The Truth About Soy

Who Has Something To Gain From Soy Consumption?

never feed your baby soy formula

What is the truth about soy? Who has something to gain from one side or the other? With the soy issue, there does not seem to be an easy answer because there appears to be strong financial incentives on both sides.

Companies like Monsanto, which produces the genetically modified soybean seeds or companies like Cargill Foods or SoyLife which produce numerous soy-based foods? How about the soybean councils in several US States which represent farmers who grow this new, emerging bumper crop. We should not forget about all of the companies which are constructing factories all over the world to do the processing which is necessary to make soybeans edible.

Soy Is Not The Health Food That You Think It Is

The positive aspects of the soybean are overshadowed by their potential for doing more harm than good. Soybeans in fact contain many dangerous substances.

It seems that everywhere you look today, something contains soy. From tofu to baby formula and burgers, soy products have been touted as a healthy source of protein, because it's all natural and good for you. New studies have raised doubts about the "Healthy" aspects of soy. Questions such as whether the chemical makeup of soy may increase the risk of breast cancer in some women, affect brain function in men and lead to hidden developmental abnormalities in infants and children.

Their concerns are with the chemical makeup of soy: in addition to all the nutrients and protein, soy contains a natural chemical that mimics estrogen, the female hormone. Some studies in animals show that this chemical can alter sexual development. Over the course of one month, two glasses of soy milk per day contain enough of this chemical to knock the timing of a woman's menstrual cycle out of kilter. These are called Isoflavones.

Isoflavones In Soy

Soybeans contain an impressive array of phytochemicals (biologically active components derived from plants), including isoflavones. Isoflavones are compounds which are being studied to bring relief of certain menopausal symptoms, cancer prevention, slowing or reversing osteoporosis and reducing the risk of heart disease. That being said, the amount of isoflavone phytochemicals in Soy Products may be counter-productive as outlined below:

Is Soy Formula Birth Control Pills For Infants?

Isoflavones in infant formula are the biggest concern. Investigators reported, in 1998, that the daily exposure of infants to Isoflavones in soy infant formula is 6 to 11 times higher (calculated on body weight) than the dosage that has hormonal effects in adults consuming soy foods. Concentrations of isoflavones in blood plasma taken from infants who were fed soy based formula were 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than concentrations found in infants being fed cow's milk based formula.

Approximately 25% of bottle-fed children in the US are being fed soy based formula. This is a much higher percentage than in other parts of the Western world. It is estimated that an infant fed soy formula exclusively receives the estrogen equivalent (based on body weight) of at least 5 birth control pills per day. Almost no phytoestrogens have been detected in dairy-based infant formula or in human milk, even if the mother has been consuming soy products.

Phytic Acid in Soy

Soybeans contain an anti-nutrient called "phytic acid" also called "phytates", which all beans contain. Soybeans have higher levels of phytic acid than any other legume. Phytic acid may block the absorption of certain minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron and especially zinc. Adding to the high phytate problem, soybeans are highly resistant to phytate-reducing techniques, such as long, slow cooking.

Epidemiological (the study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations) studies have shown that people in 3rd World Countries who have high consumption of grains and soy also very often have deficiencies in magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. This study may be of particular concern to parents who are feeding their babies soy-based infant formulas.

Enzyme Inhibitors and Clot Promoting Substances in Soy

As well as Phytic Acid, Soy contains potent Enzyme Inhibitors. These inhibitors block the uptake of Trypsin and other enzymes which the body needs to digest protein. Normal cooking does not de-activate these harmful antinutrients. These Enzyme Inhibitors can cause serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and can lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.

Soybeans also contain a clot-promoting substance called "Hemagglutinin", which causes red blood cells to clump together. These clumped blood cells cannot absorb oxygen properly so they are unable to distribute oxygen to the body's tissues. As a result they are unable to help maintain good cardiac health.

Hemagglutinin and Trypsin inhibitors are both "growth depressant" substances. The process of fermenting soybeans does de-activate both Hemagglutinin and Trypsin inhibitors, cooking and precipitation do not. These enzyme inhibitors are found in reduced levels within precipitated soy products like Tofu, but they are not completely eliminated. If you are going to consume Soy, it is recommended that you limit your Soy use to fermented products only, like Tempeh or Miso.

