Soy became somewhat of a fad starting in the late ’70s. With the alarming rise in the numbers of people manifesting wheat sensitivities, soy was a versatile, prolific, and inexpensive substitute.
It’s also grown in popularity in the health and wellness market as an alternative source of protein and fats. Also, soy is used in processed foods as a filler (adding weight to meat and other products) and emulsifier.
“Unlike in Asia where people eat small amounts of whole soybean products, western food processors separate the soybean into two golden commodities–protein and oil. There’s nothing safe or natural about this,” explains Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of the book The Whole Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favourite Health Food (1).
“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,” she continues.
The promoters of soy as a staple missed a few important facts about soy, however, that are now becoming apparent in the development of soy sensitivities.
What they missed was that in the countries in which soy is a regular part of the diet, it comes in the form of fermented soy, not the forms of soy that are presented to us in North America. This is especially true when it comes to soy products that are isolated and manufactured, such as soy protein isolate and hydrolyzed plant protein.
Additionally, the amounts we eat (specifically and generally) are much greater than in other cultures.
The Problem with Soy
All processed soy contains compounds called phytates. These compounds block mineral absorption, while other compounds in soy called trypsin inhibitors block proper digestion.
- Thyroid problems, including weight gain, lethargy, malaise, fatigue, hair loss, and loss of libido
- Premature puberty and other developmental problems in babies and children.
- Brain damage
- Reproductive disorders
- Soy allergies
Plus, Dr. Daniel warns that soy can raise homocysteine levels, which in turn increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and birth defects.
Many experts have since petitioned the FDA to retract the 1999 claims that “soy prevents heart disease” (6).
Babies and children are at a higher risk, since soy can mimic estrogen and throw off hormone balance. In fact, a Lancet study showed that the daily exposure to estrogen-imitating chemicals for infants who consume soy formulas was 6-11 times higher than adults consuming soy foods (7). What’s more, the blood concentration of these hormones was 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than natural estrogen. For an infant fed exclusively on soy-based formula, that’s equivalent to 5 birth control pills a day (8).
Infants should not be fed soy-based formula and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should avoid soy at all costs. What’s more, soybeans contain hemagglutinins, which cause red blood cells to clump together (9).
1. Genetic Modification
Over ninety percent of the soy produced in the U.S. is genetically modified (GM). These GM crops are sprayed with chemical herbicides and pesticides that they’ve been developed to resist. These chemicals (such as glyphosate) have been found to be toxic to humans.
2. Increased Risk of Breast Cancer
Soy contains high levels of phytoestrogens, chemicals found in plants that are similar to mammalian estrogen.
Since eating soy increases the amount of estrogen in the body, there is concern that large amounts can promote breast cancer.
A condition of estrogen dominance–in which there exists an overabundance of estrogen in the body consistently over time–can lead to a host of health issues including mood swings, insomnia, weight gain, infertility, and osteoporosis–for both women and men.
3. Phytoestrogens Can be Harmful
The result of regular increased levels of estrogen in males can contribute to lowered production of testosterone.
The imbalance of these hormones has been associated with erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and gynecomastia, a condition of swollen breast tissue in men (10).
There is also evidence that high (unfermented) soy intake is directly related to low sperm count (11).
4. Preventing Nutrient Absorption
Phytic acid in soy inhibits the ability of the body to absorb minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, copper, and zinc from the foods you eat (not just the soy).
This form of phosphorus arrests the activities of digestive enzymes like pepsin and trypsin. That is why soy affects some people by causing gas and bloating.
Many processed foods that contain soy include aluminum, a metal toxic to humans that affects kidney function.
Soy is a goitrogenic food that has consequences for thyroid function; it prevents the absorption of iodine, a necessary mineral for cellular metabolism and activation of the thyroid.
Problems with thyroid function have become increasingly prevalent in North America as the result of our diets and sedentary tendencies. The hormones produced by the thyroid control how your body uses food for energy.
Soy can be the healthy nutrient source it was purported to be–it’s the form it takes that makes the difference. Opt for the organic fermented kind.
The Fermentation Difference
The fermentation process for soy serves to break down the enzymes that not only negatively affect absorption of its considerable nutrients but can actually be potentially harmful to our bodies in significant amounts.
Tofu, edamame, soy milk, and the soy (including that in infant formula) and soy oils used in processed foods are not fermented; below are some reasons why you may want to rethink these forms of soy in favor of the fermented kind.
- Be Wary of Mercury in Your Next Seafood Dinner
Mercury poisoning is more common than you think. Its incidence has increased over the years due to greater release of …
- How Spinach Can Boost Your Physical Fitness and Muscle Strength
Popeye had something right! It turns out that, thanks to the inner workings of both our cells and plants’ cells, …
- This Food can Help Treat Your Post-Thanksgiving Hangover
It isn’t a bad thing to indulge in a few too many drinks at the holiday party, or lose count …
- How To Make a Hydrating Watermelon Slushie
Tired of eating ice cream to keep cold? You probably never thought you could get sick of such a delicious …
- Natural Compound Found in Blueberries Help Lower Diabetes Risk and Body Fat
You may have heard about the miracle antioxidant resveratrol, found in blueberries, grapes and red wine. But did you know …
- 5 Diet Mistakes That Make You Age Faster
Aging is of course inevitable, but it turns out that we may have more control over how gracefully we age …
- Moist and Chocolatey Zucchini Loaf Recipe with Apple Cider Vinegar and Maple Syrup
Eating baked goods satisfies a craving that no other food does: something sweet to accompany your coffee or provide the …
- 11 Kitchen Hacks To Eat Healthy Without Even Trying
There is an easier way to achieve healthy eating than tearing your hair in agony over carb-free foods and sugar-less treats. The …
- The Japanese Government Officially Lists THIS Ancient Medicinal Mushroom as a Cancer Treatment!
Mushrooms aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s certainly an abundance of them in nature. Over 10,00 species of mushrooms …
- Eating Raw Garlic Twice a Week Reduces Cancer Risk by 44 Percent, Study Finds
Garlic is not only a savory spice that flavors Italian food, it has been used to promote health all over …
- Good Morning News: 5 Health Benefits of Coffee
America’s love affair with coffee is no secret. Many cannot imagine beginning their day without the morning pick-me-up from the …
- 9 Top Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re in the mood for a chewy snack that doubles as a phenomenal health food, look no further than …
- 3 Good Reasons to Stop Buying Microwavable Popcorn
Popcorn made in those microwave bags with the shiny silver insides are a very popular snack but recent health concerns …
- Mangoes Destroy Cancer, Blast Fat, Reduce Cholesterol, and More
The sweet, unique, delicate flavor of a succulent mango brings the tropics to your plate. Although the tree is in …
- Minute-By-Minute Guide Reveals What Energy Drinks Really Do To Your Body
For many young people, reaching for an energy drink is like grabbing a cup of coffee. Whether it’s studying for …