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Say it ain’t soy

August 7, 2010

If you’re sipping a glass of soy milk right now you might want to put it down, have a seat and read on.  You’re about to get a glimpse into the darker side of soy. 

With all the soy hype and positive press a few years ago, I’d been making a conscious effort to include this so-called “wonder food” in my diet.  This all changed when I was enlightened during a 2-day wellness course last year.  What I learned in that room has completely changed the way I look at food, corn and soy in particular.

I’d like to preface my spiel by saying this…what is written here is one foodie’s perspective to another. I am no expert.  Just your average gal with a passion for healthy eating, who tries to make the best choices based on the information/research at her disposal.   Based on this, I’ve decided to eat soy in moderation and choose fermented soy products where possible.  Read on and you’ll see why… 

If you’re not in the mood for reading (and want a little chuckle), watch this video. 

Thanks for sticking with me.  I’ll try to make it worth your while.  Let’s start with the basics.

What is soy?   Soy (or soybean) is a type of legume which is high in protein and contains plant-based estrogens called phytoestrogens.

The darker side of soy:

1) Phytic acid present in soy, binds with certain nutrients and inhibits their absorption in the intestinal tract. 

  • Phytic Acid or phytates are a fiber present in the bran or hulls of all seeds.
  • Non-fermented soy products have one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume.
  • Essential minerals whose absorption is impacted include calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese and especially zinc (the “intelligence mineral” is needed for brain and nervous system development and functioning).
  • 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.  See below for examples of fermented soy products.
  • Note:  Phytates are present in all grains and legumes.   In fact, grain and legume-based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries. 

2) 99% of soy is genetically modified (GM)

  • As we know from the GMO postbacteria, viruses and other genes have been artificially inserted to the DNA of soy, corn, cottonseed and canola plants.  The risks of genetically modified foods are still unknown but could include triggering allergic reactions and others.

3) Soy has one of the highest percentages of pesticide contamination

4) Soy impacts thyroid function

  • Soy blocks action of thyroid and can lead to hypothyroidism (4 TBSPs a day can have an effect on your thyroid).  This is most likely to occur in that segment of the population that is iodine deficient. 
  • Isoflavones are inhibitors of the thyroid peroxidase which makes T3 and T4.
  • For some, soy can inhibit their body’s ability to absorb thyroid medication properly.

5) Soybean contains large quantities of natural toxins

  • These include potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion.

6) It doesn’t stop there…

  • Soybeans contain hemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together.
  • Soy infant formula has estrogen which can cause early puberty.  Children fed soy have 20,000 times the amount of estrogen in their body.  It’s like giving that baby 5 birth control pills per day! 
  • Soy foods are processed with hexane (this is a gasoline product and an environmental pollutant).  Hexane is used to extract the oils from the soybean itself.   Disgusting.
  • The negative effects of soy have most often been observed when consumption levels exceed 30 mg, the amount of soy isoflavones found in just 5-8 ounces of soy milk.

I also learned that the American Heart Association backtracked on its earlier support of soy, and is now saying that there is no evidence that soy has specific benefits for heart health or for lowering cholesterol.

Try to limit non-fermented soy products including: 

  • Tofu and TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) – they are loaded with MSG and aluminum
  • Fresh green soybeans
  • Whole dry soybeans
  • Soy nuts
  • Sprouts
  • Soy flour
  • Soy milk

Instead opt for fermented organic soy including: 

  • Natto
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Tamari (soy sauce)
  • Fermented tofu and soymilk

Oh dear.  I hope I haven’t scared you away with my little rant on soy.  Please come back…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2010 4:22 pm

    great post danielle. the darker side of soy was perfect, and followed up strong with closing remarks giving both the “ok list” and the “not ok list”. Our hunter gatherer ancestors consumed cereal grains and legumes (and as you pointed out, soy, is a legume) RARELY if at all, and had no dairy whatsoever! Our genetic constitution has not changed since then…research shows that following a hunter gatherer style diet for even just 1o days can improve blood pressure, lipid profiles (cholesterol) and many other things. one simple rule to live by, “garbage in, garbage out”…but you have to find out what the garbage is – it just might surprise you~ thanks for opening up our eyes~

  2. steve permalink
    August 8, 2010 7:28 pm

    clever title. 🙂

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