Beware of “the ploy of soy”

Beware of “the ploy of soy”

There are few foods today (processed or otherwise) more prevalent, ubiquitous or mainstream-promoted than soy. It is in everything from tofu (a decidedly processed food) and soy sauce to “carb substitute” products and (tragically) even commercial infant formulas.

There are few foods today (processed or otherwise) more prevalent, ubiquitous or mainstream-promoted than soy. It is in everything from tofu (a decidedly processed food) and soy sauce to “carb […]


Wild legumes, in general, were really not consumed by our evolutionary ancestors. They are, in fact, profoundly toxic and are known by wild-edible plant experts to be inedible—plain and simple. Soy (also classified as a legume), itself, is easily the newest of all food crops in the great post-agricultural human feeding experiment. But is it really the health food the media and mainstream so-called health experts have hyped it to be?

Fasten your seatbelts….


Although soybeans were first cultivated in China during the Zhou Dynasty, roughly 1100 BC, they were initially considered wholly inedible and were instead used exclusively as a source of nitrogen fixation through plant rotation for their agricultural soils. Eventually they figured out it was possible to ferment what were otherwise regarded as toxic legumes and thus mostly neutralize their most severely harmful compounds to create what was basically a usable condiment. Soy sauce, natto and tempeh were then and are today only consumed in small quantities in China. In modern times soybeans account for little more than 1.5% of the calories consumed among the Chinese (versus 65% calories consumed from pork—Uh, so much for “The China Study”….).[i] In fact, even T. Colin Campbell’s so-called “China Study” said that the soy consumption range in China was somewhere between 0 and 58 grams per day, with a mean of about 12 grams per day[ii]. In Japan, where soy is more commonly consumed than in the West, a 1998 survey found that the average daily amount of soy protein consumed in Japan was about eight grams for men and seven for women – less than two teaspoons.[iii]

Soybeans were first planted in the US (for making soy sauce) in 1765. Prior to World War II livestock were more or less allowed to naturally graze for food in fresh air and sunshine in natural pastures. In the 1870’s a few farmers started planting soybeans in their pastures as extra forage for their cattle, but it was anything but standard practice, widely promoted or universally implemented. Shortly after World War II when the dust settled, the industrial revolution was really taking off and economic prosperity finally returned to the US; more citizens were able to afford a better quality diet and meat was again in greater demand. The newly industrialized agricultural industry saw an opportunity to get in on this gravy and began profitably cultivating soybeans for the express purpose of feeding them to beef cattle. This is where soybean farming really began to take off. Today more than 90% of soybeans grown globally are processed as feed for cattle, the vast majority of which are genetically modified (GMO).[iv]

The idea of crushing and mashing soybeans to separate them into oil and meal is apparently a relatively recent development in the decidedly brief history of soybean utilization. It wasn’t until 1907 when soybeans were crushed for their oil in the West. Atypical of legumes other than peanuts, soybeans have a roughly 18% usable oil content. The great majority of the world’s soybeans today are processed by the soybean industry to produce crude soy oil and soybean meal. The resulting oil is then degummed (to remove the lecithin) and usually refined, bleached, partially hydrogenated and deodorized to make a variety of popular (and anything but healthy) products, such as cheap salad and cooking oils, shortenings, and margarine. ALL commercial soybean oil is partially hydrogenated (and is thus a major source of trans fats) as part of their deodorization process. Both hydrogenated soybean and canola oils have become the new dirt-cheap standard for the processed food industry, fast food chains and other low-end restaurants—at the considerable cost of consumer health.

Back in the 1970’s the fat-cats at the American Soybean Association, patting themselves on the backs no doubt for newly dominating the livestock feed industry and fast-food markets were realizing that there was still room for yet more profits. The problem was that most Americans didn’t really eat much soy (other than soybean oil). Let’s face it, tofu tastes like cardboard curd, tempeh tastes like old dried paint and natto tastes like putrid slime. Soy sauce was doing “OK”… but hmmm….how do we convince everyone to eat more of what makes us money? “Hey!” (they said to themselves) “Why not pay for a few well placed studies and market this tasteless crap to yuppies as a health food?!!!!” Suddenly—following an utterly brilliant PR campaign– soy’s image shifted from its well-deserved marginalization into a whole new place in the spotlight as everyone’s favorite health food (whether they actually liked it or not). It was promoted as the world’s answer to hunger and every vegetarian’s secret newfound hope for genuine artificial meat substitutes.

