So What’s The Final Verdict on Soy, Is it Good For You Or Bad? : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Tuesday Nov 29, 2011 | BY |
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soy-GMO-allergies
We stopped selling Annmarie’s soap because we were unable to confirm that the soy was from a non-GMO source! Now what about eating it?

Soy, as I’m sure you know, is a hotly contested food…

There are as many staunch supporters of eating soy as there are adversaries – which leads me to believe there are three factors at play here – first, there is some true health benefit (small or large to be decided), second, there is some risk of eating it for some people, and thirdly, there is some marketing savvy involved that has confused just about everyone about its benefits and risks.

Today, I’m going to breakdown my understanding of soy from the years of exploration on the topic that I’ve done. Hopefully at the end, by the time I give my own personal rules for soy, you’ll have a pretty deep understanding of the topic.

Let’s get started…

The studies contradict themselves!

What a surprise…

Soy can help prevent cancer, but it can also cause it.

Soy is good protein, soy is bad protein.

There are plenty of these to go around, so when the science seems to come to a standstill on an issue like this, I go to other sources.

Why?

Because there must be other evidence outside of our Western analytical techniques that can help determine if something is healthy or not.

So this in-depth look will not list countless studies that support my claims or refute them. This is more a common sense look at how you can determine if you should add soy into your diet or take it away.

History tells us that…

Soy foods have been eaten for thousands of years in Asian countries like China, Japan and others. One of these areas include the island of Okinawa – its people are considered some of the longest lived in the world.

So their health protocol includes soy and they have very low incidence of cancer or other western disease. So regardless of what someone thinks, soy – in the form that they eat it – can’t be the only contributing factor to health issues like cancer and other diseases (at least if you’re Asian… I’ll explain later.)

So when it comes to soy, history tells us we can’t completely write it off as unhealthy.

The Japanese don’t eat soy dogs, tofu burgers or soy protein isolate.

If you explore the history of soy eating cultures, they also don’t eat processed soy (or any processed foods for that matter.)

The soy products that they do eat are tempeh, miso, tamari, and nama shoyu (all fermented) as well as edemame – steamed soy beans. They do not eat soy chicken nuggets, drink processed soy milk, devour massive amounts of tofu, take isolated soy proteins, or any other soy abomination that the food industry can dream up for vegetarians.

When it comes to soy, there’s no way possible that we can categorize it broadly and say all soy is bad or all soy is good, since there are thousands of different soy products that I wouldn’t even consider food.

So let’s lay the groundwork that any soy that is processed beyond traditional ways is not a food and should not be consumed (or heavily avoided.)

But if the Asians can eat soy does that mean I can?

If you’re Asian, chances are yes, your body has adapted to thousands of years of eating a food like this.

If you’re not Asian, the question has more depth to it.

A few years ago, I was sitting it Dr. Williams’ living room and we were discussing the genetic components of health. I wanted to know if it was possible that eating certain foods can “change” our DNA and allow our bodies to adapt to certain foods over time.

He said absolutely “yes.” In fact, he pointed me to some study of animal husbandry where animals can be bred to look differently in just a few generations by the food that they’re feed. Also, once they’re bred in a new way, they also have slightly different food requirements.

Basically, their genetics have changed just enough that they appear different and have different fuel requirements.

If this it true, then it makes sense that after thousands of years of eating soy, the Japanese have adapted in a way that it has a positive impact on their health.

But what if you’re from Ireland, the U.S. or Sudan?

Does that mean you can eat as much soy as you like – or even moderate amounts – and expect the same results?

I don’t know the answer for you specifically, but here’s how you can find out.

Allergies and hormone imbalance…

The two biggest negative arguments about soy are:

1. Soy causes hormone imbalance by being too estrogenic (meaning adds more estrogen to the body.)

2. Soy is a very common allergen.

So here’s how you know for sure if you’re being affected by it (if you choose to eat it.)

For hormone imbalance you can test your hormones. There are very accurate hormone tests that a natural practitioner can give to you that will tell you if your hormones are out of whack or not. The reason I don’t mention specific ones is because there are a bunch of accurate ones that practitioners can administer and use effectively. I don’t want to send you off looking for something you can’t find locally when another test may work just as well.

First step is to take an initial test as your baseline. (If you don’t eat soy, you may want to test then start eating it to see how it affects you.) Your initial test will either show normal levels, high or low.

Second step is to stop eating soy for a while.

Third step, after you’ve removed the soy from your diet for 2-3 months, is to test again to see if those numbers changed.

There are a few permutations here that will give you a clue on what is going on, but basically if your hormones move toward optimal, then soy may not be a good thing for you. If they move away from optimal, then soy might actually be helping you out.

Fourth step is to test regularly to make sure you’re always monitoring your health appropriately and not guessing about what’s going on in your body.

As for allergies, the approach is quite similar. If you don’t want to go through all the testing, you can just remove soy from your diet for 2 weeks and see if you feel any better. If so, soy may be the culprit.

If you want a more accurate type of test, you can work with a natural practitioner who is well versed on the topic allergies so that you can monitor what is going on with your body.

Soy must be non-GMO if you eat it.

One of the reasons soy may be causing so many problems in the U.S. and not in Japan is because anywhere between 60-99% of it is genetically modified. (I’ve heard that percentage range, and I can’t seem to confirm which number it truly is.)

GMO foods – including soy – have been shown to cause inflammation in the digestive tract lining of animals and likely would do the same in yours. Any inflammation of the gut can lead to mild to severe allergies.

This is a non-proven link, but there’s enough evidence to at least put them around the same block at the time of the crime.

Non-GMO soy (it would have to be labeled “organic”) is harder to come across, but is the only kind I’ll eat if I do happen to eat a little. If it is labeled this way, there are regulations that a company has to adhere to in order to ensure their food is not contaminated below allowable levels.

Do you really need soy for plant protein?

This is debatable.

There are many plant foods (and animal foods if you eat them) that can provide you with protein that do not carry the side effects of eating soy to get your protein requirements.

So unless it truly causes you no issues, you can use foods like beans, greens, grains, rice, and many others to get proteins. If you’re a meat eater, you can eat local, organically raised eggs and meats.

Basically, your protein protocol shouldn’t rely on any one protein food, so it makes sense not to overeat soy just to meet this requirement – particularly when a wide range of foods can give you some high quality protein.

Why is soy so abundant anyway? (Marketing considerations…)

What does a business do when they have extra of something?

They try to unload it.

In agriculture, soy is part of a regular crop rotation technique. Soy is planted to fix nitrogen into the soil. Soy is also a food that can be marketed as healthy. So with a little clever and selective marketing, factory farm owners made sure you knew about the positive benefits of soy – not to necessarily make you healthier, but to make sure there was less surplus and more profit.

(This is the other reason why I stay away from many of the studies on soy… I just don’t trust all of them.)

If you look in the bread aisle in your supermarket, chances are 1 out of 2 loaves that you pick up will have some type of soy product in them. This has not always been the case. In fact, just 5 years ago, it would be difficult to find any at all. What’s happened is that food companies have found an inexpensive filler (and protein) to add to their manufactured products.

So the soy isn’t there to keep you healthy, it’s there because it has been put there because companies need to make a profit.

My rules on soy…

Of course, there are a lot of considerations here. What it comes down to are my simple rules on soy:

1. If you have hormone issues and you eat soy, be sure to test and find out if it is causing an issue.

2. If you have allergies and eat soy, be sure to test and see if your symptoms improve.

3. If you ever eat soy, eat organic.

4. Eat traditional, fermented soy products like tempeh and miso as a first choice.

I eat soy once in a while, but don’t go overboard to get it and I think this is the best protocol based on everything that I’ve read and researched.

