February 8, 2011

Why No-Soy for Me

I cannot but imagine that many of you will not be appreciative of this blog post. I know many of my vegan/vegetarian/raw (and so on) friends are big fans of the bean, but over the past few years I have steered clear of the product. Initially it was because I noticed that when I regularly included it in my diet, my skin broke out, so for me initially the decision was purely vain. I started doing research and my Naturopathic physician at the time actually told me a few reasons why to avoid soy. I’m not saying that I avoid soy at all costs, well most of the time I do, or that I never occasionally indulge in my favorite treat –a tall soy chai no water latte from Starbucks –but I avoid it as a rule in my daily diet. Not just soy, but all soy derivatives (soy lecithin, etc.) Just like gluten, you would be shocked to find out how much soy is artfully crafted into millions of food products. Remember, too much of anything is generally no bueno for you. Before I continue let me make a distinction. Fermented soy products are totally different and do not wreak havoc on your body the way unfermented soy products do. Examples of unfermented soy products to which I am referencing as having a negative impact on your health in this blog are soy milk, soy cheese, soy ice cream, edamame, etc.

SO, why no soy… in Timothy Ferriss’s book The Four Hour Body he uses a quote from Dr. Richard Sharpe, director of the Medical Research Centre for Reproductive Biology in Edinburgh, Scotland which states: “I’ve seen numerous studies showing what soy does to female animals. Until I have reassurance that it doesn’t have this effect o on humans, I will not give soy to my children.” This was exactly the way I feel and why I have never, nor will I ever allow my daughter to have soy (as far as I can help). I love what Tim says following up that quote, “Food is complex and humans are overconfident.”

That being said, in a nutshell the #1 reason why I go “no-soy” is because most soy available today, 91% to be exact, is GMO (genetically modified organism) soy.
Why do they genetically modify soybeans? Because they have to make them resistant to the herbicide Roundup which means the soy you eat is loaded with this toxic pesticide. The plants also now contain genes from bacteria that produce a protein that has never been part of the human food supply, and is causing huge problems with allergic reactions and more in our bodies.
In special regards to women and our babies… Since the introduction of GM foods in 1996 there has been an upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility and other problems in our population, and animal studies thus far have shown devastating effects from consuming GM soy. Soy infant formula… nearly 20% of U.S. infants are now fed soy formula, but the estrogens in soy can irreversibly harm the infants’ development and reproductive health. Infants fed soy formula take in an estimated five birth control pills’ worth of estrogen per day. Infants fed soy formula have up to 20,000 times the amount of estrogen in circulation as those fed other formulas or human breast milk -(http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/soy-formula-part-seven.aspx). And unfortunately, in recent Russian research soy is being linked to infertility in future generations. After being saturated with herbicides, the harvested soy is separated into soybean oil and soybean protein, neither of which is natural. These products are foreign to our bodies and our bodies naturally therefore attack them upon consumption (check out Dr. Kaalay Daniel’s ‘The Whole Soy Story’ for thousands of studies) which causes complete immune system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility, to name a few. All of you soy-fans out there are going to be very unhappy and argue with me about this, but remember, all of the “health benefits” from “soy” are actually only from fermented soy products. Those advertising how good soy is for you are lumping fermented with unfermented, which we know is not the case.

Examples of fermented soy which is good for us: Temph, Miso, Natto and soy sauce. Examples of unfermented soy which you want to avoid: Soybean oil (check ingredients listed), soymilk, soy cheese, ice cream, yogurt, soy “meat”, soy protein of any kind, edamame, soy infant formula.

Soy lecithin (found in everything!!!) is used as an emulsifier in many foods and supplements and is derived from soy but there are some newer products that extract it from sunflower. Look for those products instead and try to avoid soy lecithin.
So the reasons why fermented soy products are good for us are that it is the best food source of Vitamin K2. This vitamin helps prevent against osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diseases of the brain such as dementia, and protects against various cancers including prostate, lung, liver cancer and leukemia. Vitamin K acts synergistically with Vitamin D to keep you healthy.

