What’s Wrong With Soy?

Posted on August 29, 2011

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Soy foods: soy beans, tofu, TVP, temphe & soy sauceOne of the questions sent to me by email this month:

Q:  “What’s wrong with soy?”

A: Soy milk and soy food are slowly beginning to lose their shine as Health Food super stars.  But when you’re looking for alternatives to dairy, or some vegetarian protein,  it can be tempting to turn to soy.  However, there are multiple problems with modern soy foods:

Soy contains high levels of phytic acid.

Phytic acid or phytate is an anti-nutrients that slowly deplete your body of precious minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium.

Soy loves aluminium.

Soy beans grown in soil that contains aluminium will draw this toxic metal out of the soil and accumulate it in the plant.  Great if you’re wanting to detox your garden patch of aluminium, but not so good if you’re planning on feeding it to human beings.

Soy is a high allergy food.

It’s up there with dairy, wheat, citrus and peanuts.  If you’re regularly suffering from ‘farty and bloaty’ and you’re drinking soy milk, chances are it’s the soy that’s the culprit.  Soy proteins have snuck into all kinds of processed foods and this over exposure is believed to be part of the problem.

Soy is bad news for sluggish thyroids.

Soy is known as a ‘goitrogen’.  This simply means that along with broccoli, cabbage and Brussel’s sprouts it can stop your thyroid being able to utilise iodine.  Your thyroid requires iodine to make thyroid hormones which control your metabolism.  Low iodine in your thyroid gland can worsen or lead to thyroid problems.  This is of greater concern for diets that are already low in iodine and that’s most modern diets.  Signs that you might have a thyroid problem include struggling to lose weight, extremely senstive to the cold, dry skin, constipation, low energy, hair loss (including eyebrows) and fertility problems (including recurring miscarriage).

Last but not least unless stated otherwise, all soy comes from genetically modified (GM) plants.

Soy plants aren’t genetically modified to be healthier for humans, they’re genetically modified to withstand higher onslaughts of toxic herbicides without curling up their roots and dying.

If you’re not concerned about GE ‘food’ in your food – you should be.  You’re probably eating it every day without realising it and no one knows the real truth about long term side effects.  What scientists do know is that when you manipulate and change a single gene, you’re not just changing a single behaviour or trait, the flow on or downstream effect is simply unknowable with our current level of science.  If tobacco companies lied and hid evidence for decades on the dangers of smoking cigarettes, and pharmaceutical companies can misplace studies showing that antidepressants increase suicide risk in teenagers and children you can bet your superannuation on the fact that giant agrochemical companies aren’t going to be up front and honest about potential dangers of GM foods.

Soy milk is not a ‘health’ drink and soy formula is not suitable for any baby.

What about the hormones in Soy?

Soy contains substances that act as very weak ‘oestrogens’.  They are not hormones themselves but have the ability to weakly stimulate your cells like a very very mild oestrogen.  I strongly believe that this is the least of soy’s problems, in fact most nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables contain ‘phyto oestrogens’ (phyto = plants).  Chemcials in plastics and pesticides (known as xeno oestrogens (xeno = foreign) have a much stronger oestrogenic effect and are of far more cause for concern.

High quality fermented soy products can be helpful for some health conditions and traditionally fermented soy sauce (tamari) and miso can be a tasty edition to a healthy diet.