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    Most informative, least biased article on pros & cons of Soy I've ever read

    Primal Fuel
    Benefits of Soy & Soy Protein Dangers -- Natural Health Blog

    Benefits & Dangers of Soy Products

    By Jon Barron Sept 17, 2012

    I've never made a secret of the fact that I'm not a big fan of the benefits of soy, at least when used as a primary protein source. Soy products are by no means as safe or nutritious as their proponents would have us believe. Then again, on the other side of the equation, the dangers of soy are nowhere near as pronounced as many of its detractors claim. On a good-bad scale, they probably come in at a 35:65 ratio, with the 65 lined up on the negative side. However, a great deal depends on which soy products you use and what your age is.

    The History of Soy

    The proponents of the benefits of soy state that the value and safety of soy products have been proven over several millennia of use in East Asia. Unfortunately, that's only half true. Yes, soy has been grown in Asia for several millennia, but not as a food. In fact, it was originally used only in crop rotation to fix nitrogen. For a long, long time, soy was not considered suitable for eating, at least until fermented products such as soy sauce, tempeh, natto, and miso came along. In America, until the 1920's, soy was grown only for its industrial by-products. Then as an animal feed -- still its primary use -- and only more recently has it been used as a primary protein source. In Japan, the average consumption of soy runs about 8-9 grams of soy products a day. That's less than two teaspoons. Again, most of that's fermented (miso, soy sauce, and natto) or precipitated (tofu).1 China and Hong Kong, however, have moved away from their roots and are now consuming large amounts of soy beverages -- more than in Europe and the US in fact. Soy protein isolate is more of a Western phenomenon, at least to this point in time, although countries like India are exploring its possibilities as a supplemental protein source for its large, less economically advantaged, vegetarian populace.2
    Pretty much all of the data supporting the benefits of soy as a food comes as the result of recent studies promoted by the agricultural industry to justify soy's newfound status as a "healthy alternative" to dairy and meat. It should be taken with a grain of salt -- and I'm not referring to seasoning.

    The Benefits of Soy
    Current marketing says that soy is rich in protein and other important nutrients and that it makes a valuable contribution to an overall healthy diet. The curious thing is that this marketing comes from both big agribusiness and the health food industry -- strange bedfellows indeed. Nevertheless, there are some studies on the benefits of soy to support their enthusiasm. Soy is high in phytoestrogens -- particularly isoflavones -- which means that it is likely to have a positive hormonal impact on both men and women. And in fact, some studies have shown that consuming soy products can help with menopausal symptoms in women3 and prostate problems in men.4,5 Studies on the benefits of soy in regard to menopausal bone health and the prevention of breast cancer, though, have been more equivocal despite claims to the contrary.
    Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that they are (unless adulterated) low in saturated fats and have no cholesterol, the consumption of soy products has been associated with improved cardiovascular health. Specifically, it has been found that diets high in soy products are associated with lower blood pressure,6 reduced triglyceride and cholesterol levels,7 and a reduced incidence of diabetes.8
    All of that said, a 2011 report from the North American Menopause Society was far more equivocal in its support of the benefits of soy. According to the report, "From the hundreds of studies reviewed in this report, there are mixed results of the effects on midlife women. Soy-based isoflavones are modestly effective in relieving menopausal symptoms; supplements providing higher proportions of genistein or increased in S(-)-equol may provide more benefits. Soy food consumption is associated with lower risk of breast and endometrial cancer in observational studies. The efficacy of isoflavones on bone has not been proven, and the clinical picture of whether soy has cardiovascular benefits is still evolving. Preliminary findings on cognitive benefit from isoflavone therapy support a "critical window" hypothesis wherein younger postmenopausal women derive more than older women."9 Specifically, the report found that:
    • Soy relieved certain menopausal symptoms. "If you give estrogen a 9 out of 10 score, and placebo 4 of 10, soy would be about 6.5."
    • "On bone health, we really didn't find adequate evidence to recommend its use for preventing or reducing the risk of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fracture."
    • Soy's heart health benefit is still evolving in research.
    • Soy appears to help women under age 65 with cognitive function, but not those over 65.
    •
    Soy as a Protein Source
    At one time, soy protein was a waste product -- a byproduct from manufacturing soy oil. Then, in typical American industry brilliance (think fluoride), manufacturers found a way to turn a waste product that cost money to dispose of into a major money maker: they used it as cattle feed.10 And in fact, the use of soy protein as cattle feed is one of the primary driving forces in the growth of the meat and dairy industry. (It's also a major component of feed used to raise chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows, and even fish raised on fish farms.) The next step, obviously, was to make it palatable for human beings. In its raw form, after oil extraction, it looks and smells quite nasty. But by adding flavorings, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers and synthetic nutrients, what was formerly cattle feed is turned into a pretty palatable meat substitute for humans.
    Incidentally, soy milk used as a low-fat high-protein dairy substitute has seen the biggest gains in market share. Sales have increased exponentially from $2 million a year in 1980 to approximately $1billion a year today -- and that's just in the US.11
    If you consider everywhere it's used (not just by bodybuilders, where whey is king), soy just might be the number one protein supplement on the planet. In fact, according to Margaret E. Cook-Newell, one of the lead researchers in a 1995 review of soy protein published in the New England Journal of Medicine,12 "There are 12,000 soy products on the market, and many more will be coming soon." Seven years later, that number is likely now much, much higher. The bottom line is that, worldwide, the soy protein market currently tops $5.1 billion a year and is projected to just keep on growing as the need for inexpensive protein supplementation only increases as it keeps pace with the world's expanding population and as incomes in third world countries continue to increase.13

