The media loves to report on the wonderful health benefits of soy foods. It’s everywhere – we hear it can prevent diseases and do things like lower cholesterol. But there is a very dark side to soy and it isn’t pretty. All the ‘so called experts’ who support soy can kiss my arse as there is plenty of research to support what I am saying.
Many people looking to increase their state of health, reduce their body fat, and increase muscle often turn to soy thinking that the health benefits make it a worthwhile food to eat. Most of the time these people don’t understand the health benefits of soy and consume it with the mentality ‘they said it’s was good for me’.
In reality, misguided consumption of soy has unwanted health consequences.
Soy is Everywhere
A quick browse in the supermarket reveals a growing trend – soy products are in. You can find soy nuts, soy hotdogs, soy bacon, soy cheese, soy milk… It’s everywhere and it’s no wonder. The media has spent a lot of time over the past few years talking about how wonderful soy is. The message they are trying to convey is that if you want to be healthy, you will eat soy foods. You will replace regular milk with soy milk, cereal with soy cereal, chicken with soy chicken (I made that one up but you get the point)
Do you notice a pattern with these soy products? Most of them – or at least the most popular ones, resemble meat or dairy products in some way. They are PROCESSED to mimic the flavor and texture of things like chicken, hot dogs, and cheese. Notice the word “processed”. Processing does not make a food more nutritious, in fact it robs food of its nutrients.
Processed soy products are not the only products that are out there. You can purchase the whole soy beans and steam them or toast them. Tofu is another option and often makes its way into Asian inspired dishes. Miso, tempeh, and tamari are traditional products that come from soy. In fact, the choices are quite vast.
NOT ALL SOY IS CREATED EQUAL
What is needed to be understood is that there are two main different types of soy;
• Unfermented (Western)
• Fermented (Eastern)
So, is it good for you? If your discussing western soy, unfermented the answer is no, definitely not. Eastern, fermented soy can be considered in small amounts.
Most people have no idea of the difference. Nutrition books and ‘so-called experts’ hail soy protein and soy products as being a great addition to the diet. They believe that the phytonutrients, protein, and other qualities in the plant have special nutritional properties, as is the case in modern nutrition themed books such as SuperFoods by Steven G. Pratt, MD and Kathy Mathews.
However, stick with me and world renown and recognized health leader Jonny Bowden when we say NO to soy. We actually research both sides of the coin and our views will not be brought unlike so many other ‘health experts’. And if you don’t believe me check out the full list of sponsors for the ADA (American Dietetic Association) by searching this link:
Did you notice anything outrageous?
As a result of this, people flock to soy products no matter what they are and eat a lot of it. People substitute soy milk for regular milk and change over some of their meat products to their soy counterparts. It is also popular with vegetarians. Instead of adopting a traditional vegetarian diet, they partake in these faux meat products thinking they are boosting their protein intake and doing great things to their body. But are they really?
Soy in Asia
Most people consume soy because they heard somewhere that it is good for them. Some of them believe that since Asian populations like the Japanese, who are considered amongst the healthiest in the world, consume soy that it is some kind of wonder food. First, bear in mind that these populations consume soy in a different way than we do. You won’t see them manufacture a product that is designed to taste like chicken or cow’s milk. They mainly use soy as a condiment or in a fermented form. Some examples of traditional soy foods are tempeh, miso, and tamari which are fermented. They also don’t consume them in large quantities. The amounts of soy foods that they eat are relatively small in comparison to the amount that an Australian or American consumes once they catch the “soy fever”.
They also don’t over consume soy and replace whole food groups with it. In our modern culture you see people replace foods like chicken, beef, and milk with their processed soy counterparts. The human body needs a wide range or nutrients in order to function properly. By cutting out these foods and replacing them with soy counter-parts, you are not giving the body a chance to get all that it needs from food.
The Flip Side of Soy
So, there is a flip side to the belief that soy is a wonder food. There are multiple problems that can arise from consuming soy prepared in the western method, especially if too much of it is consumed.
