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Soy: Too Good to be True
By Brandon Finucan & Charlotte Gerson
While even in 1966 there was considerable research on the harmful substances within soybeans, you'll be hard pressed to find articles today that claim soy is anything short of a miracle-food. As soy gains more and more popularity through industry advertising, we are moved once again to raise our voice of concern.
The Soybean Industry in America
In 1924 soybean production in the U.S. was only at 1.8 million acres harvested, but by 1954, the harvested acres grew to 18.9 million. Today, the soybean is America's third largest crop (harvesting 72 million acres in 1998), supplying more than 50 percent of the world's soybean demand. Most of these beans are made into animal feed and are manufactured into soy oil for use as vegetable oil, margarine and shortening. Of the traditional uses for soy as a food, only soy sauce enjoys widespread consumption in the American diet. Tofu, measuring 90 percent of Asia's use of the soybean, has gained more popularity in the U.S., but soy is still nowhere near a measurable component of the average American diet - or is it?
For more than 20 years now, the soy industry has concentrated on finding alternative uses and new markets for soybeans and soy byproducts. At your local supermarket, soy can now be found disguised as everything from soy cheese, milk, burgers and hot dogs, to ice cream, yogurt, vegetable oil, baby formula and flour (to name just a few). These are often marketed as low-fat, dairy-free, or as a high-protein, meat substitute for vegetarians. But soy isn’t always mentioned on the box cover. Today, an alarming 60% of the food on America's supermarket shelves contain soy derivatives (i.e. soy flour, textured vegetable protein, partially hydrogenated soy bean oil, soy protein isolate). When you look at the ingredients list, and really look at the contents of the "Average American Diet," from snack foods and fast foods to prepackaged frozen meals, soy plays a major role.
Where the soybean goes wrong?
Here at the Gerson Institute, we feel the positive aspects of the soybean are overshadowed by their potential for harm. Soybeans in fact contain a large number of dangerous substances. One among them is phytic acid, also called phytates. This organic acid is present in the bran or hulls of all seeds and legumes, but none have the high level of phytates that soybeans do. These acids block the body’s uptake of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc. Adding to the high-phytate problem, soybeans are very resistant to phytate reducing techniques, such as long, slow cooking.
Soybeans also contain potent enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors block uptake of trypsin and other enzymes that the body needs for protein digestion. Normal cooking does not deactivate these harmful "antinutrients," that can cause serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and can lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.
Beyond these, soybeans also contain hemagglutinin, a clot promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells are unable to properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body's tissues, and cannot help in maintaining good cardiac health. Hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors are both "growth depressant" substances. Although the act of fermenting soybeans does deactivate both trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinin, precipitation and cooking do not. Even though these enzyme inhibitors are reduced in levels within precipitated soy products like tofu, they are not altogether eliminated. Only after a long period of fermentation (as in the creation of miso or tempeh) are the phytate and "antinutrient" levels of soybeans reduced, making their nourishment available to the human digestive system. The high levels of harmful substances remaining in precipitated soy products leave their nutritional value questionable at best, and in the least, potentially harmful.
What About the Studies?
In recent years, several studies have been made regarding the soybean’s effect on human health. The results of those studies, largely underwritten by various factions of the soy industry, were of course overwhelmingly in favor of soy. The primary claims about soy's health benefits are based purely on bad science. Although primary arguments for cancer patients to use soy focus on statistics showing low rates of breast, colon and prostate cancer among Asian people, there are obvious facts being utterly ignored. While the studies boast that Asian women suffer far fewer cases of breast cancer than American women do, the hype neglects to point out that these Asian women eat a diet that is dramatically different than their American counterparts.
The standard Asian diet consists of more natural products, far less fatty meat, greater amounts of vegetables and more fish. Their diets are also lower in chemicals and toxins, as they eat far fewer processed (canned, jarred, pickled, frozen) foods. It is likely these studies are influenced by the fact that cancer rates rise among Asian people who move to the U.S. and adopt Americanized diets. Of course, this change of diet goes hand-in-hand with a dramatic shift in lifestyle. Ignoring the remarkable diet and lifestyle changes, to assume only that reduced levels of soy in these Americanized Asian diets is a primary factor in greater cancer rates is poor judgment, and as stated above, bad science. The changes of diet and lifestyle must be considered to reach the correct conclusion.
A widely circulated article, written by Jane E. Allen, AP Science Writer, titled, "Scientists Suggest More Soy in Diet", cites in the course of a symposium, numerous speakers discussing the probable advantages of soy under the title, "Health Impact of Soy Protein." However, the article states that the $50,000 symposium "was underwritten by Protein Technologies International of St. Louis, a DuPont subsidiary that makes soy protein!" In the course of the same symposium, Thomas Clarkson, professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University, states "Current hormone replacement therapy has been a dismal failure from a public health point of view," not because Premarin E is known to cause uterine or other female organ cancers, but "because only 20 percent of the women who could benefit from it are taking it."
Other popular arguments in support of soy state that fermented products, like tempeh or natto, contain high levels of vitamin B-12. However, these supportive arguments fail to mention that soy's B-12 is an inactive B-12 analog, not utilized as a vitamin in the human body. Some researchers speculate this analog may actually serve to block the body's B-12 absorption. It has also been found that allergic reactions to soybeans are far more common than to all other legumes. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics admits that early exposure to soy through commercial infant formulas, may be a leading cause of soy allergies among older children and adults.
In his classic book, A Cancer Therapy - Results of 50 Cases (p. 237), Dr. Gerson put "Soy and Soy Products" on the "FORBIDDEN" list of foods for Gerson Therapy patients. At the time, his greatest concerns were two items: the high oil content of soy and soy products, and the rather high rate of allergic reactions to soy. Soybeans can add as much as 9 grams of fat per serving, typically adding an average of 5 grams of fat per serving when part of an average American diet.
The Extraction Process
The processes which render the soybean "edible" are also the processes which render it "inedible." In fermenting soybeans, the process entails that the beans be pureed and soaked in an alkaline solution. The pureed mixture is then heated to about 115°C (239°F) inside a pressure cooker. This heating and soaking process destroys most, but not all, of the anti-nutrients. At the same time, it has the unwelcome effect of denaturing the proteins of the beans so they become very difficult to digest and greatly reduced in effectiveness. Unfortunately, the alkaline solution also produces a carcinogen, lysinealine, while it reduces the already low cystine content within the soybean. Cystine plays an essential role in liver detoxification, allowing our bodies to filter and eliminate toxins. Without proper amounts of cystine, the protein complex of the soybean becomes useless, unless the diet is fortified with cystine-rich meat, egg, or dairy products - not an option for Gerson patients.
To the soybean’s credit, they do contain large amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, but these are particularly susceptible to rancidity when subjected to high pressures and temperatures. Unfortunately, high pressure and temperature are required to remove soybean oil from the soybean.
