Originally posted to Livejournal on November 12, 2007.
A while back, I started coming across some disturbing statements. And the fact that these statements were on websites that I trust was even more disturbing. These statements had to do with soy, and the safety of eating soy or taking soy isoflavones as supplements. Soy, found in restaurants and grocery stores, in our milk, yogurt, candy bars, and bread, is not safe for human consumption. For several years now, people have been pushing soy as a wonder food, as the answer to a variety of health problems, and as a general answer to any food or health crisis. Forget the fact that soy has not been proven safe for human consumption and contains several known toxins. We’ll just go ahead and feed it to babies in infant formulas.
For me, this is a personal concern because I used to rely on soy for a large amount of my nutrition. A few years ago I was on an ultra-high protein diet that emphasized soy protein to prevent muscle loss. The soy was in the form of protein bars, and I ate about three per day. I’m actually not sure how much soy was in each of them, only that it was quite a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I lost a large amount of weight. The minute I stopped the diet, I gained it all back. Now, I’m having a horribly hard time losing any weight, regardless of how balanced my diet is. Tests show that my thyroid function has decreased dramatically. And now, I may have the answer why.
In addition, I’ve noticed that in the past while I’ve become sluggish, am constantly tired, and am often sick for no apparent reason. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t seem to get enough sleep, or why I caught every cold or flu that came down the pike. Or why I was nauseous and achy even when there didn’t seem to be a viral reason. Now I have to wonder if soy was the culprit. I thought I’d put a bit of the research that I’ve found here for future reference, and so I can refer my family and friends to it in an effort to maybe help them explore soy for themselves.
A lot of the available research into soy comes from the internet. What doesn’t come from the internet these days, right? Trust me, I do not believe everything I read online. I know that just because it’s on the Web doesn’t make it true. However, I try to double check sources and make sure that things are reliable before I go around quoting incorrect information. So, for form’s sake, I’ll include a list of the websites that I focused on in finding my soy information.
Let’s start at the very beginning, with babies. Many babies are fed soy-based formulas as an alternative to breast milk or non soy-based formulas. I don’t really want to get into the formula versus breast milk discussion; to each her own, quite frankly. If I didn’t intend to breast feed before, though, I certainly do after reading about soy formulas and the damage they can do to babies. Many parents that fed soy formulas in the 1960’s did so after receiving the advice that they were ‘better than breast milk’. Had they known that these products contained phytoestrogens, compounds that are now known to cause thyroid disorders, behavioural and developmental disorders and cancer they would not have even contemplated the use of what was, in hindsight, an experimental product. Babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula, and infants exclusively fed soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day. Male infants undergo a “testosterone surge” during the first few months of life, when testosterone levels may be as high as those of an adult male. During this period, baby boys are programmed to express male characteristics after puberty, not only in the development of their sexual organs and other masculine physical traits, but also in setting patterns in the brain characteristic of male behavior. Pediatricians are noticing greater numbers of boys whose physical maturation is delayed, or does not occur at all, including lack of development of the sexual organs. Learning disabilities, especially in male children, have reached epidemic proportions. Soy infant feeding—which floods the bloodstream with female hormones that inhibit testosterone—cannot be ignored as a possible cause for these tragic developments. In animals, soy feeding indicates that phytoestrogens in soy are powerful endocrine disrupters. Almost 15 percent of white girls and 50 percent of African-American girls show signs of puberty such as breast development and pubic hair, before the age of eight. Some girls are showing sexual development before the age of three. Premature development of girls has been linked to the use of soy formula and exposure to environmental estrogens such as PCBs and DDE.(www.soyonlineservice.co.nz)
Babies aren’t the only people in danger from soy and soy products. High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy 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 and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth. Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women. Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer.
Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12, and soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D. Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein. Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines. Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and added to many soy foods, and soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.(www.soyonlineservice.co.nz)
The following is an excerpt from a letter of protest from researchers Daniel Doerge and Daniel Sheehan, two of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) key experts on soy, to the FDA, protesting the health claims approved by the FDA on soy products:
There is abundant evidence that some of the isoflavones found in soy, including genistein and equol, a metabolize of daidzen, demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid. This is true for a number of species, including humans. Additionally, isoflavones are inhibitors of the thyroid peroxidase which makes T3 and T4. Inhibition can be expected to generate thyroid abnormalities, including goiter and autoimmune thyroiditis. There exists a significant body of animal data that demonstrates goitrogenic and even carcinogenic effects of soy products. Moreover, there are significant reports of goitrogenic effects from soy consumption in human infants and adults.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported: A Hawaii study shows a significant statistical relationship between two or more servings of tofu a week and ‘accelerated brain aging’ and even an association with Alzheimer’s disease, says Dr. Lon White. “…these are not nutrients. They are drugs. They will have some benefits and some negative things.”
David Zava, Ph.D., a biochemist and an experienced breast cancer researcher stated in an interview:“In studying the literature on soy I found there are about five types of plant chemicals in the soybean that can be toxic to humans if they are not removed by special processing… the fifth antinutrient in soybeans is called a goitrogen. This is a chemical that latches on to iodine, preventing it from absorbing into the body from the gastrointestinal tract. Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormone. Low thyroid function has been associated with poor brain development. Anyone who has been deficient in thyroid hormone understands quite well what impact this can have on normal brain function, especially at a time in life as we grow older and “fuzzy thinking” creeps into our vocabulary.”
The more I read, the more I realize that there is not truly a “safe” amount to soy. Two glasses of soy milk a day, over the course of a month, contains enough of the chemical to change the timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Many women of child-bearing age are having terrible mood swings, depression, and they experience monthly PMS. Could these women be playing havoc with their hormones by what they are eating? (http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/topics/general-view/archive/2001/october/10/soy-alert/
In addition, researchers believe that the trend toward lower male fertility may be due to environmental estrogens, including the soy phytoestrogens. There is strong evidence that soy phytoestrogens inhibit an enzyme which is required for the synthesis of testosterone and the development of the CNS-gonadal axis. Much research is now being done to determine the effects of soy on male animals (even male insects) of all sorts. Research with animals and insects from the grasshopper to the cheetah, are showing that soy affects males by making them less confident, less aggressive, indecisive, show less sexual interest, lower sperm count and in some studies less everything male. Research on humans is slow (years), but the short-term studies on men are showing the information obtained through animal life spans correlate with what is happening in human research. (http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/topics/general-view/archive/2001/october/10/soy-alert/
The longest study on soy products began in Hawaii in 1965 with 8,006 Japanese-American men. It questioned the men about 27 foods and drinks. Over the years the men were monitored, questioned, and studied. The study shows a significant statistical relationship between two or more servings of tofu a week and “accelerated brain aging” and even an association with Alzheimer’s disease, says Dr. Lon White, who has been studying diseases and aging in this Honolulu Heart Program. White said the scientists found “a significant link between tofu consumption during midlife and loss of mental ability and even loss of brain weight.” Tofu was the only consistent link among the men. “The test results were about equivalent to what they would have been if they were five years older and the guys who ate none, their test scores were as though they were five years younger.” Said White. The brains of 300 men who died were examined in a unique autopsy study conducted as part of the Honolulu aging project. White reports, “But what I did see was the simple weight of the brain was lower. Shrinkage occurs naturally with age, but atrophy progressed more rapidly in those men who had consumed more tofu.” (http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/topics/general-view/archive/2001/october/10/soy-alert/
Since I started reading about soy and the dangers of soy foods, I’ve been making sure that we have as little soy as possible in our house. I’m finding that soy lecithin is seriously hard to avoid, and can be dangerous as well. But we’ve definitely been avoiding soy protein, soybean oils, and any other sources of soy that we can. There is no tofu and no “meatless meats” in our house. Considering how I used to love Veggie Burgers, that’s a feat. And I feel better. I’m less sluggish, much healthier, and am finally losing weight. I’ll have my thyroid function tested again in December or January, and hope to see a big difference since my last test in May. Please consider eliminating soy from your diet, and definitely don’t feed it to your children. It’s a tragedy that soy has become the panacea that it is touted to be, especially when it’s so obviously not.
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