Soy Myths

Myth: Use of soy as a food dates back many thousands of years
Truth: Soy was first used as a food during the late Chou dynasty (1134-246 BC), only after the Chinese learned to ferment soy beans to make foods like tempeh, natto and tamari
Myth: Asians consume large amounts of Soy foods
Truth: Average consumption of soy foods in Japan and China is 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) per day. Asians consume Soy foods in small amounts as a condiment, and not as a replacement for animal foods
Myth: Modern Soy foods confer the same health benefits as traditionally fermented Soy foods
Truth: Most modern Soy foods are not fermented to neutralize toxins in soybeans, and are processed in a way that denatures proteins and increases levels of carcinogens
Myth: Soy foods provide complete protein
Truth: Like all legumes, Soy beans are deficient in sulfur-containing amino acids Methionine and Cystine. In addition, modern processing denatures fragile Lysine
Myth: Fermented Soy foods can provide vitamin B12 in vegetarian diets
Truth: The compound that resembles vitamin B12 in Soy cannot be used by the human body; in fact, Soy foods cause the body to require more B12
Myth: Soy formula is safe for infants
Truth: Soy foods contain Trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function. In test animals, diets high in Trypsin inhibitors led to stunted growth and pancreatic disorders. Soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D, needed for strong bones and normal growth.
Phytic Acid in Soy foods results in reduced bioavailabilty of Iron and Zinc which are required for the health and development of the brain and nervous system. Soy also lacks cholesterol, likewise essential for the development of the brain and nervous system.
Megadoses of phytoestrogens in Soy formula have been implicated in the current trend toward increasingly premature sexual development in girls and delayed or retarded sexual development in boys.
Myth: Soy foods can prevent osteoporosis
Truth: Soy foods can cause deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D, both needed for healthy bones. Calcium from bone broths and vitamin D from seafood, lard and organ meats prevent osteoporosis in Asian countries, not Soy foods.
Myth: Modern soy foods protect against many types of cancer
Truth: A British government report concluded that there is little evidence that Soy foods protect against breast cancer or any other forms of cancer. In fact, Soy foods may result in an increased risk of cancer.
Myth: Soy foods protect against heart disease
Truth: In some people, consumption of Soy foods will lower cholesterol, but there is no evidence that lowering cholesterol improves one's risk of having heart disease
Myth: Soy estrogens (isoflavones) are good for you
Truth: Soy isoflavones are phyto-endocrine disrupters. At dietary levels, they can prevent ovulation and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Eating as little as 30 grams (about 4 tablespoons) of soy per day can result in hypothyroidism with symptoms of lethargy, constipation, weight gain and fatigue
Myth: Soy foods are safe and beneficial for women to use in their postmenopausal years
Truth: Soy foods can stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent tumors and cause thyroid problems. Low thyroid function is associated with difficulties in menopause
Myth: Phytoestrogens in soy foods can enhance mental ability
Truth: A recent study found that women with the highest levels of estrogen in their blood had the lowest levels of cognitive function. In Japanese Americans Tofu consumption in mid-life is associated with the occurrence of Alzheimer's disease in later life
Myth: Soy isoflavones and soy protein isolate have GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status
Truth: Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) recently withdrew its application to the FDA for GRAS status for Soy isoflavones following an outpouring of protest from the scientific community. The FDA never approved GRAS status for Soy protein isolate because of concern regarding the presence of toxins and carcinogens in processed Soy
Myth: Soy foods are good for your sex life
Truth: Numerous animal studies show that Soy foods cause infertility in animals. Soy consumption enhances hair growth in middle-aged men, indicating lowered testosterone levels. Japanese housewives feed Tofu to their husbands frequently when they want to reduce his virility
Myth: Soy beans are good for the environment
Truth: Most soy beans grown in the US are genetically engineered (GMO FOODS) which allow farmers to use large amounts of herbicides
Myth: Soy beans are good for developing nations
Truth: In third world countries, soybeans replace traditional crops and transfer the value-added of processing from the local population to multinational corporations

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