The story of soy and how went it from a relatively obscure, seldom eaten food to a mainstream $6.6 billion a year industry and growing is a curious one.
In 1913 soy was listed in the USDA’s handbook not as a food but as an industrial by-product. Originally planted in the US extensively in order to extract the soybean oil — which eventually replaced the far healthier tropical oils — the by-product of the process was a massive amount of soy protein.
You’d think that the (already existent) knowledge that soy was not fit food for animals would have led someone to conclude that the same held true for humans. But the temptation to turn a massive problem into a massive opportunity won out.
Through brilliant marketing, intense lobbying with the FDA, and a smear campaign against tropical oils, the soy industry has been highly effective at portraying soy as an ideal protein and an excellent way to lower cholesterol; reduce menopause symptoms; and protect against heart disease. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It seems ironic that soy is so accepted as a health food when Dr. Kaayla Daniel, the author of the most comprehensive book written on this soy deception — “The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food” states, “thousands of studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility- – even cancer and heart disease.”
After reviewing decades of studies on the health benefits of soy, The Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association found little to no evidence substantiating the above claims — that soy-based foods lower cholesterol, or limit menopausal related symptoms – or that, additionally, soy helps prevents prostate, breast, or uterine cancers.
So, is soy safe? Consider the following — soy contains some potentially harmful components including:
o antinutrients, which contain inhibitors that deter enzymes needed for protein digestion,
o hemaglutinins which cause red blood cells to clump
o goitrogens which can lead to depressed thyroid function
o phytates which prevent the absorption of minerals
o phytoestrogens which block the hormone estrogen
o and toxic levels of manganese, a trace element that we actually need daily in minute quantities, but excess exposure to which can adversely affect the nervous system
And if that isn’t sufficient to give you pause — most soybeans are genetically modified and contaminated with high amounts of pesticides.
Two-thirds of processed foods contain some type of soy, so you may be consuming it and not even know it. Learn how to read food labels, and watch out for soy protein isolate; soybean oil; soy protein concentrate; texturized vegetable protein; and hydrolyzed vegetable protein in the ingredients.
What about soy milk dangers? While soy milk is nothing more than the waste product of the tofu-making process, it continues to increase in popularity as more consumers drink it in place of milk. Did you know that drinking even two glasses of soy milk daily for one month has enough phytoestrogens to alter a woman’s menstrual cycle?
Furthermore, tofu is not ‘natural,’ but a highly processed form of soybean curd, and it has all of the health risks associated with other highly processed soy food, including potential risks to the brain.
If soy is fermented and non-GM (genetically modified,) soy can be a healthy addition to your diet. Fermented soy products include tempeh, miso, natto and soy sauce or tamari.
Quite frankly, the words “soy” and “health” do not seem to belong in the same phrase –. you would be doing yourself a huge health favor by eliminating all soy from your diet completely.