. Tofu is not fermented, so is not among the soy foods recommended. For a simple rule of thumb, just remember that unless soy is fermented (the above list), 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
So needless to say, I am incredibly bummed, but incredibly educated, and now able to immediately modify my soy intake by watching what I buy, cook and eat.