Avoid Soy for Thyroid Health

by Ann Marie Michaels on January 30, 2009

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Everybody’s eating soy these days. Soy is a not good for you for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that soy depresses thyroid function.

Soy products increase the risk of thyroid disease. Source

For adults, just 30 mg of soy isoflavones per day is the amount found to have a negative impact on thyroid function. This amount of soy isoflavones is found in just 5-8 ounces of soy milk, or 1.5 ounces of miso. Source

30 mg of isoflavones daily will depress thyroid function in an adult. What about a child? If I had to guess, I’d say half that amount — 15 mg of isoflavones per day. According to the Soy Online Service, for infants, any soy is too much.

I worry about vegans the most, because they eat copious amounts of soy. Just look at this list of 101 vegan meals — over half of them are made with soy.

Read more about the dangers of soy on the Soundness of Body & Mind blog.

ISOFLAVONES IN OUR FOOD
Bread with added soy flour, 2 slices 4 mg
Meatless chicken nuggets, 1/2 cup 15 mg
Soy hot dog 15 mg
Soymilk, 8-ounce glass 20 mg
Green soybeans, raw, 1/2 cup 20 mg
Miso, 1/4 cup 21 mg
Tofu, 1/2 cup 28 mg
Soy cheese, 1/2 cup 31 mg
Tempeh, cooked, 1/2 cup 53 mg
Soybean chips , 1/2 cup 54 mg
Mature soybeans, cooked, 1/2 cup 55 mg
Dry roasted soybeans , 1/2 cup 128 mg
Revival soy-based meal replacement, 1 serving 160 mg Source

OK, you say, I’m not a vegetarian and I don’t drink soy milk, nor do I feed it to my kids. So I’m probably OK, right?

Wrong.

What’s scary about this is how ubiquitous soy is. It’s really hard to avoid it since it’s in almost everything. No wonder Americans are getting so fat. It’s the thyroid that controls our metabolism.

Many restaurant foods contain soy. Almost all restaurants fry their foods in soybean oil. Mayonnaise, salad dressings, and anything fried — including French fries — are the worst.

And almost all packaged foods contain soy. Take a look at some of the following popular packaged foods. Every single one of them contains soy.

Wheat Thins Ingredients: Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid), soybean oil, whole grain wheat four, sugar, defatted wheat germ, cornstarch, malt syrup (from barley and corn), high fructose corn syrup, monoglycerides, salt, vegetable color (annatto extract, turmeric oleoresin), soy lecithin.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Ingredients: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Wheat Flour, Salt, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola and/or Soybean), Flavoring, Ascorbic Acid, and Citric Acid.

Doritos Nacho Cheesier Tortilla Chips Ingredients: Whole Corn, Vegetable Oil (Contains One or More of the Following: Corn, Soybean and/or Sunflower Oil), Salt, Cheddar Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Maltodextrin, Wheat Flour, Whey, Monosodium Glutamate, Buttermilk Solids, Romano Cheese from Cow’s Milk (Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Whey Protein Concentrate, Onion Powder, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Corn Flour, Disodium Phosphate, Lactose, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Dextrose, Tomato Powder, Spices, Lactic Acid, Artificial Color (Including Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40), Citric Acid, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Red and Green Bell Pepper Powder, Sodium Caseinate, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Nonfat Milk Solids, Whey Protein Isolate, and Corn Syrup Solids.

Similac Infant Formula Ingredients: Nonfat Milk, Lactose, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Soy Oil, Coconut Oil, Galacto-Oligosaccharides – GOS – Sourced from Milk, Whey Protein Concentrate, C. Cohnii Oil – DHA – Source of Docosahexaenoic Acid, M. Alpina Oil – ARA – Source of Arachidonic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Choline Bitartrate, Choline Chloride, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Sodium Chloride, M-Inositol, Zinc Sulfate, Mixed Tocopherols, D-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Palmitate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Manganese Sulfate, Phylloquinone, Biotin, Sodium Selenate, Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalamin, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate, Potassium Hydroxide, Nucleotides, Adenosine 5′-Monophosphate, Cytidine 5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine 5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5′-Monophosphate.

