Soy- NOT Safe

Soy- NOT Safe - Holistic Squid Soy has had a huge hey-day as a miracle food from the 90’s, and the hype is still alive and well for many health-conscious people. BUT, while soy and soy products may serve as a good source protein and other nutrients for vegetarians, in reality, this bean has quite of list of reasons why to just say NO, including allergies, thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances including PMS and infertility, and more.

Before you pour that soy milk on your cereal or down a tofu scramble, read about how this “health” food may be causing more harm than good.

Phytoestrogens

Soy contains more phytoestrogens than almost any other food product.  Phytoestrogen is plant-based estrogen that mimics the natural estrogen found in our bodies.  The potential problem with this chemical is the effect it can have on individuals who under normal circumstances have no need for an estrogen supplement.

Peri-menopausal women may use soy products to help control discomforting symptoms that result from hormonal imbalances, including hot flashes and mood swings.  But what are the effects of phytoestrogen on men, children, teens and young women?

  • Early Onset Puberty - Children given soy formula as infants may experience early puberty as compared to their non-soy-guzzling peers.  Early puberty is a problem because it exposes the body to sex hormones for a longer period of time that what is normal. For young boys, this means an increased risk of developing testicular cancer as an adult. For girls, early puberty increases the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cysts, and thyroid disease.
  • Breast Cancer -  The consumption of soy products and increased intake of phytoestrogens may be linked to the onset of breast cancer at an early age in women .
  • Throid issues -  Japanese research suggests consuming soybeans may cause hypothroidism and goiter.
  • Male Fertility Issues -  The phytoestrogens present in soy can significantly lower a man’s sperm count which can contribute to infertility.

Toxicity and Allergens

  • Toxicity - High manganese levels in soy formula may cause brain damage from toxicity. There also appears to be a relationship between soy formula consumption and the development of ADHD and behavioral problems in kids.
  • Allergies -  While soy is among the top 8 most common food allergens, it can be a silent villian since allergic reactions to soy are not always immediate.

Genetically Modified Soy Foods

The phytoestrogens and other substances in soy foods may be the cause of health risks, but that’s not the only problem.

Since the 1990s, genetically modified soy is widely grown and included in food products in the U.S. The seeds used in these crops are genetically modified in laboratories to enhance desirable traits, such as improved nutritional content, heat resistance or resistance to herbicides.

GM foods pose huge threats on the environment, reek havoc for farmers’ livelihoods, and may be dangerous to human health, including possible increased risk for allergy.

Take a Conservative Approach to Soy Consumption

Be conservative and conscious about your soy consumption.  Avoid genetically modified soy, eliminate soy where possible (especially for children or those with any immune system weakness or possible hormone imbalance), then enjoy soy foods you love in moderation.  Two more things to know:

  • Go Fermented -  Only consume fermented soy products, such as tempeh, miso, natto, and fermented tofu. Fermented soy does not contain the toxins present in non-cultured soy  products.  Fermentation increases the availability of isoflavones which are associated with cancer prevention, and fermentation produces probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that improves digestion and nutrient absorption in the body.
  • Read your labels - Soy is a common ingredient in popular “health” foods and protein supplements.  Make sure you know what you’re putting in your mouth to avoid accidentally saucing yourself with soy.
Sources:
Francis M. Crinella, Ph.D., clinical professor, pediatrics, University of California, Irvine; Aleksandra Chicz-DeMet, Ph.D., associate adjunct professor, psychiatry, University of California, Irvine; Mary Beth Arensberg, Ph.D., director, public affairs, Ross Products division, Abbott Laboratories; August 2002 NeuroToxicology
Foucard T., Malmheden Yman, I., Allergy 1999, 53(3):261-265).11
Sellman, Shirrill. The Problem Of Precocious Puberty.  Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 11, Number 3 (April-May 2004), reprinted at OasisAdvancedWellness.com.
Dees C, Foster JS, Ahamed S, Wimalasena J.  Environ Health Perspect 1997 Apr 105 Suppl 3 633-6
Ishizuki Y, Hirooka Y, Murata Y, Togashi K. Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi 1991 May 20 67:5 622-9 (Japanese), as reported in  SoyOnlineService.co.nz.
Jorge Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D., research fellow, department of nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Hossein Sadeghi-Nejad, M.D., associate professor of urology, UMDNJ New Jersey Medical School, Hackensack University Medical Center; July 24, 2008, online edition, Human Reproduction

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Comments

  1. Kelly says

    Emily,

    Most of the research and stats you’ve sited are studies that were done using GM soy, especially the one about formula. Not all the facts are represented. There is no link to ADHD in organic soy-fed formula-fed babies. There is a completely different nutrient and effect level when organic whole soy is consumed. People don’t realize this because they are so quick to vilify this bean. It’s just not true. My fear is that you’ll frighten someone from using organic soy formula, which is very safe and healthy, such as Baby’s Only, which is the only organic soy formula left that used whole crushed soy beans. When the whole soy bean is used, there are synergistic properties of the whole bean that science cannot even yet identify, but the results are not negative at all. Check out the blog post by The Savvy Sister on this. It’s just sad to me that non of the studies have distinguished between GM and Organic in the studies. Since you have so many followers, you really shouldn’t make it into a demon without knowing or including all of the facts. Of course it’s easier to dismiss something entirely, but some people have limited options, especially with babies. Organic soy is actually healthier than all other organic formulas, and experience shows that organic soy-formula fed babies are actually less sick than even breastfed babies. They rarely get ear issues, and their growth is steady. I just think this article does a disservice. So much on the web is just mis- or under-informed and based on studies with only GM soy. :-(

    • says

      Hi Kelly ♥ Do you know anything about organic soy in regards to the phytoestrogens, hormones, and thyroid? I would love to eat fermented soy in moderate/minimal amounts (organic, all the way), but am worried about those specific issues since I have hypothyroidism, hormone imbalances that cause me a lot of grief, and fertility problems. Would organic soy still pose problems?

        • says

          Also, what about soy lecithin and other soy products that are minimal in foods, but still present? They’re in everything!! #sad I’m really at a loss on how to avoid them, or if I need to in the first place. I have hypothyroidism, bad hormonal issues, breast cancer runs heavily in my family, and I have fertility problems.

          • says

            Hi Alena – Thanks for your question. Yes, soy is everywhere which is why we’re better off sticking to whole, unprocessed foods. It can be hard in the beginning, but once you get used to it, it’s easy :)

  2. Kelly says

    I’m a little unclear on whether or not Tempeh, specifically, still contains phytoestrogens? Does the fermentation process eliminate or at least bind the phytoestrogens so that they are not bioavailable and therefore not absorbed? It has been hard to find a solid answer, as soy is still very controversial.

    Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Kelly – Fermentation increases the digestibility of soy (especially its proteins), nutrient absorption from soy (including absorption of phytonutrient isoflavones like genistein and daidzein), and the concentration of bioactive peptides (formed during the breakdown of soy proteins during fermentation).

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