    The Dangers of Soy
    As I mentioned earlier, soy was not used as a food in Asia until fermented soy products appeared. The reason is that soy contains some very powerful nutrient blockers -- bio-chemicals that stop your body from absorbing nutrients found in the soy…or in any other foods that you eat with the soy. There's nothing evil or sinister or even unusual about this. A number of foods contain similar "anti-nutrients." The reasons, at least from the plant's perspective, are simple: first, the plant doesn't want a seed or bean to "activate" until it is in a location suitable for growing; and second, anti-nutrients make plants unappealing to birds and insects. Thus, soy contains enzyme inhibitors and nutrient binders to prevent just that from happening. For most plants, exposure to water is all that is needed to nullify the anti-nutrients. That's why sprouting releases so many nutrients in seeds, and it's why we have to soak most beans overnight before cooking them -- to eliminate the "anti-nutrients." Key anti-nutrients include:
    • Phytates are prevalent in cereal grains and are capable of forming insoluble complexes with calcium, zinc, iron, and other nutrients, thus interfering with their absorption by the body. The soybean has one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume, and unlike the phytates in most beans, the phytates in soy are highly resistant to soaking and long, slow cooking. Soy phytate levels, however, can be significantly reduced through a long period of fermentation. Soy milk is very high in phytates, whereas tofu, because of the precipitation process used in its manufacture, falls somewhere in between. People who consume large amounts of soy milk and tofu as their primary protein sources risk severe mineral deficiencies. The results of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc deficiency are well known. Diets high in phytic acid can be sufficient by themselves to cause rickets.14
    "Science is not belief but the will to find out." ~ Anonymous
    "Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart." ~ Gandhi
    "The flogging will continue until morale improves." ~ Unknown


