By Eeka King (BA.H.ScAcu)
Many people believe they are doing a good thing for their health when they turn to Soy over Cow’s milk or as a protein option in a vegetarian/vegan diet. What you may not be aware of is that choosing to consume Soy may slowly be killing you. You may think…it’s just a bean from a plant, right? So how bad could it really be? If you take the time to look into the actual science, then the answer is devastating. Thousands of studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility- even cancer and heart disease.
Soy in very small and occasional doses it is not going to do you too much damage, but once you start ingesting an excessive amount of it, soy’s evil side manifests. And it’s easy to overdose on soy and not even realise it. The more processed foods you’ve got in your pantry, the more soy you are eating. “Soy is a cheap source of protein for many packaged and processed foods, so if you are eating protein bars, cereals, bottled dressings, mayonnaise, vegan meat substitutes, and fast foods, you are probably consuming soy,” says Vance. You’d be surprised by how many different forms that it can come in — you’ll be able to identify it on a label as soy oil, soy protein isolates, soy protein, soy lecithin, and textured vegetable protein (TVP), among others.
There is a widespread misconception that soy was consumed for many years by Asian cultures and because they are considered among the ‘most healthy’ race of people, if we consume soy now, we should all be fine. While this is true, there is a glaring difference between how ancient Asia prepared soy and how we do today. That key difference: fermenting the soy.
Un-fermented soybeans, what we mainly eat today, contain large quantities of natural toxins or “anti-nutrients”. Some of the most important to avoid are potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. These inhibitors are tightly folded proteins that do not deactivate during the cooking process. Without being deactivated, they have the ability to produce serious gastric distress, reduce protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake. Several tests were done on animals that showed diets high in trypsin inhibitors cause enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.
The un-fermented consumption of soy creates an environment in the body that is unable to properly digest and break the protein in soy. This means the soy can become toxic within the body and create a series of adverse challenges. The Asian cultures consuming soy in the past knew that soy needed to first be fermented and so they did not consume it unless it was (Martino, 2013).
Another one of the primary reasons it would be wise for you to avoid soy is that more than 90% of soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified (GM). Since the introduction of genetically engineered foods in 1996, we’ve had an upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems in the States, and animal studies have shown devastating effects from genetically engineered soy including allergies, sterility, birth defects, and offspring death rates up to five times higher than normal. Soybean crops are also heavily sprayed with chemical herbicides, such glyphosate which a French team of researchers have found to be carcinogenic.
Here is a list of 10 dangers (compiled by the Western A. Price foundation) that comes with consuming un-fermented soy:
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.
Some facts on Soy Infant Formula: Birth Control Pills for Babies
Babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more oestrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula. Infants exclusively fed soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent of at least four birth control pills per day.
Male infants undergo a testosterone surge during the first few months of life, when testosterone levels may be as high as those of an adult male. During this period, baby boys are programmed to express male characteristics after puberty, not only in the development of their sexual organs and other masculinity traits, but also in setting patterns in the brain characteristic of male behaviour.
In animals, studies indicate that phytoestrogens in soy are powerful endocrine disrupters. Soy infant feeding, which floods the bloodstream with female hormones that inhibit testosterone, cannot be ignored as a possible cause of disrupted development patterns in boys, including learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. Male children exposed to DES, a synthetic oestrogen, had testes smaller than normal on maturation and infant marmoset monkeys fed soy isoflavones had a reduction in testosterone levels up to 70 % compared to milk-fed controls.
Almost 15% of white girls and 50% of African-Americans girls show signs of puberty, such as breast development and pubic hair, before the age of eight. Some girls are showing sexual development before the age of three. Premature development of girls has been linked to the use of soy formula and exposure to environmental oestrogen-mimickers such as PCBs and DDE. Intake of phytoestrogens even at moderate levels during pregnancy can have adverse affects on the developing foetus and the timing of puberty later in life.
So what Soy products are good for you?
The only soy with health benefits is organic soy that has been properly fermented, and these are the only soy products I ever recommend consuming.
After a long fermentation process, the phytate and “anti-nutrient” levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system.
The primary fermented soy products that can be consumed moderately are:
- Tempeh – a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavour.
- Miso- a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
- Natto- fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavour.
- Soy sauce – traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes. Be wary because many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process, so please check!
Please note that tofu is NOT on the list. Tofu is not fermented. Also BONSOY milk is the only soya milk made from fermented soybeans, however, I am not sure if I can recommend it as it was recoiled some years back due to excessive iodine levels (due to an ingredient- kombu) that caused thyroid problems in hundreds of people. It may be fine now? One big nature providing clue, which makes it very clear to me that soy, is not really meant for humans to eat, is the fact that soybeans are horrid on the palate. No normal person could eat them. That’s why all soymilks on the market are loaded with fillers, oils and other ingredients so you can get it down.
Daniel (2012) The whole soy story: the dark side of America’s favourite health food. Western A Price foundation: http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/not-so-soy-healthy-for-the-heart
Dr Joseph Mercola: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/soy-health_b_1822466.html
Martino, 2013: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/02/21/confused-about-soy-soy-dangers-summarized/
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