Soy, soy, soy. Soy here, soy there, soy is EVERYWHERE! It seems to be in just about everything and is considered by many a “health food.” Recently, vegetarianism and veganism have become quite popular (for many different reasons) and soy-based foods seem to be the perfect protein source to replace meat. There are soy formulas for infants and wouldn’t you know? Dogs too! Tell me, when was the last time your dog sat or rolled over for an edamame or soybean treat?
I find that people seem to be quite surprised when they hear that I am not an advocate for soy products. Notice I said “products” and not “foods”? There are many reasons why I chose to avoid soy and I am constantly being asked why.
Today I will give you ten reasons to avoid soy using points from the Weston A. Price Foundation’s website, but I will be elaborating on each point to make things more understandable and not so science-y! So, here goes! And please, pass this information along as it is extremely important to our health and the health of our families as a whole…you’ll see why. (If I don’t comment I figure the point is pretty self explanatory.)
10 Reasons to Avoid Soy
1.) High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
In other words, when we eat improperly prepared soy (which is the case with most soy products) it decreases our body’s ability to absorb the minerals we get from our food. These minerals are extremely important for proper organ function, bone and prostate health and proper healing, to name a few. Bottom line, by not absorbing enough can be problematic for what our body needs to do on a day to day basis. A long fermentation process is necessary to break down the phytic acid and allow the bean to be digestible as in tempeh, soy sauce and miso.
2.) Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.
Trypsin is an enzyme produced by the pancreas that helps break down protein from our food into little pieces so they can be absorbed into the walls of our intestines. Proteins do a whole lot of super important stuff in our bodies like help us build muscle and new cells, assemble certain hormones, give us energy, etc. Can you see how these fancy pants sounding inhibitors could potentially stunt growth?
3.) Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
Oh man, I could write a book just on this point alone. This is such an important reason for avoiding soy. Quick science lesson…the endocrine system is made up of the pituitary and hypothalamus, the sex organs, thyroid, pancreas, adrenal glands, etc. These organs secrete hormones that help regulate everything from your metabolism to growth and development to your moods, etc. Soy contains a plant-based estrogen called phytoestrogen. These phytoestrogens can mimic the estrogen our own body makes which can lead to an imbalance of hormones. This imbalance can lead to increased menstrual and menopausal symptoms, problems with fertility in men and women and man-boobs…yah. I said it.
4.) Soy phytoestrogens are potent anti-thyroid agents that can cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
Our thyroid produces hormones that are used by every cell of the body to regulate metabolism. Hypothyroidism is sadly, very common. I can honestly say that over half of the patients I see suffer from hypothyroidism leaving them feeling sluggish, overweight, intolerant to cold, depressed, constipated and on a thyroid medication for the rest of their lives. Now, understand that there can be many causes for thyroid disorders, but one should be aware of the increased risk with over consumption of soy products.
5.) Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12.
This one is self explanatory.
6.) Soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D.
7.) Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
If something is “denatured,” it basically means the body will no longer recognize it as what it really is. Picture your intestinal lining as a kids toy that you push different shaped blocks through. The protein block is square, but this protein was heated so hot it turned it into a star shape and the wall no longer could use the block. Now that you all feel like you’re back in kindergarten…you get it? These two ingredients, soy protein isolate and TVP, are both popular forms of soy and can be found in many different foods such as energy bars, protein powders, imitation meats, breads, soups, desserts and believe me the list goes on.
8.) Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
From what I understand about lysinoalanine it can strongly attract the metal from the enzyme’s active center which I am assuming means bye, bye enzyme. Well, end this point here.
9.) Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
10.) Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.
Ok, deep breaths people! That was a lot of information, I know.
So, what now?
As always, let’s go back to the basics. By choosing WHOLE, REAL foods you will very easily eliminate soy products from your diet. When you look at your shopping cart at the end of a good shopping sesh, make sure the bulk of your cart is non-packaged, fresh foods.
If you are a vegetarian, chose pastured eggs and raw cheeses, wild caught fish, properly soaked nuts and seeds (post to come) and home cooked beans and lentils for adequate protein. Those of you that are meat eaters, myself included, do your best to buy grass-fed chicken and beef as well as the foods listed above. The idea is that we get a large amount of fresh vegetables and vitamin packed fruits (more veggies than fruits, please), adequate amounts healthy protein and fat and some complex carbohydrates.
If you do buy packaged foods, I recommend that you start reading labels! If you see soy anywhere in the label, drop it and back away slowly (be careful, it may learn to jump in your basket with all the beefing up its getting). Also watch out for hidden soy which can lurk around in artificial and natural flavors, vegetable gum/broth/starch and Asian foods.
This is a hot topic so some of you reading this post may be thrown for a loop right now.
I am happy to answer further questions on the subject so feel free to comment. Please refer to the Weston A. Price Foundation website for more in-depth articles on the soy madness.