When PTontheNET.com asked me to contribute my opinions on the use of soy products to a PTontheNet.com discussion, it was because they know I have some definite opinions on these subjects from clinical experience as a Holistic Health Practitioner and worldwide health consultant. While it would certainly have been easier to simply tell you what I’ve seen in regard to the use of such products, keeping it empirical, I have decided to both re-visit the literature and communicate with known experts on the topic. What I found could only be described as an experience similar to what the FBI must have had the first time they searched Jeffrey Dahmer’s house…not a pretty sight!
If you have enough money, you can sell Calvin Klein a pair of underwear, sand to Arabs and even the Brooklyn Bridge to a New Yorker. And if you read what I present here and the suggested resources in regards to the consumption of commercial soy products, you will see that in light of the facts against soy consumption, the soy industry has made and spent so much money in this health debacle that it probably has Calvin Klein, the Arabs and most New Yorkers eating soy too!
All plants want to live, just like you. To protect themselves, they produce various chemical agents and mechanisms. For example, caffeine is produced by some plants such as that found in coffee beans because caffeine disrupts short-term memory, therefore reducing the likelihood that any animal eating the caffeine-producing plant will remember how to find it again! While there are a myriad of such defensive chemicals produced by plants, over long periods of time, each animal species - including humans - learns to effectively neutralize and/or metabolize the plant chemicals in foods suitable to it. Environment dictates which plants and chemicals we learn to process for our own survival.
The human genome adapts to new proteins, chemicals or toxins slowly, which is demonstrated in research on celiac disease. In the comprehensive article, "Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword," Loren Cordain clearly demonstrates that in the Near East countries (comprised of Greece, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, the states of the former Yugoslavia and the European part of Turkey) where cereal grains have been farmed for about 10,000 years, the incidence of celiac disease is lowest. Moving North West, where the agricultural revolution only took hold about 3000 BC, the incidence of celiac disease and autoimmune diseases related to cereal grain exposure increase significantly. The HLA-B8 antigen, a direct marker for celiac disease is prevalent in only 7% of Near Easterners, while it is prevalent in 31% of North Westerners. It is also important to note that milk allergy and intolerance also follows this pattern, which is likely due to the close association between agriculture and milk consumption.
While there are many that would have you believe that the Japanese and Chinese have been consuming soy as a dietary staple for long periods of time, this is in fact incorrect. Soy was first used as a food during the late Chou Dynasty between 1134-246 BC, only after the Chinese learned to ferment soybeans to make foods like tempeh, natto and tamari. This timeframe makes soy consumption as human food significantly more recent than cereal grains in the North West, which is significant in light of a) how long the body takes to adapt to any new foodstuff where genetic history is unremarkable and b) the fact that according to Bill Timmins, N.D., founder of Bio Health Diagnostics medical laboratory, tofu contains enough gluten/gliadin fractions to stimulate an immune response. Dr. Timmins and others in clinical practice using his testing methods have found this to be a consistent pattern among patients with gluten sensitivity and generally thought to be restricted to gluten-containing grains.
Understanding this information is critical in any debate/discussion regarding the viability of soy products for human health because the human immune system is capable of recognizing protein fractions in incredibly small amounts (parts per million or less). Research on food allergy has demonstrated, for example, that many who have allergy to nuts also exhibit allergy to soy and that even a minute residue on an eating or cooking utensil is enough to cause allergic reactions, some of which end in death. In fact, the soy industry’s inability to remove troublesome protein fractions from soy products without irreparably damaging the remainder of the soy protein led the soy industry to promote these “anti-nutrients” as cancer preventers. To date, their proof remains slim, although cancer statistics might improve if enough people die from anaphylactic shock first.
To highlight how manipulative big industry interests can be, please read this recent press release exposing Solae (a joint venture of Dupont and Bunge). Solae, a manufacturer of soy protein and other processed soy products, is exposed for their manipulation of soy-related studies in attempt to gain greater market share at the expense of consumer health:
Experts Urge FDA Denial of Soy Protein and Cancer Health Claim
Solae Petition Omits Many Studies Indicating Carcinogenicity of Soy
June 22, 2004, WASHINGTON, DC: Experts have urged the FDA to deny a petition by Solae, a manufacturer of soy protein and other processed soy products, for a Soy Protein and Cancer Health Claim. The request was submitted by the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation based in Washington, DC, on June 14, 2004.
Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, author of "The Whole Soy Story" (released Fall 2004), noted that “Solae was highly selective in its choice of evidence and biased in its interpretations. It omitted many studies that show soy to be ineffective in preventing cancer, emphasized favorable outcome in studies when results were mixed and excused results of a few unfavorable studies that they included to give the illusion of balance. Most seriously, Solae omitted many well-designed studies that have suggested that soy protein can contribute to, cause and accelerate the growth of cancer.” The 50-page response lists numerous studies implicating soy protein as a contributor to cancers of the breast, prostate and gastrointestinal tract.
Solae, a joint venture of Dupont and Bunge, applied for a Soy Protein and Cancer Health Claim in March 2004. Approved health claims can be used in product labeling and packaging to influence consumers in making dietary choices. The FDA must reply within 270 days.
Sally Fallon, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, points out that Solae has a strong financial interest in winning a cancer health claim. "In their petition," notes Fallon, "Solae states that since the FDA authorized the Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease Health Claim, per capita consumption of soy protein increased from 0.78 g/day in 1998 to 2.23 g/day in 2002. Solae predicts that consumption of soy protein will double with a cancer health claim. Solae stands to reap tremendous financial gain at the expense of the public."
“Numerous experts – including scientists from the FDA’s own National Laboratory for Toxicological Research – have warned of soy protein’s carcinogenic potential and of the health dangers of excess soy-food consumption,” says Bill Sanda, Director of Public Affairs for the Weston A. Price Foundation. “Yet in its petition, Solae contends that their data ‘establish that there is scientific agreement among experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate such claims regarding the relationship between soy protein products and a reduced risk of cancers.’ No such consensus exists. The British Committee on Toxicity (COT) reviewed much of the evidence and found the results to be both 'inconsistent and contradictory.'"
Experts were particularly critical of Solae’s assertion that the “totality of the evidence” suggests that soy reduces the risk of breast cancer. “Numerous studies indicate that soy protein increases breast fluid, causes breast cell overgrowth and contributes to other abnormalities associated with increased breast cancer risk,” said Dr. Daniel. “Researchers at the University of Illinois and other institutions have shown that the plant estrogens in soy can stimulate human breast cancer cells. This last poses a special danger not only to people already diagnosed with breast cancer but those in the early stages prior to diagnosis.”
The British Committee on Toxicity (COT) has stated that “the epidemiological data on soy intake and prostate cancer are inconsistent” and that concentrations used in animal experiments are “very high compared with the likely dietary exposure levels in humans.” These studies not only show that soy foods are not protective against prostate cancer or less effective than other dietary agents, but also that soy protein – and its constituent isoflavones – have been linked to increased prostate cancer risk. In addition, they have caused undesirable side effects, including changes to the brain.
Solae also failed to present theories about why soy might be protective against the development of prostate cancer. “Prostate cancer is generally thought to be dependent on exposure to male reproductive hormone. If soy confers protection, it does so by altering endogenous hormone concentrations – by decreasing testosterone and androgen levels and feminizing men,” said Fallon. “While this might have valid pharmaceutical applications for cancer treatment, it seems inadvisable as a preventive treatment for our entire population of men and boys.”
Solae’s claim that soy protein prevents gastrointestinal cancer is contradicted by numerous studies, including one that links soy protein with a lowered risk of stomach cancer but a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Dr. Daniel adds that “Solae also omitted key studies that link the soy lectin – a component of soy protein – to precancerous conditions in the small intestines, including shortened villi, a diminished capacity for digestion and absorption, cell proliferation in the crypt cells, interference with hormone and growth factor signaling and unfavorable population shifts among the microbial flora.”
Solae states that “the totality” of the evidence supports a soy protein/cancer claim, a conclusion that Solae's consultants were able to reach only through a series of statistical studies known as meta-analyses. “Meta-analyses serve researchers – and their industry sponsors – when they wish to draw specific conclusions,” explains Fallon. “Meta-analysts have been criticized by many in the scientific and statistical communities for making faulty assumptions, indulging in creative accounting and for leaving out studies that contradict or dilute the conclusions desired. Solae has left out many such studies.”
