As of 2007, 85% of Americans believed that soy products were healthy. I’m about to share with you why I believe that 85% of Americans are wrong.
Just like many other nutrition lies, the belief that unfermented soy products are healthy, stems from really persuasive marketing. Soy supporters like to cite the fact that Asian cultures have been thriving on soy for centuries but what they fail to mention is the quantity and quality of soy in their diet – which is the most important point. The traditional Asian diet includes a small amount of whole non-GMO (91% of US grown soy is genetically modified) and fermented soy foods. The modern western diet uses soy very differently. It is a processed version of the soybean that is separated into protein and oil and then used in large amounts of processed soy products. A very different story.
Possible Health Problems Linked to Processed Soy Consumption
The long list of health issues with links to soy consumption is much higher then you would imagine. In doing my research for this post, I was actually shocked as to how much came up – it’s a lot. These are only a handful of the problems that may be a result of soy consumption.
Soy is loaded with the isoflavones genistein and daidzein. Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen, which is a plant compound resembling human estrogen. These compounds mimic and sometimes block the hormone estrogen, and have been found to have adverse effects on various human tissues. Soy phytoestrogens are known to disrupt endocrine function, may cause infertility, and may promote breast cancer in women. This study suggests that pregnant women who consume processed soy may have an increased risk that female off-spring will develop breast cancer.
Soy contains goitrogens. Goitrogens are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with your thyroid function. This could lead to hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
Heavy Metal Exposure
Soy has toxic levels of aluminum and manganese. Soybeans are processed (by acid washing) in aluminum tanks, which can leach high levels of aluminum into the final soy product. Soy formula has up to 80 times higher manganese than is found in human breast milk. This study also found high levels of cadmium in soy formula and soy containing baby foods.
Growth Problems in Children
High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
Soy Products to Avoid at All Costs
- Soy milk
- Soy protein isolate (protein powders)
- Soy infant formula
- Soy “meat”
- Soy “cheese”
- Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Soybean Oil
Soy Products that are Good for you (this is the one exception)
Fermented soy products are the ONLY soy products that should ever be consumed.
- Soy Sauce, properly prepared soy sauce is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes; be weary of artifical imposters
- Tempeh, fermented soybean cake with a firm texture
- Miso, fermented soybean paste
- Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture
Fermented soy is one of the best sources of vitamin K2, which is the reason why these foods are so healthy. Vitamin K2 works together with Vitamin D for optimal wellness – this is why we often see them together in one supplement like Vitamin D3K2. The amount of vitamin K2 in fermented soy is higher then any other food sources, even leafy greens.
Other then the above mentioned fermented soy products, there is no significant data that I’ve seen that supports the claim that soy is a health food. The FDA says that consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily reduces your risk of heart disease yet even the American Heart Association no longer supports the health claims about soy endorsed by the U.S. government.
More Help Getting Away from Soy
There is a lot to learn on this topic. Even Health Coaches and Nutrition professionals are still learning more and more about the dangers of this food. Eliminating processed soy products from your diet is easy to do when you change to a real food lifestyle. The less boxed, packaged, and processed convenience foods you consume, the less soy will be in your diet. This is just one of the many many benefits to making the switch to a real food diet. My 7 Day Real Food Challenge is a way to get your feet wet and give this type of diet a try. More delicious real food recipes that I enjoy can be found in Allergy-Free Cooking by Wardeh Harmon and Well Fed 2: Paleo Recipes for People Who Like to Eat by Melissa Joulwan.
Do you eat unfermented soy products? Will you reconsider that now? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting!