Dispelling the “Joy of Soy” Myth

soy mythFor several years soy has been revered as the darling of the food industry. New studies have linked soy to rickets, goiters, reproductive disorders and even cancer.

A few decades ago, soybeans were not used as a food but were used instead, and more appropriately, in crop rotation. However, the discovery of long periods of fermentation has been found to be essential in transferring soy into a healthy food. This process significantly reduces the phytate content of soybeans, as well as the trypsin inhibitors that interfere with many vital enzymes and amino acids. Fortunately, fermented soy such as tempeh, miso, natto, tamari and other fermented soy products can provide nourishment that is easily assimilated.

When precipitated soy products like tofu are consumed with meat, the mineral-blocking effects of the phytates are reduced.i However, when consuming soy (tofu/bean curds) as a replacement for meat and dairy products, mineral deficiencies occur. Such a diet can lead to an amino acid deficiency.ii “Asian and Western children, who do not get enough meat and fish products to counteract the effects of a high phytate diet, are subject to rickets, and other growth problems.”iii Contrary to popular opinion concerning the healthy effect of consuming soy food has on Asians, a New York Times article (June 6, 1996) cited 100 million cases of goiters at present in China.

We are told that soybeans are high in protein, but what we are not told is that soybeans also block the action of the enzymes that are essential in digestion of protein. Soy damages the enzymes that manufacture thyroid hormones, as well as those enzymes essential to proper thyroid functioning.iv v Besides this bad news, scientists have known for years that isoflavones in soy products can cause enlarged thyroid glands (goiter)vi.

How are soy protein isolates (S.P.I) made? They are manufactured by mixing an alkaline solution to it in order to remove fiber. A toxin called lysinoalanine is formed during alkaline processing.vii Then it is separated by adding an acid. This is done in aluminum tanks, which leach high levels of aluminum into the final product. It is then spray-dried at high temperatures to make a protein powder. Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray drying. A final indignity to this substance is brought on by the use of additional high-temperature and pressure. This is what produces textured soy protein. However when the soy is denatured in this way, the resulting product becomes ineffective.viii And even though much of the trypsin inhibitor content can be removed through high-temperature processing, it’s note all removed during this processing. This remnant can vary as much as fivefold.ix

This leftover anti-nutrient (a toxin) becomes more of a concern when MSG is added in order to mask the unpleasant taste of this texturized soy product. This in turn often creates more allergic reactions as well as a need to increase vitamins E, K, D, B12, calcium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, copper, iron and of course, zinc.x The effect of mineral blocking enzyme inhibitors in soy can result in any number of conditions, such as endocrine disruption (goiters), reproductive disorders and allergic reactions.xi

Test animals fed soy protein isolates (SPI) develop enlarged thyroid, as well as the enlargement of other glands, most particularly the pancreas. Their diets, which are high in trypsin inhibitors, are also subjected to pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.xii A biochemical pharmacology study confirms that fatigue, as well as goiter problems, are associated with soy food.xiii

The National Center for Toxicological Research reports that soy isoflavones (genistein and daidzein) “inhibit thyroid peroxidase-catalyzed reactions essential to thyroid hormone synthesis.”xiv Japanese researchers studied the effects of consuming as little as two tablespoons of soybean a day. Even when healthy people were put on this diet for a short period of time suppressed thyroid function and goiters developed, “especially elderly subjects.”xv Infants have also been found to suffer from hypothyroid problem when on a soybean diet.xvi Another study confirms that autoimmune thyroid disease is linked to children who have consumed soymilk formula on a regular basis.xvii Doctors should be aware of the “potential interaction between soy infant formula and thyroid function,”xviii says the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

And a study comparing consumption of soy formula in non-diabetic children found those who drank it, as infants were prone to diabetes.xix Also, it is possible that allergies, so prevalent these days, may have been exacerbated from consuming soy formula. For instance, “the amount of phytoestrogens that are in a day’s worth of soy infant formula equals 5 birth control pills,” says Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., president of the Maryland Nutritionists Association. Nutritional experts believe that this high amount of phytoestrogens can be linked with early puberty in girls and hinders physical maturation in boys.xx In 1998, the FDA had even received warnings from the British Government’s final account on phytoestrogens, about their harmful reactions.xxi But for reasons beyond the consumer’s knowledge FDA bureaucrats have engaged in a “rigorous approval process” for S.P.I. However, we can now protect ourselves by learning more about what’s behind all these inconsistent reports as we become more aware of the health industry’s claims and political propaganda concerning food supplements.