Kirkwood Chicken Nuggets Ingredients: Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Bleached Wheat Flour, Enriched Bleached and Unbleached Wheat Flour (Enriched with Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Textured Soy Protein Concentrate, Contains 2% or Less of Salt, Modified Food Starch, Dextrose, Spice, Wheat Flour, Sodium Phosphates, Yellow Corn Flour, Soybean Oil, Wheat Gluten, Yeast, Extractives of Paprika, Dried Egg Whites, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Dried Whey, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein.

Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise Ingredients: Soybean Oil, Water, Whole Eggs and Egg Yolks, Vinegar, Salt, Sugar, Lemon Juice, Natural Flavors, Calcium Disodium EDTA (Used to Protect Quality).

Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing Ingredients: Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil, Water, Red Wine, Vinegar, Onion, Spices, Salt, Garlic, Lemon Juice, and Distilled Vinegar.

Photo credit: Morgan Tepsic
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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Colleen/FoodieTots January 30, 2009 at 10:36 AM

Thanks, I’ve been meaning to do more research on soy. Of course my toddler loves tofu and I just assumed it (non-GMO, organic) was healthy. Sigh.

Colleen/FoodieTots’s last blog post..Recipe Swap Sunday

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CharityGrace January 30, 2009 at 10:46 AM

I’ve worked to cut most soy out of our family diet. Is any one element of soy more damaging than another? Is soy protein harder on the thyroid than soy oil, for example? Or is it equally bad?

CharityGrace’s last blog post..Excuse the Mess

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cheeseslave January 30, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Colleen –

I used to think so, too. After all, that’s what we’re told!

I know a lot of vegetarians/vegans who eat a lot of soy and drink soy milk and so many of them are infertile and/or have PCOS, plus other problems like irritable bowel syndrome (soy is very hard on the digestive tract).

There are lots of other problems with eating soy in addition to the isoflavones.

Soy also has high levels of phytic acid which actually blocks assimilation of minerals!

Here’s a quick summary of reasons not to eat soy:

http://www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/03summary.htm

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cheeseslave January 30, 2009 at 11:15 AM

CharityGrace,

It’s the isoflavones or phytoestrogens in soy that inhibit thyroid function. I am not sure how much isoflavones there is in soybean oil compared to soy protein.

It’s best to avoid all soy — with the exception of small amounts of naturally fermented soy sauce eaten on occasion. You can eat more fermented soy IF you are eating a diet very high in iodine, like the traditional Japanese diet. They eat a ton of miso soup (made with bonito and seaweed, both loaded with iodine).

Of course no one is perfect and we eat fries and salad dressings with soybean oil from time to time. But we do our best to avoid it as much as possible.

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mutritious nuffins January 30, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Thank you so much for talking about this soy stuff. I have thyroid issues and it probably has to do with all the LUNA bars I ate during my weightloss! I was also tested and found out I am allergic to soy :) no soy for me, no soy for me anyways!

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Princess Edamame January 30, 2009 at 3:40 PM

Ok – I had heard that soy products = bad, but “natural” soy (the beans, like in edamame) was not bad, as it’s the processing that gets you. Anyone know? LIke really know?

Princess Edamame’s last blog post..Annual Fourth of July Party is On its Way!!

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Jenny January 30, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Excellent post. I was vegetarian and even vegan for a while and I’m convinced it contributed to both thyroid disease and pcos. Traditional foods seem to have helped with the thyroid condition, and, to a lesser extent, with mitigating PCOS. I still consume small amounts of fermented soy on rare occasions (I love me some miso soup!).

Jenny’s last blog post..An Open Letter to the Corn Refiners Association & Associated PR Guys

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cheeseslave January 30, 2009 at 4:06 PM

The only kind of soy that is safe to eat is naturally fermented soy.

Soy, like other beans, and like grains and nuts and seeds, is very high in phytic acid — so it blocks mineral absorption.

So it’s OK to eat a little naturally fermented soy sauce (I like the Eden brand). Soy sauce needs to be fermented for 1-3 years! Not all soy sauces are properly fermented.

Also you don’t want to eat much of it due to the phytoestrogens. If you eat a diet very high in iodine (like you eat tons of seaweed and fish head stock like the Japanese) then it is OK to eat some but only in moderation.

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Stacey January 30, 2009 at 9:09 PM

Soy is pretty evil. I’m allergic to soy, and my daughter is allergic to dairy, but I gave her soy milk for the longest time because I thought it was the best choice. I’m pretty certain that it aggravated some bowel issues with her, and the heavy amounts of estrogen are horrible even for women.

