Why Soy May Not Be Good For You

Is Soy bad for you?

Soy and soy products have been consumed in Asian countries as staples for a long, long time but they have only really taken off in the U.S since the 1990’s. Soy is cheap to produce and when it’s taken in whole fermented forms it has health benefits, so it is not hard to understand its popularity.  So why would it not be good for you?

Is Soy Bad For You?

Soy Beans:Picture by pennylayn (Sxc.hu)

Shin Ohtake,  fitness and fat loss specialist, author of the popular workout program MAX Workouts says the problem lies in the way soy is processed in the U.S.  He says the terms “whole” food and “fermented” are absolutely crucial to answering the question.  As we know whole foods are largely absent in North American diets, and “almost all soy produced in US is processed and converted into two lucrative commodities – soybean oil and soy protein. So that means you can obtain the benefits of whole fermented soybeans without having to ingest..the smelly fermented foods.   ”  That sounds like a good thing, right?”

“Uhhh…NO”, Shin says. The problem is that soybean oil is heavily refined and most of what is produced he says has trans-fats in it. Unfortunately if you eat a lot of canned or processed food there is a likelihood that soybean oil is a constituent or has been used. Soy protein is also processed, and although healthier for you than soybean oil, Shin says all the health benefits of the soy are negated in the course of processing, making it a poor source of protein. This is very confusing because 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.

The Soy Foods Association of America seems to support the FDA claims and that there are no major health concerns to worry about in soy food.  It’s probably worth pointing out here that sales of soy food products went from 300 million dollars in 1992 to 4 billion dollars in 2006.  It only took ten years or so to make soy one of the world’s most cultivated crops.  In fact, the soy industry is growing so quickly that deforestation is happening on a large scale  to keep up with the demands of the industry.

GM Soy

Unfortunately , as we all know, the love of money is the root of  all evil and and from the viewpoint of an admitted non-food expert, I would find it easy to sympathise with various arguments I have read that suggest that some “scientific studies” are sponsored or influenced by  the big Food Producers . On top of that, as Shin Ohtake points out, there is the GM problem.   Soybeans that are genetically modified are able to grow faster, bigger and be resistant to most diseases other plants succumb to.  In U.S. about 90 % of all soy used is genetically modified.

GM soy is resistant to toxic herbicides and pesticides, which is great because they can keep pumping out soybeans without worrying about crops being destroyed by insects. As Shin says, this sounds all fine, except that these toxic chemicals are being passed down the food chain into to animal feeds and you guessed it…, the consumers.  (I am thankful that where I live at present (new Zealand) -as far as I know-does not grow GM food.  If you live in Australasia and know different, please post a comment.)

Here’s Dr Mercola’s take on soy foods : “Soy formula is one of the worst foods that you could feed your child. Not only does it have profoundly adverse hormonal effects as discussed above, but it also has over 1000% more aluminum than conventional milk based formulas…. Soybeans in fact contain a large number of dangerous substances.  One among them is phytic acid, also called phytates. This organic acid is present in the bran or hulls of all seeds and legumes, but none have the high level of phytates that soybeans do. These acids block the bodyís uptake of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc. Adding to the high-phytate problem, soybeans are very resistant to phytate reducing techniques, such as long, slow cooking.”

Also a combined research team of Cornell University Medical College and Long Island Community Hospital medical experts have found that children who develop Type 1 diabetes are twice as likely to have been fed soy formulas as those fed all other foods.

Shin Ohtake provides in one of his many information-laden articles the following health information on Soy.

Health facts about soy

Soy as a legume possess the following  unhealthy qualities:

  • Soy contains anti-nutrients which hinder the ability of digestive enzymes needed to properly digest food.
  • Soy contains phytates (phytic acid) like nuts, which prevent absorption of certain important minerals like zinc, magnesium and calcium , as we have already learned from Dr Mercola.
  • 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 cancer.
  • Soy also contain goitrogens which block the synthesis of thyroid hormones.  So if you have thyroid issues, it’s definitely not recommended.

So those are  just the negatives health effects soy has in it’s natural state.  If you add to that the effects of genetic modification (GM), it’s not an encouraging picture.

What effect Does Genetically Modified soy have 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,  studies done on animals fed GM soy have shown negative outcomes including infertility and even death – infant mortality. (see this article in the Huffington Post))

Shin explains that doing  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 function.  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 actually happening!”

So what can we do?  Shin suggests the following:

  • It is probably safe to assume, he says, that most soy products are genetically modified, especially meat and dairy substitutes like soy burgers, soy dogs, soy cheese, even soy milk.
  • Try and stay away from anything that has soybean oil in it, which shouldn’t be hard to do if you’re avoiding processed foods.

He also advises one stay away even from “healthy foods” with soy protein in them such as vegan protein bars, soy chips, soy nuts, and believe it or not…even tofu.

  • Many vegans and vegetarians take tofu as a source of soy protein, but Shin advises from his research that the negative factors outweigh the positives

So what Soy Products are Safe ?

Shin Ohtake recommends the following, and you can see they are all fermented:

Fermented Soy Products
  • 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
  • Find out about Max Workouts and Lean Body Diet through this link here

So, to summarize, from what I have learned from Shin Ohtake and other sources, 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. The Lean Body Diet explains how to eat to maximize fat loss as well as optimize your health. And it comes with the 90 Day MAX WORKOUTS program so you get equipped with all the tools you need to get lean, ripped and in the best shape of your life. If you are into fitness AND health issues ,like I am, you will get the benefit of both his dietary advice and his intense workouts for women and workouts for men.

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Useful Further Reading: Kaayla Daniels:The Whole Soy Story.

In her book you will learn how the Chinese first started eating soybeans about 2,500 years ago, after they worked out how to ferment it. They apparently knew that soybeans still contain many toxins after cooking and so they stopped eating it until they learned how to neutralize those toxins through fermentation. And in traditional Asian diets, soy is only used in small quantities as a condiment, with pork, seafood and other meats providing the main protein element. It’s only been in modern times that people have eaten it like we do today, in its unfermented, highly processed state.

UK Readers: Click HERE for Kaayla Daniels book.


The author is an independent health researcher and writer, not a Health Professional. You are advised to consult your health professional before embarking on any new dietary plans and to read our our site disclaimer:Here

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