Monday, March 18, 2013

Soy Exposed

I have heard from numerous people over the past couple of weeks, though conversations about my new Vegan diet, that soy products are not good for you.  I have already decided not to buy soy milk, yogurt or tofutti sour cream (check out this homemade recipe for non-soy sour cream substitute) but there are so many of the meat and cheese substitutes that are full of soy, not to mention countless recipes using tofu.  We as a family never purchased any of these products before now, so I can imagine that someone who becomes Vegan has the potential of all of a sudden consuming much more soy than they ever had in their diet before.  I was putting off doing research because I just didn't want to give up something that makes the Vegan diet easier.  I came to realize, though that if soy was bad I didn't want to defeat the purpose of trying to make my body healthier by giving it something potentially hazardous.  Here is what I found:

(taken from: Keeper of the Home )

1.  Soy Disrupts Our Sex Hormones


Soy is known as a phyotestrogen.  This means that it contains natural compounds that mimic estrogen in our bodies.  This sounds like good news for some people, such as post-menopausal women.  But what are the effects of phytoestrogens on babies, little boys and little girls, young women and young men?

For babies on soy formula, a 1994 study shows that they are consuming the hormonal equivalent of up to 10 contraceptive pills a day.  Little systems can’t handle that overload; it puts children at risk for everything from early-onset puberty to permanent endocrine damage. This might surprise you: the governments of Israel, Switzerland, the UK, and New Zealand have all issued statements against the use of soy formula for babies.

Little boys who consume soy may have higher risks of testicular cancer, and little girls may face higher risks of breast and ovarian cancers, due to longer exposure to sex hormones.  There is also a possible link between soy and lower sperm counts in young men.

Just 100 grams of soy contains the hormonal equivalent of one contraceptive pill.  Considering all the hormonal diseases that are running rampant today in the West (including infertility), it seems wise to check our consumption of soy.

2.  Soy Disrupts Our Thyroid


The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, just as the sex hormones are, so these two issues are intimately related.  The phytoestrogens in soy also act upon the thyroid to have a goitrogenic effect, which means they depress thyroid hormone production, slow down thyroid metabolism, and potentially cause an increase in the size of the thyroid (known as a goiter, hence the term goitrogenic).  All of that adds up to one thing: hypothyroidism.

Some experts estimate that there are as many as nine million undiagnosed cases of hypothyroidism in the United States alone.  If you have any hypothyroid symptoms, try to eliminate soy from your diet right away.

3.  Soy Contains Anti-Nutrients


Anti-nutrients are chemicals and compounds that prevent nutrients from being properly used by the body.  Here are two examples of anti-nutrients found in soy:
Protease Inhibitors

Soy contains protease inhibitors, which frustrate the body’s digestion of protein.  Studies show that this could cause the pancreas to be over-worked in the digestion process, and eventually lead to pancreatic dysfunction.   Protease inhibitors are found in especially high amounts in raw soy – one reason raw soybeans are considered toxic.  Heating and processing the soy lessens the amount of protease inhibitors considerably, but it is never completely eliminated.
Phytic Acid (or Phytates)

Soy (and many other grains, as well) contains phytic acid, which acts like a magnet for many important minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, therefore preventing their absorption into the body.  Though phytic acid can also help with ridding the body of unnecessary and/or unwanted heavy metals such as lead and mercury, this cleansing effect is bad news for those who rely heavily on soy for mineral content in their diet, such as those in developing nations.

What About Soy in Asian Cultures?


Many people are understandably surprised when they discover the negative effects of soy, and often point out that Asian cultures have eaten soy for thousands of years, with seemingly great health benefits.  There are two important factors to consider here.

1.  Asian cultures have historically eaten soy primarily in its fermented forms: miso, tempeh, soy sauce, and tamari are all fermented soy products.  The fermenting process significantly lessens the protease inhibitors and phytates in soy, almost to the point of elimination.  Tofu is the only non-fermented form of soy that has been historically common in Asian cultures.

2.  Traditionally, Asian cultures have eaten these soy products in small amounts, more as sauces and condiments than main dishes.  A typical starter of soup with three cubes of tofu is very different from a tofu-based entree where tofu is acting as a meat substitute.  The average Asian diet in China, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan includes between nine and 36 grams of soy per day.  Compare that to a cup of tofu (252 grams) or soy milk (240 grams).



Learn more about soy from these sources:

Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon
The Whole Soy Story, by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD
Whole Soy Story.com
Soy Online Service.co.nz
Soy Alert: Health Food or Danger?
Natural Health News: Be Aware of Soy Risks
Do Soy Foods Negatively Affect Your Thyroid?
Wikipedia: Soybean


 In addition here are some dairy free cheese and meatless meat recipes I found that do not use soy products:

Cheese:

Baked Almond Feta
Vegan Block Cheddar
Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
Vegan Queso Blanco Dip
Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Meat:

Vegan Pepperoni
Soy-free Vegan Ground Beef
Vegan Meatballs
Home-style Vegan Meatloaf
Vegan Sausage Patties
Vegan Italian Sausage Links
Chicken Burgers
Chickenless Nuggets (in his recipe he calls for soy milk...just use something else)

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