Stacey’s last blog post..Aiding the Digestion of Beans

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Kristin January 31, 2009 at 5:28 AM

Excellent post. I keep telling folks this but they seem not to believe it. And so, they suffer.

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Amy January 31, 2009 at 8:13 AM

Ha! I wonder if the soy lobby will come and leave you a message like the HFCS PR people…

Amy’s last blog post..Contests and Pay It Forward

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Carla January 31, 2009 at 9:15 PM

Thank you for spread the word about soy.

A good friend of mine who was a long time vegan had to give it up after suffering a very large and painful ovarian cyst. Her MEDICAL DOCTOR suspected it was her daily soy intake that caused it and told her to lay off.

I stopped eating soy a few years ago after I learned that it raises estrogen levels. I am estrogen dominate along with PCOS (that’s in remission via diet and lifestyle) and avoid soy and products with soy as much as possible.

Carla’s last blog post..Free Shipping Through February 1st

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Carla January 31, 2009 at 9:17 PM

By the way, I like the Eden brand tamari (wheat free soy sauce) as well.

Carla’s last blog post..Free Shipping Through February 1st

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Steph February 1, 2009 at 5:49 AM

Most of the products at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, & other health stores have soy lecithin & soybean oil in them as well!

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Paula February 1, 2009 at 8:44 AM

I drank a lot of soy during my first pregnancy and while I was breastfeeding. And we gave my daughter soy when she weaned from the breast (I made my own homemade formula with soy milk as the base). She was 2 years old when I read this article:
http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/index.php?id=83&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=111&tx_ttnews%5BbackPID%5D=3

I had to agree with it. I had noticed that she was very irritable and angry a lot. I also noticed she started developing breasts. SHE WAS TWO! We cut out soy, and as her body grew, the breast development was not as noticeable. But now she is nine years old and her breasts are starting to grow. I cannot help but wonder if she had not had so much soy in her younger years, if there might be a few more years before she started developing. :(

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Vehement Flame February 1, 2009 at 12:44 PM

This is such an excellent and informative post- I have already started emailing the link- I had a friend on the phone while I was reading it- she was pulling things out of her fridge with surprise! We don’t eat hardly any packaged goods but I will be double checking everything for the hidden soy- I looveee Eden foods- that is the shoyu sauce I use. I will confess I like edamame- although I rarely buy them and if I do they are organic…Thanks for spreading the word

Vehement Flame’s last blog post..Winters Washing

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Diana Hsieh February 1, 2009 at 1:20 PM

I eat very little in the way of processed foods, and I avoid soy for the kinds of health concerns discussed in this post and the comments.

However, as I’ve read some labels over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that soy seems to be in almost every manufactured food. If a person eats processed foods, avoiding soy is about as easy as avoiding manufactured goods from China — i.e. it’s impossible.

It’s another complaint that I have about the “Zone” diet: it encourages the eating of soy, in part because it’s anti-fat, particularly anti-animal-fats. I never ate so much soy as when I was on the Zone.

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Heidi / Savory Tv February 1, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Excellent post, I just gave you a stumble. As a foodie and medical professional, I too am very concerned about the negative, or unknown, effects of soy. In addition to thyroid function depression, the fact that soy “may” contribute to estrogenic tumors is very concerning. Thank you for putting the word out.

Heidi / Savory Tv’s last blog post..One Pot Wonders, Beef and Stout Stew

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Anna February 2, 2009 at 8:28 AM

Hey AM,

As you know, I’m on gluten free now…and I suspect a milk allergy as well (go into that on my blog.) Anyhow…since soy is a no-no…

What the heck do I eat for breakfasts?!? I am stumped, majorly.

Maybe I should pose the question over on the forum…

Anna

Anna’s last blog post..Hair Pretties for Big Girls

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cheeseslave February 2, 2009 at 8:51 AM

Hi, Anna!

What soy do you eat for breakfast anyway? I can’t think of any soy breakfast things. Am I just being dense?

We eat eggs almost every single morning. Sometimes w/ bacon or sausage, sometimes with onion, avocado, salsa… and so on. If you can’t use butter due to dairy allergy, you can fry eggs in lard, bacon grease, tallow, coconut oil, or duck or chicken fat. It’s all good! Also, most people find that they can tolerate ghee — however try going off all dairy for a few weeks before you introduce it — to be sure.

