A Word about Soy


In recent years soy has emerged as a ‘near perfect’ food, with supporters claiming it can provide an ideal source of protein, lower cholesterol, protect against cancer and heart disease, reduce menopause symptoms, and prevent osteoporosis, among other things.

Two isoflavones found in soy, genistein and daidzen, the same two promoted by the industry for everything from menopause relief to cancer protection, were said to ‘demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid’.That last sentence is rather important for women with endometriosis.

There are two ‘camps’ for the use of soy in food. There is the traditional, oriental use of soy in fermented soy products. These products are produced naturally and do not contain the same chemicals and toxins of the modern highly processed use of soy.

The modern approach to the use of soy has come by default, by finding a use of the soy bean by-products after the extraction of oil from the bean. There was so much soy bean residue that extensive multi- million dollar campaigning and advertising was used to promote this new ‘wonder-protein’.

The soybean did not serve as a food in China until the discovery of fermentation techniques, some time during the Chou Dynasty. The first soy foods were fermented products like tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce.

At a later date, possibly in the 2nd century BC, Chinese scientists discovered that a purée of cooked soybeans could be precipitated with calcium sulphate or magnesium sulphate (plaster of Paris or Epsom salts) to make a smooth, pale curd - tofu or bean curd. The use of fermented and precipitated soy products soon spread to other parts of the Orient, notably Japan and Indonesia.

The Chinese did not eat unfermented soybeans as they did other legumes such as lentils because the soy bean contains large quantities of natural toxins or "anti-nutrients".

Production of modern soy protein products takes place in industrial factories where a slurry of soy beans is first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fibre, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralised in an alkaline solution.

Acid washing in aluminium tanks leaches high levels of aluminium into the final product. The resulting curds are spray-dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder. A final negative process to the soybean is high-temperature, high-pressure extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce textured vegetable protein (TVP).

But high-temperature processing has the unfortunate side-effect of so denaturing the other proteins in soy that they are rendered largely ineffective. Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray- drying, and a toxin called lysinoalanine is formed during alkaline processing. Numerous artificial flavourings, particularly MSG, are added to soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein products to mask their strong "beany" taste and to impart the flavour of meat.

Soy is found in dozens and dozens of items: granola, vegetarian chilli, a vast sundry of imitation animal foods, pasta, most protein powders and “power” bars, soy milk, soy yoghurts, soy based cheeses, to name just a few.

After multi-million dollar figures spent on advertising and intense lobbying to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), about 74 percent of U.S. consumers now believe soy products are healthy.

Here is a quote about soy from the book "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause" by Dr. John Lee, one of the pioneers in the use of Natural Progesterone Cream.

"Please be wary of all the hype around soy. Although it does contain compounds that can help balance your hormones, it is far from a magic hormone balance solution. Soy contains compounds that block the absorption of needed nutrients like zinc and will disable enzymes your body needs to access other nutrients. It directly blocks thyroid function and protein absorption. Many people are allergic to soy products, and women who are extremely sensitive to estrogens of any kind may react negatively to them.

The traditional Asian processing methods used to make fermented soy products--tofu, tempeh, and miso—get rid of most of the toxins and make the beneficial phytochemicals more available in the body. Tofu and tempeh are a nearly complete protein and as such are an excellent alternative to meat in a balanced meal. Miso stirred into hot water with a strip of kombu or nori (seaweeds) makes a satisfying soup base or beverage. To offset the negative side of soy, Dr. David Zava recommends eating fermented soy products and tofu as the Asians do, with a protein such as fish and a rich mineral source such as the sea-weeds.

Soy milks and soy protein powders aren't in the same league as the fermented soy products, so use them sparingly. There's a good chance that the soybean toxins are more concentrated in these products, and they may do you more harm than good over the long haul.

Please don't eat soy three times a day or even every day. That undermines your goal of balance. Aim for two or three times a week and get the rest of your phytochemicals from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables."

Health Hazards of Soy

This is a list of health hazards of soy as reported by health and diet specialists:

1. High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralised by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
2. Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.
3. Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
4. Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
5. Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12.
6. Soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D.
7. Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
8. Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
9. Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
10. Soy foods contain high levels of aluminium which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys
11. The various negative effects of soy weaken the immune system.

Phytic Acid and Soy

Phytic acid is a part of the soy bean’s makeup which is found in the husk of the bean – and also totally destroys the credibility of the manufacturers’ claims that soy products are a good source of calcium and help prevent osteoporosis. Because soy contains more phytic acid than any other grain or pulse, and because phytic acid impairs absorption of most minerals, especially calcium, soy actually strips your body of calcium.