• Nutrient deficiencies
o Particularly affects the absorption of vitamin B12, vitamin D and Calcium
• Digestive disorders
• Endocrine disruption and thyroid problems
• Its full of harmful phytoestrogens
• Contains harmful carcinogens’
Remember that the Asian populations such as those in China and Japan do not serve soy products in the same way that we do. They ferment them. This makes a big difference when considering the health benefits and risks.
Latest trends are seeing families deciding to feed their infants formula that is made from soy. This is not a natural and healthy substance for a baby to consume. In fact, the mother’s milk is designed to feed the offspring and anything else can be considered unnatural. Though traditional formula is not ideal, soy formula is even worse because it can affect the absorption of vital nutrients such as zinc and iron and also cause problems such as pancreatic disorders.
Genetically Modified Soy
The first problem with western soy products is that the soy beans that are manufactured in Australia and the United States have been genetically modified or engineered. Genetic engineering is applied to a plant by altering its traditional genetic code for a specific purpose such as equipping the plant to better withstand disease. This is a highly controversial practice and one that is especially prevalent with soy crops.
Although most genetically engineered crops in Australia and the United States have been evaluated and deemed safe by the FDA, the environmental and health implications have yet to be sufficiently determined. Those opposed to this practice understand that the plant was altered in an unnatural way using laboratory techniques.
Is The Soy We (Westerners) Consume Nutritious?
The answer to this question is “definitely not” and there are several reasons for this. First, there is a reason why the Asian populations traditionally ferment their soy foods. At the time when these techniques developed, this fact may or may not have been apparent. However, it is now.
When soy food is processed in the modern way without fermentation, the plant releases a toxin that is harmful to our bodies. The fermentation process kills off this toxin. So when the typical Westerner eats a soy product that has been processed and prepared in the modern ways, they are ingesting this toxin. When people consume a fermented soy product like tempeh, they are not consuming the toxin.
Modern processing methods also affect the protein content by turning it into something that isn’t natural. The implication of this is that the body may not have the proper mechanisms to digest this protein source. There are also a fair amount of carcinogens in soy that remain in the plant when the plant is not fermented. So any preparation of soy that is not fermented, such as soy milk, is in danger of containing those carcinogens.
Carcinogen Definition: Causing or tending to cause cancer; “the carcinogenic action of certain chemicals”
Soy in general can also affect the absorption of vitamin B12 in the body and can cause certain health problems such as thyroid disorders and even thyroid cancer. It also affects the absorption of calcium and vitamin D in the body which can lead to weak bones and osteoporosis. And as a side note, soy in general, even fermented soy, does not supply a complete protein as some sources would suggest. It is deficient in certain essential amino acids which is typical of all foods that are considered legumes.
What about the plant estrogens?
You may have heard that the plant estrogens in soy are beneficial, especially to women. So, people eat modern processed soy products thinking they are doing a great thing for their bodies. They may even take capsules of the isolated plant estrogens thinking that this will be even better.
Nothing could be furthest from the truth. Women that take soy phytoestrogens to help fight against their own waning estrogen levels must be warned that it can have the opposite affect from what we would expect. It can disrupt the endocrine system and stimulate the growth of certain cancer cells.
Cancer patients are being warned to avoid foods rich in soy because they can accelerate the growth of tumours.
“There is evidence to suggest that women with existing breast cancer or past breast cancer should be cautious in consuming large quantities of soy foods or phyto-oestrogen supplements,” a position statement from the Cancer Council says.
Stay Away From Unfermented Soy
As you can see, unfermented and processed soy products are not as healthy as people might think. People think they are doing something great for their bodies consuming soy in all of its forms.
Companies that make and market soy protein powders have to be questioned on there ethics. People who take these supplements feel as if they are doing something wonderful for their health when in fact soy has no benefit that one would need to supplement. The products ‘sell’ due to the consumer’s false beliefs about soy.
Western soy will cause more harm than good especially if you consume it in large quantities. The more you have, the more at risk you will be for developing the diseases and problems that are associated with soy consumption.