Other faves include coconut flour pancakes & waffles, coconut flour muffins, smoothies with raw pastured eggs and coconut oil or cream, sweetened w/ honey (if you have a dairy allergy you can use coconut milk instead of milk or kefir).

We also do oatmeal sometimes (when I remember to soak it) with butter and cream. If you can’t do dairy, you can use coconut oil and coconut milk.

Another thing I like is fermented coconut cream with fruit — and usually bacon or eggs.

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cheeseslave February 2, 2009 at 8:52 AM

Congrats on going gluten-free by the way. I can’t wait to see how you do. Are you on Biokult? Are you drinking a lot of bone broth?

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Carla February 2, 2009 at 8:58 AM

@Cheeseslave – Just a guess but I think Anna may have meant soy milk (for cereal, coffee, etc).

@Anna – I’m gluten, soy, dairy (and sugar) free too. For breakfast, I load up on protein: hard boiled eggs (faster to make), leftover salmon, fermented veggies and so on. If I’m dying for “milk”, I make almond milk.

Carla’s last blog post..Free Shipping Through February 1st

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cheeseslave February 2, 2009 at 9:19 AM

Oh, right — soy milk.

When I was dairy free I made almond milk. It’s not that hard. And there’s coconut milk.

I don’t know of any healthy cereals. Other than oatmeal or porridge. All extruded cereals should be avoided.

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Carla February 2, 2009 at 9:33 AM

Then again, if Anna is gluten free, what type of cereal is there? There is “RAW” granola that is gluten-free, but I cant think of anything else.

Carla’s last blog post..Free Shipping Through February 1st

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cheeseslave February 2, 2009 at 9:47 AM

Aren’t there some oatmeals that are considered gluten-free?

Oh and how about buckwheat?

This looks pretty darn good:

http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2007/10/b-c.html

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Carla February 2, 2009 at 9:58 AM

I havent found any GF oatmeal. I react worse to oatmeal than regular wheat for some reason. Thanks for the link!

Carla’s last blog post..I am not drunk…

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Paula February 2, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Yes, there are GF oats!! :) Our local gluten free bakery carries them as well as our local health food store. You can also order them online from most any GF store! :) I will warn you, they are PRICEY! :(

Paula’s last blog post..Fireproofing MY Marriage

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Anna February 2, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Thanks for the tips, everyone! I’ve been meaning to make some Coconut milk tonic for a while…time to just DO IT. I was using soy milk to make hot rice cereal.

Hubby positively hates anything to do with coconut. Since he isn’t under the gluten ban, I let him feed himself most mornings. Hot buckwheat cereal was not a success. As hubby put it, “…tasted like gravel mixed with paste.”

Our goat milk lady liquidated (no pun) her flock this past fall because her hip gave out. Now I am without until we move to Virginia. :(

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cheeseslave February 2, 2009 at 11:29 AM

LOL! Gravel mixed with paste. Sounds like the coconut flour meatloaf I made this week (yeah, that recipe did not come out so good).

For what it’s worth, when I was dairy-free, I preferred the coconut milk to almond milk in my coffee and cereal. Much creamier.

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Laura February 2, 2009 at 9:27 PM

I understood that tempeh and natto are OK to eat because they are fermented soy products.

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cheeseslave February 3, 2009 at 6:25 AM

Laura -

Yes, tempeh and natto are OK if they are properly fermented (I think many soy products are not fermented long enough — the good brands of soy sauce for example, I think ferment their soy for like 1-3 years).

However even fermented soy should be eaten in moderation. If you are eating a diet rich in iodine (fish broth including the heads, like miso soup with real bonito broth, and lots of iodine and seafood), then it is OK to eat some fermented soy.

But most Americans do not get enough iodine.

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Mark Flanigan February 6, 2009 at 7:00 PM

Soy needs to be totally eliminated from our diets, NOT just avoided. For more information, including some scientific articles on the negative health effects of Soy, check out the website: http://www.ultimatehealthsolutions.com.au/health.html . Very interesting reading, including several very good links to additional information.

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cheeseslave February 7, 2009 at 6:48 AM

Mark that is a great site! Full of good info. Thanks for sharing that.

