SOY: GOOD OR BAD
So for me this is really a personal topic. I've gone through just about every diet you can think of and for a long while I got a lot of my protein from soy products. At the time I was experiencing a lot of gastrointestinal dysfunction and I just assumed it was because I increased my intake of beans and fiber and of course that may have been something to do with it however in retrospect knowing what I know now I believe it was the soy I was eating. Now, I didn't know very much about soy at the time, and unfortunately most of what I was eating was tofu. And in just a minute I'll explain why that was a grave mistake. I know, I know, we love plants right? This is Real Plant Medicine after all, what is this Blasphemy. Hang on ok? It will all make sense in a few paragraphs, I promise.
Let me back up a bit first and just say that there is an endless supply of independently published human research on the value of soy foods, and soy isoflavones. The studies go back for decades. I mean if you start researching different diseases and conditions like cancers, menopause, prostate health, heart and artery disease, you will see that soy contains isoflavones which in many cases can help and even reverse these conditions. I am taking this very seriously when I suggest that soy can reverse disease, and I encourage you to take a few moments or even a few hours and review many of the links below this article that contains this research. So is a undisputed fact, and it really should at least peak interest even skeptics. Here are a few highlights to perk your interest. The Journal of Nutrition (v 131, 2001 and v 132, 2002) stated on the value of soy isoflavones for heart and artery health, "The data suggests a protective role for dietary soy intake against CVD in post-menopausal women." The women (several hundred) with the highest intake of isoflavones had lower body mass indexes, lower body fat, smaller waists, and much lower insulin levels. High insulin leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and other illnesses. A second study from the famous Framingham Study evaluated 939 women and stated, "High intake of phytoestrogens in postmenopausal women appears to be associated with a favorable metabolic, cardiovascular risk profile." In fact, they found a massive 34% difference in CHD disease between women with low soy intake and high soy intake. I mean 34% folks, I think that is significant.
Let's also take a quick look at cholesterol and soy. There have been many studies published on the value of soy supplementation for lowering total cholesterol and LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol. Soy added to the diet also raises HDL (the good kind) cholesterol levels. All this without any change in diet or exercise. In fact, one of the benefits I found when I add soy to my own diet was a huge drop in cholesterol. My total cholesterol was about 300 and after six months of eating soy as a major protein source, my total cholesterol dropped to 180. For those no doctors reading this, such a drop would be impossible by just taking statin cholesterol lowering medication.
Still, there is a lot of the anti-soy messaging being promoted. Soy is really one hated plant but since I love all plants I decided to give it a chance. I dug deep and found a strong trail of negative propaganda that led back to the America Dairy Association (ADA). Hmmm, well I am I to assume that they are bias. I mean all those hippie, new agers, dropping cows milk for plant based soy must cut into profits a bit right? Or am I over thinking this? Interestingly one of the charges made by the ADA against soy is that it will alter hormone levels, but this is untrue soy is not a “phytoestrogen” as it is completely and totally unrelated to any kind of estrogen. Hormones only exist in animals and not plants. Soy has Isoflavones which are plant pigments, not phytoestrogens. Our estrogen receptors will not accept soy isoflavones. No one else on earth is going to tell you that there is no such thing as "phytoestrogens"... but now you know, I have done the research. More interesting is that drinking beer with hops is one of the strongest sources of feminization in men. Hops contain 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN), which binds to alpha receptors that are responsible for triggering cell growth in tissues affected. Conversely, soy binds to beta receptors that are responsible for retarding the cell growth response. In other words, soy has anti-growth effects whereas hops tell tissues to grow. This is one reason why heavy beer drinking men develop so-called man-boobs, gynecomastia. I say, very interesting, don't you think?
Now listen, all is not rainbows and sunshine for soy users. You see soy is a significant cash crop in this country and it is grown in massive amounts to feed livestock. Yup, your steak burger was raised on soy but not the friendly healthy type, no instead this is GMO (genetically modified) and grown with many nasty chemicals to produce optimal yields. Hmm, consider that the ADA is telling you not to eat or drink soy products, but it is buying these same products, the heavily poisoned, GMO version and feeding it to the animals they are selling you to eat and drink (cows milk). Now that's really screwed up isn't it? I cannot make this stuff up, it's that unbelievable.
So now here are the take aways, first make sure all your soy foods are marked “organic” or “non-GMO”, so you avoid GMO soy. Personally, I enjoy organic plain soy milk and Tempeh almost daily, and by the way, I have full blood work done twice a year, and my hormone levels are perfectly balanced, in fact, my estradiol is <5 (which is actually very low), so no man boobs in my future. Of course, I also do not drink beer... just saying. Since I started eating organic soy products my LDL cholesterol has come way down and my HDL cholesterol has gone up. This is a good thing. Also, my blood pressure has come under control without medications (I tend to run a bit hypertensive), and all my numbers show I am much more healthy. Of course, I am not eating as much red meat and other animal products because of the soy substitution so all these should be considered factors, like the fact I am drinking green tea. Still the overall vibe for soy is positive, and I am always recommending it to patients, as long as they do not have adverse reactions to it.
You see there is not one size fits all, and I acknowledge some people just don't do well on soy... or dairy, or fish or nuts. So as always, we have to make smart decisions based on our individual biochemistry, but when you hear that eating soy causes terrible illness like thyroid conditions, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, pancreatic problems, endocrine disorders, brain dysfunction, and even various cancers, well it's just not true. Many people, however, take such ravings seriously and in the process are likely throwing the baby out with the bathwater (that's a horrible saying, right?). Look, when you try to find proof of these allegations, they start to evaporate. If you actually hunt down any of these so-called "studies" and look at them in detail, you'll see most have no validity at al and are funded by people with other motives.
If you want to improve your health, you can drink organic soy milk and use it in cooking or you can just take a 40 mg isoflavone supplement capsule daily. This will benefit you in ways we haven't even discovered yet. New studies are being done all the time in clinics around the world. Soy is good stuff, science has proven it, just make sure you eat organic and fermented if possible. Remember that just about anything will be better for your health than pasteurized, non grass fed, cow's milk. Also, I don't just enjoy soy milk I also like organic coconut milk, there are lots of healthy, plant based options.
SOME SOY RESEARCH:
Phytoestrogens and Disease:
Phytoestrogens and Heart Disease:
Phytoestrogen and Kidney Disease:
High soy can result in 59% less breast cancer study: http://tinyurl.com/j8ywsra
Soy yields 13% lower LDL/Bad Cholesterol Study: http://tinyurl.com/hhf4weq
Soy and Men Hormones Study:
Meta-analysis on men, soy and phytoestrogen extracts: http://tinyurl.com/ja5s9k2
30-50% of men get manboobs:
Phytoestrogen content of various foods: http://tinyurl.com/z3kpvsw
220 women over 2 years soy study:
Meta-analysis on 47 studies no estrogen change: http://tinyurl.com/hsm6ctb
Soy Men Review/Final Quote on Soy being fine for men: http://tinyurl.com/zwddamh
Hello, I am Dr. Stephen Stokes, my patients call me Dr. Steve, and my friends call me Steve. So what can plants do for you? Well, the short answer is everything! Keep an open mind and discover what you have been missing. Please share this information with everyone you know.