Let me start this post by citing Dr. Mercola: “If you were to carefully review the thousands of studies published on soy, I strongly believe you would reach the same conclusion as I have—which is, the risks of consuming unfermented soy products FAR outweigh any possible benefits. Notice I said unfermented soy products. For centuries, Asian people have been consuming fermented soy products such as natto, tempeh, and soy sauce, and enjoying the health benefits. Fermented soy does not wreak havoc on your body like unfermented soy products do. Unfortunately, many Americans who are committed to healthy lifestyles have been hoodwinked and manipulated into believing that unfermented and processed soy products like soymilk, soy cheese, soy burgers and soy ice cream are good for them.”
Dr. Mercola is one of the world leading authorities when it comes to integrative medicine and alternative health. He is a Licensed Physician and Surgeon and apart from doing clinical work he and his team hosts one of the largest health sites in the world: http://www.mercola.com.
This blog post is about unfermented soy products. Fermented soy products are safer and the modest consumption of the fermented soy foods are probably ok.
Unfermented soy is not the health food it claims to be. As late as 2008 a study published in the In Oxford Journals, Human Reproduction” where researcher found that “higher intake of soy foods and soy isoflavones is associated with lower sperm concentration.” These findings are really not unexpected since soy phytoestrogens are very likely to interfere with the male hormonal system. According to nutritionist Byron J Richards, isoflavones (daidzein, genistein and glycitein) are plant-derived compounds with oestrogenic effects that are found mainly in soy beans and soy-derived products.
According to Dr. Mercola:
- “91 percent of soy grown in the US is genetically modified (GM). The genetic modification is done to impart resistance to the toxic herbicide Roundup. While this is meant to increase farming efficiency and provide you with less expensive soy, the downside is that your soy is loaded with this toxic pesticide. The plants also contain genes from bacteria that produce a protein that has never been part of the human food supply. GM soy has been linked to an increase in allergies. Disturbingly, the only published human feeding study on GM foods ever conducted verified that the gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of our gut bacteria and continues to function. This means that years after you stop eating GM soy, you may still have a potentially allergenic protein continuously being produced in your intestines. Even more frightening is the potential for GM soy to cause infertility in future generations, which has been evidenced by recent Russian research. [Unfortunately, soy in the rest of the world is often GM-soy as well]
- Soy contains natural toxins known as “anti-nutrients.” Soy foods contain anti-nutritional factors such as saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, protease inhibitors, oxalates, goitrogens and estrogens. 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. [Europeans are getting closer to American soy consumption numbers. Especially vegans and vegetarians.]
- Soy contains 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 contains goitrogens. Goitrogens are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with your thyroid function. [Other food that are healthy contains goitrogens
- Soy contains phytates. 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 (so it is helpful—if you do eat soy—to also eat meat).
- Soy is loaded with the isoflavones genistein and daidzein. Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen, which is a plant compound resembling human estrogen. These compounds mimic and sometimes block the hormone estrogen, and have been found to have adverse effects on various human tissues. Soy phytoestrogens are known to disrupt endocrine function, may cause infertility, and may promote breast cancer in women. Drinking even two glasses of soymilk daily for one month provides enough of these compounds to alter your menstrual cycle. Although the FDA regulates estrogen-containing products, no warnings exist on soy.
- Soy has toxic levels of aluminum and manganese. Soybeans are processed (by acid washing) in aluminum tanks, which can leach high levels of aluminum into the final soy product. Soy formula has up to 80 times higher manganese than is found in human breast milk.
- Soy infant formula puts your baby’s health at risk. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. infants are now fed soy formula, but the estrogens in soy can irreversibly harm your baby’s sexual development and reproductive health. Infants fed soy formula take in an estimated five birth control pills’ worth of estrogen every day. Infants fed soy formula have up to 20,000 times the amount of estrogen in circulation as those fed other formulas!”
Please note that the above encompass unfermented soy. Fermented and organic, non-GMO soy will have reduced phytate and anti-nutrients as well as being high in Vitamin K2, especially the fermented soy product, natto. Vitamin K2 is an important player when it comes to osteoporosis and blood clotting amongst others.
In 1999 two of USA’s Food and Drug administration (FDA) expert scientists on soy signed a letter of protest saying that: “…[soy] 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…”
In the book “Politically Incorrect Nutrition: Finding Reality in the Mire of Food Industry Propaganda” by Michael Barbee, quote the British Government’s Committe on Toxicity in Foods called the COT. They released their assessment of soy products and isoflavone supplements in October 2002 and their soy expert Valeire James says “As for claims that these products improve hormonal balance, prevent prostate cancers, prevent heart disease, stop osteoporosis and improve brain function, the COT found no proof of any of this.” Michael Barbee continues in his book, “It is believed by a number of health educators that the United States is experiencing a hypothyroid epidemic [the same is probably true for Europe]. In fact, we are already seeing increased signs of general fatugie, weakness, constipation, depression and weight gain – signs of an underactive thyroid. Suppression of this gland ha been show to develop with eating as little as two tablespoons of soybean per day.”
Soy is considered a complete protein since it contains all essential amino acids. However, if one looks a bit closer into this, the essential sulfur-containing amino acid methionine is low making the protein less good than egg in this regard.I would like to end this post by citing Dr. John R Lee’s book “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer : How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life ”Today it’s all about impossible to find a health-related magazine or TV show that doesn’t shout out the benefits of soy foods for the prevention of menopause symptoms, breast and other cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis. In the past decade the soy industry has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the research, marketing, and advertising of soy foods, and it has been well rewarded for its efforts. However while we agree that certain soy foods, eaten in moderation, can be a healthy addition to the diet, we believe that women who are eating soy with every meal, or even every day, may be damaging their health. “
In other words, no matter if you are a women or a man, maybe a shift from unfermented soy products to a moderate consumption of fermented soy products would be a healthy choice.
Ps. The main soy study penetrator is the Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Dr. Kaayla Daniel. She has written a book called the “The Whole Soy Story” where she goes through the current research about soy and her verdict is: “Soy is NOT a miracle food. Soy is NOT the answer to world hunger. Soy is NOT a panacea. Soy has NOT even been proven safe… The only soy products that are truly healthy for your family to eat are old-fashioned fermented products miso, natto and tempeh. A little tofu once in awhile would also not be a problem. Modern industrially processed products — including soy milk, soy nuts as well as veggie burgers, energy bars or other products using soy protein isolate and similar modern soy ingredients definitely pose risks.”