According to the Soyfoods Association of North America, soy food sales exploded from $300 million dollars per year to over $4.5 billion in 2013—practically overnight! Furthermore, according to the survey, “Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition”[v] (by the United Soybean Board):

  • 74% of consumers seek out soy foods because they believe they are healthful
  • Soy consumption has increased 9% between 2010 and 2014 and is rising 5% per year
  • 31 percent of Americans eat soy foods or beverages at least once a week
  • 77 percent of consumers believe soybean oil is good for them (down from 84% in 2009…at least a few folks seem to be waking up)
  • 94 percent of consumers seemingly “agreed” with the FDA’s (owned by Big Agribusiness and the Biotech Industry producing GMO’s) dubious claim in 2009 that consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily reduces your risk of heart disease (but today only 76% of those even believing this are likely to eat it)

Two FDA scientists, Daniel M. Sheehan, PhD and Daniel R. Doerge, PhD wrote a formal letter of protest to the FDA in 1998 regarding this “heart healthy soy” claim stating,

We oppose this health claim because there is abundant evidence that some of the isoflavones found in soy, including genistein and equol, a metabolize of daidzen, demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid. This is true for a number of species, including humans.” (Sheehan, Doerge, 1998).

In the same (publicly available) letter they also stated emphatically that Our conclusions are that no dose is without risk; the extent of risk is simply a function of dose. These two features support and extend the conclusion that it is inappropriate to allow health claims for soy protein isolate.” (emphasis THEIRS)


The emergence of the Biotech Industry generated a new and even darker chapter for the already shady soybean. GMO soybeans (and other GMO crops) were commercially introduced in 1996 and have since taken the relentless Big Agribusiness behemoth and consumer market by storm, to the potential detriment of every living thing on earth. According to the ISAAA, an international organization that supports crop biotechnology, biotech crops have increased 100-fold, from 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) in 1996, to 170 million hectares (420 million acres) in 2012. These 170 million hectares mean that GMO crops now occupy over 10% of the world’s arable land.[vi]  Pressure is now aggressively underway (and Industry-influenced agricultural university classes) to promote the acceptance and implementation of GMO crops in New Zealand—a nation that has thus far attempted to resist this Industry pressure). Banned in over 65 countries due to more than legitimate concerns over human safety and environmental concerns, this industrial, multinational cockroach persists in its pursuit of world domination, even as most human beings would (according to numerous surveys) avoid their products if given a clear choice through clear labeling—which is why the Industry fights so vehemently and unrelentingly against every GMO labeling law ever introduced and pumps millions upon millions of dollars into their defeat at every turn. A new bill introduced into US Congress (HR 1599)—what could be Monsanto’s ultimate dream bill– would allow big corporations that make and use GMOs to continue to hide them from consumers, keeping Americans in the dark about what is in their food.  They literally re seeking to make mandatory labeling laws (clearly identifying GMO’s in food products) ILLEGAL. In fact, some are calling this bill the DARK, or the Denying Americans the Right to Know, Act.   The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an industry group that represents corporations like Monsanto, Nestlé and Dow, has been working with allies in Congress to get this bill re-introduced in the current Congress, after failing to pass it last year. Monsanto’s goal is to force every living person on earth to accept GMO foods—even against their will—and control/completely dominate food production worldwide using unproven and dangerous genetic manipulation practices and saturating our food and the land with known carcinogenic and immune-dysregulating chemicals. But I digress…

In the US, livestock has been fed genetically engineered crops since these crops were first introduced in the late 1990’s and each of the top 6 GMO crops (soy, cotton, corn, canola, sugar beet, and alfalfa) are heavily utilized by the US and global animal feed market. The number one source of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest today is the planting of genetically modified (GMO) soybean crops for animal feed.   –Yet more of many, many reasons to avoid eating any form of beef that isn’t 100% pasture fed and finished!