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Sherry February 12, 2009 at 3:10 AM

I have to say, many adverse affects, which are just as severe, are linked with ingesting dairy products as with soy. Tests that were done on animals were with isolated & concentrated parts of soy, & this was what was found to be harmful. But there is no evidence that soy in its regular, non-manufactured forms (unlike soy isolates in processed foods, but all processed food is bad) like in natural tofu or milk causes thyroid damage. As far as I can tell from what I’ve read, the only soy that would be dangerous is the manufactured soy which changes its structure under intense heat, like a lot of bad foods, and concetrated soy in soy supplements. I find it amusing that it is known that animal fats cause intestinal cancer, allergies, etc, but there is all of this hysteria now about soy. I guess I will get my thyroid checked & speak to my doctor about it. But I have to say I gave up dairy awhile ago & I have renewed energy & my bowels feel like there has been a huge weight lifted out of them. I will never eat meat or dairy again. It is truly disgusting.

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cheeseslave February 12, 2009 at 5:43 AM

Hi, Sherry, thanks so much for your comment.

I think you are right that meat and milk cause cancer and allergies. Processed meats that have nitrates cause cancer and pasteurized milk causes allergies. However, meat from healthy animals on pasture with no nitrates added and raw milk from cows on grass that has not been pasteurized do not cause cancer or allergies. People have been consuming meat and milk for centuries. Cancer is a new thing.

I think most of the health problems we have are due to the way we process food. Pasteurization, improper preparation of grains, etc.

If you study soy, you’ll see that throughout history people have mostly only eaten it when it is fermented for very long periods of time. It also not something that people have ever eaten in large quantities. In Asia they eat it in very small amounts.

Re: your statement about there being “no evidence” that soy is bad for your thyroid:

“One UK study of premenopausal women gave 60 grams of soy protein per day for one month. This was found to disrupt the menstrual cycle, with the effects of the isoflavones continuing for a full three months after stopping the soy in the diet.”

“[Another] study found that the frequency of feedings with soy-based milk formulas in early life was noticeably higher in children with autoimmune thyroid disease, and thyroid problems were almost triple in those soy formula-fed children compared to their siblings and healthy unrelated children.”

http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/soydangers.htm (Mary Shomon is an expert on thyroid health)

Here’s a personal story of a vegan who ate a lot of soy over several years and ended up with a thyroid disorder:

http://www.equinoxmultimedia.com/stjarna/2008/09/soy-and-my-thyroid-gland_16.html

If you go to her home page she posted recently that she did have to start taking Synthroid. Pretty sad!

I wish you the best of health.

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Nichole February 26, 2009 at 2:39 PM

What about Asian countries who predominantly get their protein from soy products? Are they at higher risk for thyroid problems, or do other things they eat balance the “badness” of soy?

Just curious.

Nichole’s last blog post..Unpretty.

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Jake March 1, 2009 at 12:41 AM

As a guy who’s recently become a vegetarian, and who is interested in weight lifting / building muscle mass, this is something that I’d like to learn some more about. While I would say I split my portions of protein intake between eggs, whey protein powder, and tofu / seitan / TVP / other replacement meat products, it concerns me that no one here has mentioned the effects of increased soy intake in men.

My main concern to begin with is the sources that each of you has claimed in the links you’ve posted. Only two of the links above directly mentioned any actual scientific studies (both of which only the abstract is available for, not the full text).

However, some clear conclusions are made in those few abstracts:
“These findings suggest that, even though substantial amounts of TPO activity are lost concomitant to soy isoflavone consumption by normal rats, the remaining enzymatic activity is sufficient to maintain thyroid homeostasis in the absence of additional perturbations.” – http://tinyurl.com/bmzraa

“Although these effects [reduction in TPO activity] are clear and reproducible, other measures of thyroid function in vivo (serum levels of triiodothyronine, thyroxine, and thyroid-stimulating hormone; thyroid weight; and thyroid histopathology) were all normal. Additional factors appear necessary for soy to cause overt thyroid toxicity. These clearly include iodine deficiency but may also include additional soy components, other defects of hormone synthesis, or additional goitrogenic dietary factors. Although safety testing of natural products, including soy products, is not required, the possibility that widely consumed soy products may cause harm in the human population via either or both estrogenic and goitrogenic activities is of concern.” – http://tinyurl.com/bqarz6

Of all the other articles you have all posted, none of them have linked directly to any studies done and only mention “a study done in 1986″ or something similarly vague. The link to “No Greater Joy” has this choice bit:
“We regularly get letters from parents that are shocked and horrified to have discovered that their babies, as young as 18 months, are, without doubt, masturbating. It is a shocking but growing phenomenon. Some of the problems are associated with small children clutching vibrating toys, but not in all cases. Yet, there must be a predisposing prompted by hormones. Could it be caused by the hormone element in soy formula? It is becoming clear that our little girls’ hormonal levels are being elevated at a very young age by the health food we eat! Soy-formula provides a hormone level at least 240 times higher than breast milk.”

