While the food industry is busy praising soy's so-called health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, fighting osteoporosis and even reducing the risks of some cancers, researchers are discovering quite the opposite. In fact, it was discovered that consuming soy might be linked to:
- Reduced male fertility
- Increased risk of certain types of cancers
- Damaged brain function in men
- Developmental abnormalities in infants
- Early onset of puberty in western women
With all these negative side effects from eating soy, many may think the simple solution is to stop eating it all together. If only it were that simple. Soy can be found in just about every food product available, as it is present in more than 70 percent of all supermarket products and is widely used in most fast food chains. Foods containing soy include a wide range of processed products, from hamburgers to breakfast cereals and mayonnaise.
Why is soy so popular? One reason is that it is a cheap source of protein. Every aspect of the product is used -- from the bean down to the husk.
However, many foods will not list soy as an ingredient on their labels. For example, the soybean produces a substance, lecithin, which is an important ingredient of baking that prevents other ingredients from separating. Food labels on chocolate bars and cakes will list lecithin as an ingredient instead of soy. Similarly, the oil extracted from soy is used in salad dressing and cooking oils. Thus, food labels on these products will simply list vegetable oil rather than soy oil.
Further, about 90 percent of the 200 million tons of soy produced each year is used to feed animals. Therefore, whether one consumes beef, lamb, bacon or processed chicken, chances are that animal was fed a soy diet, making it virtually impossible not to consume soy when eating any type of meat.
Although avoiding foods containing soy is a problem for most, an even bigger problem has surfaced: Satellite imaging data has shown there has been a 40 percent jump in deforestization in the Amazon rainforests. Much of this horrific destruction is due to illegal logging of land to produce soy. In addition, as protected forests are destroyed to make room for soy, peasant farmers who have been living off the land for generations will be forced from their homes with nowhere to go.
Thus, soy has proven to do more harm than good. One doctor even compared eating soy to playing roulette: "You just don't know."
Guardian November 7, 2004
First of all, understand I am in no way opposed to soy consumption, only unfermented soy consumption. Fermented soy, which includes natto, miso and tempeh, is a healthy food and should be consumed by the masses. As I've written before, the enzyme nattokinase -- derived from natto -- is a safer more powerful option than aspirin that can dissolve blood clots and has been used safely for more than 20 years.
On the other hand, eating unfermented soy, or "bad soy" can harm you. Why? For one, soy's phytoestrogens can mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen, which have been found to have adverse effects on various human tissues. Drinking even two glasses of soy milk daily for one month has enough of the chemical to alter a woman's menstrual cycle. The FDA regulates estrogen-containing products, however no warnings exist on soy.
Also, phytic acid, which contains anti-nutritive properties, is present in unfermented soy products. This poses a problem because phytic acid binds with certain nutrients and inhibits their absorption, which is a direct, physical effect that takes place in the digestive system. Fermented soy, however, stops the effect of phytic acid. The fermentation also creates the probiotics -- the "good" bacteria the body is absolutely dependent on -- that INCREASES the quantity, availability, digestibility and assimilation of nutrients in the body.
Moreover, soy is particularly problematic for infants, as soy formula is an abomination that has caused much damage to the children of this country. It has been estimated that infants who are fed soy formula exclusively receive five birth control pills worth of estrogen every day.
Thus, it is important to stick to fermented soy in order to reap the benefits of soy consumption. So remember, pass up the processed soy milks, soy "burgers," soy "ice cream," soy "cheese" and the myriad of other soy junk foods that are so readily disguised as health foods.
If you find it difficult to cut out soy diary products from your diet, I suggest trying Body Ecology Kefir. Kefir's tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as the friendly "probiotic" bacteria found in yogurt. Simply take one packet and combine with your favorite raw milk or coconut juice. It tastes great plain, with your favorite fruit, or it makes a great base for smoothies, dips, and salad dressings.