Informative article written by health blogger and inspiration, Jessica Ainscough.
There is no food quite as controversial as soy. There are those who claim that soy is good for everyone, helps prevent breast cancer and is the ideal alternative to dairy. Then there are the studies that show that soy is downright evil suppressing thyroid function, messing with our hormones and acting as a potent carcinogenic. So, who are we to believe? I’ve given this topic quite a bit of thought and have come to the conclusion that consuming soy is detrimental to our health. While I’ve never been a fan of tofu, there are certain soy products out there that I love (I went through a phase of being addicted to tofu veggie burgers). However, as much as I would love to believe that soy really is good for us, I cannot ignore the strong, blatant evidence proving the contrary. Another reason I would love to believe that soy is healthy is that it is found in almost everything – from baby formula and burgers to all processed foods. If you eat processed foods, you literally can’t get away from it. It doesn’t even have to be stated on the ingredients label!
The deception and conspiracy surrounding soy runs deep. Those that continue to reap profit from the ridiculously lucrative soy industry go to any measures to see that negative facts that do make their way into public knowledge are immediately quashed. It has been said that the disturbing tale of fraud, corporate irresponsibility, greed, bad science, public and media manipulation, corruption, intimidation, suppression, legal manoeuvring, regulatory inaction and government incompetence makes the tobacco companies look like good guys. If you’re interested in hearing this frightening story, I recommend picking up a copy of The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD. It’s quite thorough and complex, so I am just going to give you a small taster into the dangers of soy. Hundreds of epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies link soy to: malnutrition, digestive distress, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, infertility, birth defects, immune system breakdown, heart disease and cancer.
Here is a summary of soy’s most glaring problems, according to Dr Joseph Mercola:
1. 91 percent of soy 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.
2. 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 Westerners are now eating is extremely high.
3. 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.
4. Soy contains goitrogens:
Goitrogens are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with your thyroid function.
5. 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.
6. 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 soy milk 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.
7. 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.
8. 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!
There is also the issue of pesticides and genetic modification. Soy foods are both heavily sprayed with pesticides and genetically modified (GM). More than 80 percent of the soy grown in the United States is GM. And more than 90 percent of American soy crops are GM. Since the introduction of GM foods in 1996, we’ve had an upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems in the U.S. population, and animal studies thus far have shown devastating effects from consuming GM soy. You may want to steer clear of soy products for no other reason than a commitment to avoiding GM foods… unless you wish to be a lab animal for this massive uncontrolled experiment by the biotech industry.
What about the Asian argument?
We are constantly being sold that soy products are good for us because Asian folk have been thriving on them for centuries. You may be surprised to learn that Asians consume soy in tiny amounts – 7 to 8 grams per day – and most of this has been fermented for 3 to 5 years to remove the toxins. The fermentation process (applying to foods like tempeh) also reduces the growth depressants in soy products, but doesn’t remove them completely.
The best way to eliminate soy from your diet is to avoid all processed foods and instead purchase whole foods that you prepare yourself.
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