GMO or non-GMO, however, soy has proven again and again through independent research to be anything BUT a heath food (for humans OR cattle).

The following bullet points are borrowed from the Weston A. Price Foundation Web site (and additional points from my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind):

High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children. (Also, soy contains the highest levels of phytic acid of any grain or legume)

  • Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals, soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth
  •  Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women
  • Soy phytoestrogens are potent anti-thyroid agents (goitrogens) that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for vitamin B12
  • Soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D
  • Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic
lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines
  • Free glutamic acid, or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts 
are added to many soy foods
  • Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum, which is toxic 
to the nervous system and kidneys
  • Recent studies suggest a link between soy consumption 
and kidney stones. 
Additional concerns (as if all that wasn’t bad enough): 
Soy has never been given the Generally Recognized as Safe status (GRAS) by the FDA.


Soy is a phyto-endocrine disrupter, inhibiting the thyroid enzyme, thyroid peroxidase, necessary for the synthesis of the hormones T3 and T4. Effects include autoimmune thyroiditis[vii],[viii] and hypothyroidism involving obesity, dry skin and hair, low blood pressure, slow pulse, depressed muscular activity, intolerance to cold, goiter, and sluggishness of all physiological functions.

Grain- and legume-based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries[ix],[x],[xi] and although these foods do contain calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, the phytates contained within them prevent their absorption. Soy contains among the highest level of phytic acid of any grain or legume studied[xii] and this is not neutralized through common phytate-reducing techniques such as roasting or slow cooking[xiii].

Soy foods can generate severe zinc deficiencies. Zinc is a key component in blood sugar control, reproduction, numerous vital enzymes, it is essential to a healthy digestive process, in mood management and cognitive function (and the overall health of the brain and nervous system), is needed for collagen formation, and it plays a vital role in the immune system. Phytates found in soy products interfere with zinc absorption in a more pronounced way than with other minerals[xiv]. In fact, vegetarians who consume tofu and bean curd as a substitute for meat and dairy products risk severe mineral deficiencies, but particularly zinc.

Soy contains powerful trypsin inhibitors. Diets high in trypsin inhibitors may cause enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.[xv]

Soy is highly estrogenic. Eating estrogenic foods may increase that risk for estrogen-dependent cancers. In 1996, researchers found that women consuming soy protein isolate had an increased incidence of epithelial hyperplasia, a condition that presages malignancies.[xvi] In 1997, a research study showed that consumption of genistein, a soy isoflavone, caused breast cells to enter into the malignant cell cycle.[xvii]

Soy is known to alter the menstrual cycle length[xviii].

Continued still . . . believe it or not

Estrogens are known to be able to pass through the placenta. “Development is the most sensitive stage to estrogen toxicity because of the indisputable evidence of a wide variety of frank malformations and serious functional deficits in experimental animals and humans”[xix].

Genestein (an isoflavone found in soy) causes alterations in leutinizing hormone regulation, which may cause abnormal brain and reproductive tract development[xx].

When exposed to estrogen, 50% of human female offspring displayed one or more malformations in their reproductive tract (Sheehan, Doerge, 1998).

Babies on soy infant formula have estradiol levels 13,000–22,000 times higher than babies on milk-based infant formula. “Infants exclusively fed soy infant formula receive the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills a day[xxi].

In male infants, the estrogenic effects of soy interrupt the testosterone surge that occurs in the first few months when testosterone levels can be as high as an adult male. Interruption may cause inhibition of male characteristics and sexual organs[xxii].

In female infants, the estrogenic effects of soy may speed the rate of maturation. Girls enter puberty earlier than normal: 1% show signs of maturation, including pubic hair and breast development, before the age of three; 14.7% of Caucasian and 50% African American by age eight. Dietary estrogens have been linked as a possible cause of this early development[xxiii].

Soy consumption causes decreased testosterone levels in men. Buddhist monks ate tofu to reduce libido. (Of course, there’s always Viagra . . .)