First – an absurd conclusion drawn: early masturbation must be due to increased hormone levels – when masturbating is a very common thing among infants. I’m not even going to link to studies that have to show that, just do a freaking google search: http://www.google.com/search?q=masturbation+in+babies&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

Second, that “Soy-formula provides a hormone level at least 240 times higher than breast milk” – where is the proof behind this? Where in the world did the author come up with this figure?

I’m not trying to be close minded about this subject, and I’m very glad that I’ve come across this post as I will continue to look for more medical journal articles (rather than links sponsored by large for-profit organizations based in New Zealand and Australia). However, the burden of proof still remains out there and I’m not entirely convinced.

My take-away from this post is that if you have increased soy consumption, it is probably best to supplement your diet with iodine. Second, that Dr. Doerge and Dr. Sheehan from the US Toxicology Research Center are unfortunately the few medical professionals focused on determining the risks associated with soy – the last available abstracts for research on soy came in 2002.

I would think that additional research is required and I hope that we can move this debate to more empirical-based evidence. Otherwise, I will monitor my soy intake a little more and try to balance with non-soy protein sources, but I am less than convinced that the concerns over soy are as dire as many of you make them out to be.

(As one last caveat, and against my plea for more science over anecdotes, my mother recently related a story to me about some very extreme mood swings she was experiencing. To make a long story short, she traced them to her intake of soy milk – but she was already susceptible to the TPO activity change mentioned in the above articles because of a thyroid cancer that was removed from her gland, limiting the natural function of her thyroid. Again, it seems that from the articles I’ve posted, soy intake must be intelligently managed when one has other factors that may be affecting their own thyroid / hormonal productions.)

I welcome furthered debate!

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cheeseslave March 1, 2009 at 7:36 AM

Hi, Jake, thanks for your post!

As far as the dangers for men, I just heard a radio show with Sally Fallon — she said that the men in the Illinois jail system who are being fed high amounts of soy are growing breasts. They are having many other health challenges. You can read about it here — and listen to the radio show — I linked to the podcast:

http://www.cheeseslave.com/2009/02/16/illinois-state-prison-jail-food-soy-diet-thyroid-disorders/

“My take-away from this post is that if you have increased soy consumption, it is probably best to supplement your diet with iodine.”

I would agree with this IF you are eating properly fermented soy. Soy needs to be fermented for a few years (not days or weeks).

The Japanese traditionally ate some fermented soy in their diet, but they also drank miso soup at every meal and ate tons of seafood and seaweed. Miso soup, tradtionallly prepared is made from bonito broth. Bonito includes the heads of the fish, which contains the thyroid, so it is very high in iodine. (You have to eat the heads and the thyroid of the fish to get the iodine.)

However, even with all the iodine, the Japanese never ate copious amounts of soy. No one in history has ever taken in large amounts of soy like many Americans are doing today. Plus the Japanese were eating fermented soy. Soy milk, TVP, etc. are not fermented.

Unless it is fermented, you are getting very high amounts of phytic acid. Phytic acid is not good because it actually blocks the intake of minerals in the body. Minerals like calcium. Which you need for strong bones and teeth.

I know so many vegans who eat a lot of soy and end up with a mouth full of cavities.

I actually know of one vegan who was the posterchild of vegans — ate all the right stuff, took all the right supplements, and of course she ate a lot of soy. Well, she was in a car accident and **all the bones in her face shattered**. There are also stories being reported online of vegan children who have massive dental decay and problems with bone density.

http://www.cheeseslave.com/2008/07/10/vegetarians-and-malnutrition/

I’m super busy right now setting up an ad server for our blogs so I don’t have time to send you a bunch of links… as much as I’d love to!

However, I suggest you pick up a copy of this book — she’s done a ton of research on soy:

http://www.wholesoystory.com/

You may be able to find it at your local library — or order it from Amazon.

