The Whole Soy Story
By Kaayla Daniel, PhD, CCN
New Trends Publishing 2005
Originally published in 2005, this book is not new, and our readers will know that we have referred to it many times as a prime source of information on soy, but it is more relevant now than ever. If you were to try to find a loaf of bread without any soy at a typical grocery you would have to look hard. Even then you might come up empty. This is true not only for bread but for most processed food. If you want to understand why this might be a problem, this is the book for you.
Probably the earliest known use of soy was to fix nitrogen in the soil. One term for that is green manure, which appropriately describes soy on so many levels. Soy is quite a witch’s brew of toxins. It is one of the top eight allergens, it has goitrogens that damage the thyroid, lectins that clump red blood cells, oxalates that have been linked to those very painful kidney stones, phytates that impair mineral absorption, and isoflavones or plant estrogens that disrupt human hormones.
Soy is claimed by many to be a good source of protein yet it contains protease inhibitors that interfere with protein digestion. Perhaps to top the condemnation of soy as food for humans or animals is the frightening fact that over 90 percent of soy is now genetically modified.
Naturally and traditionally fermented soy products are generally less troublesome, but many people, mostly vegetarian or vegan, energetically defend other forms of soy and its derivatives as food. This is rather amazing when you consider not only the list of objectionable anti-nutrients just mentioned but how much time and effort have been invested by the food processing industry just to make soy products taste somewhat palatable. Soy just doesn’t taste good unless it is laced with MSG, sugar or other flavor-enhancing chemicals. In my opinion, the food chemists still have a lot of work to do on that. I know I’m not alone. As Kaayla Daniel points out, there was an episode of “The Simpsons” in which Lisa buys a “Soy Joy” energy bar. The wrapper boasts “Now with gag suppressor.”
There are detailed descriptions in the book of how soy is processed and after reading those truly gut-wrenching facts it is difficult to see how anyone can still manage to call it a health food.
One common criticism I see of the Weston A. Price Foundation’s position on soy is that we have no references supporting our position. Obviously this comment is made by people who haven’t looked very hard at the website where hundreds of studies are listed. There are two rather long pages with nothing but references to this research. There are hundreds of references in the back of Daniel’s book also. The rebuttal argument is that the majority of studies claim that soy is safe. I’m sure this is true but, and I can’t emphasize this enough: I don’t care.
Who carried out the majority of those studies? Who paid for them? Was it corporations like Ford Motor Company? Well, actually, if you read the book you will learn that Henry Ford dabbled with making car parts out of soy. He even had a suit made out of soy, which worked great as long as he didn’t bend over or move around too much. But I’m pretty sure he and his company couldn’t care less about the nutritional value of soy. The point is that studies are expensive and corporations don’t do studies just for general enlightenment. The only entities that would be interested in spending a lot of money studying the nutritional value of soy would be Big Soy. Big corporations in general don’t do science. They only pretend to do science to make more money. Their deep pockets allow them to flood the literature with all the “science” money can buy.
One such example is of an industrial study on soy that presumed to promote the ability of soy to prevent cancer. The study compared soy protein to the milk protein casein. The conclusion was that soy was better at preventing cancer than casein. Comparing isolated proteins, however, is like comparing Twinkies to Snickers. One may be slightly less carcinogenic than the other, but so what? They are both bad.
There are many derivatives of soy and many things being done with soy products. There are good uses for soy. The ink used in printing Wise Traditions journals is soy-based. One indication of how many different products and uses there are for soy is the soy derivative lysophosphatidylethanolamine (no, my cat didn’t just walk across my keyboard). This is used as a fruit ripener and shelf-life extender. Apparently they have run out of words that anyone can pronounce so they had to resort to. . . that. Guys, don’t try to impress your girlfriends with words like that. You will die alone.
Another fun feature of soy is how it can affect the lower digestive system in somewhat volatile ways. I won’t say it is a major contributor to global warming but it could cause considerably more air quality contamination than one might care to contemplate. There are a lot of cracks I could make but the bottom line is you don’t want to be downwind of a soy lover. Just another way that eating soy could lead to a lonely death.
Probably the most horrific scheme the food industry dreamed up was using soy in infant formula. This is covered extensively in The Whole Soy Story. The resulting product lacks many of the key nutrients that babies require. Soy formula can expose an infant to the estrogen equivalent of three to five birth control pills per day. This wreaks hormonal havoc in both boys and girls. To anyone outside of the soy industry, that is an incredibly bad idea.
As I am writing this review, the news media are fussing over horsemeat in the food supply, which makes me laugh pretty hard. This is a classic case of straining at gnats and swallowing camels. . . or horses. There can be carcinogenic chemicals, soy, GMO, or all of the above in our food and that seems to be quite acceptable, but horsemeat? Whoa, there, Wilbur! Seriously, if horsemeat is the worst thing in your industrial strength Macburger, count your many, many blessings. If you don’t want to eat horse or something worse, trot on out of those fast-fooderies and big box supermarkets and get your nearest local WAPF chapter to hook you up with some real feed. I’m sure it is no surprise that my thumb is giddy-UP for this book.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2013.