Soy Protein- Miracle Food or Monster?
The great thing about Americans, is that we embrace a new idea, or a new product with gusto. We also have a bad habit of overdoing things. Eventually, we get to some kind of balance, but it’s quite a ride! We do it with food, fashion, philosophies, educational trends – you name it!
Enter soy protein. Have you ever wondered why such a heavily studied food source is so controversial? Soy is a godsend for vegetarians – it has all nine amino acids needed for protein metabolism. It is an excellent substitute for dairy allergic people. And for those who want to increase
their protein, but not increase the meat in their diet soy provides an easily digestible choice. Yet others contend that it is actually dangerous and harmful to human health. Why?
In order to better comprehend the great soy debate, understand how the scientific community works. If something is found to be good, then the next question is: can it be bad? If so, how bad? Grant money is not awarded to prove what we do know, but what is still unknown and controversial. A research scientist doesn’t advance her career confirming old data. Those that fund studies are often
looking for marketing angles. That, in and of itself is not wrong, it’s part of how money for studies is generated. Before reporter or consumer jumps to conclusions based on a study or even a couple of studies, know the background of the study and its source.
It’s also important to know, that research looks only at a single mechanism at a time. It takes numerous studies to complete a picture. Waiting 15 years for a scientific question to be answered is too long for the content hungry 24/7 news industry.
I personally believe that part of the “Soy is evil” mentality that has sporadically shown up on blogs and websites since around 2000, is the proverbial pendulum swing. As the soy benefits were being discovered, consumer demand for soy increased, and so soy went into everything! Textured vegetable protein, a heavily processed form of soy, went into a number of processed foods, even fish sticks, as a way to increase profit margins. That was clearly excessive use of soy. One’s whole diet should not be soy centric. It is bad for any diet to be focused on a particular food source or food group. That is just common sense.
A recent search of Pub Med showed 1,861 studies on soy protein alone. Some were looking for carcinogenic effects. Some used synthetic soy compounds, which is not the same natural soy molecules. Some used mice in the studies, and -surprise! Mice are not humans, and only 10% of mice studies can be directly related to humans. Hard to sensationalize the truth, isn’t it?
But the majority of studies have clearly shown that soy is beneficial as a natural hormone replacement for women, to increase bone density, build healthy cells, create a balanced lipid (cholesterol) profile, brain development, and anti-cancer and cancer prevention properties.
Shaklee published a Landmark study on its supplement users, and I know many of the study subjects and they are heavy soy protein consumers. Shaklee was an early adopter of soy and in fact, created the first soy protein isolate in 1970. Guess what?
Shaklee customers have been safely using Shaklee soy protein for 40 years. If there were any toxicity issues, it would have shown up in this population, and been revealed in the four studies Shaklee conducted on soy protein use in humans (not mice).
Some of the complaints about soy include:
1) it was an industrial crop
2) the phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens) are harmful, and may stimulate feminizing characteristics in boys
3) it is acidic, and throws the body out of balance
Here are some quick answers:
1) Peanuts were an industrial crop too, as were rape seeds which is a canola oil source. Corn is a heavily used industrial crop. That food sources also have commercial value beyond nutrition shows the incredible power of plants, not that they are necessarily “poison”!
2) Phytoestrogens are 100 times weaker than human hormones. They compete for the estrogen receptors in both men and women. This helps the body with a natural hormone balance and explains why women in Japan and other Asian nations with heavy soy diets do not experience the menopausal symptoms Western women do. Any extra phyotestrogens are easily metabolized by the body and excreted.
3) Soy is acidic. That’s why the preparation of the soy product is important, and why textured vegetable protein and other heavily processed soy foods should be avoided. Soy should be blended with calcium for that very reason. All Shaklee soy proteins are blended with calcium for balance.
I strongly recommend that if you want to incorporate soy into your diet that you use Shaklee soy products, and fermented products like miso, or tofu. Our family uses soy milk heavily since we are dairy allergic, with no ill effects. We avoid textured vegetable protein, soy cereal, and unnecessary soy substitutes.
For more information on Shaklee Soy: Click here
Please contact me with any questions or comments.