Also here are some excerpts from the book:

http://www.wholesoystory.com/index.php?pageID=Excerpt1
http://www.wholesoystory.com/index.php?pageID=Excerpt2
http://www.wholesoystory.com/index.php?pageID=Excerpt3

The other thing you should be aware of is that unless the soy you are eating is organic, it’s most likely genetically modified. If you do some research into this you will find that GMO foods are not safe for anyone.

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/GMFree/AboutGMFoods/FAQs/index.cfm#health_dangers

Ann Marie

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Teena April 29, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Boy am I glad I came across this post. I had been reading some stuff on Kelly the Kitchen Kop about soy but didn’t realize how bad it was. I have always heard how good soy is for you. SoyJoy bars have been a snack staple in our house for a year now, I was thinking what a great mom I was for giving them healthy snacks. Yikes!! I also have hypothyroidism. After reading this today I went through my cupboards & refrigerator to find the hidden soy. My favorite ranch dressing, which I thought was a healthy choice because it didn’t have HFCS or MSG like every other dressing on the shelfs has soybean oil. Most depressing was the soy lecithin in my favorite teas. I did some research on lecithin in the hopes that it was something good. Unfortunaly lecithin is the sludge waste that is left over when soybean oil goes through a degumming process. Pretty gross. I am going to eliminate any soy (that I am aware of) from my diet and see how my thyroid works. Thank you for so much enlightening information, and for getting Kelly to try oysters!!

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Jaz May 21, 2009 at 1:48 AM

I have read your posts and would like to counter the thyroid argument. I have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), products like soy actually supress your thyroid which for people that are trying to decrease thyroid activity would mean that eating soy is a good thing. I haven’t researched the rest of the information, so cannot comment on that. However, after increasing soy in my diet, my thyroid function has regulated to normal levels.

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cheeseslave May 21, 2009 at 4:54 AM

Hi, Jaz -

Interesting. Well, that may work in the short term but the soy is blocking uptake of iodine which is the issue with all thyroid problems. With both hyper and hypo thyroid, the problem is a deficiency of iodine.

Here are some articles I have on iodine:

http://www.cheeseslave.com/2008/11/25/notes-on-iodine-deficiency/

http://www.cheeseslave.com/2008/12/02/wise-traditions-videos-dr-janet-lang-on-iodine-thyroid-health/

This is pretty serious. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can lead to other more serious problems like thyroid cancer. Please find a doctor or specialist who can assist you and please look into iodine. Soy is not something you want to play around with.

Here are some more resources:

http://iodine4health.com/basic/iodinegroup.htm

http://www.breastcancerchoices.org/

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thyromine September 2, 2009 at 12:11 AM

Excellent post! Thank you for sharing the information.

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kevin November 10, 2009 at 5:43 AM

What a load of hyped up rubbish. Don’t rely on others to do your research for you – get on the internet and do your own research – the evidence is hugely in favour of soy – or at least non-critical. There are plenty of other foods out there that do so much more harm. After serious longlasting stomach, digestive and nutritional problems that every pill andpotion could not cure, the change from dead carcasses and dairy to a vegan diet in all it’s soy glory was the only thing that gave me my life back. The key is BALANCE and knowing how YOUR body functions/reacts etc.

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Lillea Woodlyns January 28, 2010 at 7:58 PM

There was a time that I thought that the soy ‘meat’ products made by a local company were the greatest invention ever. I was thrilled to get a stint as a taste tester and happily consumed several packages of their products every week. I also ate organic tempeh. I started to experience what can best be described as hot flashes when I ate soy, yet I was only in my late 20s. When I stopped eating soy the hot flashes stopped and I felt a lot better. Now the only soy I eat is a tiny amount of organic gluten-free tamari sauce – just a splash on beef or lamb.

I wasn’t paying attention to things like iodine and my diet wasn’t ideal back then, but dropping soy made a difference for me. I know so many people, including many vegans, who feel better when they drop soy foods. I think that it’s definitely a problem for many people but until they stop consuming soy they might not know how it’s affecting them.
.-= Lillea Woodlyns´s last blog ..Buy Quinoa? Where to Find the Best Tasting Brands =-.

