Soy, I have a big problem with you. You’re making people sick and old before their time. You may tell everyone you’re a health food, but I think we both know what the real story is, and it’s not pretty. This has got to stop. Right now. That’s why I’m reminding everyone – from those who buy your hype to those who barely know you’re lurking everywhere – that it’s time to show you the door. Just don’t let it hit you on the way out!
Here’s my topline on soy’s downside:
Soy is everywhere, but why?
Think of it this way: if it’s a processed food, there’s probably soy in it. Why? Because soy, in its many forms, is a food manufacturers dream. For them, soy is a cheap and abundant “miracle” ingredient. When processed into packaged and canned goods, soy is a versatile and virtually tasteless filler. It can improve texture; add creaminess, thickness and bulk to processed foods without adding a lot of cost, calories or extra fat to the mix. However, the troubling bit is that what’s great for the manufacturer is not healthy for your body.
But Doc, will the stuff kill me?
While soy may not kill you outright, soy’s ability to undermine health is significant, and as a Wellness Practitioner I always advise my patients to remove it from their diets. Why? Because soy plays a role in the development of a number of debilitating conditions, which can morph into far larger problems down the line. For starters, soy disrupts thyroid and endocrine function. It interferes with leptin sensitivity, which can set you up for metabolic syndrome. Soy screws with your sex hormones by throwing off the estrogen and testosterone balance. It also helps block your body’s ability to access key minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium. If that weren’t enough, soy is a potentially lethal allergen to a segment of the population and an inflammation-triggering irritant to millions of people who may not even be aware that they’re sensitive to it. In short, it’s just not what most of us would call a “health” food.
Soy is ugly on the inside, and from the ground up
Another massive problem I have with soy is what’s been done to it before it lands on your plate. First up, it’s estimated that well over 95% of all soy is genetically modified. It’s also known to be one of the most pesticide-drenched crops on the market. (Um, no thanks.) So why willingly invite those toxic monsters into your personal eco-system? I say keep ‘em outside the castle walls.
Don’t be fooled – your “health” food is junk
Those soy-based food “alternatives” which often stand in for things like meat and dairy products are for the most part, garbage, even if they are being sold under the good-for-you banner at your local health food store. Drop meat-mimicking textured vegetable or soy protein patties; faux dairy favorites like soy milk, cheese, ice cream; snack-time soy chips, cookies, “energy bars,” as well as tofu from your shopping list. Why? Because they all suffer from the same fundamental problem: genetically modified organisms and pesticides. My advice? You have two options. Either skip the substitutes altogether and eat smaller amounts of the organic, grass-fed originals, or eat only certified organic, soy products (preferably fermented versions like miso, natto and tempeh) with the Non-GMO Project seal – and do so sparingly, no more than twice a week.
Soy you later, dude
If you wish to avoid soy, the most expedient way is to eliminate processed foods completely. Easier said than done, I know, but that is the reality. If you’re more the slowly-taper-off type, start reading labels very, very closely—because soy really does turn up in the most unexpected places (i.e., canned tuna; cereal; chocolate; baby formula). Adding to the challenge it that the presence of soy is often hidden behind a veil of tough-to-decipher names. Among the most easy to spot: diglyceride, glycine max, hydrolyzed soy protein, monoglyceride, MSG, soy lecithin, soy concentrate, soy isolate, soy protein and vegetable oil, vitamin E. For a more extensive list of 101 names (!) for soy, check out Dairy and Soy Free Mama’s amazingly detailed list.
Soy does a number on the environment
On a personal level, soy makes me sad – and angry too! Factory-farmed soy crops are amazingly destructive to just about everything they come in contact with, stripping the soil of nutrients, sickening the livestock who are fed it, inflaming the bodies of the people who eat it, and polluting the bodies of those who till the land. Who wants to contribute to that man-made mess? Instead, consider becoming part of the solution by supporting my health warrior comrades at JustLabelIt.org and the nongmoproject.com, to learn see how you can help insure the safety of our food supply.
If you do choose to include soy in your diet, aim to eat only organic fermented soy products (such as tempeh, miso and natto), and make sure that you take a good multi-mineral supplement. It is important to remember that you should not rely on soy for your protein, but to think of it as a small portion of a balanced diet.
For those of you interested in learning more about the dark side of Soy, I recommend this book, The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food