The Dark Side of Soy

There is a lot of misinformation in the media and online about the benefits of certain so-called health foods. Much of this information is presented to us not with our health in mind, but to serve corporate interests. If we can be convinced to eat more of these foods because we believe they’re good for us, then the government will continue to subsidize them with hundreds of millions of dollars, and the profits of processed food corporations will continue to rise. Never mind the detrimental effects these foods are having on our health because as far as corporate profits are concerned, truth isn’t on the menu.

Without a doubt, the biggest phony health food that poses the greatest risk to our health is soy. I share this important information because it will never appear in any major media. At the same time, soy is an ingredient in almost all processed foods, which makes it difficult to avoid, and the fact that it’s marketed to and consumed by women and children at a highly disproportionate rate makes it all the more important that this information is shared with someone you know.   

A Dubious Rating

In 1913, soy was originally grown for its oil as an ingredient in the manufacturing of paint and glue. It was classified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as an industrial material. It’s hard to believe, but soy protein isolate and soy isoflavones have never received the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) rating for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under its original use, soy does have a limited GRAS rating… as a cardboard binder.

In its native land, Asia, soy was originally grown as a form of fertilizer. Soy has an incredible ability to pull nitrogen out of the air and transfer it to the soil through its root system. Nitrogen content is crucial for healthy soil, so farmers would rotate soy between their major crops to replenish the earth. The beans weren’t harvested en masse. In this way, soy was a biological fertilizer… not a food.  

Deadly Defense

In nature, the rule is eat or be eaten. Animals have teeth and claws to defend themselves. They can also run or fly away. Plants don’t have these options, but they do fight back in a way that’s no less deadly with toxins. With few exceptions, you’d be hard-pressed to find any plant with the toxic load of soybeans. Some of these include:

Phytates or phytic acid binds to minerals in food and prevents the body from absorbing them. Over time, this leads to serious deficiencies, particularly in magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium. It’s not surprising that women on vegan and vegetarian diets that emphasize soy are at greater risk for conditions like anemia and osteoporosis. Phytates also interfere with the proper assimilation of vitamins D, A, C and B12. Grains and legumes (beans/lentils) all contain phytates, but soy contains the highest levels by far.   

Enzyme inhibitors block the body’s ability to use enzymes like amylase, protease, and lipase to break down and digest the food we eat. Soy also contains trypsin inhibitors that prevent protein absorption.

Lectins are glycoproteins that damage the fine brush-like lining inside the intestine and further prevent the absorption of nutrients. They also create perforations in the intentional lining that allows undigested food particles to pass through into the bloodstream, triggering an immune response from the body. Lectins can also pass through the perforations they make, resulting in inflammatory immune responses that have been linked to autoimmune disease. Because far more women than men are vegan or vegetarian and thus consume more soy and grains, which also contain lectins, perhaps it’s not a coincidence that 75% of all Americans who suffer from autoimmune diseases are women.  

Over 90% of soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified (GMO) to survive repeated and heavy sprayings with the herbicide glyphosate, also known as RoundUp, which has been linked to birth defects. Research has shown GMO crops create kidney and liver damage in mammals, along with pre-cancerous conditions and immune system dysregulation. Of even greater concern is research that reveals the genetic material from GMOs can enter human DNA, reprogram organ function and “silence” other genes. In addition, the unnatural genetic material in GMO soy that makes it immune to RoundUp can transfer into the DNA of human gut bacteria and continue to function. Even if you’re able to find organic, non-GMO soy, it will still contain all the health risks we’ve discussed previously and the rest that are to come. 

Hormonal Havoc

Soy is classified as a goitrogen because it contains many properties that negatively affect thyroid function. It also contains high levels of isoflavones or phyto-estrogens (plant-based estrogens) that are very similar in chemical structure to human estrogen and create serious hormonal dysregulation and health risks in women, children, and especially men.     

Thyroid function dropped dramatically in pre-menopausal women taking 45g of soy isoflavones per day. That’s the equivalent of just one cup of soy milk. Incredibly, these hormonal disturbances continued for three months after the women stopped taking the soy supplements. It’s probably not a coincidence that the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, was first discovered in Japan where soy consumption is high. 

Because a birth control pill is mostly estrogen, soy isoflavones (estrogens) have a contraceptive effect in the body. Decades of research have shown that isoflavones cause complete infertility in sheep, cows, and rodents, along with endometrial damage and changes to the cervical mucosa that make it difficult (if not impossible) for animals to conceive. From its own research, the Swiss Health Service stated that 100g of isoflavones per day contain the same level of estrogen as a birth control pill. 

The offspring of hamsters that had been fed GMO soy-based feed for two years were completely sterile by the third generation. On their way to infertility, their pups grew weaker with increasing mortality rates that were five times higher than the control group. 

A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health found that men who ate soy foods like miso soup, tofu, and soy ice cream had 41 million fewer sperm per milliliter than men who did not. Incredibly, the men who had the largest decrease in their sperm count (41 million) had a mean soy intake of only half a serving per day. That’s the equivalent of just one cup of soy milk or one serving of tofu every other day. Depending on a man’s normal sperm count, a drop like that could render him infertile.

Catastrophe for Children

Proper hormonal balance and cycles are crucial for children who rely on them to manage their rapid growth and maturation phases. This starts from birth, but babies fed soy formula often see the effects of having these vital hormonal processes interrupted. 

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the level of isoflavones capable of disrupting hormonal balance in adults is 6 to 11 times higher (on a bodyweight basis) in soy infant formula. Babies consuming soy milk formula were found to have isoflavone levels 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than biological estradiol levels in babies fed cow’s milk formula. The New Zealand Journal of Medicine reported that, based on bodyweight, babies fed only soy formula receive the same amount of estrogen as five birth control pills a day.

Testosterone surges in infant boys ensure proper genital development and set neurological patterns for how men perceive, think, and process information. If this process is inhibited by excess estrogen it can result in impairment of visual discrimination ability (needed for reading), spatial perception difficulty, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. Physical problems include undescended testicles, inguinal hernias, and hypospadias, a malformation of the penis where the urethra opening is on the underside, rather than at the tip. As they become more common, these development problems are being labeled Developmental Estrogenization Syndrome. Early exposure to soy has also been linked to low sperm count and motility, inability to support conception, and low weight of reproductive organs in adulthood.  

Girls exposed to soy experience premature, accelerated sexual growth with pubic hair and breast development regularly found in 14.7% of Caucasian girls and 50% of African American girls by age eight. One of several malformations of the reproductive tract can be found in 50% of girls exposed to soy isoflavones in infancy. It’s unfortunate that these girls’ bodies are developing much faster than their maturity, forcing them prematurely into social situations they’re not prepared to handle.

Healthcare agencies in countries such as New Zealand, France, Israel, Germany, and Switzerland have all made official announcements against soy-based infant formula. Unfortunately, finding a non-soy brand in the US is virtually impossible. Even organic cow’s milk alternatives include soybean oil as an ingredient. 

It’s always best to breastfeed when possible. If that’s not an option, the Weston A. Price Foundation offers the recipe for a formula substitute that you can discuss with your doctor. The tragedy of soy infant formula can best be summed up in the words of a former toxicologist for the FDA, Daniel Sheehan, who called the practice a “large, uncontrolled and basically unmonitored human infant experiment.”   

Cancer & Dementia 

One of the biggest cancer risks for a woman is her own estrogen levels. Because soy isoflavones (plant-based estrogens) increase estrogen in the body, it stands to reason that soy increases the risk for cancer. It’s also been found that it increases risk for dementia, as well. 

Researchers found women taking isoflavone supplements experienced cell proliferation and thickening, a precancerous condition, in the uterine lining. They called isoflavone supplements “potent drugs” and questioned the “long-term safety of phytoestrogens with regard to the endometrium.”

It was also discovered that isoflavones cause cell proliferation in the epithelial tissue that lines the cavities of the body and covers the surfaces of many internal structures. They’re even known to increase breast secretion and instigate the malignant cycle in breast cells. At the same time, they create wild fluctuations and sometimes even complete cessation of the menstrual cycle.

Research by neuro-epidemiologists has shown that Japanese Americans living in Hawaii who consume two or more servings of tofu per week exhibited accelerated brain aging. Results also showed that consuming soy in midlife leads to lower cognitive function later in life with higher rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The results supported much earlier research that found higher levels of circulating estrogen to be one of the primary causes of cognitive decline in post-menopausal women. 

Avoiding Soy

You don’t have to be eating tofu to be consuming a lot of soy. It’s in virtually all processed foods in various forms like soybean oil, soy lecithin (a thickening agent), and soy protein isolate. Read labels and avoid all foods that contain it. More than 60 years of research on the detrimental health effects of soy conclusively confirm that it’s not a food, it’s a pharmaceutical, and you shouldn’t be eating it. 

To find out more about the dangers of soy check out The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla T. Daniel or the Soy Alert at the Weston A. Price Foundation.  

For more health and inspirational insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit Behiveofhealing.com to sign up for the monthly newsletter or check out his annual health and well-being journal, MegaZEN here. For daily messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Twitter at Behiveofhealing.

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