While confirming a few facts before writing this blog post I came across the photo. It shows a third generation rat fed GMO soy. Yes that is hair growing inside of its mouth. Soy what, huh?

Soy What

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew there were mixed reviews of soybeans and soy products, but I thought “so what?” It is not like we eat that much soy. Then we found out Andrew was allergic to soy and I began to read labels. It is literally in almost everything. Here is what I have since learned about soy and why my whole family will be avoiding it.

What is soy: The soybean is the seed of the soy plant, which is in the pea family. You can eat the beans (soy beans) or the whole pod (edamame). It can be ground into soy flour or squeezed into soy oil. Soy milk is the product of cooked beans, and that can be pressed into tofu. There is also tempeh, miso and natto, made of fermented cooked soybeans. The most important distinction to be made between all these forms of soy seems to be whether or not it is fermented. The fermentation process appears to remove the harmful effects of soy, discussed below.

GMO: The scariest thing about soy is that 91% of soy that is produced has been Genetically Modified. See my earlier post on the huge dangers of GMO. Crops that have been genetically modified are sure to have higher levels of residual pesticides and disrupt the bodies digestive function. Because GMO crops can be sprayed with heavy round up they can be cheaply produced. So cheap in fact that soy has become a staple feed crop. 80% of soy is used as animal feed. So even if you avoid soy, you still get the harmful affects through the meat you eat. GMO crops are linked to increase in food allergies. One UK study found that soy allergies are up 50% since the introduction of GMO soy in the early 2000s.

soyThe Anti-Health Food: The Soy Association of North America will have you believe that Soy is a miracle food and is healthy for you. The truth is the opposite. Eating soy can actually leach nutrients out of your body. Some of the natural toxins found in soy are saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, protease inhibitors, oxalates, goitrogens and estrogens. Big fancy words for chemicals that can interfere with how your body digests protein. Tiny amounts would go unnoticed, but as I mentioned earlier, a stroll down the grocery isle perusing ingredients shows that Americans are eating more soy than ever before, probably without realizing it.

Hemagglutinin is a clot-promoting substance that causes your red blood cells to clump together and deprive your cells of oxygen. Goitrogens are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones. You have probably heard about the increase in diagnosed thyroid function problems. Phytates (phytic acid) preventing the absorption of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc which your body needs to be healthy. A compound in soy called Isoflavones closely resemble human estrogen. This is why some menopausal women are encouraged to take soy as a natural supplement. However, these compounds are known to disrupt endocrine function, may cause infertility, and may promote breast cancer in women. My naturopathic doctor suggested that even if my son was not allergic to soy, he should still avoid it due to the estrogen like affects.

The Westin A. Price foundation lists these additional harmful effects of soy.

  • Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12.
    • 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 additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
    • Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.

The Fact Disconnect: Dr. Oz says soy can be healthy but also warns that soy can throw hormones “out of whack.”  On the other side, Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, points out thousands of studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility. Why is there this disconnect? Because soy is a commercial product and there is a soy industry out there promoting it, wrapping it up and advertising it as a health food. According to the Soyfoods Association of North America soy food sales increased from $300 million to nearly $4 billion from 1992 to 2006.  From 2000 to 2007, U.S. food manufacturers introduced more than 2,700 new soy-based foods, and new soy products continue to appear on your grocer’s shelves. Consider baby formula, much of which is soy based. Soy formula offers no nutritional value over milk based formulas, and children with dairy allergies are just as likely to have soy allergies, but it is marketed as a healthier alternative. According to this article 25% of infants are on a soy formula.

Soy What?: So all in all, it was pretty easy for us to choose to say goodbye to soy. This is harder said than done because it is in a lot of processed foods. It can show up as it lecithin, monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), textured vegetable protein (TVP), vegetable gum, natural flavoring, and vegetable broth. If I had any doubts before, they are certainly gone now. While confirming a few facts before writing this blog post I came across the photo which I added to the top of this page. It shows a third generation rat fed GMO soy. Yes that is hair growing inside of its mouth. Soy what, huh?

6 thoughts on “Soy What

  1. Steve

    Had no idea. Learn something new everyday. What is wrong with this world? Seems like everything is about making money at all costs. They keep finding new ways of tricking us into buying their cheap, toxic products.

  2. Debbie

    Soy is soooo bad! Your info is great and well put!!! Soy is one of Doug’s intolerances according to his blood work- which makes me happy because I can explain it better to him why he can’t eat those things. Allison will get it even though it didn’t show up on her test. I won’t let her eat it just because she is a girl!!!! There are so many myths about foods we have been sold as healthy for decades now and to change those ingrained views and change industries making tons if money off these myths isn’t going to be easy!

  3. Soyfoods Association

    Sorry to hear your son is allergic to soy, and it is good you are reading labels clearly as well as doing your research. But know that there are two sides to everything and you need to look at the resources and go back to the science. The Weston Price Foundation, as well as Mercola and Kaayla Daniel, who are both part of the Foundation, specifically have an anti-soy agenda because they promote other forms of protein — raw meat and raw dairy. We do not say soy is a miracle food, but it is a healthy food if eaten as part of a balanced diet (and of course you are not allergic to it).

    Here are some research findings — and the references for you to look at the studies yourself to judge if the information is accurate:

    – All plant foods have anti-nutrients and must be cooked, steamed, roasted, or fermented to reduce and eliminate them.

    – Protease inhibitors are a class of proteins found in numerous plant foods, including rice, corn, and beans. There is no good evidence that soybean-derived protease inhibitors have an adverse effect on growth and human health, but studies suggest that these compounds may help prevent cancer. (Kennedy, A.R. Chemopreventive agents: Protease inhibitors. Pharmacol. Ther. 78:167-209, 1998. Birk, Y. Structure-activity relationship of several trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitors from legume seeds. In: Proteinase Inhibitors (N. Fritz, H. Tschesche, J.J. Green and E. Truscheit, eds), Springer Verlag, Berlin, pp. 355-361, 1974. )

    – Phytic acid, a component of all plants, has benefits and detractions. Beneficial effects of phytic acid include its antioxidant property (reduction of free radicals), it’s cholesterol-lowering ability, and cancer prevention. However soaking, germination, boiling, cooking, and fermentation all inactivate phytic acid and free up minerals for absorption. (Hurrell,R.F. Influence of vegetable protein sources on trace element and mineral bioavailability. J. Nutr. 133:2973S-2977S, 2003.)

    – Soybeans, just like most plants, contain phytoestrogens, such as isoflavones, that look similar in chemical structure to estrogens, but they behave differently in the human body. Isoflavones are much weaker than naturally circulating human estrogens, as they have approximately 1/1000th the biological activity of circulating human estrogens. Numerous human studies have found that men and women consuming 40-70 mg/day of soy isoflavones from 1-2 servings of soyfoods or soy supplements had no significant changes in testosterone levels or estrogen levels compared to control groups. (Kang, J, Badger, et al. Non-isoflavone Phytochemicals in Soy and Their Health Effect. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2010, 58, 8119–8133)

    – Isoflavones, when given to some animals in amounts high dosages not possible through diets, may cause problems, which also occurs when other food components are given in high doses to animals. In some experiments, isoflavones are broken down into genistein or daidzein and these purified forms are injected into animals at high doses. The reported negative results from these cases DO NOT represent how isoflavones from soyfoods would work in the human body and these negative findings in animal studies are not found in studies on humans. (Gu L, House SE, et al. Metabolic phenotype of isoflavones differ among female rats, pigs, monkeys, and women. J Nutr. 2006; 136:1215-21. and Kurzer MS. Hormonal effects of soy in premenopausal women and men. J Nutr 2002;132(3):570S-573S.)

    – Here are some good overview, science-based articles to read: the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s viewpoint, Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.’s stance, and Dr. Joel Furman, M.D.’s stance

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  5. Rose Forrest Post author

    It didn’t show up as a caption, but I wanted to include the information about the study from which this picture came.

    Rat Study Oral Hair

    “(a) The external appearance of the oral cavity. Gingival pouches (GP) with thick bundles of hair growing from their mucous lining are clearly seen. (b) Perforated bone tissue of the teeth of an adult Ph. campbelli. Numerous hollows are seen. A, hair.”

    From A. S. Baranov, O. F. Chernova, N. Yu. Feoktistova, and A. V. Surov, “A New Example of Ectopia: Oral Hair in Some Rodent Species,” Doklady Biological Sciences, 2010, Vol. 431, pp. 117–120, Original Russian Text © A.S. Baranov, O.F. Chernova, N.Yu. Feoktistova, A.V. Surov, 2010, published in Doklady Akademii Nauk, 2010, Vol. 431, No. 4, pp. 559–562.

    At the conclusion of the study, the authors surmise that such an astounding defect may be due to the diet of hamsters raised in the laboratory. They write, “This pathology may be exacerbated by elements of the food that are absent in natural food, such as genetically modified (GM) ingredients (GM soybean or maize meal) or contaminants (pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, etc.).” Indeed, the number of hairy mouthed hamsters was much higher among the third generation of GM soy fed animals than anywhere Surov had seen before.

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