Thursday, February 17, 2011
The Soy Controversy
A brief synopsis after reading 'The Whole Soy Story' by Kaayla T. Daniel
Soy marketers claim that their product prevents cancer; is a safe and heart-healthy alternative to animal products; is economical, land-preserving, and the solution to world hunger; and any anti-nutrients/contamination is not enough to cause people to question its use in infant formula, soy milk, breads, margarine, and energy drinks/bars/meal re-placers. When asked for their reasoning behind the push for people to consume large quantities of soy products and the inclusion of soy bi-products in a majority of prepared food items and supplements, proponents of “the yellow jewel” claim that inclusion of large amounts of tofu and soy in Asian diets is the reason those cultures see fewer incidents of certain types of cancer. In reality, there is reasonable doubt that the quantity and quality of soy products Chinese and Japanese people consume is what we have been led to believe. Ancient use of the plant was mainly as a green-manure crop, or whole beans fermented with fish for over a year and used to flavor soups and other dishes in small quantities next to rice and vegetables. Rarely was it used in the fresh forms of soy milk, flour, tofu or byproducts like hydrolyzed vegetable protein, as Asians did not prefer the taste, smell or unruly behavior of soy in its mature and unfermented form.
The main problem behind soy, however, can't be wholly placed on the plant itself: it is the overuse, abuse, and genetic manipulation by the food industry. It's like eating bananas – a banana or two per day is not going to kill you, in fact it may be good for you, but put a genetically modified banana as a main ingredient in your breakfast cereal, dehydrated banana carb powder in your energy drink, a meat-replacer banana main course at dinner, and banana-flour bars for desert, and very quickly you will feel the results of iron-deficiency anemia and a buildup of certain pesticides and toxins found on bananas because of their cultivation. Any substance in excess has potential to cause harm. Human development and regeneration depend on an immense variety of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, phytochemicals, macronutrients and the interactions thereof. No one food except breast milk contains all the nutrients necessary to sustain life for years without later consequences, yet even that food has been partly replaced by fortified soy milk infant formula. Recent developments show formula makers scrambling to add more and more substances to their mixes as children raised on formula develop deficiency and toxicity symptoms.
A major argument put forth to the public is that women who eat soy products and take soy isoflavone supplements have a lower risk of breast cancer. However, even if this were to be found true, are the far more numerous cases of soy-caused thyroid imbalances, cancer of the GI tract and pancreas, allergies, and reproductive impairment worth a slightly lowered risk of contracting breast cancer? In addition to phytochemicals that interfere with normal hormonal signals, unfermented soy products contain phytates, oxalates, goitrogens, lectins and protease inhibitors: plant components possibly helpful in small quantities, but major anti-nutrients and cytotoxins in excess. With all the research being done on ways soy helps the human race, shouldn't warnings be raised about it's potential risks? Then again, the very assumption that soy is a healthy alternative to animal products is a shaky foundation that needs to be propped up by as many positive articles in medical journals as possible.
Butter, milk, cheese, meat, eggs began to fall into disfavor around the same time as the soy oil industry really took off. Since animal products were seen to cause heart problems in otherwise healthy individuals, a ready-made solution presented itself: why not use the soy protein left over from soy oil production to create a healthier, vegetarian, animal-protein replacer in the form of soy milk, soy burgers, and margarine? The problem is, human omnivores misplaced their hope in the soybean instead of supporting responsible land-management and pastured animals that are not only a source of complete protein, but are also filled with nutrients such as omega-3's, highly absorb-able forms of minerals such as iron and calcium, vitamins B12 (not found naturally in plants), etc.: all without needing to be fortified. It doesn't make sense that an industry would spend billions in researching how to make a non-dairy milk, when the raw cows and goats milk available to us is already complete and irreducibly complex, created by a God who knows and cares for His people.
You might just try a glass.