Before soybeans are sent to your table, they undergo a rigorous process to strip them of their oil. Hexane or other solvents are first applied to help separate the oil from the beans, leaving trace amounts of these toxins in the commercial product. Hexane by definition is "any of five colorless, volatile, liquid hydrocarbons C6H14 of the paraffin series," and cannot be the least bit beneficial in anyone’s diet. After the oil is extracted, the defatted flakes are used to form the three basic soy protein products. With the exception of full-fat soy flour, all soybean products contain trace amounts of carcinogenic solvents.
The following letter was received in November 1998: "I have used soy milk for 12 years with no problems. About 9 months ago, I started to have heart palpitations. I thought maybe that I was in menopause, but I wasn’t. I added more potassium to my diet and magnesium and vitamin E. No change. I am already decaffeinated but I also took all sugar out of my diet. I lost 25 pounds and felt great except for the palpitations. I tried hawthorn and garlic but nothing was helping. Recently I came down with acute bronchitis and could only drink water because even the soy milk made me have horrendous bouts of coughing. I realized that after a few days my heart palpitations had stopped. I didn't think anything of it because it never occurred to me that soy was the culprit. As soon as I started drinking it again, my heart went crazy. I went off it for a week and then changed brands. Within 30 minutes of drinking only 4 ounces [of soy milk], my heart was all over the place. I've noticed that it takes about 24 to 36 hours for my heart to settle down. I wondered if your research turned up anything like this in regard to soy. I know it is not within the definition of an allergy, but something is definitely going on. I called the manufacturer of the soy milk, but they were of no help. I am very upset because I only drink soy milk and water. I also use the soy milk to make protein shakes (with what else but soy protein)."
Soy and the Western Diet
In part one of this article, we mentioned that assumptions have been made linking soy intake to the low incidence of certain cancers in Asia. "However, an epidemiological study in China has shown that high soy intake is not protective against breast cancer."1 The soy proponents have conveniently overlooked a study which has shown that high levels of genistein "may stimulate breast cells to enter the cell cycle" 2. These findings are "consistent with an earlier report by Petrakis et al, who expressed concern that women fed soy protein isolate have an increased incidence of epithelial hyperplasia."3
The U.K. government recently published their findings of the effects of soy in the diet, concluding that "there was almost no evidence linking health benefits from foods containing isoflavones to the isoflavones themselves."4 Another study concluded that "any benefits from soy products are not due to isoflavones specifically... [and] the combination of a high phytoestrogen intake with a western diet may not be beneficial.5
Adding to the natural trouble with soybeans, we are faced with a new Western phenomenon: genetically altered soy. Among other genetically altered, or transgenic foods like corn, apples, tomatoes, squash, strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, wheat and even walnuts (to name just a few), soy is one of the most controversial. Monsanto, the multi-million-dollar biotechnology leader that brought us rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone), has been fighting to put genetically altered foods on your table for several years. So far, they are winning. The truth is, unless you've been eating ONLY organic foods, it is likely you've been tasting Monsanto's handiwork. Monsanto has gained millions in profits from sales of its popular herbicide, Roundup, and in turn has produced several transgenic crops that resist it. Soy is of course among those Roundup-Ready crops. Being resistant to this powerful herbicide, farmers are able to spray more of it on their crops, resulting in higher levels of toxins in the harvested product. Recent studies have shown that sprayed soybean crops have an elevated estrogen level (much higher than the soybean's already high levels).
The European Union has fought desperately to keep genetically altered crops from entering Europe's food chain, but this June, both France and Ireland will be planting the first altered crops to be grown on European soil. In the United States, there are very few (if any) regulations placed on the biotechnology industry.
Soy and Protein Intake
Soybeans are not the basis of measurement for whether or not a vegetarian diet is supplying you with the protein and nutrients your body needs. In fact, a diet completely devoid of soy or meat products, but varied in vegetables and fruits, can supply your body with all the protein and nutrients it needs. The important factor in determining whether or not your soy-free, vegetarian diet is good enough for you is not careful food combining, it is calories. As long as you are eating enough leafy greens, fruits and vegetables, your body will be supplied with everything it needs. This is why the Gerson Therapy, with its well-balanced, plant-based (soy-free) diet, rich in vitamins and enzymes, is able to effectively heal even the most difficult of ailments.
1. Yuan JM et al. Diet and breast cancer in Shanghai and Yianjin. Br J Cancer 71:1353-1358 (1995).
2. Dees C et al. Dietary estrogens stimulate breast cells to enter the cell cycle. Eviron Health Perspect 105 (Suppl 3): 633-636 (1997).
3. Petrakis NL et al. Stimulatory influence of soy protein isolate on breast secretion in pre- and post-menopausal women. Cancer Epid Bio Prev 5: 785-794 (1996).
4. Assessment on phytoestrogens in the human diet. Institute for Environmental Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1997).
5. Adlecruetz H and Mazur W. Phytoestrogens and western diseases. Annals of Medicine 29: 95-120 (1997).
Phytoestrogens -- Soy Self Defense
Plants have evolved many different strategies to protect themselves from predators. Some have thorns or spines, while others smell bad, taste bad, or poison animals that eat them. Some plants took a different route, using birth control as a way to counter the critters who were wont to munch. Plants such as soy are making oral contraceptives to defend themselves, says Claude Hughes, Ph.D., a neuroendocrinologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. They evolved compounds that mimic natural estrogen. These phytoestrogens can interfere with the mammalian hormones involved in reproduction and growth -- a strategy to reduce the number and size of predators.
Toxicologists Concerned About Soy's Health Risks
The soy industry says that White's study only shows an association between tofu consumption and brain aging, but does not prove cause and effect. On the other hand, soy experts at the National Center for Toxicological Research, Daniel Sheehan, Ph.D., and Daniel Doerge, Ph.D., consider this tofu study very important. "It is one of the more robust, well-designed prospective epidemiological studies generally available. . . We rarely have such power in human studies, as well as a potential mechanism."
In a 1999 letter to the FDA (and on the ABC News program 20/20), the two toxicologists expressed their opposition to the agency's health claims for soy, saying the Honolulu study "provides evidence that soy (tofu) phytoestrogens cause vascular dementia. Given that estrogens are important for maintenance of brain function in women; that the male brain contains aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estradiol; and that isoflavones inhibit this enzymatic activity, there is a mechanistic basis for the human findings."  Although estrogen's role in the central nervous system is not well understood, White notes that "a growing body of information suggests that estrogens may be needed for optimal repair and replacement of neural structures eroded with aging."
One link to the puzzle may involve calcium-binding proteins, which are associated with protection against neurodegenerative diseases. In recent animal studies at Brigham Young University's Neuroscience Center, researchers found that consumption of phytoestrogens via a soy diet for a relatively short interval can significantly elevate phytoestrogens levels in the brain and decrease brain calcium-binding proteins. 
