Why Soy is BAD For Your Health
It’s kind of crazy to think that soy products have really only been
around in the U.S. food industry since the early 1990’s, unlike many of
the Asian countries where it’s been a food staple for thousands of
So what made soy become so popular so fast here in the U.S.?
Well it certainly wasn’t coincidence. Like in most industries, if
you follow the money…it’s a pretty good bet that you’ll end up at the
truth. And soy is no different. Soy is cheap to cultivate and when
consumed in whole “fermented” forms it has real health benefits.
Notice the terms “whole” food and “fermented”...see that’s key.
It’s bad enough that whole foods have become foreign in vast majority
of North American diets, but throw in fermentation…and you’re looking
at a population smaller than people living on Easter Island that would
even take a second look at consuming soy in this form.
Fear not however, if there’s profit to be had, we can make anything palatable…or at least edible…sort of.
Which is why almost all soy produced in US is processed and converted
into two prosperous commodities - soybean oil and soy protein.
See…now we can get the benefits of whole fermented soybeans without
having to inflict our palates with foul smelly fermented foods. We all
Here’s the problem:
Processing anything is bad and it’s no different for soy. Soybean
oil is heavily refined and most have trans fats in them, making them one
of the unhealthiest oils around. And unfortunately, it’s in pretty
much all processed foods.
Soy protein is the other culprit and it’s also processed, although not
as heavily as soybean oil. All possible health benefits of soy are
completely taken out in the course of processing, making it a pretty
poor source of protein.
But this is where the confusion and conflict begins. The FDA claims
that soy protein is very healthy and they recommend consuming 25 g of
soy protein a day to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
I know…once again more conflicting information…I don’t blame you for wanting to tear your hair out with frustration.
Okay…before you take FDA’s recommendation, let’s take a little closer look at the relationship it has with the soy industry
According to Soy Food Association of North America, the sales of soy
food products exploded from 300 million dollars in 1992 to 4 billion
dollars in 2006. It only took just over a decade to make soy one of the
world’s most cultivated crop. In fact, the soy industry is growing so
fast that in order to keep up with the demands, it’s clear cutting
forests (yep…deforestation) to make more room for soy farms.
But that’s not enough…there’s too much at stake here…too much money
to be made. The soy industry wants it all and nothing’s going to stop
them…not even mother nature. Enter…GMO - genetically modified
organism. Soybeans that are genetically modified to grow faster, bigger
and be resistant to pretty much anything you throw at it.
In the U.S. about 90 % of all soy used is genetically modified (GM).
GM soy is resistance to toxic herbicides and pesticides, which is great
because they can keep pumping out soybeans without worrying about crops
being destroyed by insects. Sounds dandy, except these toxic chemicals
are being passed down the food chain into to animal feeds and you
guessed it…you and I, the consumers.
I won’t get into the tyranny of the Big Agra (ie. Monsanto) in the
farming industry as a whole, but getting non-GM foods have become
alarmingly difficult and our right to get natural whole foods is
So what does any of this have to do with the FDA?
Well, it just so happens that the executives that run Big Agra, which
produce both the GM seeds for soy as well as the toxic chemicals that
they spray the crops with, coincidentally happened to serve on the board
of execs on the FDA as well. It’s like a merry-go-round of execs just
switching seats. Conflict of interest? Oh right…this is
politics…profit and power over human rights and safety.
According to stats between 2000 - 2007 there were more than 2700 new
soy-based foods that were introduced into the commercial market. And it
hasn’t slowed down one bit. One of the biggest reason for the
continual push for soy-based products is the FDA. It’s been
unequivocally supporting soy as a healthy source of food since the very
beginning. So, yes I think it’s fair to say that FDA is committed to
the success of the soy industry and so far it’s been wildly successful.
That said, I’m not saying that the study done on the soy proteins
reducing heart disease was false. It’s pretty easy to manipulate
studies to get a desired outcome anyway, and knowing the intimate
relation FDA has with the soy industry, I think it’s best to take (all)
FDA’s recommendation with a grain of salt.
Health facts about soy
Since soy is a legume (a bean) it has all of the unhealthy qualities that legumes possess:
- Soy contains anti-nutrients which hinders the ability of digestive enzymes needed to for proper digestion.
- Soy contains phytates (phytic acid) like nuts, which prevent
absorption of certain important minerals like zinc, magnesium and
- Soy is full of isoflavones which are phytoestrogens. They’re plant
compounds that resemble human estrogen and have been known to disrupt
endocrine function. It’s also been linked to infertility and breast
- Soy also contain goitrogens which block the synthesis of thyroid
hormones. So if you have thyroid issues, it’s definitely not
These are just the negatives health effects soy has in it’s natural state. Now combine that with the effects of genetic modification (GM) and you’ve really got a mess on your hands.
What effects genetically modified soy has on your health?
GMO is fairly new, so currently there’s only one published human study and a few published studies conducted on animals.
Although companies that produce GMO products claim that it’s
completely safe for human consumption, all the studies done on animals
fed GM soy have had seriously negative outcomes including infertility
and even death - infant mortality. (1)
The process of genetic modification in soy involves placing a gene
from a bacteria that produces protein that’s completely foreign to
humans. And if that doesn’t sound bad enough, the one human fed study
done on GM soy, found that the gene inserted into the genetically
modified soy transfers into the DNA of our gut bacteria and continues to
This means that even years after you stop eating GM soy, there’s a
real good chance that foreign protein will still be produced in your
gut. Sounds like a premise from a cheesy sci-fi movie…only it’s
So what can we do about this awful situation?
- First and foremost assume that most soy products are genetically
modified, especially those meat and dairy substitutes like soy burgers,
soy dogs, soy cheese, even soy milk.
- Make sure to stay away from anything that has soybean oil in it,
which shouldn’t be hard to do if you’re avoiding processed foods.
- It’s best to stay away from so-called healthy foods with soy protein
in them such as vegan protein bars, soy chips, soy nuts, and believe it
or not…even tofu.
- Tofu has been the go to source of soy protein for many vegans,
however the negatives health factors outweigh the positives, so it’s
best to avoid them.
As I mentioned in the very beginning of the article, soy is not bad
for you as long as it’s prepared properly. And the key to getting the
health benefits of soy is fermentation.
All whole soybean that’s been fermented is good to eat. The key is
fermentation. The fermentation process takes out most of the negative
health effects listed above. Although it doesn’t completely eliminate
it, in fermented form the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Here’s a list of fermented soy foods that I recommend:
- Tempeh - Fermented, firm textured, soybean cake
- Miso - Fermented, salty, soybean paste usually used for soup stock
- Natto - Fermented soybean with sticky, slimy texture often consumed with rice
- Soy Sauce - Fermented soybean in liquid form used as condiments in many Asian dishes
So there you have it. The story of soy is heavy on politics and
falls well short of being the panacea of health that it’s claimed to
be. GM soy is just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s very frightening.
Our body’s were meant to eat real whole foods…period. The consumption
of processed foods have wreaked havoc to our health and now engineered
food is about to over take our food supply.
Our best defense is knowledge so we can make the right food choices
for the benefit of our own health, as well as the health and well being
for our future generations.
P.S. Avoiding unfermented soy is important, but it won’t be enough
to get you lean and fit. You need an effective fitness program like my MAX Workouts
program along with my easy to follow eating guidelines to optimize your
fat burning potential so you can get lean, toned and fit. It’s never
too early to start setting goals for your new and healthy body for after
P.P.S. To learn more about GM foods and it’s ill effects on your health. Check out http://www.responsibletechnology.org/