Just when you thought you were doing it right on the health front by including more soy and less animal and dairy products in your diet, we find out that most of the soy products today are not healthy. In fact, they can downright kill you.
The following article talks about the dangers of and some alternatives to unfermented soy, so prevalent in food products today.
The Dangers of Soy and Some Great Soy Alternatives
By Beth Stowers
In the vast sea of processed foods, soy is found as an ingredient in many foods. Are we better off with it or without it? And is soy really so dangerous?
Soy has been around for centuries and centuries. It is known as shoyu in Japan, and later adapted to the word “soy” that we currently use.
Before it was a source of food, the soy crop was revered in Asia and used to fix nitrogen in the soil when rotating crops.
Soy was not eaten until the Chou Dynasty, when fermenting techniques were discovered. It was made into foods like miso, natto, and soy sauce. Historically, the Chinese did not eat a lot of soy that was unfermented. Even today, unfermented soy is not a large mainstay of the Asian diet, and is often eaten with meat and fish broths, which helps to counteract the harmful effects of soy on the body.
After the early 1900s, soy became a major crop in the United States. However, it did not become a source of food until the 1920s. Growing soy was especially important after World War I and during the Great Dustbowl. It was used to help fix the soil in order to reestablish huge crops in the Mid-East areas of the United States (remember… it has awesome nitrogen-fixing properties). From 1932-1933 Henry Ford spent about $1,250,000.00 on soybean research. It was used to make paint and oil with for his car company, Ford Motor Company. Ford even hired chemists to make silk out of soy, called Azlon (although Dupont came along and took over the market with their version of “faux-silk,” called polyester).
From there, soy took off as a food ingredient, first being used to make ice cream and non-dairy whipped cream. Now, it is prevalent in everything from chocolate to processed grain-cereals. In fact, soy is found in many processed foods, both Organic and Conventional. It is well-known as the main ingredient in infant formulas and protein drinks.
But Hey, What’s the Problem With Soy?
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A lot is wrong with soy. Although this “miracle-bean” is touted as a factor in longevity and heart-disease prevention, it comes with many more risks than so-called benefits. The dangers of soy are many:
Phytic Acid in Soy
Soy contains Phytic Acid. Phytic Acid in soy cannot be neutralized (like it can in some grains, seeds and nuts) by being soaked in an acidic medium. Phytic acid is also not neutralized when soy is cooked or during its processing. Phytic Acid is an enzyme-inhibitor. And what it does is block mineral absorption in the digestive tract. That means when eating soy, you block your body’s ability to absorb calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper. A mineral deficiency contributes to a variety of health problems, not limited to growth problems in children, immune development and thyroid disease. Only fermentation will neutralize Phytic Acid in soy.
Okay, I bet you may not have heard of this one. And the risk with ingesting too many goitrogens (which are plentiful in soy), is it suppresses the thyroid. This can lead to weight gain, fatigue, inability to concentrate, decreased focus, feeling cold all the time, and so much more. Don’t take your thyroid gland for granted, because once you start to have problems here, the road to recovery can be long and agonizing (I know).
Back in the olden days, phytoestrogens were believed to be a woman’s BFF (Best Friend Forever). Soy was the super-duper magic elixir that could help a woman with her hormones. Phytoestrogens mimic estrogen. Independent research (NOT sponsored by the soy industry) shows that high estrogen is related to breast cancer, infertility and low libido in women. Add soy to the diet and you get even more of that.
How Very Convenient, But The Dangers of Soy Don’t Stop There…
Manufacturing soy is a huge ordeal; made up of lots of processes. Here is what happens when one of the most common food ingredients, soy protein isolate is made:
- After the bulk of a soy crop is solvent-extracted with hexane…
- Soy protein isolate is taken as a byproduct from the manufacturing of soybean oil.
- After being subjected to series of alkaline and acidic washes, it is spray-dried to become a powder (which ends up in “diet” protein powders and baby formula).
- During the spray-drying process, carcinogenic nitrates are formed.
- MSG is generally added to TVP(made via a high-temperature process), which gives it a “meaty” flavor and masks the bean taste. TVP is used as “fake meat” in many health food products.
- Also present in soy (even after the high temperature process), is trypsin inhibitor, which makes it necessary for farm animals that consume soy-based products to be given lysine supplements. Humans who eat soy can also become deficient in lysine, but we generally don’t hear about supplementation for that.
Other Side Effects of Soy (Wait! You Mean There’s More?!)
What exactly is GMO soy?
77% of the soy grown worldwide is known as a Genetically Modified Organism. In the United States, 93% of the soy grown is considered GMO. This means that the soy seed has been genetically modified (in most cases) to be able to withstand huge amounts of the glyphosate or glufosinate herbicides. When you ingest soy that is NOT organic, you ingest these herbicides.
