This is Part 1 of a multi-part series. I don’t even know how many parts I’m gonna have…the more I read about soy the more I don’t like it, so we’ll see!
I have been soy free for a long time…or at least I thought I was. I always avoided eating soy because I didn’t want to get man boobs. Sure, if Lauren and I went out for sushi, I would use soy sauce and wasabe, but that was about it. And we rarely ate sushi.
Then we noticed that our daughter was having, let’s just say, “GI issues” and our doctor suggested that it might be a sensitivity to soy. So we did some investigative work to identify all of the potential exposures to soy in our diet, and HO-LEE SHIT it was everywhere. Even if it wasn’t used directly in something, such as an emulsifier or filler, it had likely contaminated the food in some way.
you little bastards
But just eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. Right? Not so fast. Unless you grow/hunt/gather everything you put in your body, you are likely impacted by soy in some way.
That beef you bought at the store? Unless it was 100% grass-fed, it’s practically guaranteed that the cattle were eating feed that contains soy. Those raw nuts you were eating…likely processed in a facility that also processes soy. But surely fruit is ok. Well, if you buy conventional produce, there’s a chance that the waxy covering contains soy! Even many coffee beans are processed in facilities that also process soy.
“Manufactured in a facility that also processes soy.”
Long story short, after researching a ton about this pesky little legume, I read a quote that summed it all up nicely (sadly I can’t find who said it so I can give credit):
“I discovered many reasons NOT to eat soy, but I couldn’t find ANY reasons why I should eat soy.”
Just to list a few…
DANGERS OF SOY
- Soy is a common food allergen – in fact it is one of the eight allergens that fall under the labeling requirements of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004
- Soy is a trypsin inhibitor – trypsin is a digestive enzyme, the inhibition of which can result in bloating, gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea
- Soy contains phytates – ahh the antinutrients. This means that phytates bind with certain minerals in our system rendering them inaccessible to our bodies. More of an indirect harm…they simply don’t allow our bodies to reap the benefits of certain minerals in our diets by reacting with them
- Soy is goitrogenic – goitrogenic means thyroid suppressing. Eating soy can result in a disruption of the thyroid gland’s normal function
- Soy causes infertility (and other hormonal problems) – isoflavones found in soy are estrogen-like compounds that act as the plant’s natural pesticide by rendering insects sterile. In humans, these phytoestrogens can disrupt endocrine function. Also, man boobs
And in case you wanted to learn a few more things about soy that will certainly piss you off…
- Before World War II, the FDA didn’t even consider soy a food. It was on the fertilizer list used in crop rotations
- Soy Protein Isolate (SPI) was never granted GRAS status (“Generally Recognized as Safe”) by the FDA. What did the FDA determine it was safe for? For use as a binder in cardboard boxes
- SPI is a waste product from the extraction process of soybean oil. Industry figured out a way to profit from an otherwise useless product
- Soybeans are the second largest genetically modified crop in the US (corn is #1)
Let’s back up just a little bit…. Why should you even care about soy? Because whether you realize it or not, I can practically guarantee that you are consuming soy, and that is a HUGE problem if you don’t want it in your diet. It is estimated that soy, in various forms (soy protein isolate, soy lecithin, etc.), is now an ingredient in more than 60% of the foods sold in supermarkets. And many of them can be “hidden” as described above.
There’s also another side to the story. There are many who claim that soy is a health food and can actually prevent certain types of cancers (to name just one of the purported benefits). But how are we supposed to know which side of the story to believe?
I’m gonna take all the guesswork out of it and give you the simple answer. DON’T EAT SOY.
If you eliminate soy from your diet, you are obviously avoiding any of the risks listed above.
But wouldn’t you be missing out on the benefits? Not if you eat the right vegetables. For example, the brassica family of vegetables (which just so happens to be my favorite family of vegetables) includes broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and many others. These vegetables are quite possibly the most potent sources of many vitamins such as vitamins A, C, K, and folic acid and cancer fighting chemicals such as indoles.
In other words, ALL of the benefits, NONE of the drama.
In Part 2 I will talk about how to identify soy in your diet and how to eliminate it!
Soy Lecithin: Why Is It In Everything? by Amanda Greene
The Soy Ploy by Chris Kresser
Harmful or Harmless: Soy Lecithin by Chris Kresser
Benefits of Soy, National Soybean Research Laboratory
Eating Healthy with Cruciferous Vegetables The World’s Healthiest Foods