Soy phytates reduce zinc and iron absorption. This is a concern because numerous people, who are taking iron supplements due to low levels of this mineral, are not realizing the cause of their iron deficiency. Soybeans have one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume that has been studied,xxii and even long periods of cooking at high temperatures will not completely eliminate the phytate levels.xxiii Phytates (an organic acid found within the outer portion of all seeds) block the absorption of essential minerals (e.g. calcium, magnesium, iron, and especially zinc. This is a concern because high levels of zinc are needed in the brain, especially the hippocampus. Zinc plays an important role in the transmission of the nerve impulse between brain cells. Deficiency in zinc can be serious, as it’s needed in the development of brain, immune and nervous system functioning. It also plays a role in collagen formation and protein synthesis, as well as our blood-sugar control mechanism and other systems in the body.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Food & Nutrition Research Briefs (July 1997) provides information showing how changes in zinc intake can affect cognitive function.xxiv This suggests the importance of zinc in the pathological functioning of the cerebral cortex.xxv Furthermore, age-related zinc deficiency in cells may contribute to brain cell death in Alzheimer’s dementia.xxvi

Congenital abnormalities in an infant’s nervous system can be caused by a deficiency of zinc during pregnancy and lactation. In children, “insufficient levels of zinc have been associated with lowered learning ability, apathy, lethargy, and mental retardation.”xxvii The USDA references a study of 372 Chinese school children with very low levels of zinc in their bodies. The children who received zinc supplements had the most improved performance—especially in perception, memory, reasoning, and psychomotor skills such as eye-hand coordination. “Both phytate and soy protein reduce iron absorption so that the iron in soy foods is generally poorly absorbed.”xxviii

As early as 1967, researchers found soy formula to have a negative effect on zinc absorption and also a strong correlation between phytate content and poor growth. Author Sally Fallon warns “a reduced rate of growth is especially serious in the infant as it causes a delay in the accumulation of lipids in the myelin, and hence jeopardizes the development of the brain and nervous system.”xxix It has even been found to increase the deposition of fatty acids in the liver.xxx

Soy and Cancer

The promotional health claims about soy products that come from vitamin/food manufacturer’s ads and multi-level marketers is then passed on to medical doctors, as well as the media and are received as gospel truth. Is this how we, the consumer, want to obtain information that will affect our future health? Some of the hype about soy alleges to aid in weight loss, protect the heart, prevent female discomforts and the list goes on. One piece of literature from a vitamin company goes so far as to state that the “Japanese, who eat 30 times as much soy as North Americans, have a lower incidence of cancers of the breast, uterus and prostate.”xxxi I have not found clinical studies to back this up and if it is true, it should also be pointed out that these Asians and Japanese have a higher rate of other kinds of cancer (esophagus, stomach, pancreas and liver).xxxii xxxiii Other literature confirms that a high rate of thyroid cancer is linked to soy consumption.xxxiv

In a 1996 study, researchers discovered that women who consumed the soy protein isolates had a greater risk of experiencing abnormally excessive cell growth, a symptom that can be a predecessor to malignancies.xxxv A study called “Dietary Estrogens Stimulate Human Breast Cells to Enter the Cell Cycle,” led researchers to conclude that women should not consume soy products, thinking that they were preventing breast cancer, when in fact dietary genistein found in soy food actually stimulates breast cell growth xxxvi In fact, according to Cancer Research “Genistein…is more carcinogenic than DES.”xxxvii That’s right DES the drug that caused death and disfigurement for countless women.