I know some people swear by it and others vilify it, but I feel like there’s a gray area that is acceptable to explore and will still allow you to reach awesome levels of health.

Enough from me, now it’s your turn…

Your question of the day: What are your thoughts on soy?

Live Awesome!
Kev

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

63 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Monique says:

    Very interesting points, thanks a lot !!

  2. Phenomenal post — your timing to publish this couldn’t have been more perfect, too. I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for a long time, so thank you for writing it for me;)

    So would you stop using a product if it contained soy or just those not from a non-GMO source? I ask because currently, I avoid all forms of soy, HOWEVER, my face wash contains soy!! Do I trash it?

  3. Alma Cote says:

    I can only comment to my personal reaction. I am vegan, but my body reactes to almost all soy products as if I were having lactose intolerance issues with dairy. I suffer from both gas and bouts of mucus for a few days. To be fair, I don’t know that I’ve found an organic source to test this. In contrast, my body does NOT have any ill reactions to miso nor the raw Nama Soyu.

  4. Again Kevin, I think your posts are spot-on. .
    I don’t eat soy but have a brother in law who is a commercial farmer, and yup, he raises soy (government subsidized, of course!) and he won’t eat it either!!!! In fact, most commercial farmers won’t eat what they grow.

  5. Great post, Kevin. Thank you for your insights and your being so gentle yet firm about the issues. Life today is so complicated that my wife and I have found that we just have to set up strategies to be able to navigate today’s world.

    Our simple strategy is this: If native people didn’t eat it, neither should we.

    We also live by this one: If corporations are selling and promoting it, run the other way. Profits and health usually run in different directions these days.

    Thank you again for analysis of this important topic.

  6. Matt says:

    Dear Jenn,
    You’re probably picking over the minutest thing. The amount of soy likely to be present in the face wash is probably a very small amount. Then it has to pass through the skin as a nanoparticle. If you accidently ate a nano particle of soy GM or non GM every day, for the rest of your life, it still would be most likely unable to cause you any harm.
    Seriously, don’t spend time entertaining a nanoparticle. It’s not mercury, nor is it close to. Hope this helps.
    Stay cool & regards,
    Matt

  7. Sue says:

    Thanks for the info on soy, was wondering your thoughts on Lecithin supplements?

  8. Pear says:

    Hello

    I have been on Gerson Therapy for one year now and it forbids all soy and in fact all animal protein. I have been fine although I am Thai. In Thailand people eat lots of soy especially in tofu forms believing it is a great meat alternative.

    Cheers,
    Pear from Bangkok

  9. LynnCS says:

    Love this article, Kevin. I have been coming to exactly the same conclusion. Don’t incorporate it in my diet anymore since “going raw.” I used to be a very pro soy person. I never did a lot of processed, meat substitute type foods, but still resorted to them when I didn’t seem to know what else to get. Part of the problem with the soy explosion is that the going idea about protein is that we can only get good protein from meat or something that is considered a true substitute..ie something that looks and smells and tastes, well, something like meat. That wasn’t where I was coming from, but didn’t have enough info to make a different decision. I did a lot of tofu and I still love Tempe although I’m not eating it.

    Now I feel that I am becoming much more educated to where I can get the amino acids that I need and don’t, and don’t want to, go to soy for anything. Like you said, I don’t seek it, but if it is in something that is served, I won’t make it a problem.

    I especially liked what you said about the cover crops and having an excess so we have been told it was good so they have a way to sell this extra. These things often come down to money.

    More and more I am aware that I must study the issues and be responsible for my own health. Today I started the weaning process to get off the worst and final medicine I see has contributed to some very bad symptoms. Every time I got a symptom, I got a new medicine. Now symptoms gone. Blood work good and great nutrition coming from Raw fruits and vegetables, some soaked nuts and seeds. I am still learning but finally I believe I am making the best possible choices for a really healthy life. Thanks to your research and articles. Thanks so much. Lynn

  10. Joyce Neergaard says:

    Well done Kevin. My thoughts exactly. I appreciate your balanced approach to these issues. Unfortunately, “science” is not always forthright. You have to look for the researcher’s or the sponsor’s agenda as well. Keep up the good work. J

  11. Elisheva says:

    Kevin, you’ve summed it up exactly! Those are my thoughts on soya too, after all the investigations & personal experience, as well as experience with clients! Also be careful of the high salt (not healthy salt) content of Miso, etc.

  12. Cheryl says:

    I did an elimination diet and found out I was allergic to soy and found out the Starkist tuna fish I ate on a regular basis contained soy and was the cause of the annoying headaches I kept almost constantly. Trying to avoid soy then meant almost everything in the grocery store, including mayonnaise, which I now make myself.

    Also I live in the country and am surrounded by soy bean fields. The small farmer makes a living growing soybeans and nothing else and also I witness the spraying of chemicals on the soybeans, which sometimes I think the unsuspecting deer eat, which really saddens me.

  13. alison says:

    Really interesting article. Thanks. I normally avoid all soy products apart from soy milk which I use for my Kefir. I thought it would be ok since it would be fermented by the time I drank it. But it’s interesting to learn that it causes hormone imbalance, I didn’t know that. At the moment I am going through the menopause, with hardly any problems since I am on a high raw diet. I do however get flashes, not bad, but I try to eat foods that will normalize my hormones. I wonder if the flashes I do get are caused by soy milk? I am going to stop using it for my Kefir and see if there is a difference in my health. Thanks for your research, its appreciated. Alison

  14. Ron Jamis says:

    Wow! You omitted to tell the the biggest reason to avoid SOY GROWN ON AMERICAN SOIL…. MONSANTO!!!!

    Monsanto owns the patent on the soy plant that is immune to one of Monsanto’s most popular poisons: Roundup which is a plant herbicide. Factory Farmers love this plant because they can aerial spray their soy fields with Roundup and the soy plants are not affected. So, you get a large dose of Roundup in every bite of soy you eat!!!

    And guess what percentage of American grown soy is from Monsanto’s patented soy plant? More than 90%!!

    Have a nice day!

  15. Cherie says:

    Thanks for writing this. I now avoid all soy: eating, soap and lotions. Years ago my thyroid was at a very dangerous 96.4. I eliminated my foods 1 by 1. All I had left was my healthy soy. I reluctantly stopped eating the soy and my thyroid leveled out in 3 weeks. Soy is in a LOT of food. I learned how to make my own mayo because of this. One day I may do without but I can’t change that many things at once. Since it is in SO MUCH food it really makes business sense to put in such a cheap filler. They are not in the business for our health for of the benefit of mankind.

  16. Shirley says:

    Kevin, I have been wanting to send you this information for quite some time-it is only one person’s experience-so in the overall scheme of things-it probably does not mean much-if anything. I have no idea whether soy is good or bad for you. I am not of Asian descent (as far as I know). Also, I mention brand names below, not as an endorsement, but simply in explaining what products I consumed.

