Soy - Part Two: The Dangers of Unfermented Soy
Last week, I posted about why I want to do a series about soy. In short, I want to give people information that will help guide their own decision as to whether they want to continue to consume soy and soy-products. I will state my own opinion, but I won't tell you what you should do. We're all different and I hope that my readers take the time--on any topic--to figure out works best for THEM.
Especially when it comes to soy, your own health issues will (or should) be a large determining factor in your decision to consume soy.
So, here's Part Two of my Six-Part series on soy...
What is unfermented soy?
Unfermented soy includes soy beans, soy products (such as tofu, bean curd, soy milks, soy infant formula, and soy protein powders) and soy meat alternatives (such as soy sausages, burgers, etc. made from hydrolysed soy powder.)
Because of very good marketing, these are the soy products that are most readily consumed, but are unfortunately, the most dangerous to your health.
"Unfermented soy has been linked to digestive distress, immune system breakdown, PMS, endometriosis, reproductive problems for men and women, allergies, ADD and ADHD, higher risk of heart disease and cancer, malnutrition, and loss of libido."
What's the issue with unfermented soy?
Soy beans contain enzyme-inhibitors
Enzymes are an extremely important part of our bodies, as they are essential for cellular function. Digestive enzymes specifically, are crucial for proper digestion. These enzymes allow our food to be broken down into energy (for our bodies to use) and waste (for our bodies to discard.)
Because soy contains enzyme-inhibitors (molecules that attach to the enzyme and decrease its activity), it is nearly impossible for the carbohydrates and proteins in the soy beans to be completely digested. Not only does this diminish the nutritional value of the food but it can cause gastric problems and amino acid deficiencies.
Another big issue is that soy has a high level of Trypsin inhibitors, which interferes with protein absorption and may cause pancreatic disorders. If you are a vegetarian who relies on soy as a protein source, that's bad news.
Soy beans have a high content of goitrogens
Goitrogens are naturally occurring substances that can block the production of the thyroid hormone and cause goiter formation. There are two general categories of foods that have been associated with disrupted thyroid hormone production in humans: soybean-related foods and cruciferous vegetables, as well as peaches, strawberries and millet.
Goitrogens seem to be mainly a concern for people with iodine deficiencies or pre-existing thyroid problems. However, because soy isoflavones have been shown to block activity of an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase (this enzyme is responsible for adding iodine onto the thyroid hormones), then the combination of goitrogens and isoflavones in soy may be especially problematic.
Another issue to be aware of is the goitrogenic intake from different foods. Generally, people don't over-consume cruciferous vegetables but since soy is often "hidden" in many packaged foods, as well as knowingly consumed in a person's diet, then the amount of goitrogens consumed can exceed the reasonable range.
Soy beans contain high levels of phytic acid
Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that binds minerals, proteins, and starch which results in the decreased absorption of these substances.
The biggest concern is for women and children who need better absorption of iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals. Phytic acid may be beneficial for men who consume too much iron, but they would still be at a disadvantage in absorbing other crucial minerals.
While there have been studies that show that phytic acid acts as an antioxidant and can be beneficial in lowering blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure, other studies have shown that these improvements in health are very minimal.
Although many foods contain phytic acid (legumes, grains, etc.), the issue with soy is that the cooking time needed to reduce the phytic acid is much greater than other foods. Conventional methods of soaking, sprouting, and slow-cooking do not neutralize the phytic acid in soy. The only way to neutralize these anti-nutrients is by fermenting the soy, which I will talk about later on in the series.
"The use of SPI [soy protein isolate] increases needs for vitamins E, K, D, and B12, and creates deficiency symptoms of calcium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, copper, iron, and zinc."
Soy beans contain hemagglutinin
Hemagglutinin causes red blood cells to clump together, thus preventing proper oxygen absorption to the body's tissues. Add this to decreased protein and mineral absorption (especially iron) and decreased thyroid function and you have a cocktail of causes for exhaustion and poor health!
"No other dietary staple has so many antinutrient drawbacks as soy. Conversely, no other food has so many public relations firms and lobbyists working for it." - Tom Valentine True Health
Read the whole "Truth About Soy" Series:
Part One - Introduction
Part Two - The Dangers of Unfermented Soy
Part Three - Phytoestrogens
Part Four - GMOs and Soy Production
Part Five - Should Kids Eat Soy?
Part Six - The Benefits of Fermented Soy
Part Seven - Conclusion