The title says it all.
I’m going to step onto the soapbox for a few minutes and lay out a few things about this mythical ‘health food.’
Soy’s biggest claim to fame is the thought that it is a healthy alternative to meat and dairy.
In reality though, it’s not. Here are a few, ok MANY, things you can be sure of with regards to soy:
– Contains phytoestrogens that disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and promote breast cancer in women
– For men, a 2008 study found that men who consumed the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had a 50% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat soy!
– For women, the equivalent of two cups of soy milk per day provides the same estrogenic effect as one birth control pill.
– Contains high levels of phytic acid, which reduces the absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron, and inhibits enzymes we need to properly digest food
– Can cause girls to go through puberty early
– Can cause boys to go through puberty either very late or sometimes not at all
– A key ingredient in infant soy formula, soy protein isolate, is a compound that is not even recognized as safe for human consumption by the FDA
– 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.
– The estrogenic equivalent of feeding a baby soy milk is like giving them FOUR birth control pills
As you can see, soy can lead to a host of different problems.
If you’d like to read through an absolutely exhaustive list of research studies about the adverse effects of soy, click here.
At a time like this, it’s understandable for people to point towards traditional Asian cultures who have consumed soy for centuries. Yes, this is true. And yes, it is true that they do not see the adverse effects that Western civilization does. But why?
I’ll let a leading nutrition authority tackle this one:
In response to this protest, Chris Kresser says:
“First, the soy products consumed traditionally in Asia were typically fermented and unprocessed – including tempeh, miso, natto and tamari. This is important because the fermentation process partially neutralizes the toxins in soybeans.
Second, Asians consumed soy foods as a condiment, not as a replacement for animal foods. The average consumption of soy foods in China is 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) per day and is 30 to 60 grams in Japan. These are not large amounts of soy.
Contrast this with the U.S. and other western countries, where almost all of the soy consumed is highly processed and unfermented, and eaten in much larger amounts than in Asia.”
“But I don’t eat much soy at all so I don’t have anything to worry about.”
Ah yes, I thought you’d never say anything…
Unfortunately, soy is in many more foods than you’d ever care to know. It is in just about ALL processed and refined foods in the form of soybean oil, soy flour, soy lecithin, and soy protein. Read the label and you’ll see. Most people are completely unaware of just how much soy they are consuming. The average American gets up to 9% of their total calories from soybean oil alone.
My personal favorite offender? The super-de-duper healthy smoothie being handed out at nearly every “healthy smoothie shop” around the block, made with soy protein and non-fat milk – designed to do a body good.
Quick tip: when you see a bunch of shiny and colorful packaging outlined with ridiculous results claims of health and wellness, run for the hills. Run even faster if there is a huge bodybuilder helping promote it. Better yet, educate them that what they’re selling as a healthy food is actually doing more harm that good.
Here in the good old USA, we have a government that is slow and resistant to change. (Please, don’t make this a political debate). Many other countries have already taken steps to require that cautionary statements be placed on all soy products, warning of the health RISKS associated with consuming them.
We can’t afford to wait around for that to happen. We have to be the change we want to see.
Moral of this story? Educate yourself about what is in the food that you’re eating. Next time you reach for that delicious and “healthy” smoothie or non-fat soy latte, think about the repercussions down the road.
Remember, it’s long-term health that we’re concerned with!