by Bob McCauley, CNC, MH
“Health foods make promises that only the Second Coming could fulfill.” ~ Mason Cooley
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of vegetarians make is to consume soy. When I first became a vegetarian in 1980, I went to a vegetarian cooking class at Lansing Community College. The woman who taught was a fanatic about vegetarianism and was completely adamant about the necessity that vegetarians get their protein from soy. She referred to it as a “near perfect food”. I bought into that for a long time, but luckily did not consume a lot of soy in the following years. What soy I did consume was a form of fermented soy called tempe.
Much has been promised to us from soybeans in the way of health. Proponents claim that soy is a near perfect food with a large array of amino acids and other nutrients. Soybeans are approximately 35% protein, only 58% that of Spirulina and Chlorella. Spirulina and Chlorella are five times easier to digest than meat, fish, eggs, dairy and soy protein.[i] Soy is rarely consumed raw unless it is sprouted. Nearly all soybeans are eaten after they are processed into tofu, textured protein or fermented into foods such as tempeh. Once you have cooked or processed any food, you have altered its natural chemical structure. Heat is a chemical reagent that radically alters anything it comes in contact with.
Soy contains goitrogens, which block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and disrupt the assimilation of iodine. Without iodine, the thyroid cannot regulate the body’s metabolism, which can lead to obesity, or the opposite. Consuming fluoride will also interfere with the uptake of iodine, and consequently our metabolism.
Soy contains soyatoxin, phytates, protease inhibitors, oxalates – all of which interfere with the enzymes needed to digest protein.
Soy contains Trypsin Inhibitors: Trypsin allows for the digestion of protein. Haemagglutinin and trypsin are growth inhibitors.
Soy contains Phytic Acid (phytate): Highest of any plant. Inhibits the uptake of minerals into the body, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
The energy footprint of soy is unlike any other food we commonly consume. All raw foods contain negatively spinning ions, which are advantageous to the body. However, soy contains positively spinning ions, which are counter-productive to our health, as are all positively charged particles.
There are plenty of other problems with soy and its negative effects on the body, such as it produces a lot of gas for many who consume it. Other digestive problems often disappear when soy is removed from their diet, including infants. Processed soy products are rich in phytohemaglutinin (PHG),[ii] a glue-like substance that unbalances the body chemistry, slows circulation and thickens the blood, numbing the immune and nervous systems. Enzyme inhibitors found in soy interfere with the action of trypsin, a digestive enzyme that breaks down protein. Soy also contains goitrogens, which suppress thyroid functions; phytic acid, which can block the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, iron and zinc in the intestinal tract.[iii]
The high amount of manganese found in soy-based infant formulas, 200 times that of breast milk, can cause brain damage in babies and a slowing of brain functions in children. One study concluded that the last thing women should do to prevent breast cancer is to consume soy.[iv] Another study showed accelerated brain aging in those who regularly consumed soy.[v] Women who are pregnant should avoid soy because of the risk of breast cancer.[vi] Soy has also been linked to pancreatic cancer.[vii] Soy can slow sexual performance because isoflavones interfere with estrogen function.[viii] It contains isoflavones genistein and daidzein which mimic estrogen. They disrupt estrogen and glandular production. In one major study, Asian men who ate tofu increased their chances of getting Alzheimer’s Disease.[ix]
Although it is quite common, the consumption throughout Asia is highly overestimated. The soy products they do eat tend to be fermented, which is less harmful. There is no history of soy being consumed for health reasons anywhere in the world until the last half of the Twentieth Century.
The soy craze has been deliberately fueled by corporate propaganda that promotes commercial interests rather than health. 75% of all soy based products found on the market have been derived from genetically modified soybeans, some that have been crossed with nuts and other foods that cause tremendous allergic reactions in people.
Soy can be used as a transition food to move away from meat and other animal protein to plant protein, that of Spirulina and Chlorella. But once that bridge has been crossed, it must be burned and soy should be completely avoided.
[i] Spirulina – The microscopic nutrient powerhouse and how it protects and restores health, Jack Joseph Challem, p. 8.
[ii] Phytohemaglutinin: Phyto=Sun hema=blood + glutin=glue or blood glue.
[iii] Nutritional status and phytate: zinc and phytate X calcium: zinc dietary molar ratios of lacto-ovovegetarian Trappist monks: 10 years later, Journal of the American Dietetic Association 88:1562-1566, December 1988.
[iv] Dietary estrogens stimulate human breast cells to enter the cell cycle. Dees, C. et al., Environmental Health Perspectives (1997) 105(Suppl. 3):633-636.
[v] Dr. Lon White, Honolulu Heart Program. 1965-1993.
[vi] Oncol Rep 1999 Sep-Oct;6(5):1089-95.
[vii] The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, objectives and procedural details Rackis, Joseph J. et al., Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985.
[viii] Heather Patisaul et al, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. 2003. Study done with rats produced blood levels of the isoflavones similar to those in women regularly taking the supplements.
[ix] White LR, Petrovich H, Ross GW, Masaki KH, Association of mid-life consumption of tofu with late life cognitive impairment and dementia: the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. Fifth International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, #487, 27 July 1996, Osaka, Japan.
White LR, Petrovitch H, Ross GW, Masaki KH, Hardman J, Nelson J, Davis D, Markesbery W, Brain aging and midlife tofu consumption. J Am Coll Nutr 2000 Apr;19(2):242-55.