Experts were also concerned about Solae’s summaries of the body of evidence concerning soy and other cancers. Solae chose to minimize a large-scale study linking soy protein to bladder cancer and it omitted evidence linking soy protein to thyroid and pancreatic cancers and to childhood leukemia. Solae also failed to address soy protein’s well-documented risks to the digestive, immune and neuroendocrine systems of the body, including strong evidence that dietary soy has contributed to rising rates of infertility and hypothyroidism. Soy is also highly allergenic. Most experts now place soy protein among the top eight allergens, and some rate it in the top six or even top four. Allergic reactions to soy range from mild to life threatening and fatalities have been reported in medical journals.
The request for denial is posted at www.westonaprice.org and includes numerous soy research studies that all soy consumers and doctors using or advising any type of soy supplementation should read!
Take Off Your Blinders
Unfortunately, there are many, including physicians and allied health care practitioners who, like soy product manufacturers, are financially motivated to prop soy products up in the eyes of consumers. On many occasions in my travels, I have seen otherwise good healthcare professionals develop selective amnesia, particularly when the topic of soy products or whey protein products are at hand. My experience has shown that the way this typically occurs is relatively innocent; a sales representative approaches a doctor, therapist, nutritionist, etc., and exposes them to a new miracle product for which they always seem to have ample research to back, but unfortunately, if you follow the research, you will often find a prostitute with a science degree. The problem is, few clinicians have the time to fully investigate such claims but do have the time to hear about how much money they can make selling such products.
For anyone currently prescribing or using any soy-based product, I highly recommend reading the petition against Solae filed by the Weston A. Price Foundation at www.westonaprice.org. After reading approximately 50 pages of critical counterpoint arguments against Solae’s manipulation of available research, and reading the studies available that show the truth about soy products, you will surely feel a sense of relief that not all industry scientists are prostituting their services. You will then be in a better position to determine if you actually want to enter the field of soy research as a study subject. For example, of 659 food products recalled by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999, 236 (36%) were taken off the market because of undeclared allergens. Three factors responsible for the undeclared allergens were: omissions and errors on labels (51%), cross contamination of manufacturing equipment (40%) and errors made by suppliers of ingredients (5%). It wasn’t inspectors, however, but US consumers who fingered 56% of the undeclared allergens and alerted the FDA after experiencing adverse reactions.
TAKING FROM PETER TO PAY PAUL…
The whole soy issue reeks of the "this for that" consciousness typical of traditional modern medicine. Every soy isolate/derivative I’ve seen marketed is linked to one or more dysfunctions or diseases and touted in related literature by those selling it as a benefit or cure for such ailments. Never have I seen such products (which are commonly sold to aid in female hormonal balance among other things) say anything along the lines of “Before supplementing your diet with soy isolates or soy proteins, consume a minimally processed diet of organic whole-foods, drink primarily clean water, get regular exercise balanced with optimal rest and follow known guidelines of optimal colon hygiene." To do so would only be to lower the guillotine on such products, all of them in fact. For example, among the many things I could write regarding soy, consider that:
- Much of soy today is genetically modified (GM). When consuming GM foods, you are facing the same issue I described above in that the gut has no history what-so-ever with such organisms. Therefore, the immune system, not recognizing such GM plants as foods, will treat such food antigens in the same manner it would an invasive virus, parasite, bacteria or fungi - it will try to eliminate it. Repeated exposure to such foodstuffs (non-foods actually!) will sensitize the immune system. This process may encourage autoimmune disorders, which are now at an all time high!
- All but a tiny percentage of soy products are inorganically farmed and are heavily sprayed with herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and the like. These chemicals are typically of two classes: endocrine disrupters, which are primarily estrogenic, and neurotoxic, which attack the nervous system of plant pests. It is interesting to see that potentially millions of gallons of fat soluble estrogenic pesticides are used on soy crops annually; soy isoflavones, which are not only phyto-endocrine disrupters but xenoestrogenic, are often used to treat the very hormonal imbalances they may well be causing! Typical medical and food industry consciousness is that there is no risk from farming chemical residues, which is understandable in light of the fact that there are not currently any filtration systems capable of removing them at any stage of the manufacturing/processing process. At dietary levels, soy isoflavones can prevent ovulation and stimulate growth of cancer cells. As little as four tablespoons of soy per day can result in hypothyroidism with symptoms of lethargy, constipation, weight gain and fatigue. These very symptoms happen to be among the most common reasons people seek help from physicians and holistic healthcare practitioners today.
- Soy infant formulas are unsafe, even dangerous for infants! Soy foods contain trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function. In test animals, diets high in trypsin inhibitors lead to stunted growth and pancreatic disorders. Soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D, needed for strong bones and normal growth. Phytic acid in soy foods result in reduced bioavailability of iron and zinc, which are required for health and development of the brain and nervous system. Megadoses of phytoestrogens in soy formula have been implicated in the current trend toward increasingly premature sexual development in girls and delayed or retarded sexual development in boys.
- Many athletes and bodybuilders working to develop strength and muscle mass are consuming soy isolates in performance bars and protein powders that contain estrogenic soy protein isolates. That’s the wrong hormone to be stimulating by any means if you want strength and mass! Read labels carefully! Estrogenic soy isolates are commonly found in:
- Soy oils and lecithin, which are often sold in health food stores. If these products could be 100% free of soy proteins, they would be unlikely to cause allergic reactions or trigger estrogenic responses secondary to xenoestrogenic effects. Yet, variable conditions such as poor quality control and processing methods used when making vegetable oils make the presence of soy proteins both possible and likely. The cold processed soy oils sold in many health stores can be deadly for the allergic consumer as they contain as much as 100 times the amount of trace protein found in the highly refined oils in the supermarkets, yet refined oils often contain dangerous amounts of aluminum from processing. In fact, in his lecture series on nutrition, Dr. David Getoff describes how soy oil is a commonly used filler oil in gel capsules of vitamin E, but because it is often rancid, it utilizes all the antioxidant qualities of the vitamin E so that when you consume it, it is relatively useless as an antioxidant and often rancid to boot!
- Baby rusks
- Chicken nuggets
- Vegetarian meats/burgers
- Pet foods
- Breads, crackers and pizza crusts
- Meat substitutes and extenders
- Legume meal
- Breakfast cereals
- Baby foods
- Sandwich spreads
- Bakery products
- Fish fingers
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
- Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Clearly, you can see how easy it is to have a diet high enough in soy fillers to cause problems that are very hard for most healthcare professionals to identify unless they are knowledgeable in this regard. As I point out in my book, "How To Eat, Move and Be Healthy!," once the gut begins to leak, you typically see immune sensitization to everything you eat! This results in some pretty shocking outcomes for patients when we run blood tests to measure antibody responses to foods and they find out they are now intolerant of their entire diet! I’ve watched grown men cry as I read out the list of foods that must be removed from their diet for a minimum of six months to allow the gut to heal.
I’ve studied volumes of information on the subject of food, eating, gut health and related topics. Unlike most healthcare providers, I do not accept insurance while my services are very expensive; therefore, my business practice does not lend itself to poor results and my clients all come wanting and expecting long-term results. Neither I nor any of the C.H.E.K Practitioners and Nutrition & Lifestyle Coaches can afford to utilize products that do more harm than good, and soy clearly falls into this classification. The only exception to my “sans soy” policy is the occasional use of fermented organic soy products as condiments such as soy sauce with sushi.
Suggested resources and more reliable information on soy:
- Loren Cordain Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.,USA.
- Soy Alert, Weston A. Price Foundation. www.westonaprice.org
- Personal communication with Bill Timmins, M.D. www.biodia.com
- The Whole Soy Story, Soy Allergens: Shock of the New by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD
- Soy Toxins www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/soytox.htm
- Attaining Optimal Health in the 21st Century; A 13 hour course which can change your life, David Getoff Nutrition Video Series available at www.chekinstitute.com
- SOS Guidance www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/sosguide.htm