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    Conclusion

    The problem is that the benefits of soy are not miraculous. Yes, if you eat small amounts of organic, fermented versions, it actually provides some substantial health benefits. But if consumed as a primary protein source in unfermented forms -- such as soy milk and tofu -- its health and safety values are much more suspect. the dangers of soy are not overwhelming, but they cannot be ignored. I know there are soy fanatics out there -- even many who read my newsletters -- but if it were me (and it is):
    • I would not consume more than one ounce of soy a day -- if at all.
    • I would eat only the fermented forms -- tempeh, natto, miso, and "real" soya sauce.
    • I would absolutely not use soy milk because it is too easy to consume too much soy that way. Personally, I now use almond milk. It's low carb, low fat, and low calorie. On the downside it's also low protein, and if you have a nut allergy, it's undoable. Other options are coconut milk and rice milk -- but I would use those in lesser amounts because of their respective fat content and carb contents. And if you opt for dairy, make sure it's organic, raw, and grass fed --if you can get it.
    • I would eat only organic soy. I would not touch the GMO version -- although that's getting harder and harder to avoid as many organic soy crops are becoming contaminated as GMO pollen spreads.33
    • I would not use soy isolate as a protein supplement. As I have said previously, my preference is for a rice/pea protein blend, although 70% hemp protein is emerging as an interesting alternative. I would even use organic, grass fed, cold processed whey before I opted for soy. (Note: although I like rice/pea protein for adults, I would not recommend it for children.)
    Again, if you choose to partake of the benefits of soy, restrict your consumption to small amounts and eat only organically grown fermented products. At least that will provide you a hedge against unignorable soy dangers.
    • 1. Julia R. Barrett. "The Science of Soy: What Do We Really Know?" Environ Health Perspect. 2006 June; 114(6): A352-A358. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1480510/>
    • 2. Adam Brinker, Joe Parcell, Chris Boessen. "An Assessment of the India Soy Protein Market." Selected Paper prepared for presentation at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Dallas, TX, February 2-6, 2008. <http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/6796/2/sp08br07.pdf>
    • 3. Taku, Kyoko; Melby, Melissa K.; Kronenberg, et al. "Extracted or synthesized soybean isoflavones reduce menopausal hot flash frequency and severity: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Menopause. 19(7):776-790, July 2012. <http://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2012/07000/Extracted_or_synthesized_soybean_isoflavones.11.as px>
    • 4. Yan L, Spitznagel EL. "Soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men: a revisit of the meta-analysis." Am J Clin Nut. 2009; 89: 1155-63. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19211820>
    • 5. Hwang YM et al. "Soy food consumption and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies." Nutr Cancer. 2009: 61: 598-606. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19838933>
    • 6. Liu XX, Li SH, Chen JZ, et al. "Effect of soy isoflavones on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2012 Jun;22(6):463-70. Epub 2011 Feb 9. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310599>
    • 7. Wang Y, Jones PJ, Ausman LM, Lichtenstein AH. "Soy protein reduces triglyceride levels and triglyceride fatty acid fractional synthesis rate in hypercholesterolemic subjects." Atherosclerosis. 2004 Apr;173(2):269-75. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15064101>
    • 8. Villegas R, Gao YT, Yang G, Li HL, Elasy TA, Zheng W, Shu XO. "Legume and soy food intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the Shanghai Women's Health Study." Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):162-7. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18175751>
    • 9. Clarkson, Thomas B.; Utian, Wulf H.; Barnes, Stephen, et al. "NAMS 2011 Isoflavones Report. The role of soy isoflavones in menopausal health: report of The North American Menopause Society/Wulf H. Utian Translational Science Symposium in Chicago, IL (October 2010)." Menopause: July 2011 - Volume 18 - Issue 7 - pp 732-753. <http://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2011/07000/The_role_of_soy_isoflavones_in_menopausal_health_. 5.aspx>
    • 10. "How Soybeans are Used." North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, Inc. (Accessed 9 Sept 2012.) <http://www.ncsoy.org/ABOUT-SOYBEANS/Uses-of-Soybeans.aspx>
    • 11. Choy Leng Yeong. "Dean Says U.S. Soy-Milk Sales May Reach $1 Billion (Update2)." Bloomberg. June 15, 2009. (Accessed 9 Sept 2012.) <http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aX1Je8Kr7S6U>
    • 12. Anderson JW, Johnstone BM, Cook-Newell ME. "Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids." N Engl J Med. 1995 Aug 3;333(5):276-82. <http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199508033330502>
    • 13. A Soyatech syndicated research report prospectus. "Soy Proteins 2010." Soyatech. 2010. <http://www.soyatech.com/product_documents/49soyproteinreport2011.pdf>
