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Soy. It is found in seemingly every prepared and processed food item available on the market. Whether it is soy protein, soybean oil, or soy lecithin, soy derivatives have become an almost universal additive in American food products. Commonly thought to be a healthy, protein-dense food, the soybean has been touted as a wonder victual capable of feeding the planet and stopping world hunger. Truth is, unfermented soy is one of the most harmful, toxic substances to ever become so predominant in the food chain.
The History of Soy
Historically, ancient farmers planted soybeans in order to infuse their soil with nutrients such as nitrogen; their food crops benefited from the enriched soil that the soy plants provided. Typically attributed with Asian diets, soy has always played a minor role in eastern fare and, when consumed, it is done so fermented from a whole bean.
The traditional Japanese diet, for instance, includes over 100 biologically-unique foods per week with soy products accounting for only a few items. In Pearl Buck's 1931 bestselling Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Good Earth, she writes of Wang Lung, a Chinese subsistence farmer who rises to power in pre-revolutionary China because of he and his wife's hard work and determination . Raised in China herself, Buck's story contains scant mention of soy consumption as part of the typical Chinese diet.
Ancient pictographs from the Chinese Chou Dynasty period also confirm that soy was traditionally not used as food but as a crop-rotating plant that served to replenish the planting soil with nutrients. Throughout the centuries, it gradually gained popularity in various fermented forms.
Only in recent decades has corporate soy production become commonplace, ushered in by gales of misinformation claiming it as a health food in all its processed forms. Even in Asian countries, 90% of soy consumption involves processed, unfermented soy products much like the ones consumed in America.
What's So Bad About Soy?
Soybeans naturally contain a host of anti-nutrients and toxins, including trypsin inhibitors, hemaglutinin, phytic acid, and phytoestrogens.
The potent trypsin inhibitors present in soy significantly curtail protein absorption, causing abdominal distress due to hampered absorption of crucial nutrients and amino acids. Animals fed diets that contained large amounts of trypsin inhibitors developed pancreatic problems including cancer.
Hemaglutinin is a substance that is responsible for causing red blood cells to clump together and form clots. Both trypsin inhibitors and hemaglutinin have been deemed "growth depressant substances" for their contributions in stunting essential bodily functions.
Phytic acid, or phytates, is another nutrient absorption inhibitor that deters the uptake of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Present in the bran of seeds, phytic acid will offset the intake of nutrients by stopping their absorption within the intestinal track, leading to severe mineral deficiencies. Zinc, the "intelligence mineral", is the one most completely blocked by soy phytates. Soy has also been shown to have the highest phytic acid content of any other grain or legume ever studied.
Phytoestrogens are chemical compounds found in some plants that mimic the estrogen hormone. Soy products are particularly rich in isoflavone phytoestrogens which are capable of significantly disrupting human hormonal balance, particularly in men. A study conducted by Harvard University revealed a definitive correlation between soy consumption and low sperm counts in men, indicating that high soy consumption can instigate reproductive harm and suppress testosterone levels.
To add insult to injury, the GMO Compass database records that as of 2008, 92% of soy crops in the U.S. are genetically modified varieties. GMOs are continually shown in independent studies to cause serious harm in the human body, a frightening prospect when considering that soy derivatives are found in virtually every processed food product.
One of the most prevalent culprits is soy lecithin, an emulsifier that is added to processed foods to stabilize the ingredients with one another. Soybean oil is another popular additive found in all kinds of foods from mayonnaise and salad dressings to cakes and breads. Besides the fact that they are soy-based and highly prevalent, these ingredients are most often derived from GMO soybeans.
Even organic products may contain GMO soy lecithin since this particular ingredient falls outside the realm of organic requirements, a controversial loophole that many have taken charge to have changed. Most organic products specify non-GMO soy lecithin but it is always important to investigate and verify.
Eat Soy Sparingly, and Only Organic
The proper way to eat soy is whole, organic, fermented, and sparingly. Soy milk, tofu, soy nuts, and other popular food items are essentially toxic due to the inherent toxic properties of unfermented soy. Many of these products are also highly processed and genetically-modified.
Soy formulas are inadequate and potentially dangerous for babies as they do not contain the vibrant array of vital nutrients found in the mother's breast milk. Many doctors affirm that soy formulas lack essential fatty acids (EFAs), cholesterol, immunoglobulins, and other nutrients necessary for proper cognitive and neural development in the child. As it turns out, many babies are allergic to the highly-processed proteins and ingredients in infant formula.
For adults, soy products like miso, tamari, and shoyu that have been properly fermented are not only delicious but healthy when used in various food preparations. Fermentation eliminates virtually all of the anti-nutrients and toxins present in raw soybeans. Tempeh is another whole fermented soy food that is high in protein and dietary fiber, making it a pertinent vegetarian meal option.
Small amounts of fermented, organic soy foods in conjunction with a diverse, whole foods diet will serve the body well. Rather than consume inordinate amounts of chemically-processed soy as is becoming typical in the American diet, particularly among vegetarians, soy should be shrouded among an array of complete food items - preferably as a condiment and always fermented.
Must watch! Mike Adams "The Health Ranger" on Hexane Contamination of Soy Protein and Soy Products
Deville, Nancy. Death by Supermarket: The Fattening, Dumbing Down, and Poisoning of America. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, 2007. 83-108.
The Ploy of Soy - The Weston A. Price Foundation
The Effects of Antenatal Exposure to Phytoestrogens on Human Male Reproductive and Urogenital Development - The Weston A. Price Foundation
Harvard study: Soy sinks sperm count - WorldNetDaily
Soybean - GMO Database