Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Soy, The Miracle Health Food?

Soy is one of the most touted health foods on the market. But did you know that the consumption of soy is not as healthy as the companies who market it would have you believe? Here's why:
  • Most soy is genetically modified. If you are eating soy, chances are likely you are eating a genetically modified food.
  • The process of farming soy has created vast environmental damage to lands such as forests, cottage industries, and small family farms. It has caused as least as much damage or more than the industrial cattle industry. Here is a list of big companies whose interests lie in profit and not taking care of our earth (you'll recognize them): Dupont, Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Nestle, and Solae. Some of America's largest food manufacturers sell soy foods or use soy ingredients heavily in their products. The list includes well-knowns such as Kellogg, Kraft, General Mills, ConAgra, Heinz, Dean Foods, and Unilever Best Foods.
  • Infant formula containing soy is a popular replacement for cow's milk formulas. According to Soy Online Service, "babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula". With all the xenoestrogens in our environment and food, do our children really need more in their bodies? Soy is basically birth control for babies! Excess estrogen, by the way, has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
  • A major allergen, soy is used as filler in thousands of products, (due to its low cost) including all types of processed foods - chips, crackers, cereals, cookies, candy, cakes and many other desserts, food bars, meats, sauces, condiments, salad dressings, and 'vegetable oil'.
  • Soy contains the following compounds which adversely affect health: goitrogens, which damage the thyroid; lectins which cause red blood cells to lump together and may trigger abnormal immunity responses; oligosaccarides -- sugars that cause bloating and gas; and oxalates which prevent calcium absorption and cause painful kidney stones and vulvodynia, a vaginal disorder.
  • Many plant foods including soy contain phytates and phytic acid, naturally occurring 'pesticides' to keep plants from being eaten while growing. Phytates impair mineral absorption and remove minerals stored in the body including zinc, iron, and calcium. Cooking foods containing phytates can remove this substance, but the level of phytate in soy is extremely high and difficult to eliminate.
  • Soy contains isoflavones, which are accoladed as natural estrogens but are in fact endocrine disruptors, lower testosterone, cause menstrual disorders, and the proliferation of cancer cells.
  • Protease inhibitors in soy wreak havoc with digestive enzymes, while the saponin-content may lower good cholesterol and damage intestinal wall lining.
  • Soy milk, cheese, and other soy foods are as unnatural and processed as can be. Soymilk is is replete with rancid fats and is high in sugar. Soy cheeses are mostly manufactured with hydrogenated oils which are continually stated from many mainstream sources as being unhealthy for consumption.
  • Much health rhetoric continually reminds us how healthy the Asian populations of the world are with low cancer, obesity, and heart disease due to their intake of soy foods. The problem with these assertions is that Asians do not consume soy on the same scale nor the same type of soy we do -- they use it as a condiment or as a fermented food in the form of miso or tempeh -- this is vastly different from the mass quantities of an industrially-processed product we consume as a society in the United States. Overall, a traditional Asian diet also consists of a vastly different menu of foods than the typical Western diet - including a much larger amount of natural proteins from fish and nutritious vegetables.
The basic tenet of eating soy as a health food is that most of what is represented on the soy market is a processed food that is not a whole, healthy food -- plain and simple. If you wonder whether something you are eating is a real, whole food, a little bit of label reading and even some research could answer your questions and change the way you think about health and eating.

For more information about the dangers of soy consumption, visit the Healing Crow.
Also visit the Weston A. Price Foundation for authoritative information about why soy is not the glorified health food it has been made out to be.

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