Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This "Health" Food's SOYld Reputation

By the way...if you haven't noticed I'm becoming obsessed
with Natalie Dee's comics
Yesterday I wrote about why I eat canned salmon instead of canned tuna- it is because I have not found a brand that doesn't have soy in it. I know that I have mentioned before that I read a book about the dangers of soy and immediately after embarked on a personal mission to cut all soy out of my diet. Let me explain to you why I was compelled to cut out this so-called health food.

Everyone is in a soy-frenzy and it has become the new "healthy" choice. It seems like a great option for vegetarians and vegans. How would they get their protein anyway? That's what I used to think.

Well the book I read was The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. It is a thick book, almost 400 pages with another 40 pages of end notes. This is not a light read. I was getting the "Why the hell are you reading that?" looks from EVERYONE! So here it goes...I am going to try to condense 400 pages into a few paragraphs...

  • A brief history of soy in the east...The soybean is one of the five sacred grains along with rice, millet, barley, and wheat. However, the soybean is a legume not a grain, and it was originally not used for food like the other sacred grains. Farmers originally grew soybeans as "green manure"- as a cover crop plowed under to enrich the soil between plantings of food crops. Soybeans are very good at capturing nitrogen from the air and delivering it to the plants roots in the soil. Soy went from fertilizer to fermented food about 2500 years ago. Until then the Chinese considered soybeans inedible- they were only found edible after the discovery of of processing methods that could largely deactivate an anti-nutrient found in soybeans known as the trypsin inhibitor. Trypsin inhibitors are chemicals that reduce the availability of trypsin, an enzyme essential to nutrition of many animals, including humans.
  • The process of fermentation uses bacteria, fungi, and other beneficial microorganisms to help breakdown complex proteins, starches, and fats into highly digestible amino acids, simple sugars, and fatty acids. The ancient Chinese originally used this process to preserve fish, shellfish, game, and meat. Then came chiang (the original form of miso), soy sauce, natto, tempeh, but not until after the 4th century AD. As some of you may know, there are records of the Chinese culture that go back 5000+ years. The ancient Chinese did not eat soy. The fermented products we know now like miso and tofu did not come about until a few hundred years ago. 
  • Since the 1950's the market for processed foods has seen explosive growth- most of them containing soybean oil. The industry found itself saddled with leftover sludge (yum) from soybean oil manufacture which it could either dump or promote. Which do you think it did? "The quickest way to gain product acceptability in the less affluent society," said a soy-industry spokesperson back in 1975, " to have the product consumed on its own merit in a more affluent society." Enter: imitation meat, milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, candy bars (I think she means protein bars), smoothies, breads, infant formulas, chocolate, and meat extenders to name a few. 
  • For years, the soy protein left over from oil extraction went exclusively to animals, poultry, and, more recently, fish farms. Today the industry aggressively markets soy protein as a people feed as well. Soy is now an ingredient in nearly every food sold at supermarkets and health food stores. The industry also makes a profit off of other waste products, most notably soy lecithin (an emulsifier that replaced eggs), protease inhibitors (digestive distressers sold as cancer preventatives), and isoflavones (plant estrogens promoted as "safe" hormone therapy, cholesterol reducers, and cancer cures). 
  • Soy is now genetically modified which is monopolized by Monsanto. If you haven't ever read anything on GMOs please read my post.
  • This is so typical of the US FDA..."While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a heart healthy claim for soy protein, the agency also lists soy in its "Poisonous Plant Database." A search of the word "soy" in the database reveals 256 references, including studies that warn about goiter, growth problems, amino acid deficiencies, mineral malabsorption, endocrine disruption and carcinogenesis.
  • All soybeans contain anti-nutritional factors (which is the opposite of what you want to eat) and toxins. Mother nature put them there to block seeds from sprouting prematurely and to harm insects and other predators (humans) that would otherwise eat too many of them. Unfortunately, they can harm us as well unless the soy beans are properly processed to neutralize them- i.e. fermentation. 
  • Soy's other "healthy" effects on the human body:
    • can lower testosterone levels in men
    • can cause allergic is one of the top 8 allergens
    • goitoestrogens damage the thyroid
    • lectins cause red blood cells to clump together and may cause immune system reactions
    • oligosaccharides are the pesky sugars that cause bloating and flatulence (farts)
    • oxalates prevent proper absorption of calcium and have been linked to kidney stones and painful disease known as vulvodynia 
    • phytates impare absorbson of minerals such as zinc, iron, and calcium
    • isoflavones are phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) that act like hormones and affect the reproductive and nervous systems
    • protease inhibitors, most notably trypsin inhibitors interfere with the digestive enzymes protease and trypsin. This can lead to gastric distress, poor protein digestion and an overworked pancreas
    • saponins bind with bile. They may lower cholesterol and may damage the intestinal lining
Fermented soybean products enjoy high honor throughout Asia as digestive aids, potent medicines, powerful energizers, stamina builders and longevity elixers. Treasured as more valuable than gold, the molds and cultures used to make miso, shoyu, natto, tempeh and other fermented soybean products are often heavily ensured and safeguarded in vaults. Those, along with soy sauce, are the only acceptable ways to eat soy. Soy protein is notoriously hard to digest unless enzymes and microorganisms go to work on it first. These tiny workers not only predigest the soybeans, but deactivate the powerful protease inhibitors that inhibit our digestive enzymes and overwork the pancreas. 

A WARNING ABOUT SOY SAUCE: The soy sauce-like products most commonly sold in American supermarkets and used in Chinese restaurants are commonly made in 2 days or less. This process is not the traditional fermentation and uses hydrocholoric acid to break down the soybeans, followed by sodium carbonate to neutralize the brown liquid. Sugars, caramel coloring and other flavorings are added before further refinement, pasteurization and bottling. A true soy sauce should say "naturally brewed, fermented for over a year", and should also only have a few ingredients- soy, water, salt and possibly wheat.

Long soy story short, all of the soy products that appear in our foods are not natural. They are heavily, heavily processed. The soy products show up in most processed food as: soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, soy flour, soy oil, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated soy oil, textured vegetable protein,  textured soy protein, soy lecithin, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (PS..that's MSG).

Here's a fun fact about soy protein isolate. Before 1958 it was only used as an industrial product to bind and seal paper product. Think about that next time you open up a fresh ream of computer paper. That glue that is holding the packaging on there is quite likely the same stuff that is in your protein shake. 

I know this was a long one with a lot of information, but hopefully you are taking something away with you (that you are never going to buy anything with soy in it ever again!). I would not have spent weeks reading this book, hours and hours scouring my grocery store for products without soy in them, and probably hundreds of dollars of donated food (from my pantry) if I did not believe 100% that the soy that we are being told is healthy for us is actually poisonous to our bodies. 

There....I've said my piece.

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