Soy Interferes with Enzymes
While soybeans are relatively high in protein compared to other legumes, Enig says they are a poor source of protein because other proteins found in soybeans act as potent enzyme inhibitors. These "anti-nutrients" block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. Trypsin inhibitors are large, tightly folded proteins that are not completely deactivated during ordinary cooking and can reduce protein digestion. Therefore, soy consumption may lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.  Soy's ability to interfere with enzymes and amino acids may have direct consequences for the brain. As White and his colleagues suggest, "isoflavones in tofu and other soyfoods might exert their influence through interference with tyrosine kinase-dependent mechanisms required for optimal hippocampal function, structure and plasticity."  High amounts of protein tyrosine kinases are found in the hippocampus, a brain region involved with learning and memory. One of soy's primary isoflavones, genistein, has been shown to inhibit tyrosine kinase in the hippocampus, where it blocked "long-term potentiation," a mechanism of memory formation. 
Tyrosine, Dopamine, and Parkinson's Disease
The brain uses the amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine to synthesize the key neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, brain chemicals that promote alertness and activity. Dopamine is crucial to fine muscle coordination. People whose hands tremble from Parkinson's disease have a diminished ability to synthesize dopamine. An increased incidence of depression and other mood disorders are associated with low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. Also, the current scientific consensus on attention-deficit disorder points to a dopamine imbalance.
Soy has been shown to affect tyrosine hydroxylase activity in animals, causing the utilization rate of dopamine to be "profoundly disturbed." When soy lecithin supplements were given throughout perinatal development, they reduced activity in the cerebral cortex and "altered synaptic characteristics in a manner consistent with disturbances in neural function."  Researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute at the National Institutes of Health are finding a connection between tyrosine hydroxylase activity, thyroid hormone receptors, and depleted dopamine levels in the brainbrain - particularly in the substantia nigra, a region associated with the movement difficulties characteristic of Parkinson's disease. [11-13]
Soy Affects the Brain via the Thyroid Gland
Tyrosine is crucial to the brain in another way. It's needed for the body to make active thyroid hormones, which are a major physiological regulator of mammalian brain development. By affecting the rate of cell differentiation and gene expression, thyroid hormones regulate the growth and migration of neurons, including synaptic development and myelin formation in specific brain regions. Low blood levels of tyrosine are associated with an underactive thyroid gland. Scientists have known for years that isoflavones in soy products can depress thyroid function, causing goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) and autoimmune thyroid disease. In the early 1960s, goiter and hypothyroidism were reported in infants fed soybean diets.  Scientists at the National Center for Toxicological Research showed that the soy isoflavones genistein and daidzein "inhibit thyroid peroxidase-catalyzed reactions essential to thyroid hormone synthesis." 
Japanese researchers studied effects on the thyroid from soybeans administered to healthy subjects. They reported that consumption of as little as 30 grams (two tablespoons) of soybeans per day for only one month resulted in a significant increase in thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced by the brain's pituitary gland when thyroid hormones are too low. Their findings suggested that "excessive soybean ingestion for a certain duration might suppress thyroid function and cause goiters in healthy people, especially elderly subjects." 
Soy Phytates Inhibit Zinc Absorption
Another way that soybeans may affect brain function is because of their phytic acid content. Phytic acid is an organic acid present in the outer portion of all seeds. Also known as phytates, they block the uptake of essential minerals in the intestinal tract: calcium, magnesium, iron, and especially zinc. According to research cited by the Weston A. Price Foundation, soybeans have very high levels of a form of phytic acid that is particularly difficult to neutralize - and which interferes with zinc absorption more completely than with other minerals.
The soy industry acknowledges the problem, noting that "one-half cup of cooked soybeans contains one mg of zinc. However, zinc is poorly absorbed from soyfoods." As for iron, "both phytate and soy protein reduce iron absorption so that the iron in soyfoods is generally poorly absorbed." 
To produce soy milk, the beans are first soaked in an alkaline solution, then heated to about 115 degrees C in order to remove as much of the trypsin inhibitors as possible. Fallon says this method destroys most, but not all of the anti-nutrients, however it has the "unhappy side effect of so denaturing the proteins that they become very difficult to digest and much reduced in effectiveness." Furthermore, phytates remain in soy milk to block the uptake of essential minerals. Only a long period of fermentation will significantly reduce the phytate content of soybeans, as well as the trypsin inhibitors that interfere with enzymes and amino acids. Therefore, fermented soy products such as tempeh and miso (not tofu) provide nourishment that is easily assimilated.
Links to Further Information:
Soy Online Service (http://www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/)
Weston A. Price Foundation (http://www.westonaprice.org/)
(unable to post references; SP thinks it's "profanity." I have the list and will send it via email to anyone who requests it)
Newest Research On Why You Should Avoid Soy
by Sally Fallon & Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.
Cinderella's Dark Side
The propaganda that has created the soy sales miracle is all the more remarkable because, only a few decades ago, the soybean was considered unfit to eat - even in Asia. During the Chou Dynasty (1134-246 BC) the soybean was designated one of the five sacred grains, along with barley, wheat, millet and rice…
Agricultural literature of the period speaks frequently of the soybean and its use in crop rotation. Apparently the soy plant was initially used as a method of fixing nitrogen.13 The soybean did not serve as a food until the discovery of fermentation techniques, sometime during the Chou Dynasty.
Marketing The Perfect Food
All soybean producers pay a mandatory assessment of one-half to one per cent of the net market price of soybeans. The total - something like US$80 million annually4 - supports United Soybean's program to "strengthen the position of soybeans in the marketplace and maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets for uses for soybeans and soybean products". State soybean councils from Maryland, Nebraska, Delaware, Arkansas, Virginia, North Dakota and Michigan provide another $2.5 million for "research".5 Private companies like Archer Daniels Midland also contribute their share. ADM spent $4.7 million for advertising on Meet the Press and $4.3 million on Face the Nation during the course of a year.6 Public relations firms help convert research projects into newspaper articles and advertising copy, and law firms lobby for favorable government regulations. IMF money funds soy processing plants in foreign countries, and free trade policies keep soybean abundance flowing to overseas destinations. The soy industry hired Norman Robert Associates, a public relations firm, to "get more soy products onto school menus".9 The USDA responded with a proposal to scrap the 30 per cent limit for soy in school lunches. The NuMenu program would allow unlimited use of soy in student meals.
FDA Health Claim Challenged
On October 25, 1999 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to allow a health claim for products "low in saturated fat and cholesterol" that contain 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving. Breakfast cereals, baked goods, convenience food, smoothie mixes and meat substitutes could now be sold with labels touting benefits to cardiovascular health, as long as these products contained one heaping teaspoon of soy protein per 100-gram serving.