Although not a household word, phytic acid has been extensively studied; there are literally hundreds of articles on the effects of phytic acid in the current scientific literature. Scientists are in general agreement that grain - and legume-based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries.

The soybean has one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume that has been studied, and the phytates in soy are highly resistant to normal phytate-reducing techniques such as long, slow cooking. Only a long period of fermentation will significantly reduce the phytate content of soybeans.

Phytic acid has been highlighted by Dian Mills in her book ‘Endometriosis - Healing through Diet and Nutrition’, as being a particular compound that is found in wheat. She speculates that it is the phytic acid in wheat which aggravates the symptoms of endometriosis. Phytic acid is found at higher levels in soy than it is in wheat, but many women who use a diet for endometriosis are substituting their dairy and protein intake with soy products. This will obviously negate the benefits of a targeted diet for endometriosis.

GM Crop

Most soybeans are grown on farms that use toxic pesticides and herbicides, and many are from genetically engineered plants. When you consider that two-thirds of all manufactured food products contain some form of soy, it becomes clear just how many Americans are consuming GM products, whose long-term effects are completely unknown

PR and Soy

The public relations machine extolling the virtues of soy has been global and relentless. It has to be - there are at least 100 million acres of soy under cultivation in the United States alone, much of it genetically engineered.

The Monsanto Corporation has 45 million acres of genetically modified soybeans growing in the United States. American law permits these crops to be mixed with a small amount of organic soybeans, and the resultant combination may then be labelled organic!

It is not only the media who bear responsibility for helping the soy industry carry out this mass- manipulation and brainwashing of the public. Many health professionals are so busy, and probably totally unaware of the truth about Soy, that they are unable to counsel and advise their patients correctly regarding diet.

Consider the words of Dr Raymond Peat, the noted endocrine physiologist at the University of Oregon who was one of the first to blow the whistle on the dangers of HRT, years before it finally made headlines:

"There is a distinct herd instinct among people who ‘work in science’ which makes it easy to believe whatever sounds plausible, if a lot of other people are saying it is true. Sometimes powerful economic interests help people to change their beliefs. For example, two of the biggest industries in the world, the estrogen industry and the soy bean industry, spend vast amounts of money helping people to believe certain plausible-sounding things that help them sell their products."

You are going to come across many sources of advice and information about soy, which will extol the wonderful virtues of this protein substitute. This advice will, without exception come from the PR machine of the soy growers. Research this subject further for yourself.

This statement comes from the home page of a web site that provides informed advice about soy:

‘Uncovering The Truth About Soy’

‘Have you ever wondered about soy? It’s promoted as the miracle food that will feed the world while at the same time prevent and cure all manner of diseases. But what if all you’ve read about soy is nothing but a multi-million dollar marketing strategy, based on scanty facts, half-truths and lies.

How could anyone get away with that? The soy industry is one of the world’s most wealthy and powerful and one that will steam-roll anybody that dares suggest there may be problems with the darling soy. When we first questioned the safety of soy, representatives of Protein Technologies told us that they had:

“Teams of lawyers to crush dissenters, could buy scientists to give evidence, owned television channels and newspapers, could divert medical schools and could even influence governments”.’

The information on their web site is very revealing and is well worth checking out. You can find them at:

Soy and the Endometriosis Diet

Many women who change their old diet for a diet to control endometriosis will be replacing the dairy and protein foods and substituting them with soy products. These will include soy milk, soy spreads, soy cheeses, soy based burgers and substitute meats, and many other alternative soy products.

You need to avoid all modern soy based foods and food substitutes. The only safe soy foods are those that come from eastern traditions of fermented foods like miso, tempeh and tamari. These foods are safe enough for the healthy person, but for women with endometriosis their consumption needs to be minimal because of the high levels of phytoestrogens.

There are thousands of recipe books loaded with so-called healthy meat alternatives, and 9 times out of 10 this includes alternative soy based products. People will be of the belief that their meat free, dairy free diet is safe and healthy, when in fact the opposite is true. This is why I had to trawl far and wide to find recipes for ‘Recipes for the Endometriosis Diet’ which were suitable, or adapting the recipe by removing the soy based ingredient or finding an alternative.

This information is extracted from my book Recipes for the Endometriosis Diet, so that more women could be made aware of the issues surrounding soy in their diet.

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