Additionally, it takes a mere 45 mg of isoflavones in premenopausal women to create a biological effect that will cause a reduction in hormones needed for proper thyroid activity. Numerous women are on thyroid medication, yet at the same time they are increasing their soy intake. The two seem to be defeating each other’s purposes. Other problems concerning a diet rich in soy food are highlighted from animal studies at Brigham Young University’s Neuroscience Center. Researchers found that consumption of phytoestrogens from soy for a relatively short interval can significantly elevate estrogen levels in the brain and can interfere with and thus decrease calcium-binding proteins in the brain.xxxviii

Athletes should be aware that the “soy protein” drinks they are consuming in order to build muscle tissue, may actually cause muscle protein breakdown.xxxix Take a look at some of the studies, such as the British Journal of Nutrition, which correlates strongly to weight-training athletes, whose diets consist of inferior soy protein, which may increase protein breakdown in skeletal muscle. Soybean protein isolates were given to pigs for fifteen weeks. Cortisol levels began to rise after their morning meal. Soy meals were causing the body to break down muscle protein in order for it to get its required amino acids.xl

This soy fad is resulting in numerous physiological abnormalities. Shocking news on this subject comes from investigations made by toxicologist, Mike Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., who confirms the facts that soy consumption has been linked to disorders, such as infertility and leukemia, and that soy foods are highly estrogenic. In 1992, the Swiss health service estimated that 299 grams of soy protein provided the estrogenic equivalent of the Pill.xli In fact other studies suggest that isoflavones inhibit synthesis of estradiol and other steroid hormones as well.xlii xliii But soy food can be very disruptive as their isoflavones, genistein and diadzen, can create endocrine dysfunction.

Elaine Hollingsworth in her book Take Control of Your Health and Escape the Sickness Industry says, “Soybeans contain Hemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells are unable to properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body’s tissues, which can damage the heart.”xliv In his classic book, A Cancer Therapy – Results of 50 Cases, (p. 237) Dr. Charlotte Gerson warns to stay away from soy products. “Genistein, a component of soy, is more carcinogenic than DES.”xlv

Hollingsworth says: “Increased level of tofu consumption was found to be associated with indications of brain atrophy and cognitive impairment in later life. They even found, at autopsy, swelling of the brain cavities and a decrease in brain weight among heavy tofu eaters.xlvi “ Few people are aware that most soil contains aluminium. It is one of the most prevalent minerals, but it doesn’t affect most crops. Soy, however, has an affinity for aluminium and extracts it from the soil and concentrates it in the beans. This contamination is exacerbated by the aluminium tanks, which are used in the acid wash soy, is subjected to. So, when you ingest soy in any form, you also ingest aluminium, known for causing many health problems.” xlvii

It seems like we, the consumer, have been duped by the producers and their ad campaigns regarding the so-called “health” benefits obtained from soy products. Dr. Joseph Mercola tells us that the propaganda, from so many sources in the industry, has spread like a wild fire; and that this aggressive publicity is just another “nail in the coffin…” concerning a food that is not “designed to be eaten.”xlviii Never has there been a mention of the many studies that demonstrate the toxicity to our thyroid, liver or endocrine glands.xlix

Portions of this article have been excerpted from The Estrogen Alternative and Preventing Arthritis naturally: The Untold Story by Raquel Martin. (Healing Arts Press, 2004)

End Notes

i Sandstrom, B. et al., “Effect of protein level and protein source on zinc absorption in humans”, Journal of Nutrition 119(1): 48-53, January 1989; Tait, Susan et al., “The availability of minerals in food, with particular reference to iron”, Journal of Research in Society and Health 103(2): 74-77, April 1983.

ii Enig MG, Fallon SA, Tragedy and Hype, The Third International Soy Symposium. Nexus Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 3, April-May 2000.

iii Martin, R., Gerstung, J, The Estrogen Alternative: Natural Hormone Therapy with Botanical Progesterone (Foreword by John Hart, M.D.) (4th Ed. 2004 in print) Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vt. Citing: Mellanby, Edward, “Experimental rickets: The effect of cereals and their interaction with other factors of diet and environment in producing rickets”, Journal of the Medical Research Council 93:265, March 1925; Wills, M.R. et al., “Phytic Acid and Nutritional Rickets in Immigrants”, The Lancet, April 8,1972, pp. 771-773.

iv Ishizuki, Y. et al., “The Effects on the Thyroid Gland of Soybeans Administered Experimentally in Healthy Subjects”, Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi (1991) 767:622-629.

v Doerge, Daniel R., “Inactivation of Thyroid Peroxidase by Genistein and Daidzein in Vitro and in Vivo; Mechanism for Anti-Thyroid Activity of Soy”, presented at the November 1999 Soy Symposium in Washington, DC, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR 72029, USA.

viDrane, H.M. et al., “Oestrogenic Activity of Soya-Bean Products”, Food, Cosmetics and Technology (1980) 18:425-427.