The best marketing strategy for a product that is inherently unhealthy is, of course, a health claim. "The road to FDA approval," writes a soy apologist, "was long and demanding, consisting of a detailed review of human clinical data collected from more than 40 scientific studies conducted over the last 20 years. Soy protein was found to be one of the rare foods that had sufficient scientific evidence not only to qualify for an FDA health claim proposal but to ultimately pass the rigorous approval process."29
The "long and demanding" road to FDA approval actually took a few unexpected turns. The original petition, submitted by Protein Technology International, requested a health claim for isoflavones, the estrogen-like compounds found plentifully in soybeans, based on assertions that "only soy protein that has been processed in a manner in which isoflavones are retained will result in cholesterol lowering". In 1998, the FDA made the unprecedented move of rewriting PTI's petition, removing any reference to the phyto-estrogens and substituting a claim for soy protein - a move that was in direct contradiction to the agency's regulations. The FDA is authorized to make rulings only on substances presented by petition.The abrupt change in direction was no doubt due to the fact that a number of researchers, including scientists employed by the US Government, submitted documents indicating that isoflavones are toxic. The FDA had also received, early in 1998, the final British Government report on phytoestrogens, which failed to find much evidence of benefit and warned against potential adverse effects.30 Even with the change to soy protein isolate, FDA bureaucrats engaged in the "rigorous approval process" were forced to deal nimbly with concerns about mineral blocking effects, enzyme inhibitors, goitrogenicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive problems and increased allergic reactions from consumption of soy products.31
One of the strongest letters of protest came from Dr Dan Sheehan and Dr Daniel Doerge, government researchers at the National Center for Toxicological Research.32 Their pleas for warning labels were dismissed as unwarranted.
"Sufficient scientific evidence" of soy's cholesterol-lowering properties is drawn largely from a 1995 meta-analysis by Dr James Anderson, sponsored by Protein Technologies International and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.33
A meta-analysis is a review and summary of the results of many clinical studies on the same subject. Use of meta-analyses to draw general conclusions has come under sharp criticism by members of the scientific community. "Researchers substituting meta-analysis for more rigorous trials risk making faulty assumptions and indulging in creative accounting," says Sir John Scott, President of the Royal Society of New Zealand. "Like is not being lumped with like. Little lumps and big lumps of data are being gathered together by various groups."34 There is the added temptation for researchers, particularly researchers funded by a company like Protein Technologies International, to leave out studies that would prevent the desired conclusions. Dr Anderson discarded eight studies for various reasons, leaving a remainder of twenty-nine. The published report suggested that individuals with cholesterol levels over 250 mg/dl would experience a "significant" reduction of 7 to 20 per cent in levels of serum cholesterol if they substituted soy protein for animal protein. Cholesterol reduction was insignificant for individuals whose cholesterol was lower than 250 mg/dl. In other words, for most of us, giving up steak and eating veggieburgers instead will not bring down blood cholesterol levels. The health claim that the FDA approved "after detailed review of human clinical data" fails to inform the consumer about these important details. Research that ties soy to positive effects on cholesterol levels is "incredibly immature", said Ronald M. Krauss, MD, head of the Molecular Medical Research Program and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.35 He might have added that studies in which cholesterol levels were lowered through either diet or drugs have consistently resulted in a greater number of deaths in the treatment groups than in controls - deaths from stroke, cancer, intestinal disorders, accident and suicide.36 Cholesterol-lowering measures in the US have fuelled a $60 billion per year cholesterol-
Edited by: EXOTEC at: 7/9/2013 (00:10)
“EXOTEC - mercola.com is not really considered a good source to cite. Can you find that information in other places?”
Yes. And so could anyone with sufficient interest.
I’m not sure what your mean by “not really considered a good source to cite.” By whom? In my previous post, the link I provided led to Dr. Mercola’s credentials. If the link didn’t work for you, here is a partial synopsis:
He is a licensed physician/surgeon, board certified DO, a Fellow or member of advisory boards in several professional nutritional groups, and is a published author/coauthor, or editor of numerous peer-reviewed articles.
In a brief search of Google Scholar™ and its sister lay site, Google™, I found a wealth of “other places” which support the original statements made. Follows a paraphrased document which is necessarily redundant in much of its content because that content is consistent across many sources.
You don’t mention what you believe to be a “good source to cite.” Formal research? Meta-analyses? Observational or anecdotal reports? Popular convention? Social media? Celebrity endorsements? I can’t offer perspectives which only pertain to already-held beliefs. I try to filter out information based upon flawed research or upon paradigms held without adequate data.
The current thinking seems to lean toward soy having attributes in conflict with its reputation as a “health food” (according to its producers and marketers). Therefore, I don’t use it any more than I have to, and what I do use, I use as is suggested by these sources: only fermented versions, and only as a condiment (eg, soy sauce).
Some of the hits on my Google™ searches are… www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/NaturalFood
d/ www.refinery29.com/is-soy-bad-for-you www.foodrenegade.com/dangers-of-soy/ www.greenlivingonline.com/article/dangers-
The remainder of this post is a paraphrased cut-n-paste of a variety of other sources. I hope you can find something in them of use to you.
FDA Experts Lay Out Concerns
Researchers Daniel Doerge and Daniel Sheehan, two of the Food and Drug Administration's experts on soy, signed a letter of protest, which points to studies that show a link between soy and health problems in certain animals. The two say they tried in vain to stop the FDA approval of soy because it could be misinterpreted as a broader general endorsement beyond benefits for the heart. The text of the letter follows.
Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration
National Center for Toxicological Research
Jefferson, Ark. 72079-9502
Daniel M. Sheehan, Ph.D.
Director, Estrogen Base Program
Division of Genetic and Reproductive Toxicology
and Daniel R. Doerge, Ph.D.
Division of Biochemical Toxicology
Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
Rockville, MD 20852
To whom it may concern,
We are writing in reference to Docket # 98P-0683; "Food Labeling: Health Claims; Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease." We oppose this health claim because there is abundant evidence that some of the isoflavones found in soy, including genistein and equol, a metabolite of daidzen, demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid. This is true for a number of species, including humans. Additionally, the adverse effects in humans occur in several tissues and, apparently, by several distinct mechanisms.
Genistein is clearly estrogenic; it possesses the chemical structural features necessary for estrogenic activity (; Sheehan and Medlock, 1995; Tong, et al,1997; Miksicek, 1998) and induces estrogenic responses in developing and adult animals and in adult humans. In rodents, equol is estrogenic and acts as an estrogenic endocrine disruptor during development (Medlock, et al, 1995a,b). Faber and Hughes (1993) showed alterations in LH regulation following developmental treatment with genistein. Thus, during pregnancy in humans, isoflavones per se could be a risk factor for abnormal brain and reproductive tract development. Furthermore, pregnant Rhesus monkeys fed genistein had serum estradiol levels 50- 100 percent higher than the controls in three different areas of the maternal circulation (Harrison, et al, 1998). Given that the Rhesus monkey is the best experimental model for humans, and that a women's own estrogens are a very significant risk factor for breast cancer, it is unreasonable to approve the health claim until complete safety studies of soy protein are conducted.
Of equally grave concern is the finding that the fetuses of genistein fed monkeys had a 70 percent higher serum estradiol level than did the controls (Harrison, et al, 1998). Development is recognized as the most sensitive life stage for estrogen toxicity because of the indisputable evidence of a very wide variety of frank malformations and serious functional deficits in experimental animals and humans. In the human population, DES exposure stands as a prime example of adverse estrogenic effects during development. About 50 percent of the female offspring and a smaller fraction of male offspring displayed one or more malformations in the reproductive tract, as well as a lower prevalence (about 1 in a thousand) of malignancies. In adults, genistein could be a risk factor for a number of estrogen-associated diseases. Even without the evidence of elevated serum estradiol levels in Rhesus fetuses, potency and dose differences between DES and the soy isoflavones do not provide any assurance that the soy protein isoflavones per se will be without adverse effects.