Glyphosate (used in Monsanto’s Roundup) has been associated with a host of deformities in lab animals, and of course, large doses of it will cause serious injury or death to an adult. Initial exposure can lead to rashes, nausea, sore throat, difficulty breathing, headaches, lethargy and nosebleeds. Long term human studies have shown more increased risks of the cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, miscarriages, and attention deficit disorder with this herbicide.
Glufosinatekills plants by inhibiting the enzyme glutamine synthetase (try saying that 5 times really quicly), an enzyme also found in animals including humans. In lab animals, particularly dogs, glufosinate caused heart and circulatory failure (within two weeks of ingesting). Other lab animals had higher rates of miscarriages, premature delivery, convulsions, diarrhea, and aggressiveness.
Please understand that A LOT of these two herbicides can be sprayed on GMO soy to discourage weed growth. GMO soy will contain traces of these herbicides. It cannot be washed off. IF you are going to consume soy, make sure you consume organic soy.
One more problem with GMO soy is that the soy has been genetically modified and long term studies on the effects of this on humans has not been studied extensively. The future implications on our society could be serious.
Last, But Not Least…
Soy allergies are highly common (along with milk, wheat, egg and nut allergies).
Soy allergies symptoms include:
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Soy allergies can include:
- Tingling in the mouth
- Hives, itching or itchy, scaly skin (eczema)
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body
- Wheezing, runny nose or trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Redness of the skin (flushing)”
The Mayo Clinic also states:
“Soy allergy in infants often begins with the introduction of a soy-based formula. Soy allergy may develop when a child is switched to a soy-based formula after an allergic reaction to a milk-based formula.” source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/soy-allergy/DS00970/DSECTION=symptoms
So…IF you are not going to (or cannot) breastfeed your baby and he or she must have formula, please take a look at these natural infant formulas at:
Now…there are soy alternatives that you can use in your diet, whether you are eating a Vegan diet, a Paleo diet or anywhere in between.
Here’s How You Avoid Soy and What You Can Eat Instead of Soy:
Check all labels. Soy is in many, many processed foods. Manufacturers will generally state on the label that the food product contains soy, but the best way to avoid it is to cook from scratch. It is known as “soy lecithin,” “soya,” “hydrolyzed soy protein,” “soy protein isolate” or “soy.” It can even be used as a “natural preservative.”
Alternate milk sources:
- Cow’s Milk
- Goat’s Milk
- Almond Milk
- Rice Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Hemp Milk
All of these “milks” are guaranteed to be at the health food store and are becoming very common at regular grocery stores, as well. You can even make your own milks with nothing more than a blender and a coffee filter. Homemade coconut milk and almond milk are very nutritious. If you are interested in making these milks (it’s pretty simple to do), you can “Google” it.
Alternative Protein Sources:
- Whey protein
- Meat (of any kind)
- Eggs (super-easy to make)
- Pea (sold as drink powders)
- Rice (sold as drink powders)
- Dairy Products
I thrive on a diet with adequate meat, and sometimes I’ll cook up some extra hamburger (or something else) ahead of time for those times when I really, really need some protein. I add it to salads, to mix into a veggie stir-fry, or whatever else. I also like to keep some hardboiled eggs in the fridge for an “on-the-go” snack. Of course, protein powders are handy too…
Fermented Soy Products. Now, these soy-containing foods are okay to eat. In fact, not only are they okay to eat, but because they are fermented (and contain LOTS of beneficial lactobacilli), fermented soy products can be a very important part of your diet. Here’s what they are:
- Tamari Sauce
- Fermented Bean Paste
One of my favorite things to eat (especially first thing in the morning), is chicken broth with miso paste mixed in. I add ½ teaspoon of miso paste to one cup of chicken broth. Miso can be quite salty tasting (so watch out!); add it a little bit at a time to taste. You can start out slowly…
Snacks. There quite a few snacks out there that contain soy. Some of these are made purely of soy (or have LOTS of it in there). If you are avoiding soy entirely, watch out for chocolate chips or chocolate (soy lecithin is usually in chocolate). Haha, chocolate is the trickiest one of all, I think…Here’s where I have found soy-free chocolate:
SomeWhole Foods brand organic chocolate bars
Enjoy Life makes chocolate without soy in it (but still look at the labels)
Here are some other soy-free snacks:
- Veggies and Fruits
- Homemade roasted(or dehydrated nuts)
- Most Larabars
- Enjoy Life products
- Homemade organic popcorn
So, the next time you venture into the grocery store or to the Farmer’s Market, know that you have healthy, quick, and nutritious alternatives to soy.
About Beth Stowers: Our Mission is to supply the Tools and Information that can give EVERY Mother and Father the ability to have a Natural Home, Natural Family and contribute towards a Healthier and Happier Planet. Article Source: EzineArticles
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