    I read a book about Rene Caisse and Essiac Tea as a treatment for Cancer. I also read the book about Johanna Budwig’s Quark and Barleen’s Flaxseed Oil for cancer. I did not have cancer to my knowledge, but thought, these foods, in that amount, would not hurt even if they did not help, and why not do this protocol as a cancer prevention measure. Upon arising and before going to bed-on an empty stomach, for probably 8 weeks (can’t remember exactly how long), I drank the recommended amount of Udo’s brand liquid essiac tea. Since “quark” is not sold where I live and since I am also lactose tolerant I could not use the recommended cottage cheese as a substitute for the quark. I used Silk plain soy yogurt. End results: To my great surprise, after a few weeks, from the urinary tract I passed 3 items (for sake of other’s comfort zone-won’t describe). Then a few years later I thought I would do this again so I repeated the procedure-only this time I drank a liquid essiac tea with catsclaw (I do not remember the brand name). To my surprise- again, in less time than the previous experience, I passed, from the urinary tract, a piece of flesh about the size of my little finger.
    Note: I have had problems with hemorrhagic urinary tract infections since I have been 16 years old-so for a long time. (A doctor from England told me that the frequent hemorrhagic UTI’s are due to a kidney “structural” problem.) I have a 3rd kidney or at least part of a 3rd kidney).

    But regardless, after my home designed last “prevent ca protocol” I used, I have not had as frequent UTI problem, and when I do, the pain and the hemorrhaging are much much much milder.

    Was any of this due to what I was eating? I have no idea, but “I think” it definitely was. Were the effects due to the essiac tea or due to the flaxseed oil and Silk yogurt, or due to all? Again, I have no idea. At the time I was unaware of the soy controversy. I still consume some Silk soy products. From having celiac disease, I know how difficult it can be in sometimes determining if a food (especially a food one is convinced is not causing a problem) is really harmful. I have not noted any health improvements when I leave soy out of my diet. I should probably consume some fermented soy products, but I don’t.

    My sister died at age 62 of breast cancer and my mother at age 67 of colon cancer. They both had the most positive outlook ever, but after chemo, radiation, and surgery, both died in a fairly short time. I no longer have mammograms done. (I don’t recommend this or “anything else to include diet” for others.)I have decided I do not want to go the chemo, radiation, surgery route, even though many lives “maybe” have been saved due to those treatments.

    Because sometimes doctors get a bad rap, (sometimes deservedly so) & because I am discussing cancer to some degree, I want to share this past event: I was a transfusion therapy supervisor in a hospital for over 20 years, and I will never forgot when one of the cancer doctors (one who was young, confident, spirited, brilliant, & one who demanded quality and got it)-came into my office after surgery on one of his patients and sat down at my desk. As tears were streaming down his face, he said I am so sick of giving poison to patients. And then he cried like a baby. As in this example, sometimes cancer treatments take their toll on others as well as the patient.

    One final note: my sister, before her death due to mets breast ca wanted to try the essiac tea. She took one drink of it and it made her violently ill and she said she would never take more of it. Another person said in that event, the dosage should be lowered, and then the dosage raised slowly.

    The essiac tea to me was just like drinking any type tea product. I noted no ill effects or unpleasant feelings from drinking the essiac tea or eating the soy yogurt and flaxseed oil.

    If I edit this & correct spellings, I will never send this, so I will send it while I have the courage to do so.

  17. Rosalind says:

    I avoid soy completely, which is very difficult as it is in virtually all processed foods in some form! I have been a vegetarian for 36 years and enjoyed extremely good health, but when I became a vegan about 4 years ago I thought I should introduce soy into my diet to replace the eggs and dairy – to cut a long story short I became very, very ill! My body hated the soy proteins and I developed an auto-immune response, but because the symptoms increased over a period of time it was difficult to pin point the actual cause. Fortunately once I eliminated all soy I regained my previous good health, but it took several months. Personally I don’t think anyone should ADD soy to their diet, there is enough hidden in other foods, and I would actually recommend avoiding it wherever possible. The biggest, strongest animals on the planet don’t eat soy either! Thanks for making folk aware of the potential pitfalls.

  18. William says:

    Excellent info on this debated topic…However, I would like to hear more discussion regarding soy protein isolate which was not really discussed..Thanks again

  19. Chiu says:

    These days, I’ve been exploring alternative sources of protein, as well as incorporating more raw foods into my diet. Sprouting has been something that I’ve been trying out for some time now. I do still eat soy quite often, though I’ll only go for the very unprocessed types like tofu; I also try my best to avoid any GMO’s, so any soy that I get is always organic. Too much of anything is not good. Soy is by no means the only source of proteins for most Japanese (if any). It’s quite normal in east Asian cultures to be a ‘vegetarian’ and still eat seafood.

    There’s definitely too much of it in processed foods; it’s in almost everything. And the problem is that most of the soy in the conventional products is genetically modified. The Institute for Responsible Technology is a very informative site about all things GMO, and they give the percent of GM soy in the US as something like around 92 or more. So you really have to get organic if you want any chance of it not being GMO.

    I wholly agree with doing a self-test/evaluation to determine what foods may cause allergies or bad reactions to stay safe. Personally for me, I’ve never had any food allergies or related issues (and yes, as you probably can tell from my name, I’m Asian). I’ve never met or heard of anyone suffering food allergies in my culture. Perhaps it’s due to the thousands of years of adaptation to things like soy. And maybe it’s also because processed foods are eaten in way less quantities; GMO’s were also nonexistent up through the early part of my life.

  20. It’s interesting that soy in any form is not allowed on the Gerson Therapy for Cancer. They say the main reason is because it is high in protein although the enzyme inhibitors and phytates are a factor.

  21. Velda says:

    Great article, Kevin. Thanks for the good information. Not only does the Gerson Therapy for Cancer avoid soy, even medical doctors tell their patients that have cancer, or have had cancer to avoid soy. I don’t eat soy, and I don’t eat processed food – on occasion I’ll wind up with some bread or something else processed, but mostly avoid processed food. Soy is so controversial that it seems like it is just best to avoid it. You can get healthy protein from other sources, so why consume something that has so many questions about it’s benefits. I did not know that soy could be in some soaps and shampoos. I’ll have to check for that – although I usually get organic soaps and shampoos and I read labels. Have not noticed soy. Would it be under another name? Thanks again for the info, Kevin!!

  22. Khamadi says:

    I am what you might call a serious health researcher. I can point you to the work of the Cornucopia Institute. They have an extensive site that ranks many of the organic products sold to the public. The Cornucopia Institute’ ratings are based upon several factors. They are dedicated to ensuring that the public is aware, in the case of soy products, which ones are organic and doesnot contained GMO’s. EDEN products are at the top of the list of non GMO soy products. WILDWOOD products also ranks high. I have been studying health and nutrition issues for about 35 years. I find the Cornucopia institute to be professional and dedicated to the organic lifestyle. Khamadi, blessings to all y’all.

  23. Devi says:

    I think the initial draw to soy was it was very affordable, in fact they used to say that by using soy as a protein we could feed the world, but as with most things there are changes. . . Thanks for your research.

  24. Kym Hutcheon says:

    Great article, Kevin. I’ve also read and written about soy fairly extensively and you pretty much nailed it. All the studies I’ve read have said the estrogenic effects of soy are far less than you hear in the media so it’s interesting to read the comments here about people with hormone issues (whether or not they’re estrogenic).

    One thing though, we do now have processed soy milk here in Japan. Ironically when soy caught on as a health food in the West, there was blow back here and soy milk started to appear in supermarkets.