First, calculations, based on the literature, show that doses of soy protein isoflavones used in clinical trials which demonstrated estrogenic effects were as potent as low but active doses of DES in Rhesus monkeys (Sheehan, unpublished data).
Second, we have recently shown that estradiol shows no threshold in an extremely large dose-response experiment (Sheehan, et al, 1999), and we subsequently have found 31 dose-response curves for hormone-mimicking chemicals that also fail to show a threshold (Sheehan, 1998a). Our conclusions are that no dose is without risk; the extent of risk is simply a function of dose. These two features support and extend the conclusion that it is inappropriate to allow health claims for soy protein isolate.
Additionally, isoflavones are inhibitors of the thyroid peroxidase which makes T3 and T4. Inhibition can be expected to generate thyroid abnormalities, including goiter and autoimmune thyroiditis. There exists a significant body of animal data that demonstrates goitrogenic and even carcinogenic effects of soy products (cf., Kimura et al., 1976).
Moreover, there are significant reports of goitrogenic effects from soy consumption in human infants (cf., Van Wyk et al., 1959; Hydovitz, 1960; Shepard et al., 1960; Pinchers et al., 1965; Chorazy et al., 1995) and adults (McCarrison, 1933; Ishizuki, et al., 1991).
Recently, we have identified genistein and daidzein as the goitrogenic isoflavonoid components of soy and defined the mechanisms for inhibition of thyroid peroxidase (TPO)-catalyzed thyroid hormone synthesis in vitro (Divi et al., 1997; Divi et al., 1996).
The observed suicide inactivation of TPO by isoflavones, through covalent binding to TPO, raises the possibility of neoantigen formation and because anti-TPO is the principal autoantibody present in auto immune thyroid disease. This hypothetical mechanism is consistent with the reports of Fort et al. (1986, 1990) of a doubling of risk for autoimmune thyroiditis in children who had received soy formulas as infants compared to infants receiving other forms of milk.
The serum levels of isoflavones in infants receiving soy formula are about five times higher than in women receiving soy supplements who show menstrual cycle disturbances, including an increased estradiol level in the follicular phase (Setchell, et al, 1997). Assuming a dose-dependent risk, it is unreasonable to assert that the infant findings are irrelevant to adults who may consume smaller amounts of isoflavones.
Additionally, while there is an unambiguous biological effect on menstrual cycle length (Cassidy, et al, 1994), it is unclear whether the soy effects are beneficial or adverse. Furthermore, we need to be concerned about transplacental passage of isoflavones as the DES case has shown us that estrogens can pass the placenta. No such studies have been conducted with genistein in humans or primates. As all estrogens which have been studied carefully in human populations are two-edged swords in humans (Sheehan and Medlock, 1995; Sheehan, 1997), with both beneficial and adverse effects resulting from the administration of the same estrogen, it is likely that the same characteristic is shared by the isoflavones. The animal data is also consistent with adverse effects in humans.
Finally, initial data from a robust (7,000 men) long-term (30+ years) prospective epidemiological study in Hawaii showed that Alzheimer's disease prevalence in Hawaiian men was similar to European-ancestry Americans and to Japanese (White, et al, 1996a). In contrast, vascular dementia prevalence is similar in Hawaii and Japan and both are higher than in European-ancestry Americans. This suggests that common ancestry or environmental factors in Japan and Hawaii are responsible for the higher prevalence of vascular dementia in these locations. Subsequently, this same group showed a significant dose-dependent risk (up to 2.4 fold) for development of vascular dementia and brain atrophy from consumption of tofu, a soy product rich in isoflavones (White, et al, 1996b). This finding is consistent with the environmental causation suggested from the earlier analysis, and provides evidence that soy (tofu) phytoestrogens causes vascular dementia. Given that estrogens are important for maintenance of brain function in women; that the male brain contains aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estradiol; and that isoflavones inhibit this enzymatic activity (Irvine, 1998), there is a mechanistic basis for the human findings. Given the great difficulty in discerning the relationship between exposures and long latency adverse effects in the human population (Sheehan, 1998b), and the potential mechanistic explanation for the epidemiological findings, this is an important study. It is one of the more robust, well-designed prospective epidemiological studies generally available. We rarely have such power in human studies, as well as a potential mechanism, and thus the results should be interpreted in this context.
Does the Asian experience provide us with reassurance that isoflavones are safe? A review of several examples lead to the conclusion "Given the parallels with herbal medicines with respect to attitudes, monitoring deficiencies, and the general difficulty of detecting toxicities with long latencies, I am unconvinced that the long history of apparent safe use of soy products can provide confidence that they are indeed without risk." (Sheehan, 1998b). It should also be noted that the claim on p. 62978 that soy protein foods are GRAS is in conflict with the recent return by CFSAN to Archer Daniels Midland of a petition for GRAS status for soy protein because of deficiencies in reporting adverse effects in the petition. Thus GRAS status has not been granted. Linda Kahl can provide you with details. It would seem appropriate for FDA to speak with a single voice regarding soy protein isolate.
Taken together, the findings presented here are self-consistent and demonstrate that genistein and other isoflavones can have adverse effects in a variety of species, including humans. Animal studies are the front line in evaluating toxicity, as they predict, with good accuracy, adverse effects in humans. For the isoflavones, we additionally have evidence of two types of adverse effects in humans, despite the very few studies that have addressed this subject. While isoflavones may have beneficial effects at some ages or circumstances, this cannot be assumed to be true at all ages. Isoflavones are like other estrogens in that they are two-edged swords, conferring both benefits and risk (Sheehan and Medlock, 1995; Sheehan, 1997). The health labeling of soy protein isolate for foods needs to considered just as would the addition of any estrogen or goitrogen to foods, which are bad ideas.
Estrogenic and goitrogenic drugs are regulated by FDA, and are taken under a physician's care. Patients are informed of risks, and are monitored by their physicians for evidence of toxicity. There are no similar safeguards in place for foods, so the public will be put at potential risk from soy isoflavones in soy protein isolate without adequate warning and information.
Daniel M. Sheehan
Daniel R. Doerge
============================= ABC News.com
The Shadow of Soy
By Sean Carson
Faster than you can say "isoflavone," the humble soybean has insinuated itself into a dominant position in the standard diet. And that shouldn’t be a surprise. Cheap, versatile and karma-free, soy in the 1990s went from obscurity as vegan-and-hippie staple to Time magazine. With mad cows lurking between whole wheat buns, and a growing distrust of conventionally-produced dairy products, soy seemed like the ideal choice, the perfect protein. But like all seemingly perfect things, a shadow lurked. By the final years of the last decade, a number of soy researchers began to cry foul.
Soy Good? Soy Bad?
