Tag Archives: soy

Soy: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

21 Feb

Soy: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

by Tim Skwiat, MEd, CSCS, Pn1

Nary has something undeservedly received such applaud as a “health food” as soy. As your resident myth-buster and resource for honest nutrition, I think it’s time once and for all to put the soy debate to rest.

Next time you walk through the store, take a look at all of the soy products on the shelves. You’ll find soy milk to soy burgers to soy ice cream to everything in between. You all know how much I like ice cream, and I wouldn’t touch that version with a 10-foot pole.

So, what’s the deal with soy? Why is it marketed as such a health food?

Soy: What’s the Whole Story?

Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, is an expert on the hidden dangers of soy. In her book, she references myriad studies demonstrating that soy consumption is associated with thyroid problems, growth retardation, amino acid deficiencies, malabsorption of important body minerals, endocrine system malfunctions, and carcinogenic effects.

Most commercial preparations of soy — like those listed at the beginning of this article — are downright unhealthy. Let’s review some of soy’s blatant problems:

  • Soy impairs Thyroid function. Thyroid hormones are key to obtaining and maintaining the lean body that you desire. Soy contains substances called goitrogens that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones. A drop in thyroid function means weight gain, depression, lethargy, and a whole host of other negative symptoms.
  • Soy lowers Testosterone levels. Guys, you know this is a huge deal in all aspects of your life — body composition, feelings of well being, energy levels, and libido. Soy contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones that have been shown to lower Testosterone in humans (as well as animals).
  • Soy may cause female reproductive issues. The isoflavones in soy can mimic and sometimes block the effects of estrogen. Soy phytoestrogens are known to disrupt endocrine function, may cause infertility, and may promote breast cancer in women.
  • Soy is genetically modified (GM). Experts estimate that over 90% of the soy grown in the United States is GM. Essentially, GM crops are like a pesticide factory that are resistant to herbicides, thus loaded with toxic pesticides. Recent research from Sweden shows that animals fed a GM diet got fatter quicker than animals fed a non-GM diet.
  • Soy damages your gut health. If you’ve been reading my newsletters for any period of time, you know exactly how important the good bacteria in your gut are to your overall and digestive health, as well as your immune system. GM soy contains altered genes that are transferred to your gut bacteria. This poses a huge potential problem to the proper functioning of your gut flora.
  • Soy contains phytic acid. Phytic acid is known as an “anti-nutrient.” When it reaches the gut, phytic acid prevents the absorption of vital and valuable minerals by binding with calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc, as well as the vitamin niacin.
  • Soy may cause gastric distress. Soy contains substances that inhibit proteases, enzymes that digest the proteins that we eat. This can lead to GI distress, poor protein digestion, and an overworked pancreas.
  • Soy is an allergen. Soy is one of the top 8 allergens that the FDA requires food manufacturers to list on ingredient labels.

What about the Chinese and other Asian cultures?

Marketers and soy proponents would certainly like for you to believe that soy is a staple in these cultures. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Soybeans were first grown in Asia to be used as a crop fertilizer — not eaten. As a matter of fact, soy was commonly called “green manure” and was used to enrich the soil between the planting of crops. Soybeans were known for their ability to replenish the nitrogen supply in soil, which improved the harvest of crops that were consumed as food.

The Chinese later began introducing small amounts of heavily fermented soy into their diets in the form of miso, tamari soy sauce, tempeh, and natto. Contrary to popular belief, the Chinese only consume about an ounce of soy per day and only of this fermented variety.

The fermentation process destroys nearly all of the toxins and anti-nutrients listed above. What’s more, the fermentation process yields probiotics (i.e., good bacteria) that can have a very beneficial effect on your gut flora.

Tips for Reducing Soy

Overall, you’re best off avoiding most commercial soy products. Here is a list of soy foods I recommend that you avoid:

  • TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
  • Soy protein isolate (any soy protein powders)
  • Soybean oil
  • Soy milk
  • Soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy yogurt
  • Soy “meat”
  • Soy infant formula — the estrogens can have a very harmful effect on your baby’s sexual development reproductive health.

What soy products are good for you?

Occasional consumption of soy from whole food sources would be the best options, if you choose to include it, for the reasons outlined above.

  • Miso
  • Soy sauce — choose organic Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Edamame

Take note that tofu does NOT make this list. Tofu is not a fermented soy food and thus should be limited.

Overall, your best bet is to avoid processed foods — soy is hidden everywhere — and focus on whole, minimally processed foods that you prepare yourself.

In short, soy is NOT a health food. If you include it regularly in your diet, it could very well be holding you back from the progress you deserve and, in many cases, causing you to store belly fat. Worse yet, it could be damaging your metabolism, hormones, and overall health.

Eat More Protein

If you rely on soy for a source of protein, hopefully I’ve convinced you that the negatives far outweigh the positives. That being said, you also know that protein is a critical component of optimizing your health, fitness, and vitality.

A high-protein diet:

  • Increases your metabolic rate and satiety.
  • Improves your weight loss profile while dieting.
  • Decreases body fat.
  • Increases or helps maintain lean body mass while dieting.
  • Reduces cardiovascular risk.

In addition to focusing on lean meats (grass-fed when possible), poultry (free-range when possible), eggs, fish (wild), and small amounts of dairy, I highly recommend that most folks invest in a protein supplement to optimize their protein intakes and overall nutritional profile.

My recommendation is BioTrust Low Carb™. BioTrust Low Carb is 100% all-natural, which means no artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, or ingredients of any kind. The proteins are Farmer Certified Growth Hormone-Free, which means that you will not be exposed to potentially dangerous growth hormones or antibiotics.

What’s more, BioTrust Low Carb is a true time-released protein blend of both fast- and slow-acting proteins, which provide sustained nutrition for up to 8 hours. This makes BioTrust Low Carb the perfect protein supplement for:

  • Post-workout, as recent research shows that a combination of fast- and slow-acting proteins are superior to whey (a fast-acting protein) alone for optimal recovery.
  • Meal replacement, as the blend will provide sustained nutrition and appetite suppression for hours.
  • Before bed, as casein (a slow-acting protein in BioTrust Low Carb) has been shown in research to provide optimal recovery benefits while sleeping.

Best of all, BioTrust Low Carb™ tastes GREAT!