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The truth about soy

by Kate Smulian

FILED IN: Health and Food · Issue 4

To see, read and hear about the “innocent” soybean in most mainstream media you’d think that the soy bean and its derivatives are the most versatile, natural, heart friendly, health-improving, fat preventing and generally loveable foods ever grown on our good earth.

A simple, easily-cultivated bean, promising health and vitality to the lactose-intolerant, the new-born, the aged, the menopausal, the frail, the athletic, the health conscious and just about everyone else as well.

To see, read and hear about the “innocent” soybean in most mainstream media you’d think that the soy bean and its derivatives are the most versatile, natural, heart friendly, health-improving, fat preventing and generally loveable foods ever grown on our good earth.

A simple, easily-cultivated bean, promising health and vitality to the lactose-intolerant, the new-born, the aged, the menopausal, the frail, the athletic, the health conscious and just about everyone else as well.

It is inexpensive and available everywhere, either on its own or as an ingredient in thousands of other food products, such as bread, cakes, baby formula, milk and meat substitutes, breakfast cereal, sauces and pasta. Soy also forms the basis of non-stick cooking sprays.

Doctors, farmers, nutritionists, athletes, respected companies whose household names have become part of our culture, government authorities – all make a point of telling us how safe and health-giving this wonder food is for us. Try getting soy-free bread at your local supermarket and you will have a problem. It is so good and harmless, they tell us, that it is often not even listed as an ingredient in many processed foods. And even when it is we don’t mind; everyone knows it’s safe.

All soybeans contain natural toxins and it makes no difference whether they are organic.

The trouble with modern soy products is that modern industrial processing cannot equate to the ancient methods of fermenting “for two summers” or boiling “for the length of an incense”
Few people are aware that most soil contains aluminium. It is one of the most prevalent minerals, but doesn’t affect most crops.
Soy, however has an affinity for aluminium and extracts it from the soil and concentrates it in its beans. This contamination is made worse by the aluminium tanks used in the acid wash soy is subjected to as part of its processing.

So when you ingest soy in any form you also ingest aluminium which is known to cause many health problems.

Soymilk contains 100 times more aluminium than raw cow’s milk. And, while on the subject of so-called soymilk, no one has ever seen a soy cow. You cannot milk a soy bean; in order to obtain that pure looking, inviting stream of white, pictured so appealingly in the ads, many processes are needed. Soybeans are first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution.

Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final product. As a result, soy-based formula also has over 1000% more aluminum than conventional milk based formulas.

Finally, the resulting curds are spray-dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder. A final hardship to the original soybean is high-temperature, high-pressure extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce textured vegetable protein.
Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray-drying, and a toxin called “lysinoalanine” is formed during alkaline processing. Numerous artificial flavorings, particularly MSG, are added to soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein products to mask their strong “beany” taste and to impart the flavor of meat.

Yet soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein are used extensively in commercial baked goods, fast food products and diet beverages. They are heavily promoted in 3rd world countries and form the basis of many food giveaway programs.

Claims that soy products are a good source of calcium are false. Because soy contains more phytic acid than any other grain or pulse, and because phytic acid impairs absorption of all minerals, especially calcium, soy actually strips your body of calcium.

The enzyme inhibitors in soy beans block trypsin and enzymes, which are essential for health. This can produce serious stomach problems and reduce protein digestion. In serious cases, soy can cause pancreas enlargement and even cancer.

Isoflavones in soybeans
Soybeans contain an impressive array of phytochemicals (biologically active components derived from plants), the most interesting of which are known as isoflavones. Isoflavones are the compounds which are being studied in relation to the relief of certain menopausal symptoms, cancer prevention, slowing or reversing osteoporosis and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Soy critics point to the fact that soybeans, as provided by nature, are not suitable for human consumption. Only after fermentation for some time, or extensive processing, including chemical extractions and high temperatures, are the beans, or the soy protein isolate, suitable for digestion when eaten.

Soy – more negatives than positives
I feel the positive aspects of the soybean are overshadowed by their potential for harm. Soybeans in fact contain a large number of dangerous substances. We already mentionned “phytic acid”, also called “phytates”.

This organic acid is present in the bran or hulls of all seeds and legumes, but none have the high level of phytates which soybeans do. Phytic acid blocks the body’s uptake of essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron and especially zinc. Adding to the high phytate problem, soybeans are highly resistant to phytate-reducing techniques, such as long, slow cooking.

Soybeans also contain potent enzyme-inhibitors. These inhibitors block uptake of trypsin and other enzymes which the body needs for protein digestion. Normal cooking does not de-activate these harmful antinutrients, which can cause serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and can lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.

In addition, soybeans also contain hemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance which causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells cannot properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body’s tissues, and are unable to help in maintaining good cardiac health.

Hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors are both “growth depressant” substances. Although the act of fermenting soybeans does de-activate both hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors, cooking and precipitation do not.

Although these enzyme inhibitors are found in reduced levels within precipitated soy products like tofu, they are not completely eliminated. For this reason, if you are going to consume soy, I would recommend limiting your soy use to fermented products only, like tempeh or miso.

Only after a long period of fermentation (as ocurs in the creation of miso or tempeh) are the antinutrient and phytate levels of soybeans reduced, making their nourishment available to the human digestive system.

The high level of harmful substances remaining in precipitated soy products leaves their nutritional value questionable at best, and potentially harmful.



  1. This was a very interesting article and I enjoyed it throroughly. I have also only read about all the “benefits” of soy with no negative comments.

    Can you please let me know where you get your facts from as you seem to contradict a lot of other people?

    Comment by Cindy

  2. I received an email recapping the life of a young girl who was, so she thought, living and eating healthy. I was very concerned about this email on soya causing benign tumours, as well as, cancerous ones.
    I then googled-health problems from soya and have now read your articles on such. I personally do NOT drink soya milk but know of quite a few family members and friends who do. My question is who do we believe. Does it cause life altering tumours and make you ill in other ways? Before I pass this email on I need to know the facts. Awaiting your reply anxiously. If you wish me to send you the said email please notify me as such.

    Comment by Danielle Kerr

  3. Hi there,
    I have never checked here before - and this artical was written quite a few years ago, if someone is still interested try http://www.mercola.com - Dr Mercola has very interesting stuff on Soya.
    Another good book Is ‘The Whole Soy Story’ Kaayla T. Daniel - heart rendering stuff and some terrible stories especially from parents.
    Contact me on katesmulian@gmail.com if you need more information.

    Comment by Kate Smulian

  4. I was concerned for Cindy (above) I wrote about Soya in my blog and am annoyed since I buy Soya butter and Soya and Linseed bread to discover with my own research that cancer can result from eating soya.

    Every “medical” book I have, carefully selects wording to skirt round the truth about soya and suggest that it is healthy.

    We have to seriously ask why 1 in every 4 humans are diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life.

    Comment by Lucinda Ball

  5. Cancer is caused by resentment, not from what you eat or smoke. too many non smokers die from lung cancer for it to be caused by smoking.
    100% of cancer patients hold onto resentful thoughts, conciously or subconciously.
    The moment we can accept reality, what is, we stop feeling ill at ease or dis eased.

    Comment by Ant

  6. I’d like to know whether the quantity of soya lecithin in Nan 2, my son’s formula, should be a cause for concern? I cannot find an infant formula which does NOT contain soy(a). Please enlighten me?!

    Comment by Gina Davies

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