As the soy industry lobbied the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a cardiovascular health claim for soy protein, two senior FDA scientists, Daniel Sheehan and Daniel Doerge--both specialists in estrogen research--wrote a letter vigorously opposing such a claim. In fact, they suggested a warning might be more appropriate. Their concern? Two isoflavones found in soy, genistein and daidzen, the same two promoted by the industry for everything from menopause relief to cancer protection, were said to "demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid." Moreover, "adverse effects in humans occur in several tissues and, apparently, by several distinct mechanisms." Sheehan also quoted a landmark study (Cassidy, et al. 1994), showing that as little as 45 mg of isoflavones could alter the length of a pre-menopausal woman’s menstrual cycle. The scientists were particularly concerned about the effects of these two plant estrogens on foetuses and young infants, because "development is recognized as the most sensitive life stage for estrogen toxicity."
It wasn’t the first time scientists found problems with soy, but coupled with a Hawaiian study by Dr. Lon White on men, the controversy ended up on national television. While industry scientists criticized both the White study and the two FDA researchers (who are now disallowed from commenting publicly on the issue), other researchers weighed in on the anti-soy side. The tofu’d fight had begun.
What About Asia?
One of the favourite mantras of soy advocates is that the ubiquitous bean has been used "safely by Asians for thousands of years." With many soy "experts" (often with ties to the soy industry) recommending more than 250 grams of soy foods--and in some cases, more than 100 mg of isoflavones each day--it’s easy to get the impression that soy plays a major role in the Asian diet. If you saw it on TV or read it in a magazine, it must be true, right? Well, not exactly.
Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions, responds that the soy industry and media have spun a self-serving version of the traditional use of soy in Asia. "The tradition with soy is that it was fermented for a long time, from six months to three years, and then eaten as a condiment, not as a replacement for animal foods," she says. Fallon states that the so-called Asian diet--far from centering around soy--is based on meat. Approximately 65 percent of Japanese calorie intake comes from fish in Japan, while in China the same percentage comes from pork. "They’re not using a lot of soy in Asia—an average of 2 teaspoons a day in China and up to a quarter cup in some parts of Japan, but not a huge amount." Contrast that with modern America, home of "if a little is good for you, more must be better." Walk into any grocery store, especially the health-oriented variety, and you’ll find the ever-present bean. Soy is found in dozens and dozens of items: granola, vegetarian chilli, a vast sundry of imitation animal foods, pasta, most protein powders and "power" bars, and even something called "nature’s burger," which, given the kind of elaborate (and often toxic) processing that goes into making soy isolate and TVP, would make Mother Nature wince. There’s even a bread--directly marketed to women--containing more than 80 mg of soy isoflavones per serving, which is more than the daily dose in purified isoflavone supplements. All of this, in addition to the traditional soy fare of tempeh, tofu, miso and soy sauce. It’s no wonder that Californians are edamame dreaming.
So, while Asians were using limited to moderate amounts of painstakingly prepared soy foods--the alleged benefits of which are still controversial--Americans, especially vegetarians, are consuming more soy products and isoflavones than any culture in human history, and as one researcher put it, "entering a great unknown."
Oddly, nowhere in industry promotion does anyone differentiate between traditional, painstakingly prepared "Asian" soy foods and the modern, processed items that Fallon calls "imitation food." And therein lies the rub. Modern soy protein foods in no way resemble the traditional Asian soy foods, and may contain carcinogens like nitrates, lysinoalanine, as well as a number of anti-nutrients that are only significantly degraded by fermentation or other traditional processing. "People need to realize that when they’re eating these soy foods--and I’m not talking about miso or tofu--but soy "burgers," soy "cheese," soy "ice cream," and all of this stuff, that they are not the real thing. They may look like the real thing and they may taste like the real thing, but they do not have the life-supporting qualities of real foods," Fallon says.
There’s No Business Like Soy Business
"The reason there’s so much soy in America is because they started to plant soy to extract the oil from it and soy oil became a very large industry," says lipid specialist and nutritionist Mary Enig, PhD. "Once they had as much oil as they did in the food supply they had a lot of soy protein residue left over, and since they can’t feed it to animals, except in small amounts, they had to find another market." According to Enig, female pigs can only ingest it in amounts approximating one percent during their gestational phase and a few percent greater during their lactation diet, or else face reproduction damage and developmental problems in the piglets. "It can be used for chickens, but it really has limitations. So, if you can’t feed it to animals, than you find gullible human beings, and you develop a health claim, and you feed it to them."
In a co-written article, Enig and Fallon state that soybean producers pay a mandatory assessment of one-half to one percent of the net market price of soybeans to help fund programs to "strengthen the position of soybeans in the marketplace and maintain and expand foreign markets for uses for soybeans and soy products." They also cite advertising figures--multi-million dollar figures--that soy-oriented companies like Archer Daniels Midland or ADM spend for spots on national television. Money is also used to fund PR campaigns, favourable articles and lobbying interests. A relaxation of USDA rules has led to an increase in soy use in school lunches. Far from being the "humble" or "simple" soybean, soy is now big business--very big business. This is not your father’s soybean.
There’s been such a rush to market isoflavones that the before-mentioned multinational corporation, ADM, in 1998, petitioned the FDA for GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for soy isoflavones. For those who don’t know GRAS, the designation is used for foods, and in some cases, food additives, that have been used safely for many years by humans. For those who didn’t know--like a number of protesting scientists--that soy isoflavones had been widely used by generations of Americans before the late 1950s, it was a revelation indeed. Ahem.
Dr. Sheehan, in his 1998 letter to the FDA referenced earlier, states "that soy protein foods are GRAS is in conflict with the recent return by CFSAN to Archer Daniels Midland of a petition for GRAS status for soy protein because of deficiencies in reporting the adverse effects in the petition. Thus GRAS status has not been granted." And what about those safety issues?
Requiem for a Thyroid
One of the biggest concerns about high intake of soy isoflavones is their clearly defined toxic effect on the thyroid gland. You don’t have to work too hard to convince Dr. Larrian Gillespie of that. Dr. Gillespie, author of The Menopause Diet, in the name of scientific empiricism, decided to run her own soy experiment--on herself. She notes that she fits the demographic soy isoflavones are most marketed to: borderline hypothyroid, menopausal females. "I did it in two different ways. I tried the (isoflavone) supplements (at 40mg), where I went into flagrant hypothryoidism within 72 hours, and I did the ‘eat lots of tofu category,’ and it did the same thing, but it took me five days with that. I knew what I was doing but it still took me another seven to 10 days to come out of it."
Harvard-trained medical doctor Richard Shames, MD, a thyroid specialist who has had a long time practice in Marin, says that "genistein is the most difficult for the metabolic processes of people with low thyroid, so when you have that present in high enough concentrations, the result is an antagonism to the function of thyroid hormone." "If you’re a normal person, and one in 10 are not normal, the effect [of 50 mg of soy isoflavones] may be fairly insignificant, but even a normal person can have problems at levels greater than that," says Shames. Dr. Gillespie says the daily amount to cause thyroid problems may be as low as 30 mg, or less than a serving of soymilk. A number of soy proponents say the thyroid concerns are exaggerated and that if dietary iodine is sufficient, problems won’t likely happen. Not so, says Shames: "Iodine is a double-edged sword for people with thyroid problems, and for those people, more is going to increase their chance for an autoimmune reaction ... throwing iodine at it is not going to be the protective solution." Shames recommends limiting soy foods to a few times a week, preferably fermented or well cooked.
