Dear Dr. Daniel: First, thank you so much for being so generous and sharing your email address with us. I am an Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) student and just heard your talk and Sally Fallon’s talk and I have been so distressed. I mainly eat vegetarian so conversation about vegetarian options is very important to me; especially when it reduces the amount of choices there are.
A few years ago I started hearing about the negatives associated with soy products and switched to almond milk and drastically reduced our consumption of soy products. The one soy product I have been consistently using and loving for years is a powder for a smoothie called _______. I have attached the label and would appreciate your taking a look at the ingredients. It also says on the front label ‘Identity Preserved Soy 24 mg of isoflavones per serving). I don’t know what that means but hope it’s good. I have been a rep for this company for years and have benefited greatly by using their products. This drink makes me feel so good and satisfied every day, and I am really upset at the thought of it not being healthy for me. I have shown it to so many dieticians and nutritionists and have always gotten such positive feedback so I hope you will look and tell me if you think it is bad for me.
I will also tell you that I have a low thyroid and have been taking 90 mg of Armour Thyroid for the last 40 years. It has helped but not as much as when I also take the __________brand juice powders and capsules.
I do want to be healthy and help others improve their health, so I am open to your honest opinion.
Also, and very important, are plant milks (i.e. almond, hemp, oat, etc). I’ve tried finding if there is any negative information out plant milks but aside from rice milk, I haven’t found any negative. Are they healthy? Thank you, thank you for your help. To your best health, NP
Dear NP: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I can’t drink to this juice product! I have serious concerns about this juice drink for anyone, but especially for someone with thyroid problems. My first concern is with the 24 mg of isoflavones per serving. A Japanese study at the Isuzuki Clinic found that just 35 mg of isoflavones per day caused thyroid suppression in healthy individuals in just three months. If you drink just one serving per day, you will come in under that 35 mg, but it is highly likely that you are getting soy isoflavones or other phytoestrogens elsewhere in your diet as well. In any case, 24 mg of isoflavones are not going to do your thyroid good! This will definitely be the case if you follow the manufacturer’s suggestion of taking the product mixed with one cup of soy milk. Isoflavone content varies from glass to glass of soymilk, depending upon the brand, the growing year, the growing conditions of the crop and other factors, but the likelihood is high that a glass of soy milk contains about 45 mg. That would push the isoflavone content up to a whopping 69 mg a day, not counting other photoestrogenic foods or products in your diet.
Boosting the thyroid (with Armour) while also depressing it (with soy isoflavones) has a strong “push me, pull me” effect that stresses the thyroid. Environmental scientist Mike Fitzpatrick PhD points out this is the classic way that researchers induce thyroid tumors in laboratory animals. The fact that soy is “natural” does not make it safe or weak. A single serving of a drink such as this has several times the goitrogenic potency of the pharmacetuical thyroid-inhibiting drugs methimazole and 6-propylthiouracel. Knowledgeable physicians now recommend taking thyroid medications separately from drinking soy milk or other products. Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women’s Bodies/ Women’s Wisdom and other books, and a longtime proponent of soy consumption, makes this recommendation.
I must also object to an unwarranted – and probably illegal – health claim on the label of the product you are taking. It says that one scoop of the product “contains 24 mg of isoflavones, regarded as essential to today’s women’s health issues.” Essential? One scoop puts a woman’s thyroid at risk, as discussed above. One scoop served in soy milk and drunk by a woman of reproductive age could alter her menstrual cycles and hormone patterns in ways indicative of infertility. One scoop would also be risky for any woman who has been diagnosed with – or has a family history of – breast cancer. The Israeli Health Ministry, French Food Agency, German Institute of Risk Assessment and Cornell University’s Center for Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors have all issued warnings against excess soy consumption for women at risk for breast cancer. As for this product helping a woman sail through menopause, the evidence on soy and menopause is inconsistent and contradictory, according to a review by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Even if soy helps with menopausal symptoms, 70 years of studies indicate a clear risk to the thyroid.
Please visit the website www.soyonlineservice.co.nz to find numerous letters from people whose thyroid problems have developed or been worsened by soy. This website also includes many abstracts of studies involving soy and the thyroid. I’d also recommend that you read my book The Whole Soy Story, particularly chapters 26 on soy isoflavones, chapter 27 on soy and the thyroid, chapter 29 on soy and the reproductive system and chapter 30 on soy and cancer.
In addition to its soy isoflavone content, I have other concerns with this product. Fructose is associated with numerous health problems. Though not as bad as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), the evidence is mounting that it is addictive and more harmful even than sugar. There is more information on this website and also on www.mercola.com.
While it is true that your product contains a high vitamin content, much of this comes from added supplements and not from the powdered vegetables and fruits. That’s to be expected given that true Vitamin A and D3 do not occur in any plant foods. In short, you are drinking a rather incomplete multi in a overpriced package loaded up with fructose and soy isoflavones. It’s hard to know why you feel better taking it. Risk is not certainty, after all. It’s possible that your diet is so low in protein that your body appreciates even inferior soy protein. Or perhaps you feel better because the soy isoflavones stimulate the thyroid initially, boosting energy short term. The problem here is this daily “whipping” is likely to lead to thyroid exhaustion and slowdown over the long term. You may also just need the vitamins and minerals because of overall nutritional deficiencies.
Since you are mainly vegetarian, I would recommend taking the “vegetarian tour” of this website. If you intend to remain vegetarian, I would strongly suggest being an ovo-lacto vegetarian and eating lots of free-range eggs and a raw dairy products for the needed fats, fat-soluble vitamins, cholesterol and high-quality protein. For more info on the safety and availability of raw dairy, visit www.realmilk.com. Sorry, but I cannot recommend rice, almond, oat or hemp milks. These highly processed products are often marketed as healthier “equivalents” of dairy milks, but only because they are propped up with cheap, poor-quality and hard-to-absorb vitamins and minerals. Better to supplement with high-quality supplements than to drink these beverages for the supplements they contain. Finally, manufacturers frequently put high levels of sugar into these drinks in order to make them palatable, leading to possible blood sugar problems. For people who cannot tolerate any form of dairy, I recommend a coconut tonic drink as described in the book Eat Fat/Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon.