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Interestingly enough, I only recently became aware of the soy controversy. Since in my health history I have had thyroid cancer a few times (yes – it does actually come back folks) and have been suffering from chronic sluggishness for years- you’d think the topic of soy and it’s ill effects would have crossed my mind.
There are tons of site’s out there that can give some specific information on the good, the bad and the ugly of soy. Did you know that soy is one of the most genetically modified foods we will find on the grocery shelf? I don’t know about you, but genetic mutations in the food I buy freaks me out. The thing I have found fascinating is how many products have soybean oil- check your labels, it’s everywhere!
Below is some great information from Marks Daily Apple about soy.
Soy and Processing
Soy really needs some form of preparation before it’s safe to eat, and that in and of itself gives me pause. That said, minimally processed soy forms like fermented tempeh and miso as well as edamame seem like preferable options.
Soy processing isn’t a very comforting picture with acid washing and neutralization solutions, large and leaching aluminum tanks, and high temperature heating (rarely a good thing in the food world). And this doesn’t take into account the artificial flavorings, including MSG, that are oftentimes added to improve flavor. (Hmmm. When we say healthy tastes great, we kind of mean a food itself and not all the chemical crap added to it. No?) Finally, it’s vital to go organic when it comes to soy. Not only is it nearly all genetically modified, it has one of the highest pesticide contamination levels of any crop.
Soy and Cancer
We’re talking mostly about breast cancer here. The culprit in question is the group of soy isoflavones, plant hormones that mimics estrogen in the body. Some research has shown that isolated isoflavones, a.k.a. phytoestrogens, contribute to the growth of tumors in the breast, endometrium and uterus.
It essentially comes back to the whole foods question. The research has focused on the isolated isoflavones, particularly genistein, the most active of the soy isoflavones that activates cellular estrogen receptors, including those in breast tumors. Noted experts in the field have cautioned that research with isolated soy compounds does not necessarily carry over well to the effect of the whole food, even minimally processed soy flour. In other words, soy is healthier than the sum of its parts. Other studies have shown that the mix of phytoestrogens in soy, when taken together in whole soy foods, protect estrogen receptors and may partly shield them from the estrogen we take in with meat and dairy consumption (yup, bovine hormones even in organic). They can also possibly reduce the impact of the unequivocally insidious “xenoestrogens” found in chemical pollutants.
Add to this picture the analysis of cultural diet and disease trends. Though Japanese women regularly eat significant portions of soy (in forms like tempeh, edamame, miso and tofu), they have only 1/5 of the breast cancer rate that Western women.
Soy and Thyroid Function
Researchers are in general agreement that people with previously diagnosed hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) should not take soy supplements. There’s not as much agreement, however, about soy and diet. The isoflavones in soy inhibit thyroid peroxidase, which produces T3 and T4, which can make a bad situation worse for those with diagnosed hypothyroidism or, as some suggest, help cause hypothyroidism to begin with.
It’s also important to note that soy isn’t the only food that has goitrogenic effects. Other foods in this category include (but aren’t limited to) cruciferous vegetables, corn and lima beans.
Soy and Mineral Absorption
Soybeans are high in phytic acid, which is known to block the body’s absorption of minerals such as calcium, zinc magnesium and iron. (Pertinent Insertion: grain-based diets have been shown to do the same thing.) Nonetheless, soybeans have the highest level of phytates. Fermentation is known to substantially reduce phytate levels, which is why you often hear that fermented soy forms are preferable. Other sources note that a meat or fish accompaniment to soy will reduce the effects of the phytates.
Soy and the Environment
I try to think about earth consciousness when I shop as well- from another site, Wellness Mama I learned that soy actually is detrimental to the land. Here’s some info on that-
In addition to being harmful to our bodies, soy production is harmful to the planet and to livestock who eat it as well. Almost all soybeans grown today are genetically modified and “Round-up ready.” They contain a gene that allows them to be directly sprayed with pesticides without dying. There is some evidence that this gene can mutate and create a pesticide-like toxin in the body.
This mutation means that soybeans can be (and are) sprayed with large amounts of pesticides and herbicides during their cultivation. In addition, soybeans strip the soil of many nutrients, leaving soil depleted. (On a personal note, I live in an area where soybeans are grown, and have witnessed first hand how much the soybeans are sprayed during their growth and how harmful these chemicals are to other plants and vegetation)
Animals who are fed soy can suffer many of the same health consequences as people who consume too much soy, and these harmful properties are then passed on in their meat.
Hope I was able to bring some information to you on this topic. Please follow our blog and if you haven’t joined out site yet, check out The Weight Race.
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