Soy: Myth Vs. Fact
Soy is touted as a wonder food, and it’s in just about everything these days. So what’s my beef, you ask? Well, I have lots of issues with your “wonder food”, and I wanted to let you know some of the facts!
Myth Versus Fact
Myth: Asian people have eaten soy for thousands of years, and that they have lower instances of breast, prostate, and uterine cancer because of it.
Fact: Soy has only been cultivated for about eight hundred years. Of course that’s a long time. However, only in times of extreme famine was it eaten as a staple.
Asians in general DO have lower rates of the cancers listed above. However, they have higher rates esophageal, pancreatic, liver, and stomach cancers. In lab animals, soy causes these conditions.
Myth: Soy is a staple of the Asian diet.
Fact: The average consumption of soy is as a condiment. As such, most Asian people eat about 2 teaspoons of it per day.
Think about your average vegetarian. I was a veghead for thirteen years, and I can tell you that I ate usually at least one veggie burger per day, which has a couple of ounces of soy. “For the protein“, I was told by health care professionals.
Makes me want to spit nails, now. Add to that the fact that soy is added to almost all packaged foods, and you’ll see that the amount we consume is far higher than Asians would ever have chosen to eat until there was an extreme food shortage.
Myth: Soy estrogens are a good hormone replacement method for menopausal women.
Fact: Soy isoflavones are phyto-endocrine disrupters. They can prevent ovulation and stimulate the growth of cancer cells.
They also damage the thyroid, therefore decreasing metabolism and potentially causing many more thyroid problems.
Myth: Soy is brain food.
Fact: Overconsumption (more than 4 teaspoons per day) of soy foods is known to contribute to mental decline. It can mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in otherwise healthy people.
Soy will NOT make you more mentally sharp, it will only cause the brain to age.
Myth: Soy is Earth-friendly.
Fact: Big corporations are behind the soy push for one reason: money. If there weren’t amazing amounts of cash to be made in this industry, DuPont and Dow Chemical wouldn’t be in bed, no doubt about it.
Most soy in the United States is genetically modified (unless it’s got an organic label you trust). Almost every soy product sold in the US is fractionated.
If you’re a whole foods sort of person, the only soy that’s really acceptable for you is edamame and perhaps natto. I’d skip the edamame, due largely to the fact that soy interferes with iron absorption and all the other reasons I’ve already given.
Natto isn’t a terrible food, so long as it’s made the traditional Asian way. That is, soaked and then boiled all to heck. Asian people knew that soy was full of toxins, and fermenting is one way of getting them out.
What toxins am I referring to? So glad you asked. Soy contains protease inhibitors, phytates, and HUGE amounts of manganese.
Protease inhibitors limit the release of enzymes which break down proteins in the body.
Phytates bind metals. This doesn’t sound like a problem until you realize that you NEED some of these metals, like iron and zinc. Vegetarians, especially female vegetarians, need to watch how much they consume in the area of phytates.
Manganese is a necessary nutrient, but soy absorbs so much from the soil that it becomes dangerous. Infants can’t properly metabolize mega doses of manganese, and it becomes stored in the organs, including the brain.
This can show up in adolescence as behavioral problems, since the storage area is near dopamine-bearing neurons which kick into high gear during puberty.
Myth: Soy infant formula is safe for babies.
Fact: This one makes me more angry than all of the others. I can deal with the educated masses being duped for failure to research.
However, inflicting this sort of damage on an innocent baby is more than my mama heart can bear.
We all know that breastfeeding is the best option for babies. If you can’t breastfeed, and there are few legitimate reasons that a woman couldn’t, then formula has to be considered.
If there is a true allergy to cow’s milk, then consider goat’s milk formula. I’ve actually found recipes for homemade baby formula (just Google it if you’re interested) that are free of cow’s milk and still don’t contain soy.
Of course, as I am not a doctor, consult yours and then make an informed decision. The LAST thing I’m interested in is babies getting hurt because a mom “followed my advice” and just gave their infant goat’s milk.
Sally Fallon (author of Nourishing Traditions) and Dr. Mary Enig wrote a great piece that summarizes why no one should consume soy, so go check it out when you have a few minutes.
Where Can I Find Soy?
In the meantime, I challenge you to go to your pantry and look at the labels on everything you own. If foods contain ingredients with the names below, you’re eating soy and probably didn’t even know it:
soy albumin, soy fiber, soy flour, soy grits, soy milk, soy nuts, soy sprouts
soy protein (concentrate, isolate)
textured vegetable protein (TVP)
There are a few other instances where you might find soy, such as vegetable oil and broths. Be aware that soy is one of the top eight allergies in the US, so by law the label is reuired to state its presence. This is good for everyone, not just the truly allergic.
If you’re not convinced of the danger, I dare you to ruthlessly cut out every protein bar, “soy protein isolate” shake, processed food and known soy food out of your diet for a week. Afterward, come let me know how you feel.
To your soy-free health!