Besides the dangers of prematurity and other reproductive problems posed by isoflavones, Baumslag mentions the high levels of the mineral manganese (no, not magnesium) often found in soy formula. The problem of manganese is so serious that even one soy manufacturer put warning labels on its soymilk. The company’s president, in a press release, stated that "there is mounting evidence of a correlation between manganese in soy milk (including soy-based infant formula) and neurotoxicity in small infants." With manganese toxicity known for producing behavioural disorders, the press release even goes further stating, "If research continues, showing that the current epidemic levels of ADHD in children, as well as impulsivity and violence among adolescents, are connected with the increase in soy-based infant formula use, our industry could suffer a serious setback by not dealing with the issue upfront." With all the potential problems with soy formula, Baumslag notes that formula is also missing key immunological factors only found in mother’s milk, the lack of which could give a child a life sentence of chronic health problems. She links soy-pushing to corporate profits and the PR campaigns that they fund. "There’s been so much PR in regards to soy formula and I think you also have to ask yourself why it’s so much cheaper for them to make, which means there’s more profit. How come only one percent in the UK are on formula, where it’s closer to 30 percent in the United States? I don’t know why it’s so important for them to push soy, they should push breast-feeding." Perhaps it’s because breast milk for babies isn’t as lucrative as milking the soybean for profits.
As a former vegan--and big soy-eater--I’m disturbed by the vast array of modern, processed soy products that have come on the market in the last few years, without any recognition of potential pitfalls. Safe bet: If it hasn’t been eaten safely for thousands of years, you probably shouldn’t put it at the center of your diet. We’ve been sold a bill of goods that says "soy is good for you," but it doesn’t tell you what kind of soy or how much, or even definitively if soy really is what makes Asians so supposedly healthy.
It’s well known that the Japanese also eat a very large amount of omega-3 fatty acids from fish each day--substances which have been clearly shown to have anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects. So, is it the soy or is it the fish? As the industry spends millions and millions of dollars to find something that isoflavones are good for--some health claim to justify their unprecedented presence in the American diet--I have to ask: why are they trying so hard? Why is there such a push to push soy?
Soy isoflavones are clearly biologically active--they affect change in your body. It’s no longer acceptable for the industry to see no bad, hear no bad, and speak no bad. Legitimate concerns need to be studied--and not studies funded by the industry, conducted by soy scientists.
In the meantime, I’ve located a wonderful, old miso company on the north coast. They age their miso for three years in wood barrels and sell it in glass jars. It’s rich, earthy and real. I enjoy a teaspoon in a glass of hot water a few times a week after dinner. It tastes lively and feels good. I no longer get the "urge" to eat soy "dogs" or soy "burgers," though I now suspect that urge didn’t come from my own instinct, but from the lofty dictates of the soy experts.
But why wait years while ignorant armies clash over this and that isoflavone and studies that say one thing or another? Perhaps the safest way to use soy, if you choose to use soy, is the way it’s been used by Asians for thousands of years: fermented, in moderation, as a condiment. In short, color me cautious.
Learn The Truth About The Historical Use Of Soy
Just How Much Soy Did Asians Eat?
In short, not that much, and contrary to what the industry may claim soy has never been a staple in Asia. A study of the history of soy use in Asia shows that the poor used it during times of extreme food shortage, and only then the soybeans were carefully prepared (e.g. by lengthy fermentation) to destroy the soy toxins. Yes, the Asians understood soy all right!
Many vegetarians in the USA, and Europe and Australia would think nothing of consuming 8 ounces (about 220 grams) of tofu and a couple of glasses of soy milk per day, two or three times a week. But this is well in excess of what Asians typically consume; they generally use small portions of soy to complement their meal. It should also be noted that soy is not the main source of dietary protein and that a regime of calcium-set tofu and soymilk bears little resemblance to the soy consumed traditionally in Asia.
Perhaps the best survey of what types/quantities of soy eaten in Asia comes from data from a validated, semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire that surveyed 1242 men and 3596 women who participated in an annual health check-up program in Takayama City, Japan. This survey identified that the soy products consumed were tofu (plain, fried, deep-fried, or dried), miso, fermented soybeans, soymilk, and boiled soybeans. The estimated amount of soy protein consumed from these sources was 8.00 ± 4.95 g/day for men and 6.88 ± 4.06 g/day for women (Nagata C, Takatsuka N, Kurisu Y, Shimizu H; J Nutr 1998, 128:209-13).
According to KC Chang, editor of Food in Chinese Culture, the total caloric intake due to soy in the Chinese diet in the 1930's was only 1.5%, compared with 65% for pork. For more information on the traditional use of soy products, contact the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.
The chief concern we have about the consumption of large amounts of soy is that there is a risk of mega-dosing on isoflavones. If soy consumers follow the advice of Protein Technologies International (manufacturers of isolated soy protein) and consume 100 grams of soy protein per day, their daily genistein intake could easily exceed 200 milligrams per day. This level of genistein intake should definitely be avoided. For comparison, it should be noted that Japanese males consume, on average, less than 10 milligrams of genistein per day (Fukutake M, Takahashi M, Ishida K, Kawamura H, Sugimura T, Wakabayashi K; Food Chem Toxicol 1996, 34:457-61).
Edited by: EXOTEC at: 7/9/2013 (08:22)
There is contradictory information in the medical literature on the pros and cons of soy in the diet, you will have to make your own decision on that. But soy is so prevalent in processed foods, Americans at least are generally a bit over-exposed (it's one of the major allergens here as a result). Soy is easily grown here and so there is economic pressure to use it. So I would suggest not going completely nuts with it. I try to avoid having soy every day (I have some food allergies and don't want more...), but that's a challenge if I want to take the easy route of processed foods- veggie protein products almost always have soy in them, although I've found some happy exceptions (they also too often go overboard on wheat...) But other legumes also have loads of protein quite suitable for a vegetarian/vegan diet, for instance. People latched onto soy because its amino acid profile matches human needs almost exactly. That isn't necessary, though, since the body gets all the amino acids needed to make human proteins from other plant sources (other legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, grains) and does not need to get them in a single meal (over the course of a few days works). Any protein eaten from any source is broken down into amino acids and they hang around long enough to be used to build new proteins as they become available.
Do try the other "milks" available besides soymilk if you must have something milky, though. Soymilk seems to be the least tasty to me, although I suppose it depends on the flavoring and how you use it. Almond milk or coconut milk make great non-dairy ice cream. I hear that cashew milk works like dairy cream in recipes. I'm not so fond of rice-based ice creams.
Here's a "shortened" version of an article on the Mercola website. www.mercola.com/forms/background.htm#educa
There's lots of good nutritional information there, not just on soy. Worth a look.
Got Thyroid Problems? Then Stop Consuming This "Healthy" Food
October 13, 2010 |
The perception that soy is a "health food" is a very common one. This is highly unfortunate, for a number of reasons which I'll discuss here.
