You Think Soy Is Good For You? Think Again.

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First off, Vegas was awesome. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what I did because we all know what Rule #1 of going to Vegas is (what’s done in Vegas, stays in Vegas). I will say that the buffet at The Bellagio is unreal and that my girlfriend won $800 using the slots (AKA: dinner was on her for the last three nights we were there).

Anyhoo: soy. Guess what people? It stinks (literally and figuratively), and why anyone would go out of their way to include more of it in their diet is beyond me.

In her book, “The Whole Soy Story,” Kaalya Daniels begins by stating: Soy is the phenomenon of the times, the “healthy alternative” to meat, the “non-allergenic” dairy, the “low cost” protein that will feed millions, the infant formula that is “better than breast milk,” the “wonder food” of the new age.

1. Unfortunately, soy is everywhere and it’s virtually impossible not to get some amount of it into your diet. Admittedly a little soy here and there isn’t that big of a deal. It’s when people go out of their way to include tofu, soy burgers, soy protein bars, soy milk, etc into their diets (thinking that that’s the healthy thing to do) that causes bad things to happen. Needless to say, soy can be found in everything from canned tuna fish to bread to infant formula.

Before the 1950’s there was a limited market for soy based products due to the fact that there wasn’t a huge market for highly processed foods in the first place. It wasn’t till there was massive soy oil “waste problem” that the industry started to market soy as a healthy alternative. As Daniels noted in her book, “the quickest way to gain product acceptability in the less affluent society is to have the product consumed on its own merit in a more affluent society. Thus began the campaign to sell soy products to the upscale consumer, not as a cheap poverty food, but as a miracle substance that would prevent heart disease and cancer, whisk away hot flashes, build strong bones and keep us young forever.” HOGWASH.

2. Many advocates of soy will state that soy has been a “staple” in Asian countries for centuries. A staple food is defined as a major part, element or feature, with the implication that a staple food contributes a large portion of calories to a diet.

Fact: the people of China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Japan don’t eat that much soy. Many papers have noted that soy only makes up 1.5% of calories in the Chinese diet, compared with 65% of calories coming from pork. Additionally, the type of soy eaten by Asians is COMPLETELY different than what we Americans eat. Asians tend to eat small amounts of old-fashioned, little processed miso and/or tempeh. Not soy sausages, soy burgers, chicken-like soy patties, tofu cheesecake, soymilk, etc that we Americans eat. Big difference.

3. Proponents of soy will also claim that soy prevents certain types of cancer. While some studies show that soy (or its isoflavones) might help to prevent cancer, far more studies show it to be ineffective or inconsistent. And lets not forget that the vast majority of studies are done on rats (not people). Again….big difference.

4. If you’re a male and you’re stressing soy in your diet, say goodbye to your testosterone levels. Soy has been shown to DECREASE t-levels in men due to the high quantities of phyto-estrogens in soy and thus soy based products. This is also a great reason NOT to use soy based formulas with infants. Hormonally speaking, you’re really going to wreak havoc on a developing baby.

5. It should also be known that soy has been shown to DECREASE thyroid function in men and women.

6. And just because I want to kick a horse while it’s down, soy is also listed as one of the top 8 allergens. All soybeans contain antinutritional factors (known as antinutrients) and toxins.

Goitrogens: damage the thyroid (already mentioned above).

Lectins: cause red blood cells to clump together and may cause immune systems reactions

Oligosaccharides: are the pesky sugars that cause bloating and flatulence. Rule of thumb: if you’re on a first date, don’t eat soy.

Oxalates: prevent proper absorption of calcium and have been linked to kidney stones.

Phytates: impair absorption of minerals such as zinc, iron, and calcium

Isoflavones: are phytoestrogens that effect reproductive and nervous systems

Protease Inhibitors: interfere with the digestive enzymes protease and trypsin, which can lead to gastric distress and poor protein digestion.

I could go one and on, but I figured I made my point. Soy is NOT a miracle food and it’s NOT healthy for you, despite what many people will claim. I know I probably stepped on a few toes with this blog post, but it’s just something that I think needed to be said. I highly encourage you to check out Dr. Daniels book for more info.

Tony Gentilcore, CSCS, CPT

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