September 26th, 2011 by Digestive Detective
I was walking down the aisle at a certain superstore that shall go unnamed last week and was stopped dead in my tracks by the sign on the right. I stood staring a the sign shaking my head probably to the confusion of the other shoppers. I immediately whipped out my phone, took a quick pic of the sign and forwarded it to my Facebook account with the caption: "False advertising."
But isn't soy good for us Jason? Didn't the USDA tout soy as a staple to include in your diet in their last Dietary Guidelines for Americans? Yes, they did, but in this case they're wrong (not the first time - just think Food Pyramid).
Soy - It Does a Body Bad
The issues with soy are numerous, and unfortunately, the myths that abound about the purported health benefits of soy are skewed at best - dead wrong at worst. Here are just a few of the myths (and their accompanying truths) related to soy:
Myth: Use of soy as a food dates back thousands of years.
Truth: Soy was first used as a food during the late Chou dynasty (1134-246 BC) only after the Chinese learned to ferment soybeans to make foods like tempeh, natto and tamari. (1)
Myth: Modern soy foods confer the same health benefits as traditionally fermented soy foods.
Truth: Most modern soy foods are not fermented to neutralize toxins in soybeans, and are processed in a way that denatures proteins and increases levels of carcinogens.
Myth: Soy foods provide complete protein.
Truth: Like all legumes, soybeans are deficient in sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine. In addition, modern processing denatures fragile lysine.
Myth: Soy formula is safe for infants.
Truth: Soy foods contain trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function. Phytic acid in soy foods results in reduced bioavailability of iron and zinc, which are required for the health, and development of the brain and nervous system. (1)
Myth: Soy isoflavones (estrogens) are good for you.
Truth: Soy isoflavones are phyto-endocrine disrupters. At dietary levels, they can prevent ovulation and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Eating as little as 30 grams (about 4 tablespoons) of soy per day can result in hypothyroidism with symptoms of lethargy, constipation, weight gain and fatigue.
Myth: Soy is good for not only your body, but for the environment.
Truth: Soy is amongst the most highly pesticide/herbicide-treated, genetically modified crop that is farmed in the world.
Soy Supplements = Man Boobs
Despite the various adverse effects of including soy in the diet, soy products and supplements still line the walls of supermarkets and health food stores. Unfortunately, due to the misinformation in the media and even through studies (often funded by the soy industry) pertaining to soy, this "food" remains largely in our food supply. To reduce or elimnate soy from your diet, you simply have to become a discerning consumer and read labels to look for soy in the items you buy. Try to opt for foods marked "soy free" and watch for ingredients such as soy lechithin and soy isolate that are often added to products.
As I mentioned earlier, soy lacks the essential amino acids required to make it a complete protein. For avid exercisers and fitness enthusiasts, supplementing with some form of protein is often a strategy for supporting lean muscle development. In the case of supplementation with soy protein, not only would this be an ineffective form of protein support, but can produce the exact opposite effect of what you're trying to achieve. In his paper on the dangers of soy, health practitioner Paul Chek explains why soy consumption is far from ideal when seeking increases in strength and lean muscle:
"Soybeans contain high levels of phytoestrogens which act as female hormone mimickers in the body and antagonize the effects of testosterone, growth hormone and typically make an exerciser less anabolic in general." (2)
The bottom line: Soy intake produces an internal, hormonal environment that makes it harder to gain muscle and more difficult to lose weight (body fat). For men, soy intake promotes an estrogenic response (hence the man boobs) and disrupts levels of testosterone required for optimal body composition.
Early Onset Puberty
I can recall a few years back when I was training a client, and she seemed tired and stressed out. When I asked her what was going on she replied, "Oh it was just a little stressful around the house this weekend. My daughter got her period for the first time so we were helping her through that whole process." "How old is your daughter again?", I asked. "She's nine years old," my client replied. I was somewhat shocked to hear that as her answer as it seemed very young to me for her daughter to be experiencing a developmental change that normally doesn't occur until girls reach 11-13 years of age.
This is not an uncommon occurence; however, as more an more young girls are experiencing premature maturation and early onset menstruation as a result of being fed soy-based infant formulas. Parents who feed their infants soy formula are unwittingly giving them a hormonal equivalent of three to five birth control pills a day!(3)
Soy milk is NOT better for you. In fact, soy is not only not better for you, but it's consumption leads to hormonal disorders and disease. Avoid soy and instead incorporate healthy proteins from organic, grass-fed meats & poultry, fish and vegetarian sources such as beans, legumes and nuts. If you're searching for soy-free, dairy-free protein supplements, consider pea protein and rice protein.
Don't be fooled by false advertising - educate and liberate yourself, your health, and the health of your family.
Ref. 1 Fallon, Sally. Update 2003: Soy Alert.Weston A. Price Foundation. www.westonaprice.org 2003
Ref. 2 Chek, Paul. Sans Soy! The Truth About Soy and the Human Body. www.ptonthenet.com June 2005
Ref. 3 Plant Toxins and Anti-nutrients. GEO-PIE Project, Cornell Cooperative Extension, www.geo-pie.cornell.edu/issues/toxins.html#toxins. August 2004.