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Soy belongs to the family of legumes including beans – such as chickpeas, red kidney, navy, barlotti, etc., as well as peanuts (they are technically not a nut but a legume). All legumes and whole grains – such as rice, barley, oats, wheat and rye – contain amounts of phytic acid.
Besides its beneficial properties, Phytic acid’s structure gives it the ability to bind minerals, proteins and starch, and results in lower absorption of these substances. Hence, phytic acid, in large amounts, can block the uptake of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and especially zinc in the intestinal tract. Soy contains a high amount of phytic acid.
In reality, researchers around the world have concluded that the general perception of all soy products being healthy is far from accurate – and very much skewed by economic motives. Because soy is inexpensive to process and deemed healthy, soy has enjoyed enormous commercial success. You can find some variation of soy in almost every single product on grocery store shelves. And we’re not the only ones being fed soy products by the pound: most commercial animals are fed a diet high in soy.
Is all of this soy good for us?
Let’s examine why not…for greater clarity, soy products are classified into two main groups: fermented and unfermented. The unfermented soy category is the most problematic one. It includes soy products such as tofu, bean curd, all soy milk, soy infant formulae, soy protein powders, and soy meat alternatives such as soy sausages/veggie burgers, made from hydrolyzed soy powder.
In order to derive some benefit from soy, consuming only fermented soy products – such as organic miso, organic tempeh, soy sauce or tamari and natto – is the way to go. This is because the phytic acid, which is inherent in soy bean, has been neutralized in the process of fermentation. Consuming fermented soy is very beneficial in recolonizing the friendly bacteria in the large intestine, which neutralizes the ‘unfriendly’ bacteria and allows for greater general assimilation of foods and nutrients.
In fact, grains (apart from millet, buckwheat and cous-cous) and legumes are best consumed after soaking them for 48-72 hours prior to cooking, which allows fermentation to take place. The soaking of grains and beans is also advocated in the principles of macrobiotics, which is very popular amongst vegetarians. Yet many vegetarian restaurants do not have time or forget to incorporate this very important process in their vegetarian cooking and thus people who regularly eat out at vegetarian restaurants might develop severe mineral deficiencies due to the large consumption of phytic acid in their diet.
Another common fallacy is that soy foods couldn’t possibly have a downside because Asian cultures eat large quantities of soy every day and have largely remained free of most western diseases. In reality, the people of China, Japan and other Asian countries eat very little soy. The consumption in China, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and Taiwan ranges from 10 to 90 grams per day. That is grams of soy food, not grams of soy protein alone. Compare this with a cup of tofu (250 grams) or soy milk (240 grams). Many of us today would be consuming a cup of tofu and a couple of glasses of soy milk every day, thinking we are getting our much needed protein intake.
Soy and thyroid hormonal balance
Soy also inhibits the uptake of one of the most important minerals needed for growth and metabolism, iodine, which is used by the thyroid gland in the production of thyroid hormones. Perhaps the most disturbing of soy’s ill effects on health has to do with its phytoestrogens, which can mimic the effects of the female hormone, estrogen. These phytoestrogens have been found to have adverse effects on various human tissues – and drinking only two glasses of soy milk daily for one month has enough of the chemical to alter a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Soybeans have a high content of goitrogens, substances that can block the production of the thyroid hormone as well as cause goiter formation. Low thyroid activity plagues particularly middle-aged women. Thyroid hormone stokes the cellular furnaces, known as mitochondria. When thyroid production is low, energy levels as well as body heat are also low. Low thyroid level is what makes old people move so slowly and feel like every action is a huge chore.
Soy is often touted as a cancer-fighting food, but there is a dangerous flip-side to this. The isoflavones in soy undergo a biological change when soy is processed. Studies have shown these altered isoflavones can actually cause increased tumor growth, namely in the case of breast cancer.
As discussed above, low thyroid means the action of the heart is reduced, resulting in lack of oxygen to the cells, a prime condition for cancer. Another way in which soy isoflavones reduce energy in the body is by inhibiting tyrosine kinases, enzymes involved in the transfer of energy from one molecule to another. These enzymes drive cell division, memory consolidation, tissue repair, and blood vessel maintenance and regeneration.
Many people love eating tofu because of its high protein content and other healthy claims. Just because tofu is of vegetable origin does not necessarily make it healthy. Unfortunately, the soy industry has been continuously brainwashing people and making them believe that soy is good for health. Now there have been studies which prove that soy and tofu are not good to the body. Tofu contains protein but this protein is not properly absorbed by the body. And also there were reports that high tofu consumption may cause brain damage and other brain problems. Tofu is unfermented soy, containing phytoestrogen that causes vascular dementia.
Soy is rich in trypsin inhibitors which block the action of trypsin. Trypsin is a digestive enzyme that we need to properly digest protein. Without trypsin, you’ll soon experience serious gastric problems including stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bleeding. Without trypsin, you’ll also experience reduced protein digestion and deficiencies of amino acids. Without trypsin, you’ll put enormous stress on your pancreas.
Trypsin inhibitors are considered growth inhibitors and are not completely deactivated during cooking. Here are the bad effects of eating tofu (Soy):
* Increased thyroid damage, especially in women
* Increased risk of breast cancer in women, brain damage in both sexes, and cause of abnormalities in infants
* Contributes to thyroid disorders, especially in women
* Promotes kidney stones
* Weakens your immune system
* Causes severe, potentially fatal food allergies
The advice to limit consumption of soy in young people raises doubts about soy-based infant formulas. Soy formula can contain unhealthy levels of aluminum – a known metal toxin – and manganese, which is a necessary nutrient but can be dangerous in high doses. Soy-based formulas lack vitamin A, a nutrient which is crucial for growth and development in infants and children.
All of the vitamin A in soy formula is in the form of beta carotene, and most infants cannot convert beta carotene into a usable form of vitamin A. There are claims that soy formula is healthier than other formulas because of its low level of saturated fat. But breast milk, the nourishment nature intended for babies, is more than 50 percent saturated fat.
Soy is particularly problematic for infants and it would be very wise to avoid giving them soy-derived products, since it has been estimated that infants who are exclusively fed soy formula receive the equivalent of five birth control pills worth of estrogen every day. It is like child abuse to feed a baby soy formula. A baby fed soy will receive, through the phytoestrogens, the equivalent of approximately 5 birth control pills per day! The damage is incalculable.
Consuming even small amounts of unfermented soy on a regular basis could cause some adverse effects in the human body. Next time you consider drinking soy milk, perhaps instead consider raw cow/buffalo milk, coconut milk or goat’s milk. Some people who are allergic to dairy can tolerate goat milk and goat cheese products in small quantities. Replacing processed soy and regular milk with these alternatives allows us to enjoy our beverages and cereals without harming our health.
I say stop blaming the plant. Blame the processing.
Note: I am relaying major portions of this article from invaluable sources like The Truth About Unfermented Soy and Its Harmful Effects by Teya Skae of Empowered Living, Australia. Its because of such voices that we all have been Empowered to think and feel stronger about ourselves.
* Dr Mercola , healthy-communications.com/8-1-mercolasoy.
* Teya Skae Holistic Kinesiologist/Lecturer M.A., Dip Health Sciences.
* Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favourite Health Food by Kaayla Daniel.
* Dr. John Lee, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, Warner Books.
* How Fermenting Takes the Allergy Out of Soy and Other Foods, bodyecology.com
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