    • 14. Wills, M.R. et al., "Phytic Acid and Nutritional Rickets in Immigrants", The Lancet, April 8,1972, pp. 771-773. <http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(72)90523-5/abstract>
    • 15. J. C. Smith,F. D. Wilson, P. V. Allen, D. L. Berry. "Hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the rat pancreas produced by short-term dietary administration of soya-derived protein and soybean trypsin inhibitor." Journal of Applied Toxicology. Volume 9, Issue 3, pages 175--179, June 1989. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jat.2550090307/abstract?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+b e+disrupted+on+15+September+from+10%3A00-12%3A00+BST+%2805%3A00-07%3A00+EDT%29+for+essential+maintenance>
    • 16. Irvin E. Liener and Shohachi Wada. "CHEMICAL MODIFICATION OF THE SOY BEAN HEMAGGLUTININ." J. Biol. Chem. 1956 222: 695-704. <http://www.jbc.org/content/222/2/695.full.pdf+html>
    • 17. Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS). "Opinion: Soy protein isolate." FDA 1979. <http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/GenerallyRecognizedasSafeGRAS/GRASSubstancesSCOGSDatabase/ucm261441.htm>
    • 18. Chavarro JE, Toth TL, Sadio SM, Hauser R. "Soy food and isoflavone intake in relation to semen quality parameters among men from an infertility clinic." Hum Reprod. 2008 Nov;23(11):2584-90. Epub 2008 Jul 23. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18650557>
    • 19. "Can phytoestrogens cause infertility?" Arbor Clinical Nutrition Updates, Issue 308:1-3, 30 June 2009.
    • 20. Arbor 2009.
    • 21. Chandrareddy A et al. (2008). Adverse effects of phytoestrogens on reproductive health: a report of three cases. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 14(2):132-5. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18396257>
    • 22. Ishizuki, Y. et al., "The effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans administered experimentally in healthy subjects", Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi (1991) 767:622-629. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1868922>
    • 23. "Soybean Milk and the Production of Goitre." Can Med Assoc J. 1960 Sep 10;83(11):608. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1938649/pdf/canmedaj00856-0043b.pdf>
    • 24. White LR, Petrovitch H, Ross GW, Masaki KH, et al. "Brain aging and midlife tofu consumption." J Am Coll Nutr 2000 Apr;19(2):242-55. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10763906>
    • 25. Setchell, K.D. et al., "Isoflavone content of infant formulas and the metabolic fate of these early phytoestrogens in early life." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 1998 Supplement, 1453S-1461S. <http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/68/6/1453S.full.pdf>
    • 26. Doerge DR, Chang HC. "Inactivation of thyroid peroxidase by soy isoflavones, in vitro and in vivo." J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2002 Sep 25;777(1-2):269-79. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12270219>
    • 27. Irvine, C. et al. "The Potential Adverse Effects of Soybean Phytoestrogens in Infant Feeding." New Zealand Medical Journal May 24, 1995, p. 318. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7783996>
    • 28. Sharpe RM, Martin B, Morris K, Greig I, et al. "Infant feeding with soy formula milk: effects on the testis and on blood testosterone levels in marmoset monkeys during the period of neonatal testicular activity." Hum Reprod. 2002 Jul;17(7):1692-703. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12093826>
    • 29. Herman-Giddens, Marcia E. et al. "Secondary Sexual Characteristics and Menses in Young Girls Seen in Office Practice: A Study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network." Pediatrics 99(4):505-512, April 1997. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9093289>
    • 30. D'Aloisio AA, Baird DD, DeRoo LA, Sandler DP. "Association of intrauterine and early-life exposures with diagnosis of uterine leiomyomata by 35 years of age in the Sister Study." Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Mar;118(3):375-81. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20194067>
    • 31. Helm RM, Cockrell G, Connaughton C, Sampson HA, et al. "A Soybean G2 Glycinin Allergen." Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2000;123:205--212. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11112856>
    • 32. Joseph Mercola. "This "Miracle Health Food" Has Been Linked to Brain Damage and Breast Cancer." Mercola.com 18 Sept 2010. (Accessed 10 Sept 2012.) <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/09/18/soy-can-damage-your-health.aspx>
    • 33. "Shipment of organic soybeans tests 20% GMO." The Organic & Non-GMO Report. June 2007. (Accessed 10 Sept 2012.) <http://www.non-gmoreport.com/articles/jun07/organic_soybeans.php>
    "Science is not belief but the will to find out." ~ Anonymous
    "Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart." ~ Gandhi
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    Thank you. That is an interesting article that sums it all up very nicely.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Current squat: 170 x 3. Current Deadlift: 220 x 3

