The Scoop on Soy

I remember when soy became the new health food. When I thought I was lactose intolerant, I switched to soy milk not realizing that it was not healthy for me. I had heard that it was and was not healthy for me but I never looked into it to see which was true until very recently. I did read an article about a year ago that was enough for me to switch to almond milk. I didn’t make any other changes though, because as far as I knew I didn’t eat much in the way of soy, except for the occasional edamamme at RA! I wish I would have researched it sooner, but better late than never.

Soy has been painted as a healthy alternative to meat, ideal for vegetarian and vegans, when in fact it:
interferes with thyroid fuction
increases the body’s need for Vitamin D
is a Trypsin inhibitor, block the absorption of proteins/minerals
is very estrogenic
is high in free glutamic acid (MSG), which is a very potent neurotoxin

How and why? “Today’s high-tech processing methods not only fail to remove the anti-nutrients and toxins that are naturally present in soybeans but leave toxic and carcinogenic residues created by the high temperatures, high pressure, alkali and acid baths and petroleum solvents.” (Dr. Kaayla Daniel, The Whole Soy Story)

Dr. Daniel also points out the findings of numerous studies reviewed by her and other colleagues — that soy does not reliably lower cholesterol, and in fact raises homocysteine levels in many people, which has been found to increase your risk of stroke, birth defects, and yes: heart disease.

Other common health problems linked to a high-soy diet include:
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
Kidney stones
Weakened immune system
Severe, potentially fatal food allergies
Most soy, perhaps about 80 percent or more, is also genetically modified, which adds its own batch of health concerns.


Despite these findings, many people still want to believe the hype, thinking that these studies must somehow be wrong. But the content of soy itself should be a clue. For example, non-fermented soy products contain:

Phytoestrogens (isoflavones) genistein and daidzein, which mimic and sometimes block the hormone estrogen
Phytates, which block your body’s uptake of minerals
Enzyme Inhibitors, which hinder protein digestion
Hemaggluttin, which causes red blood cells to clump together and inhibits oxygen take-up and growth
High amounts of omega-6 fat, which is pro-inflammatory

The reality is that there is no evidence that consuming soy products can improve health, reduce environmental degradation or slow global warming. In fact, the evidence suggests quite the opposite.

The studies below (which can be accessed via the source website at the bottom of this post) regarding the effects of soy on health are eye-opening, particularly the review by the American Heart Association — which no longer supports the health claims about soy endorsed by the U.S. government.
Overall risks and benefits of soy assessed
Latest review by American Heart Association
Soy inhibits iron absorption
Poor iron bioavailability
Poor calcium bioavailability
Calcium and zinc absorbed better from milk than from soy — even without phytates
Soy provides no benefits with respect to heart disease risk
Soy causes bladder cancer
Soy isoflavones during pregnancy increase breast cancer risk in female offspring
High levels of cadmium in soy formula
Soy linked to peanut allergy and increased risk for asthma
Whole milk vs. soy beverage — asthma risk
Persistent sexual arousal syndrome associated with increased soy intake
Genistein: Does it prevent or promote breast cancer?

Perhaps you don’t eat soy. Are you sure?
Even if you know better than to gulp down large amounts of soy milk, slabs of tofu, and other soy snacks, you are still consuming soy if you’re eating processed food, in the form of soybean oil and lecithin. So depending on your dietary habits, your (unfermented) soy consumption could really add up.

In fact, Dr. Joseph Hibbeln at the National Institutes of Health told he estimates that soybeans, usually in the form of oil, account for 10 percent of the average person’s total calories in the United States! When you consider that 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes toward processed food, this amount of “accidental” soy intake is not surprising.

Safe soy
The few types of soy that ARE healthy are all fermented varieties. After a long fermentation process, the phytic acid and antinutrient levels of the soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties — such as the creation of natural probiotics — become available to your digestive system. The fermentation process also greatly reduces the levels of dangerous isoflavones, which are similar to estrogen in their chemical structure, and can interfere with the action of your own estrogen production.

Here are healthy soy options:
Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor. It’s loaded with nattokinase, a very powerful blood thinner. Natto also happens to be the highest source of vitamin K2 on the planet and has a very powerful beneficial bacteria, bacillus subtilis. It can usually be found in any Asian grocery store.
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).

Soy sauce: traditionally, soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes, however be wary because many varieties on the market are made artificially using a chemical process.


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