Soya – Bane or Boon?

Say ‘Soya’ and visions of vegetarians, health food shops and alternative life styles comes to most people’s minds.  Long crowned THE century’s favourite child as far as (western) health is concerned, soy is considered the ideal low-fat, zero cholesterol protein for those wishing to avoid meats.

It has also been the ideal choice for those who suffer lactose intolerance.  Even those who have no serious problems digesting milk note that after drinking soy milk, the stomach feels ‘lighter’ compared to the ‘full’ sensation of drinking milk. Most milk drinkers are so used to this ‘full’ sensation that they do not notice the body’s signals that the stomach is having difficulty digesting the lactose.

For women from pre-menopausal to post, the phytoestrogens in soy (plant based estrogen) are believed to help those suffering from various complaints of menopause.  It is also linked to lower breast cancer incidences in Japan where Soya in some form is an important ingredient in the Japanese diet.

In the western world, the demand for ever more soy based products, soy powders, and soy isoflavines turned a heretofore struggling industry into another highly profitable industry giant. But is there a dark side to soy? There is, apparently.  Soy consumption has been linked to numerous disorders such as increased cancer, infantile leukaemia, Type1 diabetes, thyroid problems, goitre,  behavioural disorders and it can be an allergen in some consumers causing diarrhoea, rashes and on the extreme side – shock.  The dangers of excessive soy use is well documented.  If you live on commercial foods, then you are exposed to excess.

Swedish studies, Canadian and American sources as well all point to issues of very great concern; that of infertility and of ‘premature puberty’ in children who have been fed soy formula.  Not an isolated occurrence, there are also alarming reports of young girls of 6 having already  experienced early breast development and menstruation.

According to Dr. Mercola, soy formula for infants has 1000% more aluminium than milk based formula. According to combined medical studies conducted by Cornell University Medical College and Long Island Community Hospital in America, researchers have found children diagnosed with Type1 diabetes is twice as high if they were fed soy formula. I won’t bother to go into scientific research results found in rats injected with mega-doses or fed amounts humans could never consume in a lifetime.

Those ‘results’ are predictable, aren’t they? The point of this article is not to frighten the reader away from soy products, but to remind you to be acutely aware of what excesses of anything will/may do to you – especially those delicate young bodies of infants and children. The Western world has always had an ‘excess’ approach to most things new and found remotely healthy introduced to it from other cultures – of which soy falls neatly into this category. Where a pinch of something far suffices, the Western mind thinks in terms of diving in – ‘if a little is good, then shovelfuls are surely better’.

Soy consumption is linked to numerous disorders…

This is not how the body functions – or at least under normal conditions.  The homeopathic approach would be well remembered:  a little is better.

The alarm about soya is, in most cases not the use of it, but the rampant excess of it.  The ‘hysterical’ approach to it. Why then, you may wonder, do the Japanese not have the problems with soy products typically found in the Western world? The key is that products such as tofu, misu, tampei and Soya sauce are derived by a long soaking and a fermentation process.  (Obviously, soy milk, texturized tofu etc. are not included in this list.)  This same process reduces the phytates (these bind with certain valuable minerals and prevent their absorption) and may lessen or null other contributing factors to the ‘to soy or not to soy’ question.

If you are interested in more information on this subject, type soy +health risks into any search engine. You will find thousands of pages of (daunting)  information.

That article covers far more than space allows here. If you cannot/will not avoid such products, read the labels.  More importantly, pick up literature that will help you understand the jargon intentionally used to confuse the consumer. Will I continue to use soy products? Of course. However, I use fermented products and I do not nourish myself nor my loved ones from commercial products. These usually contain some form of soy, chemicals to preserve, colour and ‘flavour enhancers’ (msg) nor have I ever gone to any food excesses. I have found a company that makes a delicious oat milk that I do enjoy even more so than the soy milk. Nutritionally, it is even better!

Summary: Hype, resulting fads and industry greed are at the root of most food/health problems. Remember that excesses in food and lifestyle may cause a hidden tendency toward an illness to express itself.

Many of the health problems associated with Soya are caused by high consumption, and an imbalance elsewhere in the diet. Soya related problems can even happen in the unaware consumer due to the food industry’s overuse of it.

The end results were inevitable and has resulted in Soya related problems never seen before. Unless you suspect remotely related problems, your own common sense will tell you that once again, moderation is the key – and maintaining a questioning mind!

Mother Nature’s revenge? Gene manipulated Soya crops have developed far greater pest problems than ever before.

7 comments… add one
  • Joaquim 17/08/2014, 11:10



    • admin 17/08/2014, 13:18

      I am quite with you on that, Joaquim!

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  • Gerry Hil 22/03/2012, 03:57

    I eat a lot of fresh food,, so I have been shocked of late at the things I sometimes eat-that contain Soy. A can of ChefBoyArdee on a non cook mood day-the meat had no taste, so I looked-and sure enough SOY was one of the top items, and the meat was now called sauce with meat…with meat down near the bottom. I discovered saled’s from the Deli section are NOT LABELED, but are prepared elsewhere and are not fresh. One I found a label on-had soy. I know it is a filler-and they do not do it for our benefit. They do that INSTEAD of what we think we are eating. The pastry I bought-ALL had soy. (Bread pudding, no bread, but flour- and soy)

    • admin 08/08/2012, 20:27

      Hello Gerry,

      Yes, it is a huge problem for those who grew up with processed ‘convenience’ foods. You can make the choice to wean yourself off of such products and learn to make your own ‘whatever’. Many foods can be cooked in large quantities and frozen in portions-stews, pasta sauces, casseroles. Sounds like a lot of work…but it is a matter of organizing your time and shifting your attitude. It is not ‘work’ it is investing in yourself and nourishing.

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