If you follow what the government and food industry tells you like a broken record, you probably still believe that soy has some health benefits and that it’s a good idea to consume at least some. After all, what could be bad about the innocent soy milk or tasteless tofu?
Everything is wrong about it and we’ve been fed a bunch of lies. You have to consider the fact that all that you think you know about soy is the result of careful marketing over years and years that worked so well that everybody is now convinced that it’s a super-food that could feed the world and save the environment. If you head over to your local health food store, you’ll find that almost every packaged product is soy based. Most other products there are grain based, which renders those stores a place where vegetarians go to ruin their health, but this is a whole other story.
Of course, the main reasons why you should avoid soy are the same reasons why you should stay away from other grains and legumes. Lectins will mess with your leptin sensitivity (hunger and energy expenditure signals), making your brain think it’s hungry even when your body has more than enough calories. Leptin resistance could lead to insulin resistance, which could lead to a host of problems also known as the metabolic syndrome. Levels of phytates in soy are also very high. Phytates bind to minerals like zinc, calcium, iron and magnesium and make them unavailable for you.
You might already know about those properties of grains and legumes, but here are facts that make soy a particularly bad source of calories. First though, let’s debunk a common myth.
Asians and their soy consumption
You know that Asians consume large quantities of soy regularly, right? Well that’s just wrong! This is what the industry wants us to believe because it’s a common fact that Asians generally live longer and healthier than Americans. The industry then only had to point us to the consumption of soy products of Asians for us to believe in the health benefits of it.
If you ask an Asian family you know, chances are you’ll realize that they don’t eat that much soy.
This is another of those ideas that were implanted in the general consciousness that we take for a fact without questioning its origin.
Asians traditionally eat small amounts of soy and most of it is in a fermented form like nato, miso or tempeh. When you properly ferment beans and grains, they usually lose a lot of their lectin and phytate content.
When they don’t have a fermented form of soy, they usually have it with fish broth in soups, which is very high in minerals and somewhat counter acts the effects of soy.
It’s funny to learn that a lot of those other cultures seem to instinctively know how to prepare certain foods to minimize their downsides (soaking, sprouting, fermenting)
It’s also revealing to learn that Asian people generally don’t eat brown rice and prefer the most refined white rice. Again, the rice looses most of its toxic effects when refined. Of course, eating high quantities of rice is still eating a high proportion of carbohydrates, but then again, it’s not from fructose, the worst kind of sugar.
Goitrogenic effects of soy
Soy contains high levels of goitrogens. Goitrogens are compounds that inhibit the thyroid’s ability to utilize iodine correctly which could lead to hypothyroid problems.
Thyroid problems are so prevalent today, especially for women, that it’s now as if it’s normal to have thyroid problems.
When you have an underperforming thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), your whole metabolism slows down. You feel cold all the time, you have low energy and you catch just about any virus that floats around because of a weakened immune system.
Be aware though that when it comes to goitrogens, soy is not the only offender. Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) have these effects too. Cooking those vegetables will eliminate most of these effects, which is not the case with soy. Of course most vegetables contain toxins of some kind so it’s always a good idea to eat a good variety instead of always eating the same vegetables.
Protease inhibitors in soy
As if lectins and phytates where not enough, soy also has protease inhibitors, also called trypsin inhibitors. These toxins block the action of enzymes that have the responsibility of digesting certain proteins, but it can also lead to a host of other problems.
Soy and estrogen
This is a big problem. Soy contains plant estrogens in the form of isoflavones which effectively raise your estrogen levels and therefore lowers your testosterone levels. Those hormones are in competition so more of one means less of the other.
Messing up your estrogen levels has devastating effects for men and women as well as children and newborns.
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).
Having abnormally high levels of estrogen doesn’t mean you’ll be more of a woman. It could disrupt your periods, fertility and put you at risk for breast cancer.
What we feed our newborn child is always a first concern of course. Nowadays however, some formula preparations contain soy in large quantities. A baby needs to have his hormones in the proper ratio to develop normally and a baby boy needs a lot of testosterone to form is sexual traits. Too much estrogen at this stage can cause failure to thrive, underdeveloped testicles and problems when puberty comes like gynecomastia, lack of facial hair and emasculation. It is said that the amount of estrogen-producing soy in some formula preparations could be the equivalent of consuming 5 birth control pills per day.
Soy is destroying the planet
Some vegetarians argue that eating meat destroys the planet and that replacing meat protein with soy is a good alternative. Absolute nonsense. Those who believe in that have absolutely no clue about the way the industrialized system works.
Soy crops are probably the most destructive of all the monocrops. They rob the soil of nutrients without giving back, they’re one of the pesticide laden crops and they are now almost all genetically modified. The major part of it goes to feed livestock, who get sick eating it. Some factory produced cuts of meat are now injected with extra soy. This is yet another reason to stay clear of factory-farmed animals: save yourself and the environment from soy.
Monsanto, the largest soy producer now sues every farmer who gets their soy cross-pollinated by Monsanto’s patented GMO crops. Cross-pollination used to be the way plants reproduced, now it’s illegal! It should actually be the opposite where the farmers sue Monsanto for infecting their crops, but of course Monsanto is now too big to be vulnerable. They have a very strong political power because of the lobbying they do.
I hope this article gave you reasons compelling enough to stay away from this inferior source of food and that you’ll choose vegetables and fruits instead, which are a far superior source of nutrition.
Soy products: ©iStockphoto.com / Igor Dutina, factory farming