Problems with Soy

Summary: Soy may have beneficial uses like boosting estrogen levels in menopausal women (and in men to inhibit testosterone), providing antioxidants, and lowering thyroid output for those who have the unusual problem of excess thyroid production, but for others, it may not be wise to eat large amounts daily.

Soy is controversial. Some say it is a healthy source of protein, nutrients, and fiber. Others think it can cause problems like hormonal imbalance, low thyroid output, and allergies, not even considering the new worry some have about how common genetically modified soy now is. I do think it may be a problem in some people, the most common problems being decreased metabolism and possible weight gain and lowering libido in men. If adequate iodine is taken in the diet or by supplement (2 kelp capsules per day, e.g.), thyroid function may not decrease so this problem could be easily circumvented.

Another problem may be, and certainly is according to Hulda Clark the chemicals used in processing to create products like soy protein isolates and tofu. See Hulda Clark's Diet Suggestions for more information. My first surprise regarding soy, long before I knew about the estrogenic effects, was from reading Roger Cathey's articles on enzyme therapy for cancer. In them, he often mentioned dietary "trypsin inhibitors" as being counterproductive. I was amazed that he noted soy as a potent one. One website states: "While soybeans are relatively high in protein compared to other legumes, scientists have long recognized them as a poor source of protein because other proteins found in soybeans act as potent enzyme inhibitors. These "antinutrients" block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. In test animals, diets high in trypsin inhibitors depress growth and cause enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer."

A Testosterone magazine article had this to say: " We first published an article about how soy protein is estrogenic, can lower testosterone counts, and can even kill testicular cells in January of 2000. We then published new research on the matter in February of 2001. But you know something? The national media still won't touch the story. You can pick up the "Food" section of practically any local newspaper and see glowing reviews of the healthy attributes of soy protein, complete with yummy, testosterone-lowering recipes."

I used to scarf down Balance Bars, Luna Bars, Genisoy, Spirutein, Zone Perfect, and other soy-based bars, sometimes two a day. And eat tofu once a week or more, and occasionally snack on soynuts. I still do eat some soy, but have cut back on my consumption a great deal. I will eat a Balance Bar or other soy bar in a pinch, but now avoid eating them on a daily basis. For balanced nutrition bars, I look for Nutribiotics ProZone, which are whey protein with fruit leather sweetener and medium chain triglycerides as the main oil, plus 5g of fiber per bar. It is an excellent formula if one does well on whey. Coffee Cappuccino flavor is the best, Chocolate Raspberry and Raspberry are okay. Squeeze them a bit before buying because if they sit on the shelf for a couple of months they get stale and hard. Some of the ProZone bars like the Cashew are not balanced - read the label. At the start of 2002 ProZone are, remarkably, the only bars I have found without soy protein that do not add questionable ingredients like petro-and other-chemicals or use corn syrup or non-vegetable glycerin (could be animal or petrochemical source) as a major sweetener. There are even some so-called " health bars" that contain hydrogenated oils and petrochemicals like propylene glycol! Read the labels before buying.