To avoid increasing your chances of thyroid disorders, osteoporosis, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and cancer you absolutely need to stay away from large and consistent consumption of soy that is processed and unfermented. That means you should stay away from the following:
• Soy protein powder
• Soy milk
• Soy “meat” replacements including soy “chicken”, bacon, and sausage
• Soy cheese
• All Western soy products
If you have anything like that in your refrigerator, freezer, or pantry, get rid of it right now. There is also a hidden danger. A lot of those protein bars that you may have lying around the house also have soy protein as their main protein source. Throw those away too. In fact, look at everything that is processed – breakfast cereals, granola bars, etc. They may be a hidden source of soy you didn’t know about!
In other words, modern soy products are a health imposter. Main-stream headlines always read in favor of soy. We are told they are a great for a host of illnesses and for disease prevention. But the bottom line is that we are really endangering our health and our bodies by consuming it.
And if you still don’t believe me read this letter to US president Barack Obama by Sally Fallon Morell, President, the Weston A. Price Foundation by searching this link:
Here’s a taster of the letter just incase you were thinking not reading it:
Soy protein and soy flour are toxic, especially in large amounts. The US food and Drug Administration lists 288 studies on its database showing the toxicity of soy. Numerous studies show that soy consumption leads to nutrient deficiencies, digestive disorders, endocrine disruption and thyroid problems
Consume Small Amounts of Fermented Soy
After all that soy-bashing, you’d think I’d tell you to avoid soy foods completely. This is not entirely true. One of the healthiest cultures (based on life expectancy and obesity rates) the Japanese include soy as a part of their diets, the important thing to note is they only have 4-7grams of ferment soy. If you must have it, have ferment soy and only in small amounts. Remember, 4 to 7 grams is around a teaspoon.
The Japanese enjoy soy as a condiment, for example a small cup of miso soup or incorporating tempeh or tamari into a dish they are cooking. These are all fermented products. (Remembering that the fermentation process destroy the toxins that are present in unfermented soy.)
Don’t include soy in your diet thinking it will make you any healthier. Health is something that requires many components to work together. A healthy diet and solid training program is the best place to start.
If you want to include soy in your diet, its best to treat fermented soy foods not as a replacement for a whole nutrient group but as a compliment to your existing healthy diet. Remember the Japanese would only have around a teaspoon of soy!
Summing Things Up
Wow, that’s a lot of information to take in. In this class, you just learned that the commonly held belief that ‘soy foods are healthy’ is wrong. Well, at least part of it is wrong. There is a strong distinction between modern or Western soy products and traditional or Eastern soy products. The Asian populations only started consuming them after they learned about how to ferment them. The fermentation process destroys the toxins that the modern methods leave intact. This is a major flaw in the logic that all soy foods are healthy.
Another problem lies in over processing the modern soy foods. Turning a legume into something that resembles chicken or a hot dog is just not natural. The body will not perform optimally if you consume a high amount of processed foods. Not only that, but there is an over-consumption problem as well. Most Asians do not consume large amounts of soy and prefer to use it as a condiment. Tamari, for example, is a fermented liquid that is used as a seasoning and is not considered a major food. If you do decide to consume soy, do as the Asians do and only eat fermented soy foods and use them in small quantities.
If you want to make positive changes to your health, it is vital that you do the following:
1. Get rid of any dangerous soy products you may have in the house or eliminate all together.
2. Further educate yourself on the dangers of soy.
3. Try a traditional fermented soy food such as miso or tempeh.
4. Get rid of any foods that incorporate soy sauce. Season your Asian inspired dishes with tamari instead.
5. If you do have a traditional soy food such as tempeh or miso, consume it in small quantities.
Most importantly, remember to be smart about your food choices. If you want to live a healthy lifestyle and achieve a great body, taking these action steps is just one aspect. And remember, don’t fall for health imposers!
Do you want more information about the dangers of soy? Visit the Weston A. Price organization’s website at www.westonaprice.org.