Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mercola, Weston Price wrong on Soy "dangers"

I regularly see research on soy and the vast majority of research papers prove the health benefits of soy. Based on the body of science and the errors evident in his "Facts", what Dr. Mercola has stated is undocumented, unreferenced bull recycled from Weston Price.

All legumes contain significant levels of phytoestrogens; why is soy singled out for this abuse using cherry-picked out-of-context "facts" that aren't really backed them up when the research is reviewed. Do you ever hear such slanders against the #2 source of phytoestrogens (pinto beans)?

In fact, many of the negative studies cited come from the animal feed industry and refer to raw defatted soy meal, the pulp left over after extracting soybean oil. This is not what humans eat! We aren't fed raw defatted soy meal as the major protein source in our diet, and many of the negative issues with raw dried soybeans disappear with proper food preparation (i.e., cooking). They also don't apply to edamame (raw soybean pods with the beans inside), since some of these "anti-nutrient" factors form during drying and are removed during cooking (except for genetically engineered soy that contains exceptionally heat-resistant anti-nutrient compounds).

Here are some actual facts about soy (in contrast to the Mercola/Weston Price data dump of uncritically collected studies); and I have the studies to back this up:

  • Phytates are common in grains, less in legumes; the supplement IP-6 is this exact compound, useful to stimulate NK cells and immunity
  • Trypsin inhibitors are only a problem in raw soy flour and GMO soy products, not the typical uses of non-GMO soy
  • Phytoestrogens such as isoflavones are not endocrine disruptors, this is nonsense; have you ever heard of these problems with pinto beans, the #2 most abundant food source and a major component of the Mexican diet? Of course not.
  • Soy, like cruciferous vegetablles, only affects thyroid function if one is iodine deficient and the addition of iodine to the diet corrects this symptom. The real problem is a nutrient deficiency.
  • Most plant foods are known to be poor sources of bioavailable B-12, not just soy, and this is common knowledge so why single soy out? Bias?
  • D-2 is a natural compound found in the food supply and is neither toxic nor a synthetic form; all vitamin D is produced by chemical synthesis, whether in the body or in a lab, but the forms of D-2 and D-3 utilized in supplements and food fortification are both nature-identical natural forms synthesized in labs.
  • Most soy protein isolate is not denatured; by the way, another term for denaturing is "digestion" and this is good unless you need intact proteins from food (as in whey protein isolate's valuable immunoglobulins).
  • All proteins when digested produce free glutamates; this is natural. Only susceptible people who have had severe chemical exposure or are low in protective nutrients like antioxidants and magnesium suffer from this. I have spoken with and attended lectures by Russ Blaylock for about 20 years and am well versed in this mechanism and its causes and solutions.
  • Soy proteins do not test high in heavy metals; rice protein is actually far higher in actual tests at parts-per-billion detection levels.
  • Asians consume far more soy products than is claimed by your sources; the typical isolflavone content of the diet there is established to be about 50 mg daily, the amount found in a couple ounces of soy protein at 90% strength, which represents several ounces of unconcentrated soy at about 30% protein.
  • Soy is not carcinogenic; review studies confirm that soy protein isolate, not fermented soy, has been proven to reduce cancer rates from breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers by about 30%.
  • Soy upregulates Phase 2 liver detoxification, much like cruciferous vegetables, and is actually a detox aid rather than a source of toxins.
  • Long term studies of infants fed soy formula find no differences in age of puberty, sexual maturity, or other hormonal measures; soy is 'implicated" only by those unwilling to openmindedly review the research to confirm or prove false their wild theories.
  • PS, I was in China recently and they eat plenty of tofu and edamame, both unfermented soy foods, in greater quantities than fermented soy.
Some of Weston A. Price Foundation's citations listed as "evidence" of soy's "toxicity" include these titles that obviously don't fit the negative label; that's why I characterize their list as a "data dump":

  • "Salt poisoning due to ingestion of soy sauce." (How does this prove that non-fermented soy is toxic?)
  • "Hypothesized health benefits of soybean isoflavones." (A study that is positive of soy's health benefits)
  • "Rhinitis and dermatitis caused by exotic woods." (This is a non-soy herb: Pterocarpus soyauxii)
  • "A nutritional comparison of rapeseed oil and soybean oil."
  • "[Concerning the absence of goitrogenic factors in soybean oil for cooking.]" (Exonerates soybean oil from thyroid issues)
  • "Eastern black nightshade: An increasing concern for soybean and forage producers." (A farming issue, not a nutritional one)
  • "Medicinal Plants of lndia and Pakistan." (Actually refers to a non-soy plant: Indian red wood tree, Soymida febrifuga Adr. Juss.)


yvonne said...

Hi Neil

I would like your take on this. My son is 4 and cows milk does not agree with him, I originally switched him to Soy milk but then heard that it is high in Estrogen which down the road can result in harming him.
First is that true?
I have now switched him to Rice milk and have thought about perhaps Almond instead.
I would like your take on what is the best choice for a milk substitute.
Thank you and keep up the great work, I am so happy I found your blog.

Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA said...

Thanks for the kind thoughts, Yvonne.

Soy is NOT rich in estrogen; like all legumes and flax, it is rich in phytoestrogens. The difference is that plant estrogens are not in harmful forms - most research indicates that they are actually protective nutrients - and have only 1/1,000 the strength of animal or human estrogens so are far more dilute. That dilution factor is important, as phytoestrogens fit/block/satisfy estrogen receptors without having anywhere near the power of estrogen to effect cellular changes. Soy isoflavones have been documented to act much like cruciferous vegetables in preventing the oxidation of estrogens into harmful forms (better balance of 2- to 16- hydroxyestrones), as well as helping with other measures of cellular health such as apoptosis, differentiation, etc.

Regarding the choice of milk substitutes, I actually like the idea of switching around and giving your son a variety of milk substitutes, preferably unsweetened or lightly sweetened, and always non-GMO. You may find more protein in the non-rice varieties, if that is a need to support his diet. Also look for levels of vitamins A, D, and calcium, which may differ from cow's milk. I always read nutritional labels to compare nutrient content, rather than rely on price alone, but flavor is always an important factor with childen.

My opinion, based on reading a lot of research, is that the true culprits involved in estrogen risks are environmental exposures to certain plastics (esp. microwaving in plastics or reusing #5 and #7 plastics) and agricultural chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc). But reasonable consumptions of natural phytoestrogen sources such as soy, pinto beans, flax seeds, alfalfa sprouts, chili, etc. should not be a concern in terms of estroegn overload and most probably will help protect against that problem.

Unknown said...

Hi Neil;

Interesting article that I'm sifting through. So much misconceptions out there that I'm always asking 'where the source?' Maybe you can help here.

You mentioned that all legumes contain significant levels of phytoestrogens; why is soy singled out for this abuse using cherry-picked out-of-context "facts" that aren't really backed them up when the research is reviewed. Do you ever hear such slanders against the #2 source of phytoestrogens (pinto beans)?"

How much phytoestrogens is in soy and how much is in pinto beans? Where is the source of this information?


Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA said...


That's a fair question. Look at these sources:

“Pinto beans have almost as much genistein and diadzein as soybeans. Other beans high in phytoestrogens include: kidney beans, black beans, split peas, and mung, lima, and fava beans—and peanuts.” James Duke, PhD, The Green Pharmacy

See also:

Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Tori Hudson, ND and Christiane Northrup, MD

The Encyclopedia of Women's Reproductive Cancer by Carol Turkington and Mitchell Edelson, MD

Assessing phytochemical intake in a group of Mexican women.
Salud Publica Mex. 2007 Mar-Apr;49(2):126-31. (Mexico's National Institute of Public Health)

Anonymous said...

Majority of the soy is genetically modified and round-up ready. The round-up binds magnesium and other nutrients and also depletes valuable nutrients from the soil(see recent article "Monsanto's Roundup Triggers Over 40 Plant Diseases and Endangers Human and Animal Health"
by Jeffery Smith on Everyone should also watch Jean-Michel Cousteau's PBS documentary, Ocean Documentary: return to the Amazon(rent it on Netflix). and see he aerial view of the devastation GMO soy grown across S. America as feed for the American livestock.

Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA said...

It's true that most of American-grown soy is GMO and I NEVER revcommend that. In fact, I've lectured on this topic ("Playing with our Food: Nutritional Differences Between Organic, Conventional, and GMO Crops")

GMO-soy is a bad food source.

But that does not indict non-GMO soy, and many of the trumped up charges against soy predate the GMO issue.



NIH PUBMED JOURNAL: "Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men"
"32 reports involving 36 treatment groups and 15 placebo-controlled treatment groups with baseline and ending measures involving soy, isoflavones, genistein, phytoestrogens, red clover, androgens, testosterone, and SHBG, were analyzed. CONCLUSION: The results of this meta-analysis found that neither soy foods nore soy isoflavone supplements alter measures of bioavailable Testosterone concentrations in men. There was no effect.


SCIENCE: "Review finds NO Effect of soy on testosterone" - METAREVIEW STUDY
Despite rumours often spread on the internet, "A review of 15 studies into the influence of soy proteins or isoflavones on male hormones has found No evidence of an estrogen-like effect." These rumours stemmed from a handful of flawed reports. "The authors criticized the studies that reported lowered testosterone levels for their methodology." One of them had only 12 subjects in it. In another, the researchers forgot to include a control, and final readings, rendering their results useless. In another one the entire result was due to just 1 subject. The soy scares were based on this flawed science. It was actually found that Soy does not cause breast cancer, protstate cancer, thyroid problems, infant formula problems, or estrogenic effects, on the contrary "Eating soy demonstrated protection against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and heart disease." Eating Soy was confirmed benficial. For women, children, and indeed men.


Review finds no effect of soy on testosterone
By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 30-Jun-2009
"Results suggest that consumption of soy foods or isoflavone supplements would Not result in the adverse effects associated with lower [testosterone] levels." "No significant effects of soy protein or isoflavone intake on T [testosterone] or SHBG [sex hormone-binding globulin] were found." There was no effect of soy on testosterone.