vii Rackis et al., ibid., p. 22; Rackis, et al., “Evaluation of the Health Aspects of Soy Protein Isolates as Food Ingredients”, prepared for FDA by Life Sciences Research Office, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20014), USA, Contract No. FDA 223-75-2004, 1979.

viii Wallace, G.M., “Studies on the Processing and Properties of Soymilk”, Journal of Science and Food Agriculture, 22:526-535, October 1971.

ix Rackis et al., ibid

x Rackis, Joseph, J., “Biological and Physiological Factors in Soybeans”, Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 51:161A-170A, January 1974.

xi “Food Labeling: Health Claims: Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease,” Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR, Part 101 (Docket No. 98P-0683).

xii Rackis, Joseph J. et al., “The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, objectives and procedural details”, Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985. p. 232.

xiii Martin, R., Gerstung, J, The Estrogen Alternative: Natural Hormone Therapy with Botanical Progesterone (Foreword by John Hart, M.D.) (4th Ed. 2004 in print) Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vt. Citing: Divi, RL, Chang HC, Doerge, DR, “Anti-thyroid Isoflavones from Soybean: Isolation, Characterization, and Mechanisms of Action,” Biochem. Pharmacol., 1997 Nov 15; 54(10):1087-96.

xiv Ibid: Divi, RL, Chang HC, Doerge, DR, “Anti-thyroid Isoflavones from Soybean: Isolation, Characterization, and Mechanisms of Action,” Biochem. Pharmacol.

xv Ishizuki, Y, Hirooka, Y, Murata, Y, Togashi, K, “The Effects on the Thyroid Gland of Soybeans Administered Experimentally in Healthy Subjects,” Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi 1991 May 20; 67(5): 622-29.

xvi Shepard TH, Soybean goiter. New Eng J Med 1960; 262:1099-1103.

xvii Fort P, Moses N, Fusion, M, Goldberg, T, Leftists, F, “Breast and Soy-Formula Feedings in Early Infancy and the Prevalence of Autoimmune Thyroid Disease in Children,” J Am Coll Nutr 1990 Apr; 9(2): 164-67.

xviii Regulatory Guidance in Other Countries: New Zealand Ministry of Health Position Statement on Soy Formulas (Adobe Acrobat file).

xix Fort P, Lanes R, Dahlem, S, Recker, B, Weyman-Daum, M, Pugliese, M, Lifshitz, FJ, “Breast-feeding and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in children,” Am Coll Nutr 1986; 5(5): 439-41.

xx Martin, R., Gerstung, J, The Estrogen Alternative: Natural Hormone Therapy with Botanical Progesterone (Foreword by John Hart, M.D.) (4th Ed. 2004 in print) Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vt. Citing: “Soy Infant Formula Could Be Harmful to Infants: Groups Want it Pulled,” Nutrition Week, Dec 10, 1999; 29(46): 1-2.

xxi “IEH Assessment on Phytoestrogens in the Human Diet,” Final Report to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, UK, November 1997, p. 11.

xxii El Tiney, A.H., “Proximate Composition and Mineral and Phytate Contents of Legumes Grown in Sudan”, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis (1989) 2:6778.

xxiii Ologhobo, A.D. et al., “Distribution of phosphorus and phytate in some Nigerian varieties of legumes and some effects of processing”, Journal of Food Science 49(1): 199-201, January/February 1984.

xxiv U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Food & Nutrition Research Briefs, July 1997.

xxv Frederickson, CJ, Suh, SW, Silva, D, Frederickson, CJ, Thompson, RB, “Importance of Zinc in the Central Nervous System: The Zinc-containing Neuron,” J Nutr 2000 May; 130(5S Suppl): 1471S-83S.

xxvi Ho, LH, Ratnaike, RN, Zalewski, PD, “Involvement of Intracellular Labile Zinc in Suppression of DEVD-Caspase Activity in Human Neuroblastoma Cells,” Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 2000 Feb 5; 268(1): 148-54.

xxvii Pfeiffer CC, Braverman, E.R., “Zinc, The brain and behavior,” Biol Psychiatry, 1982 Apr; 17(4): 513-32.