A few other reason why non-fermented soy products do us harm are that they contain goitrogens which are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism thereby inhibiting normal thyroid function. They contain hemagglutinin which is a clot-promoting substance that causes your red blood cells to clump together. These clumped RBC are unable to properly absorb and distribute oxygen to your tissues. Soy contains phytates which bind to metal ions, preventing the absorption of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc –all co-factors for optimal biochemistry in your body. Soy has toxic levels of aluminum and manganese because they are processed by acid washing in aluminum tanks, which can leach high levels of aluminum into the final soy product. Soy formulas have up to 80 times higher manganese than is found in human breast milk. These are just a few reasons why unfermented soy is no bueno for you.

According to Timothy Ferriss’s recent research (The 4 Hour Body) he has learned that “the phytoestrogens in soy are dangerous for adults and, to a greater extent, children, even when used in moderation.” Studies have demonstrated that “… just 30 grams of soy per day (about 2 Tbsp.) for 90 days can disrupt thyroid function.” The Swiss Federal Health Service equated 100 milligrams of isoflavones (phytoestrogens) to a single birth control pill in terms of estrogenic impact. “How many birth control pills are you inadvertently eating each day?” Tim asks. WOW –this sealed the already pretty much decided deal for me. “Estrogen dosing isn’t good for either gender unless you’re aiming for sterility.” He gives some stats of total isoflavones in 100 gram servings:

Instant Soy Beverage: 109.51 mg
Raw Soybeans (Japanese): 118.51 mg (in less than ½ cup)
Fried Tofu: 48.35 mg (7-8 small pieces)
Temph: 43.52 mg (in less than 2/3 of a cup)
Common Infant Soy Formula: 25 mg

So now you’re wondering why I ruined your day with this blog post. I’m truly sorry about that, but you know me, I like to read and report –especially when the reports concern the health of our babies and children, and our own bodies’ during/before/after pregnancy.
Plus I’ve received many questions the past few months about soy, and many observers asking why I don’t include it in my diet at all. As far as I’m concerned, my daughter will not be given soy as a part of her diet, not at all, not in the least, no exceptions. When she is out in the world making her own decisions that will be up to her.
As for myself, I’ve avoided soy for vanity purposes for a while, and now I know why –my particular body doesn’t like that much estrogen, and since I’m already gluten intolerant, it’s easy to see why other foreign substances like GMO soy products are attacked by my body, making me feel super icky.
But aside from that, I am a huge avoider of all GMO products anyway.
You’re asking “what about organic soy?” well it’s certainly better for you than non-organic GM soy, but remember, regular soy isn’t a health food that benefits your body- only fermented soy products like the ones afore mentioned.
Obviously what you do with your own diet and body is totally up to you, and as I always say, find your own balance in whatever you choose. Don’t freak out over this blog post, do your own research and do what is best for you, your body and your family. Just be aware of what you’re being “sold” out there, and be your own best doctor. An educated mind won’t ever go to waste. Educate yourself on what you’re putting into your body. Read ingredient lists and labels. You’ll be surprised how often they sneak soy and other (like corn) products into your food.
If you are a soy milk advocate, give almond milk a whirl. Or even hemp. Tasty stuff! If you like tofu burgers, try temph. There are options for you. I personally can’t wait for the day that Starbucks offers organic coffee and almond milk options… but for now I typically patron Mom & Pop coffee shops who offer those choices, or every once in a while, yes, I have been known to consume a chai soy latte. I don’t live in fear that it will put me in the grave, but I just order a “Short” latte vs. the Tall latte (yes, they have a Short size, which I’ve been ordering for years, and everyone acts shocked, but that is the normal small in Europe!). Follow your gut, always follow your gut and you will be doing well. Here’s to your health!



My Sources:

The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food by Kaalay T. Daniel, PhD -http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0967089751/optimalwellnessc

Timothy Ferriss –The 4 Hour Body http://www.fourhourbody.com/