Originally published May 1 2009
Be Aware of the Unhealthy Side of Soy
by Elizabeth Walling
(NaturalNews) After years of being the perpetual health food, soy is now coming under fire. Because soy was deemed healthy and it's inexpensive to process, soy has enjoyed enormous commercial success. You can find some variation of soy in almost every single product on grocery store shelves. And we're not the only ones being fed soy products by the pound: most commercial animals are fed a diet high in soy.
All of this soy is supposed to be good for us. We've heard many experts sing their praises when it comes to soy, but now there are voices coming from the other side. For instance, the American Heart Association is no longer the soy fan it once was - in 2006, officials from the association admitted it's unlikely heart disease can be prevented by eating soy.
Then we have the French Center for Cancer Research, which now recommends no children under the age of three should eat soy. The center also advised against soy for women who are at risk for breast cancer and for those who already have it.
And in 2005, the Israeli Health Ministry issued a public warning against the consumption of soy in children and infants. It even advised day care centers and schools to strictly limit the amount of soy products served to children.
The advice to limit consumption of soy in young people raises doubts about soy-based infant formulas. Soy formula can contain unhealthy levels of aluminum - a known metal toxin - and manganese, which is a necessary nutrient but can be dangerous in high doses.
There are claims that soy formula is healthier than other formulas because of its low level of saturated fat. But breast milk, the nourishment nature intended for babies, is more than 50 percent saturated fat. The fat in soy formula is mostly omega-6 fatty acids, which in large amounts are associated with many health problems.
Another risk associated with soy-based formula is the lack of vitamin A, a nutrient which is crucial for growth and development in infants and children. All of the vitamin A in soy formula is in the form of beta carotene, and most infants cannot convert beta carotene into a usable form of vitamin A.
Soy is often touted as a cancer-fighting food, but there is a dangerous flip-side to this coin. The isoflavones in soy undergo a biological change when soy is processed. Studies have shown these altered isoflavones can actually cause increased tumor growth, namely in the case of breast cancer.
When experts point to healthy Asian cultures as examples of why soy is good for you, take a step back and compare apples to apples. In traditional Asian cultures, only whole soy products are consumed, and much of the time the soy is in a fermented form. Most of the soy that ends up on our dinner plates is genetically modified, treated with dangerous chemicals and processed in a way nature never intended.
The best advice is to enjoy all things in moderation. There's no reason to think soy should be served up morning, noon and night. And when you do eat soy, aim for organic whole soy products like edamame, miso, tofu and tempeh. Stay away from most processed foods and you'll stay away from soy in its worst form.
About the authorElizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more:
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