Soy no thanks

Remember that nasty ingredient called ‘Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil’ (it’s a common form of trans fat), that was condemned shortly after its widespread use. Soy and soy lecithin will be next.

Soy has been given a big name to live up to through a few years of intense marketing. The industry is worth billions and to go back on their word would mean instant failure of their business. So, instead of waiting for these companies to bite the bullet I thought I’d pull the trigger for them.

Fast Facts about Soy:

1) Soy is native to southeastern Asia.
2) Soy is a member of the pea family and grows from one to five-feet tall and forms clusters of three to five pods, each containing two to four beans per pod.
3) Soy has been a dietary staple in Asian countries for at least 5,000 years.
4) Soy, traditionally eaten in Asia has undergone a long (often up to 18 months) fermentation process that allows soy to be more easily digested.
5) Soy is reported to reduce & increase breast cancer.
6) Soy may reduce fertility in birds and rats.
7) Monks used to use un-fermented soy (similar to that we see in western supermarkets) as a way of suppressing their libido.

Other important considerations in soy: Trypsin inhibitors (fermenting may deactivate these), the Chinese often only ate soy when they were starving, phytates in soy bind with minerals in the digestive tract making them inaccessible, soy is a known goitrogen.  


5 reasons I do not eat soy:

(Inspired by Charles Poliquin, a renowned and respected world class strength and conditioning coach)

1) Toxicity: Soy is one of the most sprayed crops around, the pesticides add to all of the other toxic matter we are exposed to.

2) Hypothyroidism: The goitragens in Soy can lead to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism in short is when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone (hormones that control metabolism).

3) Blocking Mineral Absorption: Soy is high in Phytates, Phytates (not digestible by humans) make it very difficult to absorb certain minerals like zinc and iron (and macro-minerals calcium and magnesium). Eating meat actually blocks the phyates so if you want to eat soy / tofu then eat it with meat (totally understanding this probably defeats the entire reason you’re eating soy)

4) Soy is linked to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD): There are soy ‘formula’ avilable to replace breast milk with a soy based product, these infant formulas contain around 80 times more manganese than breast milk. High levels of manganese are linked to ADD.

5) Cancer and Soy: As usual they’re keeping their claims fairly loose to avoid legal complications – fair enough, though the claims are serious enough to take a very good look at this. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says Soy may play a role in the risk of several forms of cancer such as breast cancer and cancer of the uterus. Why? Because soy protein contains substances that may influence estrogen levels. Their advice is that anyone with such hormone-sensitive condition should contact their doctor before even thinking about consuming soy. My advice is avoid it. Especially unfermented, refined and concentrated soy protein powders and soy milk.


A Story about Soy:

In 1991, through an independent study to find out what was killing his rare birds, Richard James hired Dr Mike Fitzpatrick to ‘do some science’. James was adamant that it was the soya beans he was feeding them.

Over the next months, Fitzpatrick carried out an exhaustive study of soya and its effects. “We discovered quite quickly,” he recalls, “that soya contains toxins and plant oestrogens powerful enough to disrupt women’s menstrual cycles in experiments. It also appeared damaging to the thyroid.” This study prompted the British government to investigate Soy. The conclusion was that the general health benefits claimed for soya were not supported by clear evidence and that there are certain risks that come with soy.

Their dead birds were like canaries in the coal mine:

James and his wife started breed the exotic birds as a retirement dream, feeding them soya feed because they had been brainwashed into thinking it was the best food for their beloved creatures. Though instead of nourishing them some of the birds became infertile, male birds aged prematurely and many died.

Canaries in the coal mine?


But what about the Japanese, they’re healthy and they eat soy – right?

True, they do eat soy though it is different.

In the east they ferment their soya which reduces the levels of isoflavones by up to 3 times than modern factory processing. On top of that, modern American strains of soya have higher levels of isoflavones because they have been farmed to be more resistant to pests. A key way of dealing with pests is to stop them from breeding by making them infertile. And, you’ll love (or hate this…) Monks used to eat unfermented soya (similar to the products in our supermarkets) to reduce their libido!

On breast cancer; a group of independent scientists concluded that despite suggested (by the marketing companies) benefits of lowering the risk of breast cancer there is also evidence to suggest soy stimulates the progression of the disease.

What!? What about edamame? They’re brilliant and green – right?

Well… they’re slightly better than the highly processed, unfermented, often genetically modified soya milk though they still have anti-nutriens and oestrogens. And, raw, mature soya beans contain phytates that prevent certain mineral absorption and contain enzyme inhibitors that block enzymes we need to digest certain foods.