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Tamara Wing February 3, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Soy is a multi-faceted issue. People love to quote the Japanese diet as high in soy, but actually they rely heavily on the protein in FISH, not soy. Soy (usually fermented) is a condiment. Americans love to refer to Japan while they scarf down soy bars/milk/meat/cheese and products unheard of in Japan. Vegetarians/Vegans are better off with other beans and nuts for their proteins. Even meat lovers should explore the source of their food – most commercially raised animals are fed diets heavy in soy by-products. The animals’ digestive systems are designed for this, leading to a vicious circle of antibiotics, etc. to cure the distress and lowered immune functions caused by their diets. Very sadly, “vegetarian diet” (seen on chicken packaging) is often heavy in soy. Toxins often reside in fat so when we eat the fat of animals that have been poorly raised, we ourselves suffer. You are what you eat! (and that includes what you eat, eats…) Eat plants…ignore the marketing behind soy foods and consume small amounts of the time-tested, fermented ones, try to avoid too much processed food…and choose your meat and dairy carefully (they often eat too much corn as well – another heavily abused grain in the food chain). Seek out “Slow Food” web sites, books by Michael Pollan, Farmers Markets and actual MEDICAL research papers for education (lots of stuff in them pointing to dangers in the mis-use of soy products).

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Tamara Wing February 3, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Sorry – meant to say the animals’ digestive systems are NOT designed (..for consuming soy) in my post.

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LeahS July 19, 2011 at 10:40 AM

gah, I hate it that newmans stuff has soy in it. It is really hard to avoid. :(

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Anne November 27, 2011 at 6:24 PM

I have celiac disease, and one of the helpful substitutions medical professionals encourage you to try is soy flour. One of the symptoms of celiac diseaae – one of many – is thyroid disfunction.

Even the gluten-free cookbooks push soy flour, and it is in nearly everything in one form or another.

It is incredibly frustrating.

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carole mcdermond January 24, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Hi,
Because of a heart reversal diet my husband and I are vegan except for skim milk and whites of eggs. Husband off all but 2 meds; cholesterol and blood pressure.
After a year of this diet for me l am now taking thyroid med for hypo thyroid which makes me break out in hives so am taking med for allergy to hives.
Have eaten all the soy products you can and after reading up on all of this am convinced that soy caused my hypothyroid problem. Can l reverse the thyroid problem as l am off all soy now for a month? Any ideas welcome. Carole

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Lori:) March 25, 2013 at 7:13 AM

Try eliminating goitertrens (foods that affect hypothyroid). Learn and act more on iodine and iron and selenium (foods, supplements, etc.), including toxicity (check multi-vitamin amounts). Check kelp supplement.

As if we aren’t watching our diets so much already, right????

Check exercise.

Warm wishes to you n yours~
Lori:)

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Lori:) March 25, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Thank you for so much info. AND sharing! I am a confirmed vegetarian for years who was a cheese-lover and then learned (within one month) that I had IBS with lactose AND gluten intolerances (CD genetic carrier) AND have ovarian cysts and a uteran fibroid AND have (and genetically predisposed) hypothyroidism with nodules, one just biopsied as (thankfully)benign. I saw 10 lb weightloss (finally), my face depuff, and my t3 and tsh improve wi 30 days of medicine use. I am working on the physical and mental energy levels. Needless to say, I have questioned as responsible (along with genetics) and changed my diet further. I increased my iron (beans, chickpeas, almonds/nuts, grits) and iodine (lots of seaweed) and take colon health probiotics, gf All-Zyme (digestive enzymes), and a daily multi-vitamin. I am scheduled to have iron and iodine (and etc.) blood testing to avoid too much/toxicity and discuss FURTHER FOOD CHOICES (see goitertrens/ foods). My doctor told me not to modify soy or goitertrens intake, however I find limiting usage (and do question elimination) to a couple of days per week allows more food and protein options. I found vegetarian (gf) taco bell refried canned beans and gf corn taco shells my newest at home treat.

WHAT ARE SOME MORE RESTAURANT (other than Japanese) FOOD (besides grilled portabellos and vegs) CHOICES?? I am suppose to (IBS) watch too many salads and have learned about contamination and oils not being gf. The few offered choices just intensifies the frustration and conspicuousness with restaurant staff and dining companions. Also–What other tricks for gas(from beans, veggies, etc.) and bloating (besides ginger and drink lots of water)??
Hope for supportive suggestions/replies, w/ sincere gratitude in advance….
Kind regards and warm KEEP Smiling wishes (no matter what) :),
Lori:)

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