    The first stuff was basically just the whey from the soy making process and tasted pretty bad but now we have the banana, coffee, etc. flavors, which people drink thinking they are health. Full circle on the soy. Thanks so much. ;-)

  25. Sally Klingler says:

    I have studied soy extensively for years after a breast cancer diagnosis. Medical docs say stay away from soy. My naturopathic doc says it is ok but only the fermented like tempe, miso. What it does, and Susan Love published this last year as well, is it acts like a weak estrogen which attaches to the estrogen receptor sites in the breast knocking out the bad estrogen. Which is exactly what you want to do. The Shanghai Study backed this up. Women who had breast cancer and consumed good soy faired better because they had better estrogen balance. I go by huge studies like this. That study came out last year at the Oncology Symposium out West that they hold every year. Also keep in mind that there are a ton of other foods that vegans eat- flax, legumes, that act like soy. Some say stay away from chick peas and flax. But if you get understand this concept then you won’t be afraid to consume all in moderation. I could go on and on about just about every food being a problem if you have had breast cancer but you have to educate yourself and eat accordingly.

  26. hyesun says:

    awesome article.
    a couple things that come to mind:
    for those of us who eat “clean”, local animal foods, like pastured eggs, it’s very hard to find farmers who don’t feed their chickens feed with gmo corn and soy in it. i ask every single farmer about that, and i’ve found only about 3 in my area who don’t use the feed with gmo soy. same with the meat chickens.

    also, for those of us who take supplements, it seems like many of them have some form or derivative of soy in them, like phosphatidyl choline/serine, or lecithin. even most vitamin E and the oil is soy derived (many fish oils/cod liver oils have vit E added as an antioxidant). some vitamin K is from natto, which, in my book, is fine.

    many organic, fair trade chocolates have non organic soy lecithin in them. soy is EVERYWHERE!!!! :-(

    so, being korean, i do eat the traditional forms of fermented soy. we have all the equivalents of the traditional japanese soy foods that you mentioned above, and i eat those on a fairly regular basis, but just little bits, as condiments. i think these are fine. but americans eat way too many processed soy products, which, IMO, are super harmful. even soy milk. like you said, kevin, asians don’t eat this stuff, except for small amounts of tofu. speaking of tofu, has anyone tried fermented tofu from taiwan? it is YUMMY, even though it’s a bit stinky. tastes like blue cheese…mmmmmmm…….. :-)

    thanks kevin, for your balanced and sane articles, as always! :-)

  27. SarahB says:

    I have had a lot of experience with the soy issue, being a nutritionist and having lived in Japan for 7 years (studying Japanese nutrition and cooking). I agree with everything Kevin said. I am 57 years old and was experimenting with different diets in the 70s when soy was becomming popular. Firstly, it has been known for a very long time that soy is more difficult to digest than other beans and is one of the top allergens in this society (the two are probably related). This means, as Kevin said, that all the processed soy products out there like the hamburgers, hot dogs, soy milk etc. are going to be challenging for many people to realize any health benefits from. But I believe the GMO issue is a huge one. Monsanto, Cargill etc. have a lot to gain by making the public here believe that soy is a healthy food. A lot of those commercials you watch that have healthy,active, young “hip” people consuming soy are commercials created by them. If you care about your health, don’t buy into commercials put out by big corporations. The question arises, though, with soy grown here in America by companies that are organic. I am not sure about this (I just don’t know). All I know is that I brought back a jar of Japanese soybeans with me when I moves back to this country and quickly noticed that they were completely different from the organic soybeans I could get in health food stores here. They did not look the same at all. (The Japanese ones were much smaller). Does this mean anything? I don’t know. I do know that the soy I ate in Japan was fermented, except for tofu, but that was only eaten in very small amounts (tiny cubes in miso soup) and the Japanese do NOT eat tofu lasagna, etc. etc. I had one client who found out that the anxiety attacks she was having were due to soy. She had not eated it until she hit perimenopause and read that it would be a good food for hormones. She started havein panic attacks while driving and was put on medication. Through her diet records, we discovered the link to soy and her reactions were delayed – she didn’t have them right after eating soy! But once she got off the soy, no more anxiety attacks. So for her body, it was not a good food in any form. Personally I eat fermented soy, from a good source , and occasionally. I would never eat any of those processed products and I especially stay away from TVP.(Textured Vegetable Protein) which is processed using sulphuric acid.

  28. Rhonda says:

    I agree with #5 Natural Health Ed.
    “Our simple strategy is this: If native people didn’t eat it, neither should we.

    We also live by this one: If corporations are selling and promoting it, run the other way. Profits and health usually run in different directions these days.”

    These are good observations to live by in my opinion. I have not been an advocate of soy all my life and it has been being added as a filler and marketed as a health food since the 70′s. Soy is fed to all livestock along with corn and so people that eat animal products are getting it through the animal as well. Chickens, cows, pigs, sheep would generally not choose to eat these cheap products if they were not fed it in their feed. Could health problems be stemming from this supposed health product? Hmmm…
    No doubt this subject will continue to be debated.

    Be wise and eat as naturally as possible which is a tad challenging these days, but doable.

  29. Soy is a bad idea. It is one of the main GMO Genetically Modified Organism foods that are fed to live stock that people eat. And it is used in a lot of processed foods that people eat. Soy is hard to digest by people and dogs because of the enzyme inhibiters and only soy that is fermented and cultured containing probiotics is the only safe and digestible source .

    Soy is used in dog food and can cause all kinds of digestive problems like constipation and internal rupture of the animals intestinal tract.

    Soy that is sprouted is safe .

    Barry Gourmet and Raw

  30. Kay Williams says:

    I enjoy everything you write about.I have not been a soy eater, except of course what I get in other foods.I will read labels more carefully from now on.

  31. Oscar says:

    What about sprouted tofu?

    I usually limit my soy to tempe but I just found a store that sells sprouted tofu.

    Any thoughts?

  32. Jackie says:

    Hi, good perspective on soy. If you are interested in a more radical view here is an excerpt from an article by Andreas Moritz:

    Given the fact that soybeans are grown on farms that use toxic pesticides and herbicides – and many are from genetically engineered plants – increasing evidence suggests soy is a major health hazard. With a few exceptions, such as miso, tempeh and other carefully fermented soy products, soy is not suitable for human consumption. Eating soy, soy milk, and regular tofu increases risks of serious health conditions. In addition, soy is a common food allergen. Numerous studies have found that soy products:

    * increase the risk of breast cancer in women, brain damage in both men and women, and abnormalities in infants
    * contribute to thyroid disorders, especially in women
    * promote kidney stones (because of excessively high levels of oxalates which combine with calcium in the kidneys)
    * weaken the immune system
    * cause severe, potentially fatal food allergies
    * accelerates brain weight loss in aging users

    Soy products contain:

    * Phytoestrogens (isoflavones) genistein and daidzein, which mimic and sometimes block the hormone estrogen
    * Phytic acids, which reduce the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, thereby causing mineral deficiencies
    * ‘Antinutrients’ or enzyme inhibitors that inhibit enzymes needed for protein digestion and amino acid uptake
    * Haemaggluttin, which causes red blood cells to clump together and inhibits oxygen uptake and growth
    * Trypsin inhibitors that can cause pancreatic enlargement and, eventually, cancer

  33. Claudia Schumann says:

    Thanks so much for this article. This is the second article about soy being unhealthy. Mary Vance, Nutritionist in Bay Area California, also stressed that soy is not healthy. So I am considering not using soy as much. I really don’t eat much – soy milk (Silk) in my cereal and soy creamer (Wildwood) in my coffee. Sometimes I eat regular tofu and tempeh and use soy sauce in cooking. I have cut back a lot in using processed soy products like Morningstar Farms, etc. because I don’t really like it.

    She suggested using Almond milk in my cereal. Do you think this is wise? I like the soy milk because it is fortified with calcium & vitamin D which I am low.

    What do you think?

