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There is a great deal of misinformation being spread about soy. It should be known that most of the anti-soy stories can be linked to two extremely powerful, wealthy and influential groups in the United States.
The first group is the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF). WAPF claims to be dedicated to promoting “good” nutrition by restoring nutrient-dense animal products to the diet. It claims that saturated animal fat is essential for good health, which is contrary to a large body of scientific research proving that a plant based diet is the way to achieve optimal health and soy is a part of that healthy diet. Therefore, the WAPF have a vested interest in making people believe that soy is an unhealthy food. The WAPF has deep pockets and that is one of the reasons they have been able to spread the anti-soy message so effectively.
Secondly, the dairy industry is a prominent group in the propagation of soy misnomers. The dairy industry is very profitable because of the widespread and long-standing myth that “milk” and/or dairy in any form is some sort of miracle health food conducive to good health, strong bones and the coolness of a milk mustache made popular by ads featuring celebrities. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth and that truth is progressively becoming public knowledge correlating to people’s desire to get more informed about the food they eat. Thus, with the said desire to become more informed and all the truthful information about food/dairy that has been hiding in the closet for years, and now out in the light, people are starting to consider alternatives that are plant-based, including soy foods. With these new developments, the dairy industry’s historically sound profits are being challenged, giving them large reason and interest to sway people away from soy foods.
The Dairy Bureau spends hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising to tell people that cows milk is superior to soymilk. According to The Bureau, “unfortified soy beverages contain only half of the phosphorus, 40% of the riboflavin, 10% of the vitamin A and 3% of the calcium in a serving of cow’s milk. However, consider the following:
*Most people who are consuming the standard American Diet of meat and dairy are eating entirely too much phosphorus, which causes the de-calcification of the bones. Therefore, less consumption of phosphorus is an advantage.
*As for the issue of 40% of the riboflavin. Riboflavin is found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains. So when people eat a healthy diet, this is not an issue. For example, one teaspoon of nutritional yeast contains as much riboflavin as an entire quart of cow’s milk.
*Consuming a healthy diet will get you plenty of vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is rare in North Americans who eat a plant-based diet. Cow’s milk is fortified, which is the reason it high in vitamin A.
*3% of the calcium is a misrepresentation. Many brands of soymilk provide just as much calcium as cow’s milk. Edensoy provides 67%.
However, the dairy industry fails to mention the following:
*Cow’s milk is 9 times higher in saturated fat than soy.
*Soy beverages provide more than 10 times the essential fatty acids as dairy milk.
*Soy beverages are cholesterol free, while dairy milk elevates both.
*Soy beverages lower total and LDL cholesterol, while dairy milk elevates both.
*Soymilk contains phytochemicals (naturally occurring chemical compounds in plants) that may be protective against chronic diseases and there are no phytochemicals in dairy.
One of the claims of the anti-soy crusaders makes is that soy increases the risk of cancer. Their argument for this is that soy has ‘estrogenic’ qualities and may increase the risk of various hormone-related conditions including cancer. In order to understand why many still continue to cite that soy is not a health food/ ‘bad’ for you, one must first understand the difference between the hormone, human estrogen, and phytoestrogens. Human estrogen is a hormone, that in excess, is potent to the body. Thus, excess estrogen can potentially cause cancer. Human estrogen is NOT found in soy. However, what is found in soy, are phytoestrogens. Confusion often arises about the “estrogenic” qualities of soy because human estrogen and phytoestrogens are structurally similar. It is vital to understand that their mere structural similarity is very beneficial to health because of phytoestrogen’s ability to bind to cells in the body, effectively blocking the more potent activity of human estrogen. Progressively so, phytoestrogens (found in soy), are being found to have a plethora of health benefits including, but not limited to: preventing breast cancer, lowering LDL cholesterol, reducing menopausal symptoms, and enhancing vascular function.
Another false claim made by the anti-soy folks is that “a infant fed exclusively soy formulas, receives the estrogenic equivalent of at least 5 birth control pills per day.” Again there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support this. There have been no scientific data or reports of hormonal abnormalities in people who were fed soy formula as infants. I feel I should mention that it is still recommended that babies be breastfed over formula. However, when breastfeeding is not an option, organic soy formula is the next best alternative.
Furthermore, there are questions about people believing soy to be a highly allergenic food. I believe that it is not soy that people are allergic to, but genetically modified soy. The solution is that people should only consume organic soy products, as these products have not been genetically modified in any way. In fact, organic soybeans contain a broad range of valuable nutrients and are an excellent source of protein. Scientific evidence shows that soy protein lowers cholesterol and protects against cardiovascular disease. Soy foods have also been shown to protect against diabetes, menopausal hot flashes and certain cancers. There is solid scientific evidence that eating soy foods in adolescence and in adulthood can even lower the risk of breast cancer. There are a number of peer-reviewed scientific studies showing the positive benefits of consuming soy.
Ultimately, I will continue to consume organic soy foods as they benefit my own health, and will keep recommending them to my clients as part of a healthy plant based diet.
Lastly, remember to look for the scientific evidence when you hear the anti-soy crusaders telling you to avoid soy. Likely, you will find someone with a hidden agenda and no scientific proof to support their claims.