If SCIENTIFIC URLS do not show in blogcomments due to erroneous filtersystem For the URL to the science source, type this:

foodproductiondaily FOLLOWED BY com THEN PASTE THIS /Quality-Safety/Review-finds-no-effect-of-soy-on-testosteronea


American Institute for Cancer Research: Men Don't Need to Fear Soy Foods" -AICR

AICR QUOTE: "It’s no wonder that men who have read the recent stories circulating about soy are confused. Some stories claim that soy foods, such as tofu and soy milk, can lead to brst growth or reduce tstosterone levels. Fears that the amount of phytoestrgens in moderate amounts of soy foods could stimulate men’s brst tissue or reduce their tstosterone are not based on sound research. A study of children fed soy protein formula for more than six months showed no hormonal effects. A study of men found that the men who ate soy foods twice a day for three months showed NO change in tstosterone levels.

Soy does not cause prostate cancer, on the contrary, the studies showed eating soy by men was beneficial in lowering the risk of prostate cancer. Men can feel safe."

Since URLS do not post here...

To view it, type FOODCONSUMER then type ORG, then put "men dont need to fear soy" into that sites searchbox.

Anonymous said...

"Soy Phytoestrogens May Block Estrogen Effects"

"Isoflavones may protect against the more powerful estrogen produced by the body." "The addition of high levels of dietary soy isoflavones tended to block estrogen." -Senior investigator J. Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Anonymous said...

SOY: PUBMED Prostate & Soy
No testosterone level decrease in a randomized soy intervention among men.
Study was conducted "to investigate the effects of daily soy intake on serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and testosterone levels. No change in testosterone was observed during the high soy diet in contrast to the low soy diet." "No significant between-group and within-group differences were detected." The study found beneficial results of eating soy: soy lowered the risk of Prostate Cancer.-European Journal of Clinical Nutrition




"The meta-analysis examined 47 research reports covering 51 treatment groups. Peer-reviewed studies. The analysis concluded that neither soy protein nor isoflavone supplementation exerted any negative alterations on bioavailable testosterone in males, regardless of research model. Soy did not exert any estrogen-like effects in men, nor any lowering of testosterone levels or other reproductive hormones."



IRONMAN MAGAZINE: "Eating soy has No effect on either testosterone or estrogen levels"
"You see the caution on countless Internet sites related to bodybuilding: Avoid eating soy products unless you want to lower your testosterone count. At first glance the dire warnings about soy are plausible...However, actual scientific research found that soy protein and isoflavone intake had No significant effects on testosterone. Neither total nor free testosterone was negatively affected by dietary soy in Any of the studies. None. Also, Studies confirmed Soy has no negative effect on thyroid hormones. Both whey and soy proved superior to casein in aiding muscle protein synthesis in young men. Eating soy will have no effect on either testosterone or estrogen. - STRAIGHT FROM "IRONMAN BODYBUILDING" MAGAZINE


Yaacov K, Ed.D. said...

I have been reviewing several articles on your site (soy, antinutrients, diabetes). I really appreciate your detailed knowledge. A nutritionally focused MD has recommended that I follow the Paleo diet and that I read The Paleo Answer and Dr. Sinatra's The CHolesterol Myth. They point to the benefits of a vegetable, fruit, meat, fish diet and cite quite a bit of research. This approach has has turned me around from a mostly vegetarian (plus fish), high carb diet. I have lost about 10 pounds in a month and am at a very good weight for my height. I feel great. I miss the inclusions of grains and legumes in the diet. Your comments on these approaches would be greatly appreciated. It is hard to reconcile this approach with information from sources such as the China Study and the Okinawa Program

Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA said...

Regarding Dr. Yaacov's comment and question:

There are several well-done large studies showing that those who eat the most whole grains - not refined ones - are leaner than those who eat the least. So eating a high-carb vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diet may not be so healthy if your grains and foods are refined and lacking fiber and nutrient density.

Legumes (incluidng non-GMO soy for most people) shouldn't be a problem if prepared properly; watch out for canned beans with high sodium content or other additives, though.

That said, almost any diet works for a few months due to its impact on conscious eating; but that consciousness tends to disappear over time and the diet no longer faithfully followed, resulting in possible rebound of body weight. One needs to ask: how sustainable is this diet for me in the long run?

Interestingly, Dr Jeff Bland published an article saying that we have evolved in the past few thousand years from the paleolithic diet being the ideal due to epigenomic influences by our environment; inlcuding the diets of our ancestors. There are even new blood types that didn't exist several thousand years ago. Here's a link to that article:

Remember to avoid GMO foods and foods that you personally may be reactive to; for example, hybridized wheat/gluten or corn (hybridized grains are more immunoreactive than heirloom varieties such as spelt and kamut as alternative ancient grain forms of wheat, or blue corn as a typically non-htbridized corn). Remember, too, to use natural meats if you do choose to eat meat.