    Claudia

  34. Rob says:

    Hum… I seem to recall that Flax seed/oil are high in Phytoestrogens, which are abundant in flax products as well as soy. However, for reasons we don’t fully understand, the ONLY oil allowed in the Gerson Therapy was Flax oil for the EFA’s. As such the Budwig diet is so popular.

    Flax are high in Lignans rather than Soy isoflavones. However both are Phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are weaker estrogens that mimic estradiol. Phytoestrogens, are a type of phytochemical that have estrogen-like effects on the body.

    When the difference between food and medicine is disregarded, when phytoestrogens are isolated and concentrated and sold to us in pills and candy bars, then the equation changes. Under these conditions, phytoestrogens become powerful hormones, quite capable of promoting cancer. Apart from the risk of gynecomastia, aka bitch tits, men are also at risk of lower androgen levels, a spanner in the works for any guy trying to build lean body mass.

    Phytoestrogens can work in two ways. Firstly, they can bind to your estrogen receptor sites, which in turn attach to DNA regions of genes that lead to protein transcription, in effect acting as a real estrogen. The other way in which they work is simply to bind to these receptor sites and sit there, preventing real estrogen from getting its parking space and initiating transcription.

    The pro soy crowd obviously argues that the phytoestrogens will block the receptors and prevent the more powerful estradiol from binding to those receptors. Thus, they argue that phytoestrogens in fact lower estrogen levels, which is why it is said to have anti-cancer properties. That is a fair point, but if somebody, especially a man, had low estrogen levels to begin with, the weak estrogen will still bind to the receptors and yield a net estrogen increase, albeit a rather weak one. On the flip side, if the weak estrogens are blocking the strong estrogens this could yield a net estrogen decrease. Unfortunately, some studies have shown that genistein and daidzein, soy’s phytochemicals, appear to have a significant estrogenic effect. It has been shown that genistein does activate transcription to a significant degree after binding to the receptors and therefore will cause growth of tissues.

    My main problem with soy is the way that it is being processed. The traditional Asian soy products like Meso and Tempeh are fermented soy bean products and are a lot healthier than the soy that we are being sold today.

    I can’t find any data that suggests a need for caution in the use of flax by breast cancer survivors.

    Flaxseed meal appears to have better results than flax oil. Both golden and brown flax are available. Brown flaxseed is equal in nutritional value to golden flax, and much cheaper. Aim for one or two tablespoons of flax meal daily.

    I’d have to conclude that I wouldn’t recommend most soy products as a health food and feel that in its processed form it should be avoided, especially by men. Moderate use of fermented soybean products, in my opinion, will not pose a health risk and may even provide some benefit. The problem arises when health conscious people replace almost all of their complete protein sources with soy products. Although soy protein is a complete protein, I feel that it is still inferior to Whey, Casein and egg protein and therefore see no reason to actively include it in my diet.

    With regards to flaxseeds, the lignans are also estrogenic, but not as potent as the soy isoflavones, nor is it heavily processed for consumption. Additionally, flaxseeds are an excellent source of the Omega 3’s that is so lacking in the modern western diet.

    As far as the whole estrogen debate goes, I think we should be a lot more concerned with environmental xenoestrogens.

  35. Shannon says:

    Hi Kev and everyone,

    I love the info-very congruent with my experience.

    Want to point out, in Japan they eat Natto-not tempe, although it’s probably quite similar. And they do eat quite a bit of Tofu. I lived there for 4 years.

    for me, the tofu feels better in my body when in Japan, maybe they process it differently…

    Thanks again-great topic & info, love Shannon

  36. Just a little history that I can say I’ve become knowledgeable on. I don’t consider myself an expert so don’t read this if you know it better than I.

    Monsanto sprayed Agent Orange on the jungles of Vietnam almost daily. I have a few hundred feet of movie film, that I took with my movie camera, to prove it. I didn’t know at the time what was happening. Agent Orange is an herbicide that kills ALL vegetation, PERIOD! Today that same herbicide is used extensively in North America to kill all vegetation except Genetically Modified Organisms that Monsanto has developed to grow even when saturated in that chemical. Insecticide is not necessary as no insect will eat a Genetically Modified Organism. Bugs don’t read so why do they know more than we do? The name of that more effective herbicide is now called Roundup. Yes! Genetically Modified Organisms are proving to be bad for humans to eat. With Roundup, the rest of you are victims JUST LIKE ME until you know better. Then, JUST LIKE ME, if you continue to ingest GMOs you are no longer a victim. You and I have become volunteers! If you want to know if Agent Orange/Roundup is causing you problems, ask me what it has done for me after 45 years.

    On another note, aspartame was originally designed to be marketed as a cheap and highly effective ant killer. How many “sugar free” sodas have your children ingested since Vietnam? Why does our future keep looking like our children’s nightmare? Not to worry though. Like the President of Enron mentioned, “It’s only business.”

    Have Fun! Dennis

  37. Amy E says:

    What is in Soy Lecithin? Is this different than other soy products? I saw a treatment regime that advised “encapsulating” vitamin c in lecithin to increase absorbability..(*which sounds GREAT) but unsure now becAUse of the soy lecithin. Where does lecithen come from?

  38. Karen LeFever says:

    Hey Kevin,
    Interesting article. One thing to keep in mind about soy, if you have ANY kind of thyroid problem, NO SOY AT ALL!!!! So I don’t eat soy of any kind. It’s hard to stay away from it because it’s in everything. I have to be as careful as I can, because I can make matters worse. So people, stay away from soy if your thyroid is low or high. Karen

  39. janet says:

    Hi everyone!I am a herbalist and nutritionist and trained in Raw food and Macrobiotics.Over the past 32 years being involved in food and

    running my own clinic and health shop I have come to think all ~modern~ processed soy is to be avoided. The only soy I consume is Tempeh,Miso,Natto,Tamari.Tempeh is used quite abit in Indonesia ,not really like Natto which is used more like a condiment.
    People need to learn to eat food as close to the way nature has presented it.The minute it starts getting cooked ,processed,microwaved,canned ,whatever then the degredation process begins.For vegetarians to get Protein use Quinoa,Sprouts,Nuts,Seeds,Chia,Spirulina Etc .
    janet .

  40. Tammy says:

    Nattokinase?

  41. Valesa says:

    Great post, but you left out an important aspect of the soy debate. Soy is extremely high in phytic acid and nearly indigestible, so it’s rather bad for us. There’s a reason Asian cultures eat fermented soy, since fermenting breaks down the phytic acid and makes the soy easier to digest. I stay away from all soy except fermented products like raw organic Miso.

  42. Joe says:

    I have been a vegetarian for 19 years now and a vegan for the past 3 months. I understand that soy can be harmful to my health but water can be even more harmful. How many people drink water tainted with chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, and on and on. I agree that organic is the way to go for everything. I have discovered dairy to be far more harmful than soy and almost as harmful as meat and egg consumption. If you are avoiding the main cancer causing agents: meat, dairy, and eggs, then you are on the right path. Life is not about food actually, it is about enlightenment. When you start to walk on the path of compassion for all living things, you may come across a true living spiritual master that can enlighten you. Good luck on your journey!

  43. Lucy says:

    Thank you Kevin for this great info.
    I used to eat tofu with my miso soup. I just love tofu,but had to stop it because of my hypothyroidism. I was feeling awful,but since I stopped eating tofu I feel much better.
    I also stopped 90% of the miso soup,and I have to say that I feel good too. Maybe I am completely allergic to soy.

  44. christina says:

    Kev your article is very timely and very interesting. I really enjoy drinking soy milk in the form of a fruit or veg shake but had been getting sore breasts and I even thought could it be the processed milk. I tried various brands, gluten free,sugar free,lactose free and eventually I gave up the soy milk altogether and with in a week all pain was gone.I tested it a few weeks down the track and the same thing happened.

  45. Joz Lee says:

    There is so much controversy over ” SOY” everyone is again promoting this unFood which is Glycine Max invented in Sweden in 1961 for commercial use. vs. Glycine Soja which is wild and used in Asia for crop rotation and ” condiments …. only after a long long fermentation process….it’s not ‘food’….

    the new excuse is that FORKS OVER KNIVES Dr. Esselstyn is allowing this to be used as a Plant Based Diet, Dr. Furhman is allowing it. … dr. McDougall is allowing it, Engine2Diet is promoting it…. therefore all these ‘prominent’ people must know something and they say SOY is good…..oh oh oh don’t forget Loma Linda and all Seventh-day Adventists promoting it as a ” health food ”’ !!! duh… if its such a good health food so many vegetarians get sick, and have heart attacks? soy supposed to lower cholesterol !

    Yes! ”’ IT IS GOOD ”’ but not for human consumption…. There I’v said it!

    just the fact that it clumps up our blood and minimizing the Oxygen delivery to our body and lowering the CO2 removal from our body is or should be enough not to even eat a bite of it or sip a sip of it….

    after it’s chemical extraction, and then more chemicals to remove the first chemicals there is no resemblance of any ‘plant’ or ‘vegetable’ left in the pulp…. then it’s another dousing of 24 chemicals, additives, preservatives, MSG colors etc….. making it NOT FOOD FIT FOR EVEN ANYONE’S ENEMY TO EAT…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ds-_8bHta0&feature=player_embedded#!

    Soy — A Miracle Food or Health Threat?
    by Andreas Moritz
    Soy products have made it into the food industry big time. Soy has been praised as the miracle food that will save the world. However, in spite of impressive nutritional content, soy products are biologically useless to the body, for reasons explained below. Today, soy is contained in thousands of different food products, which has led to a massive escalation of disease in both developed and underdeveloped countries.

    Given the fact that soybeans are grown on farms that use toxic pesticides and herbicides—and many are from genetically engineered plants—increasing evidence suggests soy is a major health hazard. With a few exceptions, such as miso, tempeh and other carefully fermented soy products, soy is not suitable for human consumption. Eating soy, soy milk, and regular tofu increases risks of serious health conditions.

    In addition, soy is a common food allergen. Numerous studies have found that soy products:
    • increase the risk of breast cancer in women, brain damage in both men and women, and
    abnormalities in infants
    • contribute to thyroid disorders, especially in women
    • promote kidney stones (because of excessively high levels of oxalates which combine with
    calcium in the kidneys)
    • weaken the immune system
    • cause severe, potentially fatal food allergies
    • accelerates brain weight loss in aging users

    Soy products contain:
    • Phytoestrogens (isoflavones) genistein and daidzein, which mimic and sometimes block the
    hormone estrogen
    • Phytic acids, which reduce the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, including calcium,
    magnesium, iron, and zinc, thereby causing mineral deficiencies
    • “Antinutrients” or enzyme inhibitors that inhibit enzymes needed for protein digestion and
    amino acid uptake
    • Haemaggluttin, which causes red blood cells to clump together and inhibits oxygen uptake

    soy has ***HEMAGGLUTININ***= agglutination= which clumps our red blood cells – when ‘clumped’ blood can’t carry OXYGEN TO OUR BRAIN, HEART, AND BONES !!!!

    Soy milk effectively concentrates the enzyme inhibitors found in the bean. robbing us of important enzymes and nutrients and vitamins !!!! Removing margarine, soymilk and microwaves from your kitchen is a good start to reclaiming vitality in your diet.

    PINTO, KIDNEY, NAVY, SOY, …….
    DO NOT EAT! Eating soaked raw or undercooked beans can result in food poisoning. The culprit is a plant lectin known as phytohaemagglutinin or simply hemagglutinin, a chemical known to cause agglutination of mammalian red blood cells and to disrupt cellular metabolism. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, phytohaemagglutinin is found in many types of beans, but red kidney beans contain the highest levels of hemagglutinin. White kidney beans contain a third as much toxin while broad varieties of beans contain 10% as much hemagglutinin as red kidney beans. This is still plenty, since you only need to eat 4-5 undercooked red kidney beans to get sick.
    3) Soy milk contains haemagglutinin which
    compromises delivery of cellular oxygen.

    ”’NORMAL BLOOD CELLS”’ ”CLUMPED BLOOD CELLS”’
    Haemagglutinin is a clot-promoting substance which causes red blood cells to clump together. This, in turn, limits the capacity of these cells to absorb oxygen for delivery around the body and can compromise heart health. Haemagglutinin and enzyme inhibitors are both growth depressors so it is incomprehensible that infant formulas are so often based on soy milk. It becomes blatant stupidity when you understand that soy milk is also a goitrogen (causing enlargement of thyroid gland)

    WE SO WORRY ABOUT THE AMINO ACIDS…. AND CONSUMING SOY FOR IT’S PROTEIN CONTENT…. OR PHYTOESTROGEN FOR HOT FLASHES…. THAT…. WE OVERLOOK THE NOT TALKED ABOUT PROBLEM OF SOY…

    BY INHIBITING ”’ OXYGEN”” SUPPLY TO OUR BRAIN AND OUR HEART…… PEOPLE DIE FROM LACK OF IT…… SO? IS THE BIG FRANK OR THE SOY BURGER WORTH THE PRICE OF LACK OF OXYGEN? whoah ! and people ”argue, fuss, and fight” over a soy burger !!! unbelievable ! joz

    and growth
    • Trypsin inhibitors that can cause pancreatic enlargement and, eventually, cancer

    Phytoestrogens are potent anti-thyroid agents which are present in vast quantities in soy. Infants exclusively fed on a soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed a milk-based formula. This would be the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day. For this reason, premature development of girls (early puberty) has been linked to the use of soy formula, as has the underdevelopment of males. Infant soy formula and soy milk have been linked to autoimmune-thyroid disease, and now also to death.

    In 2007, two parents were convicted of murder and given life sentences in prison for starving their 6-week-old baby to death by feeding it with soy milk and apple juice. Now, soy experts are again calling for clear and proper warning labels on all soy milk products—following this and several other babies’ hospitalizations or deaths under similar circumstances.
    Only properly fermented soy products, such as miso and tempeh, provide soy nutrients that can easily be absorbed. To make soy products nutritious and healthy, they must be carefully fermented—according to the traditional preparation methods used in Japan. Typically, soy must be fermented for at least two summers, ideally for 5-6 years, before it becomes beneficial for the body. In spite of the documented scientific evidence that shows soy to be carcinogenic and also cause DNA and chromosome damage, the multi-billion dollar soy industry has managed to turn this generally worthless food into one of the most widely used “nutritious foods” of all times. In a written statement, a spokesman for Protein Technologies said that they had “. . . teams of lawyers to crush dissenters, could buy scientists to give evidence, owned television channels and newspapers, could divert medical schools
    and could even influence governments . . .” We cannot expect that the powerful and wealthy soy industry is going to disappear any time soon, but we can still make the choice to avoid non-fermented soy products or foods that contain soy.

    Soy acts more like a drug, not a food, upsetting the body’s entire hormonal balance.

    This is enough reason to avoid soy at any cost.

