In the past 60 years, the soy industry has worked to hide the dangers of soy consumption, and at the same time, pulled off a brilliant marketing scheme. They have managed to convince the American public, and most recently the world, that commercial products made from soybeans are delicious, nutritious, and healthy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the FDA lists the soybean plant over 200 times in its Poisonous Plant Database.
Each reference refers to the results of a study conducted which resulted in a warning about the dangers of soy. Many of the studies show that soy consumption is associated with thyroid problems, growth retardation, amino acid deficiencies, malabsorption of important body minerals, endocrine system malfunctions, and carcinogenic effects.
In the Whole Soy Story, Kaayla Daniel writes in detail about the dangers of soy. The book discusses why today’s commercial products made from soybeans are unhealthy for human consumption. Specifically, soybeans must be prepared properly in order to provide health benefits. Asian cultures use an extensive fermentation process to neutralize the naturally occurring toxins and anti-nutrients in soybeans. These anti-nutrients include:
- Goitrogens: these suppress effective thyroid function by interfering with iodine uptake which can, as a result, cause an enlargement of the thyroid gland.
- Lectins: toxic protein compounds found in most foods, but in heavy amounts in many seeds, grains and legumes. large amounts of lectins can damage the heart, kidneys, and liver, lower blood clotting ability, destroy the lining of the intestines, and inhibit cell division. Cooking neutralizes lectins to some extent, and digestive juices further destroy them. People living at high altitudes, where water boils well below 212 degrees should cook lectin-containing foods in pressure cookers to avoid lectin poisoning. The lethal toxin Ricin is made from castor beans, which contain large quantities of a, particularly deadly lectin. Raw black beans contain enough lectins to kill rats in one week.
- Oligosaccharides: the sugars which are the source of flatulence and bloating when improperly prepared soybeans are consumed.
- Oxalates: these compounds impair calcium absorption and are associated with kidney stone formation.
- Phytic acid (Phytate): In the human gut, phytic acid acts as an anti-nutrient. It reduces the absorption of valuable minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc by binding the minerals into an insoluble salt. It also impairs the absorption of the vitamin niacin.
- Isoflavones: these are plant compounds that act like estrogen in the body and affect the reproductive and nervous system. Studies have linked these substances to lowered testosterone levels. A recent study found that 56g of soy protein powder per day caused serum testosterone to fall 4% in four weeks in a test group of twelve healthy males.
- Protease inhibitors: these include trypsin inhibitors, which impair the digestive enzymes protease and trypsin needed to metabolize ingested protein. The results are gastric distress, poor protein digestion, and an overworked pancreas.
- Saponins: these bind and impair bile function and can result in damage to the intestinal lining and lower cholesterol levels. This ability to lower cholesterol prompted the FDA to allow soy manufacturers to add the claim that “diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease” claims on its products.
This sounds good until you know that saturated fat and cholesterol aren’t linked to heart disease and lower cholesterol levels are associated with shortened life spans. Amid all the other dangers of soy consumption, selling it for this cholesterol-lowering action doesn’t amount to many benefits.
- Allergens: soy is one of the top 8 allergens that the FDA requires food manufacturers to list on ingredient labels.
Cooking Doesn’t Help
Regular cooking methods do not lessen the dangers of soy consumption unless the beans are cooked for at least 10 hours at high temperatures and pressures.
In the United States, modern processors are watching profits, and since time affects the bottom profit line, they don’t use processing methods that will take the important step of reducing the dangers of soy by reducing the anti-nutrients.
The necessary long cooking times are shortened by using chemical applications to speed up the process, and these methods are less than effective. Not only are any beneficial nutrients destroyed, but the amino acids are also destroyed or altered and other toxins are introduced.
This improperly prepared soy is sold in all sorts of “health” products – fake soy cheese, soy milk, low carb snack foods, fake meat products and other processed foods. Soy meal is also fed to cattle, pigs, and chickens in factory farms all over the country.
The dangers of soy consumption are documented in many gold-standard studies, but that doesn’t stop the food manufacturers. They use soy as a cheap, dangerous filler substance to extend profits.
Infants and Soy: A Dangerous Combination
Soy milk has been used as a substitute for milk-based infant formula by some vegan parents. These parents have learned the hard way about the dangers of soy milk for infants.
In 1990, the news carried several reports of infants being hospitalized for malnutrition after being given soy milk exclusively. The FDA responded by issuing a warning about the dangers of soy milk for infants and asking soy milk manufacturers to put warning labels on their products to warn parents. Even so, in 2007, a vegan couple in Atlanta was sentenced to life in prison for the death of their malnourished 6-week-old baby boy, who was fed a diet largely consisting of soy milk and apple juice.
Soy infant formulas are not much better. Although these formulas must be heavily fortified with salt, minerals and other vitamins to avoid causing nutritional deficiencies, they can still cause manganese toxicity and other vitamin deficiency health issues in infants. In addition, soy formulas contain high levels of phytoestrogens known as isoflavones. These act just like the hormone estrogen in the body and put an infant’s developing endocrine, nervous and immune systems at risk. The effects continue on into childhood, with parents reporting sexual development in children as young as 3.
In addition, many soy formulas have unsafe additives like caustic soda and preservatives. To add insult to injury, most soybean crops in the US are genetically engineered to withstand extremely heavy pesticide applications. This genetic tampering and the pesticide residues just add to the dangers of soy consumption.
If you are unable to breastfeed or would like an alternative to soy-based formulas, the Weston Price Foundation may be able to help. Go here for more information.
The soy industry is not concerned about warning you about the dangers of soy consumption. They are only interested in selling more soy. Taste is what they are shooting for, not health benefits. And they still come up short, as anyone who tastes any soy product for the first time will tell you. Without the heavy addition of the flavorings, sugar, MSG and other spices, soy is inedible.
A terrible taste is one way Nature warns us to avoid eating food. The warning is there, but the soy manufacturers and their uninformed customers aren’t listening.
What About the Chinese?
Soy manufacturers cite references to the use of soy in China for thousands of years. In fact, the Chinese did rever soybean plants, not for food purposes but for the soybean plant’s ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. This made the nitrogen available for growing other foods.
The Chinese only began eating small amounts of heavily fermented soy products about 2500 years ago. Contrary to the popular assertion that soy is a staple in the Chinese diet, the Chinese only eat about an ounce of soy per day. And they never eat soy that hasn’t been completely transformed through the bacterial enzyme action of fermentation.
The bacteria destroy most of the toxins and anti-nutrients during the fermentation process and create a final product that is able to provide the health benefits for which soy is famous.
Natto, a fermented soy product popular in Japan is particularly healthful, due to its high vitamin K2 content, cancer prevention, and antimicrobial properties.
More Dangers of Soy: Tofu and Brain Aging
The dangers of soy are also linked to brain function and the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. An April 2000 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reported that “higher midlife tofu consumption was independently associated with indicators of cognitive impairment and brain atrophy in late life.”