Soy consumption has been clearly linked to higher risk of vascular dementia, or Alzheimer’s, in men[xxiv],[xxv]. The isoflavones of soy inhibit the enzyme conversion of testosterone to estradiol via the aromatase enzyme necessary for male brain function and maintenance[xxvi].

Soy is not a complete protein. Like all legumes, it lacks the sulfur containing amino acids cysteine and methionine. Lysine, essential for brain development and maintenance, is denatured during processing.

Still more bad news . . .

Soybeans contain haemagglutinins, a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together.

Soy protein isolate (SPI), the main ingredient in most imitation meat and dairy products, goes through rigorous processing to remove inherent “anti-nutrients.” Soybeans are first mixed with an alkaline solution to eliminate fiber then separated using an acid wash and finally neutralized in an alkaline solution. The precipitated curd is spray dried at high temperatures to produce a high protein powder. To make texturized vegetable protein (TVP), this product is further extruded under high temperature and high pressure, creating carcinogenic nitrates from the denaturation of the original protein structure. Often, flavorings containing MSG, a powerful neurotoxin, are added under the guise of “natural flavors.”

The only comparatively “safer” soy includes its fermented forms of miso, natto and tempeh. Fermentation—and fermentation only— largely neutralizes trypsin inhibitors and phytic acid. Goitrogens or thyroid inhibitors, however, remain intact even following fermentation, so care must be taken to not over-consume even these soy foods.

What about the soy industry claims that soy somehow protects against cancer?

According to a vitamin company brochure, “In addition to protecting the heart, soy has demonstrated powerful anticancer benefits… the Japanese, who eat 30 times as much soy as North Americans, have a lower incidence of cancers of the breast, uterus and prostate.”[xxvii]

Ummmmm…yeah, except that the Japanese, and Asians in general, also have soaring rates of cancer of the stomach, pancreas, liver and esophagus[xxviii]; in addition to much more thyroid cancer[xxix]—many of which have been demonstrated to have an association with soy foods in research studies. I’m just saying.

Still got a hankering for some tofu?

Check out the following studies, many noting the outright toxicity of soy in the US Food and Drug Administration’s Poisonous Plant Database: http://www.westonaprice.org/wp-content/uploads/FDASoyReferences.pdf


Studies Showing Adverse Effects of Dietary Soy, 1939-2014:


Studies Showing Adverse Effects of Isoflavones, 1950-2013:


Finally, consider the true colors of those attempting to destroy the lives and reputations of Paleo Way Bubba Yum Yum authors promoting the ancient, time-tested and proven benefits of whole, natural, nutrient dense foods (including liver—quite possibly the ultimate health food). Compare the evidence to the questionable (and complicit) silence of the same self-righteous, sensationalizing and outright belligerent so-called health “authorities” in the face of extensive scientific research clearly showing the far more concerning—even terrifying long-range effects of soy in commercial infant formulas: http://fetaltoxic.blogspot.com.au/

Still think soy is a health food for ANYONE, including babies?

Guess again.

[i] Chang, K. C. ed. (1977). Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

[ii] Campbell, Colin T. et al., The Cornell Project in China.

[iii] Nagata, C. et al., Journal of Nutrition (1998) 128:209-213.

[iv] Brown, L., 1999. The United States and China, the Soybean Connection. Worldwatch Institute, November 9, 1999.

[v] http://www.soyfoods.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/ConsumerAttitudes2009.pdf


[vii] Divi RL, et al. 1997. “Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean: isolation, characterization, and mechanisms of action.” Biochemical Pharmacology. Nov 15. 54:10, 1087–96.

[viii] Divi RL, et al. 1996. “Inhibition of thyroid peroxidase by dietary flavonoids.” Chem Res Toxicol. Jan–Feb; 9 (1): 16–23.