    This is an extract from the book Timeless Secrets to Health and Rejuvenation,

    In 2007, two parents were convicted of murder and given life sentences in prison for starving their 6-week-old baby to death by feeding it with soy milk and apple juice. Now, soy experts are again calling for clear and proper warning labels on all soy milk products—following this and several other babies’ hospitalizations or deaths under similar circumstances.
    Only properly fermented soy products, such as miso and tempeh, provide soy nutrients that can easily be absorbed. To make soy products nutritious and healthy, they must be carefully fermented—according to the traditional preparation methods used in Japan.

    Typically, soy must be fermented for at least two summers, ideally for 5-6 years, before it becomes beneficial for the body. In spite of the documented scientific evidence that shows soy to be carcinogenic and also cause DNA and chromosome damage, the multi-billion dollar soy industry has managed to turn this generally worthless food into one of the most widely used “nutritious foods” of all times. In a written statement, a spokesman for Protein Technologies said that they had “. . . teams of lawyers to crush dissenters, could buy scientists to give evidence, owned television channels and newspapers, could divert medical schools and could even influence governments . . .” We cannot expect that the powerful and wealthy soy industry is going to disappear any time soon, but we can still make the choice to avoid non-fermented soy products or foods that contain soy. Soy acts more like a drug, not a food, upsetting the body’s entire hormonal balance.

    This is enough reason to avoid soy at any cost.

    Health Beyond Hype:

    What you may not know about soy…

    Soy exploded onto the scene in the 1990’s as the “miracle food” armed and ready to fight everything from cancer to heart disease to hot flashes—and a slew of other illnesses in between. The problem with these claims is that they were misleading and simply untrue. The sudden surge of soy into our food supply had very little to do with improving the American diet. It was nothing more than clever marketing to further reduce manufacturing costs of processed foods (soy is incredibly cheap to grow), and to use the surplus of soy protein isolate, a by-product of the soy oil industry.

    Among the many inherent dangers of soy is that it contains a high concentration of phytates, enzyme inhibitors, goitrogens and other poisonous plant toxins—so much so that it’s almost impossible to get rid of them. Simply soaking soy beans overnight is not enough to adequately release and neutralize these anti-nutrients. Products like soy milk, tofu, meat substitutes and dairy substitutes are chock full of poisonous anti-nutrients and should be avoided at all costs. Read Cinderella’s Dark Side for more information about the dangers of soy.

  46. fred says:

    Dr. Mercola reccomends avoiding even non gmo soy, unless it is fermented, and Dr. Weil claims unfermented non gmo soy is ok to eat. I, too, suspect the truth of this may vary from person to person, and that moderation is also important. I thank you two for another helpful and heartfelt post.

  47. Rainier says:

    Chinese people do drink soy milk, not the one like Silk, fortified with calcium. In Taiwan, you can buy it hot and sometimes freshly made at the breakfast shop. In the States, you can buy it at the Chinese grocery store, probably made in a factory. My mom used to cook soybeans to make soymilk. She then used the left over fibrous stuffs to make pancake. Growing up, I didn’t eat much tofu. We ate more dairy than soy products. Even though we are Chinese, both my mom and I can’t tolerate too much soy. She would get joint pains while I get severe PMS.

  48. Citron says:

    Hello everybody, greetings from France. This is my first post on this wonderful blog :-)

    To anwser your question, I don’t believe that organic soy is that bad if it is eaten properly and in a reasonable way.

    For example, Asians do not only eat fermented soy, they also eat tofu and bean sprouts in large quantity but they add sea food and seaweeds to avoid thyroid issues with iodine and demineralization.

    Phytates are also not all that bad. Many papers on Tchernobyl show that phytates bind radionucleides in the body and help to wash them away through the intestines.

    And soy lecthinin is excellent for your brain.

    For the hormonal issues, I think men take more risk by drinking tap water with birth controll pills waste and industrial milk full of hormones.

  49. I was diagnosed with so called Hormone Positive breast cancer after being a vegetarian for 4 years and eating soy daily, b/c I loved the taste of it. I didn’t know 17 years ago, despite being a nutritionist, that plant estrogen/hormone in soy can cause cancer, I didn’t know there was something called hormone positive breast cancer. I went thru chemo and radiation and almost died. I am a vegan/raw foodist now, no soy and no chick peas/garbanzo beans. I can basically eat only what I cook b/c I know what’s in it. The food industry is surely trying to kill us all, not only with soy in everything, but all other poisons. All for profit! I wish ppl would wake up and start hydroponic or aquaponic gardening and/or bought foods from local organic farmers. The food industry didn’t kill me, I almost killed myself b/c of lack of knowledge. I know different now. Knowledge is power! There are solutions to our food problems and other local, national and global problems! Check out The Venus Project. There is light at the end of the tunnel! Love & Peace now!

  50. Deirdre says:

    I might-once in a great while- eat organic soybeans if they’re raw (edamame? Is that considered raw?) but all the rest of it is just processed food so I don’t touch it.

    Deirdre Braddock
    raw since 1985

  51. Dr. Furhman uses soy which surprised me. So I decided to see what the current opinion was out there (I had gone from believing in it to NO SOY ever forgetting that my miso was soy LOL). I knew you had good things to say so I typed in your website and did a search on soy. You say some good things that make me think occasional soy (in the fermented form) is ok. Thanks for all you do.

  52. Vladimir says:

    I agree with your article.
    Some Soy products are good and some are bad for us.
    Thanks :)

  53. Connie says:

    To Amy E
    Lecithin is made from Soy. However you can also buy one made from Sunflower & also from Egg Yolks. Hard to buy though…probably best place is over the Internet.

  54. Excellent. I like solid cases which has pros and cons and besides that all I want to point out is “Too much of anything is not good” – All things in moderation etc.
    Being vegan I frequently hear “So you eat alot of tofu” and such but I don’t and I wont. Don’t need it really and it doesn’t taste very awesome.
    If you’re doing lots of soy, as other products, it should all be organic (and pref local..).
    The only time I consume soy is in the occasional chai masala down at the tea shop.
    And is it really that hard to avoid soy? Yes it might be in “every product” but not when you prepare your food stuffs from scratch :)

  55. Nadine says:

    One flaw I see to this argument though – meat and dairy – no matter how it’s raised contains tons of hormones as you are eating the muscle and flesh of another animal. I would think that hormone levels from another MAMMAL would affect you more than eating plant hormones.

  56. Annette says:

    I am glad I read the article because it puts things in better perspective. One of the things that disturbs me is the fact that soy is generally ‘isolate’. It would seem beneficial that we would eat soy has a bean and no other way. It’s what is done with it to make it similar to any milk product; soy milk, cheese etc.
    As one of the previous comments, the only way I usually have soy is in a chai because I truly enjoy that.(contradictory of above :o) Although I realize the varied comments on soy, the only way I can have my chai is not to have a dairy product since the latter produces phlegm in my throat and other side affects.
    I have not tried a fermented product and I am the process of doing so because there are other foods that are giving issues as well.
    I thank everyone for their comments; I have learned much.

  57. Syd says:

    While I know this is an older post, I just wanted to point out that some of the tofu/soy products mentioned also have wheat in them — such namo shoyo, and tempeh — which is also often a reactive food and I think that deserves a mention as it could be gluten intolerances causing reactions, not the soy. But it could also be both, as in my case (though the soy was not an issue until it became so abundant with the advent of the GMO/GE varieties).