How Soy Became Known as a "Health Food"
First, let's review a bit of the history behind soy that created this misperception in the public's mind.
Years ago, tropical oils, such as palm and coconut oil, were commonly used in American food production. However, these are obviously not grown in the US. With the exception of Hawaii, our climate isn't tropical enough.
Spurred on by financial incentives, the industry devised a plan to shift the market from tropical oils to something more "home grown." As a result, a movement was created to demonize and vilify tropical oils in order to replace them with domestically grown oils such as corn and, primarily, soy.
For the most part, they've been very successful in their campaign to paint soy in a healthy light. So, the information I have to share with you may disappoint and challenge many of you, especially vegetarians, because vegetarians and vegans use soy as one of their primary sources of protein.
But I'm here to tell you that after studying this issue very carefully, I'm convinced that unless the soy you're consuming is fermented, you're putting your health at risk.
Fermented Soy is the Only Type of Soy with Health Benefits
There's only one type of soy that can be construed as a health food, and that is fermented soy. Examples of health-promoting fermented soy foods include:
Natto is actually a phenomenal food. It's a fermented soy product that can be a bit challenging to locate, but you can usually find it in Asian food stores. It's very high in vitamin K2, which is a phenomenal vitamin, much like vitamin D.
Together, vitamin K2 and vitamin D provide a large number of significant health benefits, such as improving bone density and reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer, just to name a few.
Natto has probably the highest concentration of vitamin K2 of any food.
Miso and tempeh do not contain vitamin K2 but they are also fermented forms of soy that are excellent sources of health-promoting natural probiotics.
The fermentation process is what makes the soy a healthy addition to your diet, as it breaks down the goitrogens, isoflavones and other harmful elements in the soy.
It's important to realize that tofu is NOT a fermented soy product, and should not be consumed if you want to avoid the health problems associated with non-fermented soy.
It is also important to understand that while fermented soy is healthier for you, it is not wise to consume it in large quantities because it is still loaded with phytoestrogens, like isoflavones, which can cause detrimental feminizing effects.
What's So Bad About Unfermented Soy?
One of the primary reasons for avoiding soy products is because the vast majority of soy grown in the US is genetically modified (GM) soy. The GM variety planted in 91 percent of US soy acres is Roundup Ready—engineered to survive being doused with otherwise lethal amounts of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.
Soy contains a number of problematic components that can wreak havoc with your health, such as:
• Goitrogens – Goitrogens, found in all unfermented soy whether it's organic or not, are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with your thyroid function.
One common source of soy is soy milk. Many consume it as an alternative to milk or one of their primary beverages. Soy milk is a significant contributor to thyroid dysfunction or hypothyroidism in women in the US.
So if you're a woman struggling with low thyroid function and you're consuming soy milk, that's a giant clue you need to stop drinking it immediately.
• Isoflavones: genistein and daidzein – Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen, which is a plant compound resembling human estrogen, which is why some recommend using soy therapeutically to treat symptoms of menopause.
Typically, most of us are exposed to too much estrogen compounds and have a lower testosterone level than ideal, so it really is important to limit exposure to feminizing phytoestrogens.
Even more importantly, there's evidence it may disturb endocrine function, cause infertility, and promote breast cancer, which is definitely a significant concern.
Drinking two glasses of soy milk daily for just one month provides enough of these compounds to alter your menstrual cycle. Although the FDA regulates estrogen-containing products, no warnings exist on soy.
• Phytic acid -- Phytates (phytic acid) bind to metal ions, preventing the absorption of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc -- all of which are co-factors for optimal biochemistry in your body. This is particularly problematic for vegetarians, because eating meat reduces the mineral-blocking effects of these phytates. Phytic acid inhibits all minerals. This is very important to remember, as many already suffer from mineral deficiencies from inadequate diets.
The soybean has one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume, and the phytates in soy are highly resistant to normal phytate-reducing techniques such as long, slow cooking. Only a long period of fermentation will significantly reduce the phytate content of soybeans.
• Natural toxins known as "anti-nutrients" -- Soy also contains other anti-nutritional factors such as saponins, soyatoxin, protease inhibitors, and oxalates. Some of these factors interfere with the enzymes you need to digest protein. While a small amount of anti-nutrients would not likely cause a problem, the amount of soy that many Americans are now eating is extremely high.
• Hemagglutinin -- Hemagglutinin is a clot-promoting substance that causes your red blood cells to clump together. These clumped cells are unable to properly absorb and distribute oxygen to your tissues.
Soy to Avoid
Tofu is not fermented soy so it should be avoided.
Other examples of common soy products to avoid include soy protein and isolated soy protein powder, which you'll find in many protein bars and protein drinks.
Another common form of soy you're likely exposed to is soy oil, which brings us back to where we started. Ninety-five percent of the foods Americans spend their money on are processed foods, many of which contain soy oil. Soy oil is extremely high in omega-6, which is highly susceptible to oxidative damage. And although you do need omega-6, soy oil is a terrible source as it is highly processed and refined, which severely damages it.
Consuming a diet high in processed foods, which by default is high in soy oil, is a primary contributor to the severe imbalance most people have in their omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which in turn contributes to creating disease.
Other harmful soy products include:
• Soy cheese
• Soy ice cream
• Soy yogurt
• Soy "meat" (meatless products)
• Soy lecithin
Educate Yourself about the Health Effects of Soy
I encourage you to continue reviewing the evidence against soy if you're still skeptical.
There are also some great books on this topic that document this information in clear detail and provide countless references that you can validate for yourself. One of these books, which I recommend very highly, is The Whole Soy Story by Dr. Kaayla Daniel.
In the case of soy, a primary motivation appears to have been promoting the sale of domestic soy in the US, as this increases profits, as opposed to benefitting your health…
The Truth About Soy
For just a brief look at what’s really going on, consider that numerous studies have found that soy products can actually:
Increase thyroid damage, especially in women
Increase the risk of breast cancer in women, brain damage in both sexes, and cause abnormalities in infants
Contribute to thyroid disorders, especially in women
Promote kidney stones
Weaken your immune system
Cause severe, potentially fatal food allergies
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
Haemaggluttin, 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
There are many, many reputable websites and blogsites referencing the detrimental aspects of soy. Google™, especially Google Scholar™, will lead you to many of them.
Edited by: EXOTEC at: 7/7/2013 (13:15)
GDBEAR65 is absolutely right. Soy milk (and other soy products) are not really the best choice. I have read (from several sources/studies) that, especially if breast cancer runs in your family, avoid soy products except for small amounts of fermented soy; the phytoestrogen in soy has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
In addition, most of the soy in the U.S. is genetically engineered, it is one of the foods on which pesticides are most heavily used, and it has been shown in some studies to depress thyroid function.
My opinion is that it's better to be safe than sorry -- almond milk, coconut milk, and hemp milk are better choices than soy milk, for a large percentage of people, especially women.
Edited by: SUDENKORENTO1 at: 6/24/2013 (16:39)
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