On the journey of learning how to live a balanced and healthy life, we invariably are distracted and beguiled by the many health claims that are the product of marketers for the purpose of profits...not your health. Many of these include certain diets (blood type diet, Atkins, South Beach, etc...) while others are certain supplements or food products (Acai berries, processed single/multi-vitamins, etc...). But I think the single most promoted health food/product with the most potential for detriment to your health is SOY. Yup, soy, that fad food that is now in some form or another in everything from your french fries to your supplements.
Every real food or food product simultaneously has potential detriments along with some potential benefits to our health, each food and its form and quality needs to be understood and ranked by each person to develop the best therapeutic eating habits. This becomes difficult when we are feed marketers and bias researchers white lies and half truths about certain products and then become disillusioned when we find out they were wrong. Soy happens to be a prime example of this, its detriments out weigh any of its health benefits.
Here is some of the reasons:
"Current evidence for the beneficial effects of soy requires a full understanding of potential adverse effects as well."
Dr D Doerge, scientist from the National Center for Toxicological Research.
Quoted here are many of the scientific research studies on soy spanning the years 1925 through 2001.
-Soy Blocks Vitamin and Mineral Absorption: Studies indicate that soy (organic and non-organic) causes increased requirements for vitamins E, K, D and B12. Phytic acid from SPI (soy protein isolate) blocks the absorption of essential minerals and creates deficiency symptoms of calcium, magnesium, copper, molybdenum, iron, manganese and especially zinc in the intestinal tract. This may be contributing to the early onset of osteoporosis in Japan, starting there as early as age 20 versus age 34 in the USA. Also test animals fed SPI developed enlarged organs, particularly the thyroid gland and pancreas, and caused increased deposition of fatty acids in the liver.
-Soybeans have one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume. Phytates in soy are highly resistant to normal phytate-reducing techniques such as long, slow cooking. Only long periods of fermentation will greatly reduce soy's phytate levels, but will not eliminate them.
-Soy has natural toxins or anti-nutrients. Soybeans contain potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. These inhibitors are not completely deactivated during ordinary cooking. They can produce serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and create chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptakes. In test animals, diets high in trypsin inhibitors also caused enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.
-Soy contains haemaglutinin, which is a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together, setting the stage for clogged arteries and stroke.
-Endocrine-disrupting isoflavones, genistein and daidzein are goitrogenic components found in soy. In vitro studies suggest isoflavones inhibit synthesis of estradiol and other steroid hormones. Infertility, reproductive problems, thyroid and liver disease due to dietary intake of isoflavones have been observed for several species of animals including mice, cheetah, quail, pigs, rats, sturgeon and sheep.
-The Swiss Health Service, in 1992, estimated that 100 grams of soy protein provides the estrogenic equivalent of one birth control pill.
-Processing of soy adds even more toxins. Much soy is acid washed in aluminium tanks, leaching high levels of aluminium into the final product.
-Now, over 90% of the soy beans grown in the US are Genetically altered, adding to even more health complications. Even though most of them are produced for animal consumption the detrimental health effects experienced by the animals are passed on through our food supplies. So it isn't even necessary to eat products labeled with soy ingredients to be effected by them through secondary pathways.
To make matters worse, Americans are consuming soy in unprecedented amounts. Among the many health problems linked to a high-soy diet are:
•Thyroid problems , including weight gain, lethargy, malaise, fatigue, hair loss, and loss of libido
• Premature puberty and other developmental problems in babies, children and adolescents
• Brain Damage
• Reproductive disorders
• Soy allergies
So if you want to eat soy and not ruin your health … and in fact gain health benefits, the following are all healthy options:
For more information and education on this soy story do your own research and listen to your body when you consume soy products.
Here are some good starting places:
Why Soy is not the Health food you think it is
The whole soy story
Wikipedia (be aware of misleading info)
Weston A. Price Foundation: Myths&Truths about soy
Blog of a Therapeutic Chef
Adventures, discoveries, experiences, opinions, and mistakes in the world of food, faith and farming