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    After menopause, my sister ate soy milk, soy "nuts", etc until she gave herself a baby goiter. Stopped eating it, neck swelling went down again. I've always disliked soy except for soy sauce so never have eaten it much.

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    thank you for share this code

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    Yay thank you. I have been trying to find a good, not "extremist" or biased article about soy to send to some friends for ages. They drink soy milk for health benefits only (they think it tastes terrible) and I have been trying to tell them for ages that the idea that soy is a health food is silly and they should actually look into it.

    P.S. Betorq you look like my GP. All of your posts kinda freak me out because I read them in his voice.
    Current weight lost: 82.9lb (37.6kg)

    Current PRs:
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    Quote Originally Posted by nixxy View Post
    Yay thank you. I have been trying to find a good, not "extremist" or biased article about soy to send to some friends for ages. They drink soy milk for health benefits only (they think it tastes terrible) and I have been trying to tell them for ages that the idea that soy is a health food is silly and they should actually look into it.

    P.S. Betorq you look like my GP. All of your posts kinda freak me out because I read them in his voice.
    Great! Taco calls me an old man, & now I look like yer Gramps... Hoo-whee what a night!
    "Science is not belief but the will to find out." ~ Anonymous
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    Hahaha no no no! Not gramps. GP as in general practitioner... my family doctor

    Must be a terminology difference!
    Current weight lost: 82.9lb (37.6kg)

    Current PRs:
    Bench: 45kg/99lb
    Squat: 100kg/220lb
    Deadlift: 120kg/265lb

    My blog
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    Nixxy it must have been a hard decision to go primal with a GP that looks like that!

    Betorq, thanks for this, I was also told that it is a calcium depleter unless eaten with the seaweed etc. My mum was drinking soy milk for the menopause and had huge problems with her teeth. There is a small mention of it The Dangers of Soy section but easy to miss considering the level of teeth health and osteoporosis generally. (eg menopausal women drinking soy milk to help with that but unknowingly contributing to osteoporosis which is a real problem for older women, fixing a small temporary problem only to create a larger problem).

    I also loved the Harper article you posted on fasting. Keep them coming.
    Life. Be in it.

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    The Swamee says.... Before all is said and done.... SOMEBODY is going to jump on this thread and "remind" us all of the estrogen blocking properties of phyto-estrogens in soy and the "high" glucose content of beef.... You heard it here, folks! I'm now taking wagers at 2 to 1 odds.
    Went Primal: 20 DEC 2011
    Starting: 6'1" 220 lbs
    Starting Energy: "bleh...."
    Current: 183 lbs @ 8.33% BF (Jackson/Pollock 4 caliper method)
    Current Energy: "WOOHOO!" See my journal HERE.

    "Paleo? Try it, but be wary of the cult mentality that comes with it. Paleovangelists are everywhere and a bit scary."

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