[ix] Van Rensburg et al., “Nutritional status of African populations predisposed to esophageal cancer”, Nutrition and Cancer, vol. 4, 1983, pp. 206-216

[x] Moser, P.B. et al., “Copper, iron, zinc and selenium dietary intake and status of Nepalese lactating women and their breastfed infants”, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 47:729-734, April 1988

[xi] Harland, B.F. et al., “Nutritional status and phytate: zinc and phytate X calcium: zinc dietary molar ratios of lacto-ovovegetarian Trappist monks: 10 years later”, Journal of the American Dietetic Association 88:1562-1566, December 1988

[xii] El Tiney, A.H., “Proximate Composition and Mineral and Phytate Contents of Legumes Grown in Sudan”, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis (1989) 2:6778.

[xiii] Ologhobo, A.D. et al., “Distribution of phosphorus and phytate in some Nigerian varieties of legumes and some effects of processing”, Journal of Food Science 49(1):199-201, January/February 1984.

[xiv] Leviton, Richard, Tofu, Tempeh, Miso and Other Soyfoods: The ‘Food of the Future’ – How to Enjoy Its Spectacular Health Benefits, Keats Publishing, Inc., New Canaan, CT, USA, 1982, p. 1415.

[xv] Rackis, Joseph J. et al., “The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, objectives and procedural details”, Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985.

[xvi] Petrakis, N.L. et al., “Stimulatory influence of soy protein isolate on breast secretion in pre- and post-menopausal women”, Cancer Epid. Bio. Prev. (1996) 5:785-794.

[xvii] Dees, C. et al., “Dietary estrogens stimulate human breast cells to enter the cell cycle”, Environmental Health Perspectives (1997) 105(Suppl. 3):633-636.

[xviii] Cassidy, A, Bingham, S, and Setchell, KDR. Biological effects of soy protein rich in isoflavones on the menstrual cycle of premenopausal women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 60, 333- 340, 1994.

[xix] Sheehan, Daniel M., and Daniel R. Doerge. 1998. “FDA Scientists Protest SoyApproval.” Letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding opposition to health claims for soy products, fully referenced.

[xx] Faber, K. A., and C. L. Hughes. 1991. “The Effect Of Neonatal Exposure To Diethylstylbestrol, Genistein, and Zearalenone on Pituitary Responsiveness and Sexually Dimorphic Nucleus Volume In the Castrated Adult Rat.” Biology of Reproduction 45: 649–53.

[xxi] Irvine, CHG, Fitzpatrick, MG, and Alexander, SL. Phytoestrogens in soy-based infant foods: Concentrations, daily intake, and possible biological effects. Proc. Sot. Exp. Biol. Med. 217,247-253, 1998.

[xxii] Ross, R. K., et al., May 15, 1983. “Effect of In-Utero Exposure to Diethylstilbestrol on Age at Onset of Puberty and on Post Pubertal Hormone Levels in Boys.”Canadian Medical Association Journal 128, no. 10: 1197–98.

[xxiii] Herman-Giddens, M. E., et al. April 1997. “Secondary Sexual Characteristics and Menses in Young Girls Seen in Office Practice: A Study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network.” Pediatrics 99, no. 4: 505–12.

[xxiv] White, L, Petrovitch, H, Ross, GW, and Masaki. Association of mid-life consumption of tofu with late life cognitive impairment and dementia: The Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. The Neurobiol. of Aging, 17 (suppl 4), S 121, 1996a.

[xxv] White, L, Petrovich, H, Ross, GW, Masaki, KH, Abbot, RD, Teng, EL, Rodriguez, BL, Blanchette, PL, Havlik, RJ, Wergowske, G, Chiu, D, Foley, DJ, Murdaugh, C, and Curb, JD. Prevalence of dementia in older Japanese-American men in Hawaii, JAMA 276, 955-960, 1996b.

[xxvi] Irvine, CHG, Fitzpatrick, MG, and Alexander, SL. Phytoestrogens in soy-based infant foods: Concentrations, daily intake, and possible biological effects. Proc. Sot. Exp. Biol. Med. 217,247-253, 1998.

[xxvii] Natural Medicine News (L & H Vitamins, 32-33 47th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101), USA, January/February 2000, p. 8.

[xxviii] Harras, Angela (ed.), Cancer Rates and Risks, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1996, 4th edition.

[xxix] Searle, Charles E. (ed.), Chemical Carcinogens, ACS Monograph 173, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 1976.

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