xxviii Soy Nutritive Content, United Soybean Board. Enig, M. G., Fallon, S.A., “Tragedy and Hype, The Third International Soy Symposium,” Nexus Magazine Vol. 7, No 3, April-May 2000. Enig, Mary G. and Sally Fallon, “The Oiling of America”, NEXUS Magazine, December 1998-January 1999 and February-March 1999; also available at www.WestonAPrice.org.

xxix Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and The Diet Dictocrats, 2nd edition, New Trends Publishing, 1999.

xxx Rackis, Joseph J. et al., “The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, objectives and procedural details”, Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985.

xxxi Natural Medicine News (L & H Vitamins, 32-33 47th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101), USA, January/February 2000, p. 8.

xxxii Harras, Angela (ed.), Cancer Rates and Risks, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1996, 4th edition; AND Rackis, Joseph J. et al., “The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, Objectives and Procedural Details”, Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985.

xxxiii Rackis, Joseph J. et al., “The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, objectives and procedural details”, Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985.

xxxiv Searle, Charles E. (ed.), Chemical Carcinogens, ACS Monograph 173, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 1976.

xxxv Petrakis, N.L. et al., “Stimulatory Influence of Soy Protein Isolate on Breast Secretion in Pre- and Post-Menopausal Women”, Cancer Epid. Bio. Prev. (1996) 5:785-794

xxxvi Dees, C. et al., “Dietary estrogens stimulate human breast cells to enter the cell cycle”, Environmental Health Perspectives (1997) 105(Suppl. 3): 633-636.

xxxvii Cancer Research, June 1, 2001 – 61 (11): 4325-8.

xxxviii Lephart, E.D., Thompson, J.M., Setchell, K.D., Adlercreutz H, Weber KS, Phytoestrogens decrease brain calcium-binding proteins… Brain Res., (2000 Mar) 17; 859(1): 123-31.

xxxix Martin, R., Gerstung, J, The Estrogen Alternative: Natural Hormone Therapy with Botanical Progesterone, (4th Ed.) Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vt. (2004 in print) Citing: Lohrke, B. “Activation of Skeletal Muscle Protein Breakdown Following Consumption of Soybean Protein in Pigs,” Br J Nutr, 2001 Apr; 85 (4): 447-57.

xl Lohrke, B. “Activation of Skeletal Muscle Protein Breakdown Following Consumption of Soybean Protein in Pigs,” Br J Nutr, 2001 Apr; 85 (4): 447-57.

xli Bulletin de L’Office Fédéral de la Santé Publique, No. 28, July 20, 1992.

xlii Keung, W.M., “Dietary Oestrogenic Isoflavones are Potent Inhibitors of B-hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase of P. Testosteronii”, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Committee (1995) 215:1137-1144.

xliii Makela, S.I. et al., “Estrogen-specific 12 B-Hydroxysteroid Oxidoreductase Type 1 (E.C. 1.1.1.62) as a Possible Target for the Action of Phytoestrogens”, PSEBM (1995) 208:51-59.

xliv Elaine Hollingsworth, “Take Control of Your Health and Escape the Sickness Industry”(6th edition) Empowerment Press International. Australia, 2000, http://www.doctorsaredangerous.com citing Charlotte Gerson, of the Gerson Cancer Clinic in the U.S.A., Gerson Healing Newsletter.

xlv (Cancer Research, June 1, 2001, 61(11): 4325-8).

xlvi Ibid: Hollingsworth, “Take Control of Your Health and Escape the Sickness Industry,” cited in Journal Of The American College Of Nutrition, April, 2000, and reprinted in Dr. William Campbell Douglass’ Second Opinion Newsletter.

xlvii Ibid: Hollingsworth, “Take Control of Your Health and Escape the Sickness Industry.”

xlviii http://www.mercola.com/fcgi/pf/2004/jan/21/soy.htm

xlix Setchell, K.D.R. et al., “Dietary oestrogens – a probable cause of infertility and liver disease in captive cheetahs”, Gastroenterology (1987) 93:225-233; Leopold, A.S., “Phytoestrogens: Adverse effects on reproduction in California Quail,” Science (1976) 191:98-100; Kimura, S. et al., “Development of Malignant Goiter by Defatted Soybean with Iodine-free Diet in Rats”, Gann. (1976) 67:763-765; Pelissero, C. et al., “Oestrogenic Effect of Dietary Soybean Meal on Vitellogenesis in Cultured Siberian Sturgeon Acipenser baeri”.

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