And, of course – they make you fart.

The traditional fermentation process (which takes 18 months) makes soya’s amino acids available and lessens the impact of the anti-nutrients.

Most commercial soya products especially in the USA are not made this way any more.

The article I read about this goes on to tell us the soy is crushed, the oil then is ‘cleaned’, bleached and deodorised. And “The lecithin that forms a heavy sludge in the oil during storage was previously to be regarded as a waste product, but now it has been turned into valuable market in its own right as an emulsifier.”


Children are unfortunately fed soy

Here’s a fact that blew me away – according to the same article written by the Guardian (can you tell I like this article – thanks to the author Felicity Lawrence) 30 to 40% of all infants in the US are raised on Soya Formula (instead of breast or cows milk).

The above image is the result of a quick 'google images' search foo soy formula...

The above image is the result of a quick 'google images' search foo soy formula...


Professor Richard Sharpe is the head of the Medical Research Council’s human reproductive sciences unit at Edinburgh University who has been studying the decline of male fertility in the past half century. When asked about his concerns over soya and it being used as an added ingredient in many foods his response was: “If someone said they were adding a hormone to your foods, would you be happy with that? There may be lots of effects, some of them may be beneficial, but would you be happy with that? I am not a fan of processed foods, full stop. And these quick fixes for protecting against ill-health – you know they can’t be true,”

Sue Dibb, now food policy expert at the National Consumer Council, was a member of the CoT working group that compiled the final report says:

“The groups of adults of particular concern are those with a thyroid problem and women with estrogen-dependent breast cancer. It worries me that soy is being pushed as a health food by a big soya and supplements industry. We ought to be taking a more cautious approach.”


Want more reasons to avoid soy?

Many of the Soy milk products are also high in refined sugar. Sneakily they brand it as ‘healthy’, pumping it full of sugar to make it sweeter.

The Guardian Newspaper:

“Whether you know it or not, you’ll probably be eating soya today. It’s in 60% of all processed food, from cheese to ice cream, baby formula to biscuits. But should it carry a health warning?”

Soy, babies and pregnancy:

“Rice Milk, Soy Milk and Nut Milk should never be confused with (or used as a replacement for) breast feeding or infant formula… These alternative “milks” do not have the right amount of nutrients needed to sustain healthy growth.These milks should not be offered to a baby under 12 months of age and you should consult your pediatrician about introducing them.” (Quote from ‘Wholesome Baby Food’)

From Scientific America:
“Newbold and other researchers are not convinced that eating more soy is healthy for everyone. Infants fed soy formula ingest six to 11 times more genistein (isoflavone) on a bodyweight basis than the level known to cause hormonal effects in adults.”

“Giving an infant or child estrogen is never a good thing”

Another study by Wen-Hsiung Chan in Taiwan showed that genistein (isoflavone) led to reduced fertility and abnormal embryo development in female mice.

The NHS (National Health Service) say:

COT (Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food) identified three groups of people where the evidence suggested there might be a potential risk from consuming large amounts of phytoestrogens. These were:
– infants fed on soy-based infant formula
– people who have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)
– women diagnosed with breast cancer

ENRICHD ORG Conclusion:
Soy, tofu, soy based products, and products that contain soy lecithin don't really register on my internal list of things to eat.

When I was chatting with a personal trainer friend before writing this he wished me "luck" on avoiding soy.  On this one I’m quite content without luck. I will just avoid it. Don’t take my word for it though, get stuck into the sources at the bottom of this page and read more.  Empower yourself with information about the foods you’re putting inside your body because it’s becoming more and more apparent that many food manufacturers and their marketeers have their agenda and will stop at nothing in achieving it.

To close, if you are going to eat soy, a final quote from PhD. Kaayla Daniel: 

Eat soy safely: “Opt for fermented soy, such as miso, and use it as a condiment and not as a food staple".


Soy Sources:

Could Eating Too Much Soy Be Bad for You? Scientific American, 2009

Dietary soy-phytoestrogens decrease testosterone levels and prostate weight without altering LH, prostate 5alpha-reductase or testicular steroidogenic acute regulatory peptide levels in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats.

Soy, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2010

Soy Infant Formula and Phytoestrogens, 2003

Wholesome Baby Food:

Charles Poliquin (2012)

Pub Med Health, 2010)

The Guardian, 2006
NHS, 2011