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Soy - The Not So Miracle Food

By: Caroline Sutherland
So many people are wondering, “Is soy healing, harmful or both?”
 
According to researchers Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD, Only a few decades ago, the soybean was considered unfit to eat - even in Asia.”
 
If we believe the people who are enthusiastically marketing soy products, it is a miracle food. However, any food that is powerful enough to heal is also powerful enough to cause disease. We’ve heard more than enough claims for how soy can prevent disease, but are these claims proven? Many health experts are warning us to look at the other side of the soy story.
 
Proven benefits?
To date, there has been no reliable proof that soy improves hormonal balance, prevents cancer, prevents heart disease, treats osteoporosis, or any of the other conditions it is claimed to benefit, including menopause.
 
According to research from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, soy products are heavily marketed to postmenopausal women for relief of menopausal symptoms, despite the absence of consistent clinical data demonstrating any such benefit in human trials.
 
Scientific proof of the benefits of soy is controversial at best, however, since soy is an agricultural cash crop, common food manufacturing ingredient, and widely marketed as a health product and supplement, many people have come to believe it is safe and proven even though it is not. While some studies show soy reduces risk of breast cancer in women, for example, others show that it increases the risk.
 
Other side effects of soy consumption may include DNA damage, accelerated aging of the brain, hormone disruption, and thyroid damage.
 
Thyroid dangers
“It is well described but little known that the soybean and goiter have long been associated in animals and humans,” according to researchers at the National Center for Toxicological Research (Environmental Health Perspectives journal, 2002).
 
As far back as 1960, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested, “Elderly women need to be aware of, and monitored for, possible thyroid problems resulting from consumption of soy products.” Today, scientists confirm early warnings that postmenopausal women who consume large amounts of soy products may be at higher risk for thyroid problems.
 
There is also an increased incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis in children fed soy formulas as reported by researchers from North Shore University Hospital-Cornell University Medical College.
 
Even if soy does prove to be helpful in preventing disease, the amounts and types that we are eating in our Western society are questionable. Most soy staples, such as tofu and soy milk, are highly processed. Only organically grown (not genetically modified), properly fermented soy is easy to digest and safe to eat in moderate amounts. In Japan, where it is thought that the consumption of soy may explain lower incidences of breast cancer in women, soy is used as a condiment, not as a staple or as the centre of a meal.
 
Anti-nutrients
The soybean naturally contains many anti-nutrients, such as enzyme inhibitors, endocrine disruptors, and phytic acid.
 
The enzyme inhibiting substances in soy prevent important digestive enzymes, including trypsin, from doing their jobs. Without active trypsin we cannot properly digest protein. When we absorb incompletely digested proteins into the body we cause an immune system reaction that affects overall health.
 
Endocrine disrupting isoflavones found in soy, such as genistein and daidzein, are goitrogenic components, inhibit the synthesis of other necessary hormones. Infertility, reproductive problems, thyroid issues, and liver stress may result.
 
Soy has one of the highest levels of phytic acid of any grain or legume. Soaking and cooking do not do enough to eliminate its effects. Phytic acid binds to minerals in the digestive tract and prevents them from being absorbed into the body. Such demineralization may contribute to a number of conditions including osteoporosis, or porous bones.
 
 
Soy Dangers Summarized
·        High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
 
·        Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals, soy-containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.
 
·        Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
 
·        Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
 
·        Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12.
 
·        Soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D.
 
·        Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
 
·        Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
 
·        Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
 
·        Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum, which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.
 
This information is excerpted, with permission, from “Soy Alert!” - a project of The Weston A. Price Foundation www.westonprice.org and reprinted with permission from Heath Action Network a non-profit consumer advocacy organization which investigates all modalities of preventative health care and natural therapeutics. www.hans.org
 
Read more about soy, the fifth most common allergen in Caroline Sutherland’s book
The Body Knows Diet – Cracking the Weight Loss Code.
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