Is Soy Bad for Me?
by Tommy Dyer
In recent years, soy has jumped on the scene and quickly become known as the save-all health food of the 21st century. Vegetarians swear by it. Advertisers peddle it. The media covers it. The government approves it, and the public consumes it. It seems almost everyone these days seem to believe soy is beneficial for his or her health, consuming it in some form or fashion.
Soy has staked its claim as a food that will protect against heart disease and reduce the risk of cancer. Sadly, these claims are just not the truth. Surely the media and companies that we trust would not sell us a product that is in reality hazardous to our health? Think again.
Did you know that soy is one of the eight most common allergens? What about the fact that soy contains high levels of phytic acid, which reduces the absorption of calcium, iron, and zinc in the body? Women, have have you heard that soy contains phytoestrogens (plant estrogens that are structurally similar to hormones in the human body) that disrupt endocrine function and could cause breast cancer in adults? Men, don’t think you’re out of the woods: soy is proven to dramatically lower testosterone levels.
To uncover all the dangers of soy, you would need an extensive report. For the purpose of this article, we will explore a brief history of soy and then provide you with factual information that will reveal the truth about soy and how you should and should not consume it.
Nicknamed the “yellow jewel,” the soybean was greatly respected in Chinese culture. The soybean’s early use was to enrich the soil between plantings for food crops. Against popular belief nowadays, history shows that the ancient Asian cultures did not incorporate soybeans into their diet. Not until the discovery of fermentation (a process that breaks down complex proteins and fats to become digestible amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids) was the soybean allowed to become edible for human consumption. Then, they began to supplement their diets with soybeans, not the way we Americans consume soy today where it is found in nearly 75% of processed foods.
According to a soy manufacturing website, “soy is one of the few plants that provides a complete protein as it contains all eight amino acids essential for human health.” Although this is true, soy processing in America not only alters the chemical form of the bean, but soy also contains trypsin inhibitors that interfere with protein digestion. Simply put, the processed soy products you are consuming look, taste, and absorb nothing like the original product. The poor digestion of soy has been directly linked as the cause of many pancreatic disorders.
Types of “Bad” Soy
Soy protein isolate (SPI) is a substance used in soy food products to remove the foul taste that deters most consumers. SPI exists in products such as energy bars, protein powders, soy burgers, and soy hot dogs. This highly processed substance yields increased levels of toxins and known carcinogens. About forty years ago, the Federation of American Society for Experimental Biology arrived at the conclusion that the only safe use for SPI was as a sealer for cardboard boxes! Soy protein isolate also contains approximately 38 petroleum compounds, according to American Oil Chemists Association! This is fuel for machines, not the human body. According to research done by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD , soy companies use SPI to, “improve texture, retain moistness, bind with fat, increase protein levels and reduce shrinkage during cooking. Food processors can also use SPI as a replacement for flour, eggs, and/or milk.” So what does all this mean? SPI is a highly processed chemical product that your body is not designed to use and does not even recognize. This additive is a key component of many soy products.
Soymilk was originally a step in the ancient process to make tofu. There is no record of ever drinking the milk, likely due to the strong bean flavor that it possesses. The modern method to creating soymilk we see in supermarkets today is radically faster, and who would have guessed…? Cheaper! The high pH solution used for speeding up the soaking process of the bean, along with the pressure-cooking thereafter destroys key nutrients. The process also produces a known toxin, lysinoalanine. The soy companies’ main concern is to provide the consumer with a taste that they will enjoy, and therefore purchase. To accomplish an accepted taste, almost all soymilks contain one or more of the following; barley malt, brown rice syrup, raw cane crystals, or some other form of sugar. Studies show that in an 8 oz. serving of soymilk, there is as much as 16 grams of sugar added. Think you are doing better if you purchase the “light soymilk”? Think again. To improve the taste, color, and texture, manufacturers use soy protein isolate instead of original soybean, and canola oil to provide creamy thickness to the drink. Those of you thinking canola oil is good for you consider this fact, “ [canola oil] contains the infamous chemical warfare agent mustard gas, [which] causes mad cow disease, blindness, nervous disorders, clumping of blood cells and depression of the immune system,” (Sally Fallon, The Great Con-ola). Once again this indicates that soy manufacturers’ greatest concern are revenue increase and cost reduction, not your health.
Another popular soy product that many consider a healthy alternative to meat is tofu. Like all other soy products, tofu that is produced and sold in America radically differs from the traditional Chinese version of tofu. American tofu companies are focused on speedy, low-cost production and increased sales of the product and therefore go to whatever means necessary to provide the best-tasting tofu. Almost all tofu in America is pasteurized in order to extend shelf life. Sugar sweeteners, MSG (a neurotoxin flavor enhancer), and artificial flavorings are added to “enhance” the tofu taste. The high content of phytoestrogens, particularly isoflavones, in all soy products contributes directly to increased anxiety levels, learning disabilities, and thyroid disorders, according to recent studies.
So, are there any health benefits from soy consumption? Yes! Soy products that are fermented do provide health benefits including hormonal balance support, prevention of bone loss, certain cancers, and even osteoporosis and diabetes! Although questions remain about the quality of America’s soy manufacturing companies, miso, tempeh, and natto are three types of soy that are fermented and are okay for consumption. Again, the questions of modern manufacturing processes and the addition of artificial flavorings, colors, and sweeteners remain a legitimate concern.
Here at The Movement Dallas, we offer many solutions for fermented soy products that many women swear by for their menstrual cycles! Real food soy that is fermented and in condiment servings, just like the Asians have been doing for thousands of years is exactly what should be consumed. Not the un-fermented processed junk in America. Contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need help or have more questions.
In summary, soy is not the magic save-all food that America thinks. Serious health hazards exist with the consumption of highly refined processed soy products that are common in today’s food stores. Thyroid disorders, learning disabilities, reproductive disorders, heart disease, and cancer, to name a few, are proven to be directly linked to the consumption of soy. America’s health is quickly declining, although spending more on research and health care than ever before! Next time you think soy is the way to go, consider the information in this article. If you have any questions, The Movement Dallas can help you take the next step to achieving optimal health!