Still a few months ago I had the impression, that soy is healthy and good for you. After all, in my reality it’s the food that health-conscious vegetarians eat in vast quantities as a replacement for animal protein. As we know, soy is being used to create all kinds of alternatives to animal products; there are soy burgers, hot dogs, milk etc. Soy protein is also used in many different supplements.
Like so many other assumptions I’ve had, this one went down the drain after I became more interested in nutrition and health, and started to actually read about stuff. So here are 10 things you probably don’t know about soy, and after reading this I hope you’ll at least consider twice whether or not to feed a soy-based infant formula to your child.
1) Soy contains numerous chemical toxins
High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of multiple micronutrients, and is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion, cause pancreatic disorders, and is known to have caused stunted growth in test animals. This is also the reason why eating soy may cause gas, bloating, pain and diarrhea.
Soy phytoestrogens disrupt the endoctrine function and may cause infertility and breast cancer.
Thyroid hormone is one of the key metabolic controllers in human body, and the soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism (meaning, that the body is unable to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone) and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
Soy foods contain high amounts of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.
Processed soy foods contain toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines. Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is also formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
2) Soy increases your need for vitamins
Vitamin B12 analogs in soy cannot be absorbed and used by human body, and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12. Soy also increases your need for vitamin D, which is rather difficult to get enough already. Especially here in Nordics.
3) Soy has been used to kill sex drive
Monks in Asia have been eating tofu because it helped them keep their vows of sexual abstinence, and wives in Japan have been known to feed it to their husbands in order to reduce their virility.
Soy inhibits the production of testosterone and animal tests have shown that phytoestrogens cause lowered sperm counts, infertility and nipple discharge. In fact, the World Health Organization has spent $5 million to investigate potential natural contraceptives in order to find something safer than the birth control pill, but came out empty handed because the side effects of “natural” methods proved similar and equally serious as those of the pill.
4) Soy has never been a staple in any traditional diet
In areas where soy foods have been eaten for hundreds of years (e.g. China and Japan), soy has been used as a condiment and consumed in very small amounts that equal to less than ten grams a day.
Only in areas of famine has soy been used as a protein source.
5) Fermentation is the only proper way to prepare soy
No other preparation method, including the chemical methods used these days to create processed soy foods, will disable the trypsin inhibitors in soy.
6) Soy is safe only in very small amounts
In a study done on healthy Japanese adults, it was found that even thirty grams of soy for thirty days was enough to provoke thyroid disruptions.
7) Soy is extremely dangerous for children
A typical soy formula used to feed infants contains 38mg of isoflavones a day. That’s equal to eating three to five birth control pills.
The effects of soy-based infant formula range from structural changes in the brain to reproductive system and genital abnormalities. Soy has also been linked to accelerated brain aging, diminished cognitive ability and Alzheimer’s disease.
8) Soy used to be an industrial material
Before it became part of the health-food craze, soy was grown for its oil which was used to make paint and glue. Soy protein concentrate has been used to make cardboard.
9) Soy milk is a highly processed product
First the beans are soaked in an alkaline solution and then cooked under pressure. In the process the important nutrients in the beans are damaged and a toxin called lysinoalanine is created. An enzyme in soy called lipoxygenase oxidizes its polyunsaturated fats, which is the cause for the unpleasant taste and odor of soy milk.
The final solvent has to be fortified by adding calcium and vitamin D2, which is a synthetic form of vitamin D that may cause hyperactivity, coronary heart disease and allergic reactions.
In order to keep all these substances together the milk has to be emulsified and stabilized. This is done by using titanium oxide, a mineral pigment used also in white paint. There is nothing natural in soy milk.
10) Soy “meat” products are stuff of nightmares
These foods are made from textured soy protein (TSP), soy protein concentrate (SPC) and soy protein isolate (SPI).
TSP is made from soy flour, which is first defatted using high temperatures and a hexane solution. The resulting paste is put under such extreme heat and pressure that the chemical structure of the soy protein is changed in the process and toxins are formed. Colors, flavorings and sweeteners are added to the mixture.
The edible SPI is derived from defatted soy flour using an alkaline solution followed by an acid bath. The precipitated protein-curd is collected and separated from the whey by centrifuge. The curd is usually neutralized with alkali to form the sodium proteinate salt before drying.
SPC is the main ingredient in soy-based infant formula. It is created from defatted soybean meal, mixed with a caustic alkaline solution to remove the fiber, and then washed in an acid solution to precipitate out the protein. The protein curds are then put through another alkaline solution and spray dried at extremely high temperatures. This process destroys some of the amino-acids while rendering others toxic and carcinogenic.
To turn the result into something edible, the SPC is again put under a highly alkaline solution, more pressure and heat extrusion, acid bath, and finally it is mixed with the various binders, gums, fats, flavors and sweeteners. The resulting soy protein fibers are not much different from plastic fibers.
The end product contains toxins such as lysinoalanine and nitrosamine. The former causes liver damage and is known to be both carcinogenic and mutagenic. The latter causes problems ranging from kidney damage to mineral deficiences. 100 grams of soy protein contains 35 times the levels of nitrosamine considered safe.