The Soy Controversy - by Vreni Gurd
The soy industry has managed to market a waste product as a health food, and gullible consumers are eating their way to health problems.
Soy is often touted as healthy, and it can be if you pick your soy products carefully, but most of the soy that is on the market is actually very hard on our systems. I was completely fooled by the propaganda on soy and bought into this one hook, line and sinker, feeling virtuous switching to soy milk when I found out I was sensitive to poor quality dairy.
Like all grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, soybeans have a phytate layer to stop the beans from sprouting unless there is adequate moisture and warmth. The phytate layer in soybeans is much thicker than in other grains and legumes and cannot be eliminated with soaking, sprouting or long slow cooking. This means that soybeans are very difficult to digest, and the phytic acid reduces assimilation of calcium, magnesium copper, iron and zinc.
Soy interferes with protein digestion, and the soy estrogens are endocrine disruptors, (by binding with estrogen receptors) potentially creating fertility problems and breast or uterine cancer in women, and reducing testosterone in men. These soy phytoestrogens also are anti-thyroid agents, causing sluggish thyroids, possibly thyroid cancer, and weight gain.
Soy increases the body's requirement for B12 and Vitamin D. Soy food processing results in the formation of MSG, which is a well known neurotoxin (nerve poison), and soy contains high levels of aluminum which is known to be toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys. Unless labeled organic, assume that all soybean products are genetically modified.
It is worth noting that in January 2006, the American Heart Association reversed its position recommending the consumption of soy to lower the chance of heart disease, after reviewing 22 recent studies, and noted that the FDA's original recommendation was based on a single study funded by the soy industry. The soy that should be avoided are soy isolate products like:
Soy protein powder/bars
Soy ice cream
Soy baby formula
By avoiding packaged food, one can avoid soy disguised on food labels as:
Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Textured plant protein
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
Vegetable protein concentrate
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Lecithin (usually from soy)
Vegetable oil (usually from soy)
Vegetable broth (usually from soy)
Bouillon (usually from soy)
Natural flavour (usually from soy)
Mono-diglyceride(usually from soy)
Soy infant formula is a very bad idea, as the baby gets far too much phytoestrogen for its bodyweight, which messes with the baby's hormones even more than in adults. The estrogenic effects of soy on infants can be irreversible, resulting in delayed or absent sexual maturation in males, and extremely accelerated sexual maturation in females. Soy formula predisposes females to breast cancer and fertility problems later in life.
For those of you that are dairy intolerant and want a milky substitute for your whole-grain cereal, you may be able to tolerate a non-homogenized organic plain yogurt (raw is better if you can get it), or look for a rice milk or almond milk that does not have a vegetable oil listed in the ingredient list, or try organic full-fat coconut milk. Yummy! (No, the fat in coconut milk will not make you fat - lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty-acid that is metabolized immediately by the liver, and is very healthful for the body due to its antibacterial and antiviral factors.)
If you are a soy fan, naturally fermented and/or cultured ORGANIC soy (to avoid GMO) is very healthful, so look for foods like:
Miso – try to find it with unrefined sea salt
Tamari – wheat free
Extra-firm Tofu with nigari
Organic Edamame, cooked
Organic Soybean sprouts
For more information on the problems with soy, read The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food by Kaayla Daniel.