Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Soy Good, Bad...or Both?

If you do a little reading, soy is either the healthiest food in the world (and good for fertility) or the devil itself, and about as helpful for conception as taking a handful of birth control pills.

Could it possibly be that both are right?

When I wrote the article for
Natural Health on fermented foods, I noticed that most cultures eat soy as a fermented product (tempeh, miso, in Korea, doenchang). It appears fermentation helps predigest the soy and also neutralize all sorts of things that are bad for your thyroid, etc. And, not surprisingly, it's the weirdly processed soy (e.g., your soy baloney) that's the worst for you. Make sense? So now that the US is overproducing soy and pushing it on see where I'm going. Put it this way, eating unfermented soy or taking soy supplements might not be the healthiest thing to do, especially if you have thyroid disease and/or are trying to get pregnant.

From Natural News:

Perhaps the most disturbing of soy's ill effects on health has to do with its phytoestrogens, which can mimic the effects of the female hormone, oestrogen. These phytoestrogens have been found to have adverse effects on various human tissues, and
drinking only two glasses of soy milk daily for one month has enough of the chemical to alter a woman's menstrual cycle.

Soy is particularly problematic for infants and it would be very wise to avoid giving them soy-derived products, since it has been estimated that infants who are exclusively fed soy formula receive the equivalent of five birth control pills worth of oestrogen every day. Check out ( to find some alarming research and statistics on what can go wrong when infants and children are regularly fed soy formula.

In order to derive some benefit from soy, consuming only fermented soy products - such as organic miso (mugi barley and genmai miso are the best), organic tempeh, soy sauce or tamari and natto - is the way to do it. This is because the phytic acid, which is inherent in soy beans, has been neutralized in the process of fermentation. Consuming fermented soy is very beneficial in recolonizing the friendly bacteria in the large intestine, which neutralizes the 'unfriendly' bacteria and allows for greater general assimilation of foods and nutrients.

Another common fallacy is that soy foods couldn't possibly have a downside because Asian cultures eat large quantities of soy every day and consequently remain free of most western diseases. In reality, the people of China, Japan and other Asian countries eat very little soy. The soy industry's own figures show that soy consumption in China, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and Taiwan ranges from 10 to 90 grams per day. That is grams of soy food, not grams of soy protein alone. Compare this with a cup of tofu (250 grams) or soy milk (240 grams). Many Americans and Australians today would be consuming a cup of tofu and a couple of glasses of soy milk every day. They might also add veggie burgers to this, thinking they are getting their much needed protein intake. Infants on soy formula are probably the most disadvantaged, as that is their main source of nutrition and they ingest large amounts of soy relative to their body weight. Often the side effects are not noticed but, as they are growing up, runny noses, frequent colds, irritability, severe sugar cravings and food intolerance develop.

The summary below outlines the adverse effects of unfermented soy products:

* 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 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 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 textured vegetable protein.

* 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 the kidneys.
Source: (

--Teya Skae M.A., B.A.,Dip Health Sciences, Dip Clinical Nutrition

read more here.


Ferha said...

I read a couple of your posts & it was very informative. I've very recently started exploring TCM as a cure for infertility. I'm trying to alter my diet accordingly, but it's been very hard (I'm underweight & they recommend not eating the things I most enjoy eating like dairy products, wheat, etc). So yesterday I went to a gorcery store that stocks a lot of ethnic foods including Chinese/Korean, but didn't find miso or tamari. I'm not even sure what it looks like so I checked the labels of all the stuff on that aisle. Is miso found in specialty Chinese, Japanese or Korean stores?

Green Fertility Marie said...

Hi There--

Miso is Japanese as is tamari--although you can often find both in health food stores. Korean fermented soy is called doenjang.

Hope that helps and good luck!

Susan G said...

The health issues of soy have been very distorted by "experts" and in the press. Most of what we hear are partial truths. Like most foods soy, especially in traditional forms, is good in moderation. Too much of anything can be harmful.
For miso and tamari, check health food stores.

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

I'm a male, and started eating soy icecream and milk from Whole Foods. Can you tell me if the following is good or bad soy?

How can I tell if these are good or bad?

Green Fertility Marie said...


I have another post coming up on this--check it out soon.

Anonymous said...

Soy is simply toxic, but found in just about everything from tuna fish to chocolate bars.

The soy industry is so large and powerful that they have sold this idea the soy is healthy to the world when in reality; it is a toxic substance that essentially poisons your body.

It is like a rich powerful company saying, "Eating poppy seeds will cure cancer" and then putting poppy seeds in everything $$$! Think about how much money they make from this type of false advertizing.

Be very careful about what you eat, read labels... please. Do buy anything with any type of soy, for example, soybean oil… there are so many ways that they hide this poison in our food because it is cheap, very cheap for them and very toxic for us.

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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Westonaprice, the source you use for this article is hardly reliable. It's "board" consists only of dairy and meat industry farmers and their self proclaimed mission is to "prove" how healthy animal fats are for consumption. Since soy is the biggest opponent to the meat and dairy industry it's not surprising that they publish biased studies against it. Please use a source that is not financially invested in opposing soy.

Tommy said...

great article, I have been trying to research this for my own veggie blog for sometime and this was a great piece. Thanks for sharing.
- Tommy