Monday, February 3, 2014

Quick Facts: Soy

Back for another session of Quick Facts! Today I'm going to give a quick rundown of a few reasons you might want to think seriously about avoiding soy, in all its forms. (We're not just talking tofu.) As always, please realize that while I do my best to provide you with quality information, a blog post necessarily leaves out a great deal of detail, as well as my own human fallibility just not knowing everything there is to know. (Yet.  :-)) So I hope this info is helpful, but also hope that you might dig in and do a little finding of your own. Resources are listed at the bottom; also, click the picture above to purchase on Amazon.

A few thoughts on soy to consider:

1. Giving your baby soy formula is the equivalent of giving 3-5 birth control pills per day.

That's an insane load to put on a little baby's developing system! See #3 for more information on why this is problematic.

2. Contrary to popular dogma, soy is NOT eaten in Asia in the amounts we credit them with.

Traditionally, small amounts would be eaten, and it would be in fermented forms such as natto, tempeh, miso, or fermented soy sauce (most soy sauces on the shelf in the US are not fermented). As they westernize, they are beginning to eat more soy like we do in America, but even so, the amounts we ingest are comparatively off the radar. Not only do we eat it knowingly in the forms of soy milk, soy formula, soy yogurt, tofu, soy protein shakes, and soy-meat substitutes; we also eat it in just about everything else, in forms we don't recognize or think of. It's mixed into our mayonnaise, used as a ground beef extender (this is particularly popular in school lunches), our breads (soy flour is often mixed with wheat since it's cheaper), our oils (vegetable oil and Wesson Oil are often synonymous with soy), our junk food (check that label for "partially hydrogenated oil",  our buttery spreads, and a myriad of other places.

3. Soy is laden with phyto-estrogens which are similar enough to a real hormone that our body mistakes them for it. 

They enter the body and literally "clog" the receptors for other hormones, and they don't just stop at estrogen receptors- they clog estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormone receptors as well. So what does this do... Well, in boys it can delay puberty or even cause them to skip it. And we're talking soy during infancy that does this; apparently a strong surge of hormones in the first several months sets the stage for puberty later on. Soy inhibits that surge. Because these phyto-estrogens are estrogen (or recognized as such) they basically emasculate boys, potentially causing breast tissue growth, improperly or incompletely developed testicles, excessive weight, and strongly diminished fertility both due to sperm count and quality. In girls, you're probably familiar with the issues it causes...with too MUCH estrogen in an already estrogen dominant body, they hit puberty early. (We're talking signs as early as a year, but more frequently by 8.) Early puberty can lead to later fertility problems, and increase likelihood of breast cancer. (It doesn't help that in trying to mitigate difficult/abnormal periods, pre-teens are often put on birth control.)

4. As with any seed, soy contains phytic acid, and it's incredibly difficult to neutralize.

We've been over this before with wheat, but basically phytates are nature's preventative for being eaten before sprouting, and for keeping seeds from sprouting until proper conditions are met. These elements literally bind with the minerals in the food itself, but worse, when we eat them without deactivating them, they also bind to minerals in our bodies. As if we don't struggle enough to get all the nutrients we need, let's have a glass of soy milk and chelate away all the ones we have  managed to ingest! Soy is not the lone bad guy in this, but it does hold the dubious honor of having phytates that are almost impossible to inactivate. As I understand it, the only way to deactivate them is by extensive fermentation (natto, miso, tempeh) or by commercial equipment that is expensive and big. (Point being: not possible in your kitchen.) On top of that, it's very likely that the process would be so extreme that by the time the phytates were gone, all other nutrients and benefits would be, too. And there really aren't that many of those to start with.

5. Soy beans are almost impossible to cook in your own kitchen in a way that you would consider edible. 

In order to make them edible, the soy industry has to process the darn things so incredibly far that it would be beyond impossible to replicate the process in your own kitchen. On top of that, soybeans are notorious for poor flavor, and depending on the product, sugar is often used to compensate-- and we all know we don't need more sugar. If you never care to learn another thing about nutrition itself, all you need to know about food to make HUGE forward strides in your health is this: do not eat anything you can't make in your kitchen, and don't make it with anything that isn't recognizable as coming from its parent source. It's a pretty fail safe barometer.

So what hidden names does soy show up under? Here's a few:
-TVP (textured vegetable protein)
-SPI (soy protein isolate)
-TSP (textured soy protein)
-mono & di-glycerides
-vegetable glycerin
-HVP (hydrolized vegetable protein)
-HPP (Hydrolized plant protein)
-isolated vegetable protein

For more information on soy, you can read the book The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla Daniel (picture above), which is an exhaustive tome covering every angle of the bean, including history, production, processing, and health concerns.

Alternately (and for free), check out this large backlog of soy articles, including a summary of the downsides at the top of the page.

This post is hosted on the Unprocessed Fridays, Old Fashioned Friday, From the FarmReal Food Fridays104 Homestead Blog HopHomeAcre HopReal Food Wednesday, Down Home Blog HopHomestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Monday,  Teach Me Tuesday, Tuesdays With a Twist, The Gathering Spot, and Mix It Up Monday


  1. I read this book a few years ago and was shocked by how horrible soy is and how it is still being pushed as a health food! I tell all my friends and family and have made converts out of a few of them! still not giving up on the rest!

    1. Best of luck on the rest of them. :-D

  2. Great article, soy is also one of the top genetically mutant (GMO) foods, 93%. Followed you here from the HomeAcre Hop, would love for you to share this on Real Food Fridays, starts tonight at 7 central. Our goal is to educate others on the dangers of GMOs.

    1. I'm completely anti-GMO too, but sometimes it's hard to know how much info to provide in a blog post! Soy has enough negative components aside from the GMO aspect that I focused on those, since not everyone is concerned about GMO. But I definitely agree with you!

  3. I have to agree with your post about soy. I don't touch the stuff. It is not a healthy food and because of all the genetically modification and so many other unhealthy components which you have described. Many people have allergies and intolerance to it - which should tell us something about the food. Great article. Sharing. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays.

  4. Hi Kirstyn,
    I have chosen your post Quick Soy Facts for one of my featured posts on Real Food Fridays Blog Hop. We appreciate you sharing your information and please come back next week to link up more great information. Marla @

  5. When my son was little his doctor recommended soy milk as an alternative to cows milk because he was having trouble digesting lactose and being vegetarian, she wanted him to have more protein in his diet. After further research I regret doing it for so long, but she's a doctor, right? Grrr. Now with this toddler we use almond or coconut milk. Thanks for taking the time to share this on The 104 Homestead Friday Blog Hop!

  6. Are edamame equally as bad for you? Or is that a different variety of soy?

    1. You know, I don't really know! I'll look into this and see if I can't find some info for you.

    2. Here is a great article actually written by the author of The Whole Soy Story...edamame is the immature form of soybeans, but it is apparently still guilty of many of the same sins: