I know this may come as a surprise to some of you, but soy products such as: soy milk, soy based formulas, soy cheese and soy yogurt, are extremely processed and should not be consumed. In addition, the soy protein isolates that are added to foods like Luna bars, Cliff bars and other packaged foods—are so chemically manufactured that they should not even be considered food.
And, here we are told soy is so healthy for us.
Traditional vs. Commercial Soy Products
Sadly, that’s not the case. Soy did start out with a long history of being a staple in Asian diets, however they mainly ate soy in its fermented form as in miso or tempeh. Or when they ate tofu, it was made the traditional way—slow cooking the soybeans for hours. And, the soy milk they drank was made up purely of soybeans and water.
The commercial soy products that are found in your local health food store and supermarket are far from slow cooked and definitely contain a lot more ingredients than just soybeans and water. Typically these “healthy” soy foods are filled with sugar and additives that neither you nor your children should be ingesting. What’s even more disturbing is the way in which soy products are manufactured. The far from natural techniques that are used to make your favorite vanilla soymilk or soy yogurt involves using genetically modified soybeans (unless the package says “non-gmo”) that are processed at extremely high temperatures which cause proteins in the soy to denature (AKA to break apart and lose the enzymatic activity that allows us to digest them). This high temperature processing renders the food virtually inedible and an anti-nutrient—meaning when you or your child eats processed soy important vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and vitamin D are leached from your body.
Soy Products Contain Too Much Estrogen
Furthermore, being that soy is an anti-nutrient it can lead to and/or exacerbate growth problems and learning disabilities in children.
But, wait… I have even more reasons why soy is bad for us.
Soy is a phytoestrogen, which means that it is a plant estrogen. Said another way, eating soy bring more estrogen into your body. I know that phytoestrogens are touted as being “healthy estrogens” for us but scientific evidence supports otherwise. Initially it was thought because phytoestrogens are weaker than the estrogen our body produces on its own, that it would make us overall less estrogenic and hence help ward off estrogen dependent illnesses like breast cancer, uterine fibroids and endometriosis. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Soy, because it is indigestible to our body (unless eaten in fermented forms) leaves its phytoestrogens accumulating in our system until we end up having an excess of estrogen. This in turn can encourage the development of estrogen dependent diseases.
Soy contains so much estrogen that it is estimated a baby on soy formula receives the estrogen equivalent of 4 birth control pills in one days feeding. That’s just too much estrogen.
Soy May Lead to Thyroid Diseases
Lastly, soy foods can disrupt the proper functioning of your thyroid and some studies indicate it can lead to hypothyroidism. Although, there is much debate surrounding this topic I still urge patients to err on the side of caution and to avoid soy. As well, if you are one of the many millions of women who have a thyroid disease and are taking medication for it—there is evidence suggesting that eating soy foods can interfere with your thyroid medicine.
Opt for Nut Milks
By now, I’m sure you are wondering, “I eat soy products, so what are my options?”
Well, the way I look at it is: if you are a vegetarian or not, you don’t really need to be eating soy products. You can opt for nut milks (like almond and cashew milk) or rice milk or coconut milk (my favorite). And, if you really want to have some soy foods—only eat them in fermented or sprouted form: natto, tempeh, miso, tamari and sprouted tofu, and limit your intake to once or twice per week. The same goes for your kids.
For more on this, check out my first book, Chill Out and Get Healthy, I have an entire chapter dedicated to this topic. As always, I urge you to be an advocate of your own health and of your family’s health.
Aimee Raupp is an author, licensed acupuncturist & herbalist, and women’s wellness & fertility expert