Soy: another toxin promoted as a health food
Like cereal grains, soy is another toxin often promoted as a health food. It’s now ubiquitous in the modern diet, present in just about every packaged and processed food in the form of soy protein isolate, soy flour, soy lecithin and soybean oil.
For this reason, most people are unaware of how much soy they consume. You don’t have to be a tofu-loving hippie to eat a lot of soy. In fact, the average American – who is most definitely not a tofu-loving hippie – gets up to 9% of total calories from soybean oil alone.
Whenever I mention the dangers of soy in my public talks, someone always protests that soy can’t be unhealthy because it’s been consumed safely in Asia for thousands of years. There are several reasons why this isn’t a valid argument.
First, the soy products consumed traditionally in Asia were typically fermented and unprocessed – including tempeh, miso, natto and tamari. This is important because the fermentation process partially neutralizes the toxins in soybeans.
Second, Asians consumed soy foods as a condiment, not as a replacement for animal foods. The average consumption of soy foods in China is 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) per day and is 30 to 60 grams in Japan. These are not large amounts of soy.
Contrast this with the U.S. and other western countries, where almost all of the soy consumed is highly processed and unfermented, and eaten in much larger amounts than in Asia.
How does soy impact our health? The following is just a partial list:
- Soy contains trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function;
- Soy contains phytic acid, which reduces absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc;
- Soy increases our requirement for vitamin D, which 50% of American are already deficient in;
- Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
- Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12;
- Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines;
- Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods to mask soy’s unpleasant taste; and,
- Soy can stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent tumors and cause thyroid problems, especially in women.
Perhaps most alarmingly, a study at the Harvard Public School of Health in 2008 found that men who consumed the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had a 50% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat soy.
In 1992, the Swiss Health Service estimated that women consuming the equivalent of two cups of soy milk per day provides the estrogenic equivalent of one birth control pill. That means women eating cereal with soy milk and drinking a soy latte each day are effectively getting the same estrogen effect as if they were taking a birth control pill.
This effect is even more dramatic in infants fed soy formula. Babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula. Infants exclusively fed soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least five birth control pills per day.
Click here for a complete list of studies demonstrating the harmful effects of soy products.