Soy is a legume that is grown and highly chemically processed, even the “organic” versions. Virtually all soybeans grown today are genetically modified. Many countries outside the US won’t accept US-grown soy because of carcinogenic chemicals used as herbicides and their genetically modified status. Research has shown that the phytoestrogens in soy may play a role in breast cancer, so females should avoid it. Raw soy flour is also known to cause pancreatic cancer in rats. Soy is called soya outside the US.
Soy is used to make many different foods. Soybeans can be eaten whole, with the immature types being called edamame. Soybeans must be cooked, as they are poisonous when raw. Soy is used in tofu, soymilk and various dairy and meat substitutes. It is also used in fermented foods like miso, natto and tempeh, which are commonly consumed in some Asian countries.
What remains of the soybean after the fat has been extracted is called soybean meal, which is about 50% protein. The majority of soybean meal is used to feed livestock, but it can also go through further processing to produce isolated soy protein.
Because it's cheap and has certain functional properties, soybean oil and soy protein have found their way into all sorts of processed foods, so most people in the U.S. are consuming significant amounts of soy without even knowing about it. Soy protein is also the major ingredient in soy-based infant formulas.
Improper balance of testosterone to estrogen in men can lead to a lower libido, fat accumulation around the waist and loss of energy, stamina and virility and even man boobs (gynecomastia).
Unfortunately, many Americans who are committed to healthy lifestyles have been mislead and manipulated into believing that unfermented and processed soy products like soymilk, soy cheese, soy burgers, and soy ice cream are healthy foods.
Soy Dangers Summarized
- 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, but only with long fermentation. High-phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
- Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals, soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.
- Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
- Soy phytoestrogens are potent anti-thyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
- Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body's requirement for B12.
- Soy foods increase the body's requirement for Vitamin D. Toxic synthetic Vitamin D2 is added to soy milk.
- Fragile proteins are over-denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
- Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
- Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods to mask soy's unpleasant taste.
- Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum, which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.
What Soy Products Are Good for You?
The only soy with health benefits is organic soy that has been properly fermented, and these are the only soy products I ever recommend consuming. After a long fermentation process, the phytate and "anti-nutrient" levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system.
The primary fermented soy products I recommend are:
- Tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
- Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
- Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
- Soy sauce, which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes; be wary because many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.
So should you give up soy for good? Not necessarily. Eating some soy can be a healthy way to cut back on meat while still making sure you’re eating enough protein. But too much of a good thing has the potential to take its toll on your hormones and your health.
A serial entrepreneur and former financial advisor, Jean Titus discovered his purpose and passion through the heartache of losing loved ones far too early. He lives his mantra – “We rise by lifting others” – daily as a life coach and Personal Trainer. Jean brings a simplicity and practicality to his work, helping clients draw on their strengths to realize the one thing money can’t buy – good health and wellness. Follow him on Instagram and his fitness journey!