Although widely promoted as a health food, hundreds of studies link modern processed soy to malnutrition, digestive problems, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, immune system breakdown, and even heart disease and cancer. How could soy be linked to all this disease? Because the soybean contains many naturally occurring toxins. All legumes contain toxins but the problem with soy is that the toxins are found in very high levels and are resistant to the traditional ways of getting rid of them.
Long, slow fermentation, as in the traditional production of miso, tempeh and soy sauce, gets rid of the phytic acid and other digestive inhibitors but not the phytoestrogens in soy.
Myths About Isoflavones
One of the most common myths is that soy estrogens (isoflavones) are beneficial for your health. Isoflavones are the estrogen-like compounds occurring naturally in soy foods. They act as the plant’s natural pesticides, causing insects to become sterile. Research has shown that isoflavones can prevent ovulation and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. As little as 38 mg isoflavones per day, which is less than the amount found in 1 cup of soy milk, can result in hypothyroidism with symptoms of lethargy, constipation, weight gain and fatigue. The isoflavones in soy have been shown to cause reproductive problems, infertility, thyroid disease and liver disease in mice, rats, cheetahs, sturgeon, quail, sheep, pigs and marmoset monkeys.
Traditional Versus Modern Soy Foods
It is important to distinguish between traditional and modern soy foods. In Asia, traditional soy foods were consumed in small amounts, usually as a fermented condiment. Traditional fermented soy foods include miso, soy sauce, tempeh and natto. Tofu was prepared by a precipitation process that gets rid of some of the anti-nutrients, and tofu was often then fermented. Tofu was usually consumed in small amounts in fish broth, which provided lots of compensating minerals and compounds that support thyroid function. Soymilk underwent a very long preparation process to get rid of anti-nutrients and it was consumed with shrimp or egg yolk, ingredients that helped compensate for the many anti-nutrients that remained. Mostly a food for the elderly, it was sometimes given to nursing mothers but never to growing children.
Problems with Soy Protein Isolate
Modern soy foods are very different. Most are made with soy protein isolate (SPI), which is a protein-rich powder extracted by an industrial process from the waste product of soy oil manufacturing. It is the industry’s way of making a profit on a waste product. The industry spent over 30 years and billions of dollars developing SPI.
Soy Protein Isolate is produced at very high temperatures and pressures. This processing does get rid of some of the anti-nutrients in soybeans, but unfortunately many of the proteins are denatured in the process, including lysine. That is why growing animals fed soy must be given a lysine supplement. In feeding studies, SPI caused many deficiencies in rats. That soy causes deficiencies in B12 and zinc is widely recognized; but the range of deficiencies was surprising.
Although SPI is added to many foods, it was never granted GRAS status, meaning “Generally Recognized as Safe”. The FDA only granted GRAS status to SPI for use as a binder in cardboard boxes. During the processing of soy, many additional toxins are formed, including nitrates (which are carcinogens) and a toxin called lysinoalanine. It was concerns about lysinoalanine in SPI that led the FDA to deny GRAS status for SPI as a food additive.
In spite of all these problems, SPI is the basic ingredient of soy infant formula and the FDA even allows a health claim for foods containing 6.25 grams SPI per serving.
The Dangers of Soy Infant Formula
Infants on soy formula receive dangerously high levels of soy isoflavones. On a body weight basis, this can mean ten times the level that can cause thyroid suppression in adults after three months, and eight times the level that can cause hormonal changes in adults after just one month.
According to a Swiss report, adult women consuming 100 mg isoflavones (about 2 cups of soy milk, or 1 cup of cooked mature soybeans) provide the estrogenic equivalent of a contraceptive pill. This means for a baby that weighs 6 kg (or just over 13 pounds), 10 mg provides the estrogenic equivalent of a contraceptive pill. Thus, the average amount of soy-based formula taken in by a child provides the estrogenic equivalent of at least four birth control pills. Because babies are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of dietary estrogens, the effects could actually be much greater than that of four birth control pills. Hence the statement, “Babies on soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day.”
Homemade Baby Formula
For adopted infants, or as a solution for mothers who aren’t physically able to breastfeed or who aren’t able to produce enough milk, we’d like parents to know that there are nutrient dense, homemade baby formula recipes in the book Nourishing Traditions which have been used with great success by parents all over the world since 1995!
Homemade baby formula recipes, video and frequently asked questions.
Soy Dangers Summarized
- High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
- Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.
- Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
- Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
- Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12.
- Soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D.
- Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
- Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
- Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
- Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.
Sources and more information: http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert
Recommended Reading: The Whole Soy Story
12 Responses to The Ploy of Soy
I think it may have contributed to my low thyroid. Seems it started around the time I was eating lots of soy products.
[…] substitutes such as soy, rice, almond, oat, hemp, and the like. We have numerous concerns about soy, which contains plant estrogens and is very hard to digest. The rest of the non-diary […]
Wished I’d known they’re other options for feeding my son. All I’d known at the time about soy is it’s naturally high in msg. I was told the benefits (being his only option to eat) outweighed my concerns. He still had/has digestive problems at almost 4.
Everytime i drink soy or eat tofu, within 15 mins i have severe hot flushes. Get pimples. And generally dont feel well. Can only eat tempeh or miso.
How can we possibly avoid animals fed soy? Our turkey feed and chicken food includes soy for the protein. I can’t seem to get away from in my meat.
I lived in San Francisco for over 20 years, and now in Portland, Oregon where there are soy and corn free poultry options available. Soy is not the natural diet for animals and they can definitely be raised without it. I also eat 100% grass fed beef and lamb, and only wild caught, as opposed to farmed, fish. I would contact your local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader for sources: http://www.westonaprice.org/get-involved/find-local-chapter/
Reblogged this on Balanced Meals Recipes and commented:
Fermented Soy from miso and tamari is tasty and healthy but GMO soy and the glyphosate pesticide are not.
In my 20’s I used to consume a lot of soy: tofu, soymilk, etc. But by the time I reached 30, I had already developed an allergy to it–every time I ate soy, I would develop migraines, constipation and other GI problems, skin break-outs. Now in my 50’s I have learned to completely remove it from my diet and from all external applications, as well.
Reblogged this on freedombyanymeans.
Seems fine to me. I don’t eat a ton of it, which I think is usually how people develop allergies (by over exposure). A dish w/ tofu in it every now and then, some protein powder in a smoothie here and there, some soy sauce on my rice, sushi or on my cooked spinach w/ butter. Delicious! And kudos to the industry for using a “waste product” rather than filling a landfill with it. More creative thinking like this to close the loop and stop practices which create waste is needed.
My fiance has many, many food allergies, celiac and EOE, soy allergy included as well as corn, gluten, dairy and more. It seems she can tolerate some foods as long as they are in very small portions and infrequently. It is only when she ODs on cheese or some other temptation that issues arise. It is my belief the prevalence of food allergies in our society is a symptom of improper processing as well as the poisoning of our planet in general. We are creating toxicity from our overpopulation of the planet.
But, practically everyone wants to experience “the miracle of childbirth” so let’s keep shooting for higher numbers and higher toxicity because 6,000,000,000 people isn’t enough, nor will 7,000,000,000 be enough. It will never be enough until we have poisoned every last river, killed all other species so that we can all enjoy “the miracle of childbirth”.
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