Soy has been trashed in the media for some time now, and I believe one of the prime reasons why this talk originally started is because soya milk sales compete head on with cow’s milk sales. There was a huge interest in commercial soya milk in the eighties and especially the nineties, just about the time when all the evidence came out about how soy could poison you, cause various cancers, shrink your brain and even turn your son into a homosexual by shrinking his gonads. But, notice how there was never any mention of the bad effects of any of the fermented products, just soya milk? That’s because the fermented soy products don’t compete in the market place with any other foods. Soy sales in the 1980’s in USA were 300 million dollars annually, and in 2008 they were 4.2 billion, money that is not being spent buying dairy or other competitive foods. Smear campaigns and dirty marketing work well, they helped margarine sales kill butter sales in the 50’s and 60’s, and many have woken up to this myth only recently.
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I wonder whether the biased soy studies have been funded by the National Meat Institute or the National Dairy Board, the soy research I have seen appears to be a bit like university research being funded by pharmaceutical interests. Most soy studies look at rat or mice studies for a few weeks or a month or two duration, and not actual human research of populations who have been consuming soy for over two thousand years.
The people with the longest lifespan on earth currently happen to live in Okinawa, Japan, and they consume an average of 60 to 120 grams of soy protein daily. Okinawans have up to 80 percent less cancer and heart disease than Westerners. Chinese people eat on average 30 – 50 grams of soy protein daily, and both in Japan and China, where the highest soy consumption appears to be have no fertility issues. (Wilcox et al, 2004) I think I’d rather believe a living and breathing human model when it comes to studies, and not some biased rat or mouse study, these are flawed studies based on an entirely different species with a vested interest.
Soy is bad for my thyroid you will have been told. In Asian countries where soy consumption is between 50 to 100 times higher than in the Western world, there is certainly no high occurrence of hypothyroidism, and a big reason why is because these enlightened people eat seaweed, naturally high in iodine. Women living in the Western world eat no sea vegetables and have a forty percent chance of hypothyroidism. They eat foods depleted in essential minerals and a high-stress lifestyle, they are often lacking in the thyroid essential minerals such as zinc, iodine, selenium, manganese and more. The bottom line is, if you eat soy products then be sure to also include some sea vegetables in your diet, because research has uncovered that those who do eat soy regularly eat sea vegetables as well, interesting stuff but common sense, and it just goes to show that you need to take things in context.
Based on looking at both sides of the argument for several years, I do believe that the majority of adults can enjoy the taste and nutritional benefits of a wide variety of soy based foods, including tofu, tempeh, soy sauce and natto without placing their health at risk. I’m not talking about foods containing concentrated soy isolates or GM soy products, but whole organic and natural soy foods; the way nature intended them to be and the way they have been consumed traditionally for thousands of years. There certainly is sufficient evidence when it comes to infants and soy-isolate concentrated foods, but the same applies to giving infants whey-concentrated foods when they are only a few months of age as well.
Breast-feed is always the best-feed and anything else is second best, regardless whether it is soy, cow or goat’s milk, and goat’s milk being probably the best out of the three in my experience.
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There is also sufficient evidence to suggest that soy may be a major issue for those with liver disease, major autoimmune dysfunction and intestinal inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease or colitis. But there is also ample evidence to suggest that cow’s milk and many other such contentious foods are equally suspect in these individuals. I recommend that you consult with your health-care professional if you can relate to one of these conditions and want to make dietary changes.