    Otherwise well written, covering most of what I’d have put in if I’d bothered. :D

  58. Diane Moor says:

    This a Venn diagram of 3 communities with the greatest longevity in the world.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/12/Vendiagram.gif

    The 3 communities are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Loma Linda, CA, US. See http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0511/feature1/

    All 3 groups eat a plant based diet. Two of the 3 have high soy consumption! Your article mentioned the Okinawan community and wondered if there were genetic changes among Japanese people making soy safe for them, but questionable for others.

    The 2nd group with high soy consumption and outstanding longevity live in Loma Linda, CA. In 2000, 75% of the people living in Loma Linda, CA, were not Asian. In 2010, non-Asians made up 73% of the population. (Both examples reasonably omit Pacific Islanders whose diets are dissimilar to the Okinawans in many ways.

    Unlike the other 2 locations, Loma Linda is not based on an idyllic or somewhat isolated island. Loma Linda is east of Los Angeles in the midst of built-up suburbs. No fresh open breezes there. What makes Loma Linda so special?

    The answer has 2 parts: A large number of people living there are part of a Seventh-day Adventist enclave. A high percentage of Seventh-day Adventists are vegetarian, a fact that distinguishes them from Mormons who share the Adventist’s prohibition of tobacco and alcohol.

    I am not a Seventh-day Adventist, but I was reared in that community and most of my large extended family members are still SDA. I know how they eat and have eaten soy since at least the 1950′s. They eat a lot of canned and more recently frozen processed meat substitutes, mostly made of soy. They may change, but I haven’t heard of any rush to eat organic soy or other organic products.

    Notably, fermented soy products are not a significant part of the SDA vegetarian or vegan diet. My mother, who is 84 and vibrant except for knee pain, has never eaten tempeh. She asked me what tofu tasted like in the last decade. She tried it, didn’t like it and has continued to eat the familiar canned and frozen products. Likewise, whole soybeans are not a prominent soy source among Seventh-day Adventists.

    One change is that in recent years, many SDAs have changed from vegetarian to vegan diets, including my mother. That change doesn’t account for their exceptional longevity. They are far from being a genetically homogeneous group, because of long term their worldwide “ministry.” In fact, Seventh-day Adventists, with their soy eating ways, have been found to be exceptionally healthy in many studies, but have never been identified as a notably unhealthy group.

    So, I am not afraid of soy. In 62 years I have experienced massive first hand evidence that soy is good, not bad for the health of millions of people eating the SDA diet.

    Nevertheless,I am no longer of the faith. ;-) I no longer eat canned and frozen processed soy products, the I remember their tastes with gusto.

    However, I won’t allow Monsanto tainted soy to touch my lips. That isn’t at all impossible, as some suggest. I eat organic soybeans from isolated farms or farms along with tofu, tempeh and soy milk from extremely carefully screened sources. I have just stopped eating Kashi Go Lean, Morningstar Farms products or other processed foods besides extra virgin olive oil. I eat plant based whole foods. It is that simple.

    Or to be fair, it is that simple if you are retired and live in a semi-rural Northern California in a community where not a single person donated money to the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008. We live in a beautiful “bohemian” west county filled with artists, left over hippies and other progressives who demand organic and fair trade products. For me, this makes it far better place to live than Loma Linda. lol

  59. el says:

    I had to wrap my head around the soy controversy after spirit prompted me to buy and prepare it recently. A few things came to mind.

    A: Any Isolate would not be found in nature. The likelihood of isolates becoming antagonist creating what appears to be an allergic reaction which in truth is not an allergic response but an antigen reaction where the body recognizes it as foreign matter thus attacking makes good sense. The very reason why we (animals and humans alike) have inflammatory responses – our immune system is attempting to rid of it. In a case where it cannot it may very well encase it (what some like to call cancer/tumor) to further protect the body from ‘harm’.

    B: In the Raw food world we learn that all seeds (nuts, legumes, grains and the like) all have toxins. Proper preparation is essential to remove those toxins. Furthermore, in order for these seeds to become ‘living’ food they must first be sprouted which makes them bioavailable for absorption.

    C: Edamame is said to be safer than Soy. Oxymoron really because they are one in the same. The only difference is that Edamame is the immature seed whereas soy is the mature seed. As research would reveal Edamame is safer after cooking (boiling is the usual method) where toxins are said to be deactivated. This does not resonate with me. In order for it to be safe it must first be soaked, sprouted and then boiled or Fermented. The same process I would personally employ for mature soy.

    Common sense is sadly lacking and rarely common in our society.

    In consideration of the above and the awareness that the best source of Soy is said to be fermented. One has to consider what is accomplished through fermentation above and beyond the proper preparation methods. The cultivation of live, beneficial bacteria which imparts vitamins like B12 (as you would find in nutritional yeast and the above mentioned) such as one would do when making nut based yogurts and/or Rejuvelac /Kombucha and the like. The removal of phytic acid and any toxins within the skins is accomplished through soaking and sprouting (if done correctly). These beneficial bacteria feed are probiotic feeding the healthy gut flora / repopulating it which is ultimately a benefit to our immune system as this is where the immune system is under assault regularly by our exposure to toxic substances/matter which are mostly ingested.

    In conclusion: It would seem the missing link in the controversy on Soy excluding what has already been discussed in your post (non-organic, gmo, isolated soy constituents) would be that IF the soy is properly prepared before consumption and IS in whole form – Certified Organic – Non-GMO (regardless if it is fermented or not) should not only be safe to consume but also quite beneficial.

    ** Any Individual who has had hormone-dependent breast cancer may want to eliminate or limit Soy of any kind in their dietary intake. **

    Soy beans are another excellent protein rich anti-wrinkle food: they contain large amounts of the same anti-wrinkle amino acids as eggs do (glycine, proline, and lycine). Additionally, soy beans contain certain wrinkle-fighting isoflavones, including genistein, daidzein, and aglycone. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Japanese researches gave 26 middle-aged women either a test food containing 40 mg of soy isoflavone aglycone or a placebo food. After the 12 week trial period, those who had been given the test food showed a significant improvement of fine wrinkles and skin elasticity, compared with the placebo group.

  60. Brian d says:

    I am of the opinion that eating soy is down right dangerous. It’s established facts in the effects upon new borne suggests the girls mestruate early, sometimes very early and as for boys, they could shoot blanks, forever. Asians have used soy for a long time but the do not inject near the quantities that the average American does. For hundreds of years Asians would not eat soy but only feed it sparingly to animals .. Sparingly.
    Soy is dangerous …. I encourage everyone not to eat it.

  61. J says:

    “Non-GMO soy (it would have to be labeled “organic”) is harder to come across, but is the only kind I’ll eat if I do happen to eat a little.”

    With all due respect, Silk Soy Milk is Non-GMO certified. Whatever the controversy on their connection to Prop37, and one’s opinion on benefits/risks of soy, it is a misnomer to say that it is difficult to find non-GMO soy products. Sometimes Silk is the only product you CAN find, in my experience.

    I hear this statement a lot, and I don’t understand it since Silk starting talking about it’s non-GMO status years ago. I have to lean toward ‘fear-mongering’ when I hear this…and this blog isn’t the only one I’ve heard make this statement.

    All the best –

    http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/search-participating-products/?catID=1
    http://silk.com/products/organic-original-soymilk
    http://silk.com/our-story/non-gmo

  62. francis says:

    Does soy lecithin have the same effects as just eating soy
    in body?? If anyone knows? Cause I notice it in a bunch of stuff. I
    never eat soy anything and eat mostly organic but i do eat some
    things that have this kind of soy in.

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