Soy – it’s a plant. Do you really want to eat it?

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Today’s topic is tofu and soy (or soy protein isolate/textured vegetable protein).

Neither is a raw food.

I wanted to talk about this because these are products to me like milk. A lot of misinformation abounds because of marketing.  We are led to believe that soy products are a healthy source of protein and that are they natural and good for us.

Soy products are linked to an increase of certain types of cancer, lower brain functioning, and hidden developmental abnormalities in infants.

It is believed that soy contains a natural chemical that mimics estrogen.  Studies in animals show that this chemical can alter sexual development.  Jill Schneider, associate professor of biological sciences at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania recently completed a study with hamsters that showed a component of soybeans – isoflavones to significantly accelerate the onset of puberty.  Her study produced results that were similar to a study done with rats.  While we are not hamsters or rats, it is possible that this could happen to our children and us.

It is  has been reported that infants fed soy formula receive through phytoestrogens the equivalent of approximately 5 birth control pills a day.  How can we know how much damage this can cause to a young child?

Some other negative aspects of soy include phytic acid or phytates, enzymes inhibitors, and hemagglutinin.

Phytic acid blocks the body’s uptake of essential mineral like magnesium, calcium, iron and especially zinc.  Even cooking cannot destroy this acid.

Enzymes inhibitors block the uptake of trypsin and other enzymes, which the body needs for protein digestion.  This can cause gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.  (Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.)

Hemagglutinin is a clot-promoting substance, which causes red blood cells to clump together.  These clustered blood cells cannot properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body’s tissues and are unable to help in maintaining food cardiac health.

Other reasons not to eat soy are that over 90% is genetically modified and it has one of the highest percentages of contamination by pesticides of any of the foods we eat.

Soy protein isolate (SPI) is a key ingredient in most soy foods that imitate meat and dairy products.  SPI is made in factories where soy beans are mixed with a alkaline solution to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and finally neutralized in a alkaline solution.

Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final products.  Because of this, soy-based formula has 1000% more aluminum than conventional milk based formulas.

Finally, the resulting curds are spray-dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder.  Textured vegetable protein is produced by a high-temperature, high-pressure extrusion processing of the soy protein isolate.

Nitrates, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray drying and a toxin called lysinoalanine is formed during alkaline processing.

SPI and textured vegetable protein are used extensively in school lunch programs, commercial baked goods, fast food products and diet beverages.

Claims are that anticancer benefits abound from eating soy.  This is not necessarily true.  The Japanese who historically eat more soy than North Americans have lower incidence of cancers of the breast, uterus and prostate.  However, Asians in general have much higher rates of other types of cancer, particularly cancer of the esophagus, stomach, liver and pancreas.  Asians throughout the world also have high rates of thyroid cancer.

In a November 30, 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin story, scientist Dr. Lon White says that a Hawaii study shows a significant statistical relationship between two or more serving of tofu a week and accelerated brain aging and even an association with Alzheimer’s disease.  Dr. White states that beneficial health claims for soy products is very weak and not supported.

In comparing the dietary habits and health of a male study group between 1965 and 1993, Dr. White said the scientists found a significant link between tofu consumption during midlife and loss of mental ability and even loss of brain weight.

Soy is a plant based food but that doesn’t mean it is good for you. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself about the foods you eat:

Can I eat this food in its natural state?

Is this food free of chemicals?

Could I make a meal of this food?

If you can answer yes to all of the above questions, go ahead and eat.  If you can’t answer yes to call of the questions, you might want to think twice before eating.

My friend Kevin would ask himself this question: did this food come from a factory?  He said if the answer is yes, then it is not really food and we shouldn’t eat it.  Kevin was not into raw food but he believed in organically grown foods and was an excellent chef who believed in creating his own meals.

Remember you have a choice everyday to eat well and have better health.  Choose wisely.



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