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Neutralizing Soy-Detracting Nitwits

"It doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people doesn't add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now...Here's looking at you kid." - Humphrey Bogart

Once or twice each day, I receive emails asking for more information on the soy controversy.

The anti-soy geniuses claim that soy consumption will turn men into girly-boys.

The anti-soy intellects claim that soy will give you cancer of the thyroid, breast, and superego.

The anti-soy whiz kids claim that the only safe diet is Paleo, and people should drink raw milk and eat freshly killed animals so that fresh blood will drip down faces rather than cooked gravy. Raw meat is healthy, they claim, and the louder the moo, oink, and woof, the better. Out, damned spot!

Their cry:

Broccoli is Hazardous to Your Health. Soy is Hazardous to Your Health. Do you believe such nonsense?

Soy is bad for you because it contains phytoestrogens. If you accept that, then you must also believe that broccoli is much worse.

So too, for that matter, should you never again eat seeds, whole grains, berries, fruit, vegetables, nuts, or sprouts.

Are phytoestrogens in soy and broccoli really hazardous?

Despite the fact that phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) are not steroids like human estrogen, there are those who would have you induce vomiting if ever you swallowed a soy product containing isoflavones. My advice to you is to not swallow their illogical line of reasoning.

For each milligram of phytoestrogens that she eats from soy products, the average American woman will also consume an additional four milligrams of phytoestrogens from fruits and vegetables. Advice to abstain from phytoestrogens is insanity, and Internet hype and hysteria has infected the good judgment of numerous so-called health advocates. This includes many ignorant physicians, who read one such article and assimilate just enough information to offer erroneous and dangerous health advice to their patients.

The only reason that phytoestrogens are considered to be very dangerous is that the name sounds like estrogen, even though they are not steroid hormones, and even though their mechanisms of action do not mimic estrogen. Beware of phytoestrogens, you are told. Like the "boogeyman," phytoestrogens in fruit and veggies are gonna get you while you sleep.

A publication in the February 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (R. Ziegler, 2004;79:183-4) suggests that women who eat high levels of soy isoflavones have lower rates of breast cancer than those who consume low levels of isoflavones. Dr. Regina Ziegler is a researcher with the National Cancer Institute. She has taught health and nutrition courses at Yale and Harvard Universities. Ziegler writes:

"The daily intake of phytoestrogens in white U.S women has been estimated to be <1 mg, with 80% from lignans, 20% from isoflavones, and <0.1 from coumestans." According to Ziegler, an expert in her field, Americans eat four times the amount of phytoestrogens in fruit and vegetables each and every day as they do from soy products. Ziegler wrote:

"Historically, breast cancer rates in the United States have been 4-7 times those in Asia, whereas isoflavone intake in the United States is <1% that in Asian populations."

You might consider contrary advice. An apple a day does keep the doctor away because of those magical phytoestrogens. So too do brown rice and almonds, broccoli, and fresh sprouts. Go heavy on the soy.

Dead raw flesh and cooked animal parts should not be served with body fluids from diseased animals. Every cell in your miraculous body craves life, not death. Cells and enzymes from carrots and oranges. Green plants containing chlorophyll, and calcium with magnesium in a proportion that is efficiently utilized by the human body. A rose will never become a dead chicken, even if it is so re-named. Neither would a phytoestrogen become a steroid hormone, nor act like one.

"Denial is a common tactic that substitutes deliberate ignorance for thoughtful planning." --Charles Tremper

The March 3, 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that women who consume soy products have a lower risk of breast cancer than women who do not eat soy.

Japanese scientists (Motoki Iwasaki, et. al.) measured plasma blood levels of the most abundant protein in soy, genistein. More than 24,000 women (ages 40-69) participated in this original 1995-2002 study. After an average 10-year follow up, 144 subjects developed breast cancer. Plasma levels of genistein were again measured.

Researcher's conclusion:

"We found a statistically significant inverse association between plasma genistein and risk of breast cancer."

In fact, the scientists found that the breast cancer risk for those eating the greatest amount of soy products (those with the highest level of genistein) was one-third of that for the group with the lowest amount of genistein in their blood.

Unfortunately, the study included only 24,000 people, a tiny sample, and lasted for only ten years, a very short amount of time, so isoflavone critics will doubt the conclusion and continue their unsupported claim that substances in soy, broccoli, and apples cause breast cancer. We know better.

For those who echo soy, broccoli, and apple naysayers: "We need more people speaking out. This country is not overrun with rebels and free thinkers. It's overrun with sheep and conformists." --Bill Maher

Dairy producers see soymilk as the new kid on the block and they are running scared. Their strategy is to spread rumors about soy because it contains phytates. Perish the thought, phytates? Quick, induce vomiting. Call Poison Control. Where's the stomach pump?

By the way--Wheaties cereal also contains phytates.

One bowl of Wheaties (portion size is defined on the side of the box) is equal to: 3/4 cup of cereal and 1/2 cup of milk.

The people who would prefer that you eat raw milk and meat with saturated fat (the Neanderthals) are out there bashing soy and grains. Beware!

If the soy naysayers are correct, and if you enjoy a bowl of Wheaties for breakfast, that single portion of cereal will contain more than 2.5 times the amount of phytates as will the soymilk used to moisten the breakfast of champions.

Dr. Anthony Mercola writes:

"Soybeans are high in phytic acid...It's a substance that can block the uptake of essential minerals... Scientists are in general agreement that grain- and legume-based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries. Analysis shows that calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc are present in the plant foods eaten in these areas, but the high phytate content of soy- and grain-based diets prevents their absorption."

Sally Fallon director of the Weston Price Foundation echoes Mercola's lack of wisdom (almost word for word):

"Soybeans are also high in phytic acid or phytates....which blocks the uptake of essential minerals-calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc-in the intestinal tract. Scientists are in general agreement that grain and legume based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries. Analysis shows that calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc are present in the plant foods eaten in these areas, but the high phytate content of soy and rice based diets prevents their absorption."

A website registered in New Zealand offers similar disinformation. Soy Online Service (should be re-named Soy Offline Disservice). In a column titled "SoyToxins," they write:

"There's plenty yet that you didn't know about soy! Soy contains several naturally occurring compounds that are toxic to humans and toxins such as phytic acid...have the ability to target specific organs, cells and enzyme pathways and their effects can be devastating....As with any toxin there will be a dose at which negative effects are not observed. Soy Online Services have examined the scientific data on the soy toxins and have uncovered several alarming truths...There is no legislation to protect consumers from soy toxins in raw soy products...all soy products, no matter how well treated, contain low to moderate levels of soy toxins; processing cannot remove them all of any of them."

Since soymilk is the bone of contention, I chose its phytate content to serve as a baseline for comparison to wheat products.

Charts contained on pages 30-34 of "Food Phytates" (edited by Rukma Reddy and Shridhar Sathe, CRC Press, ISBN # 1-56676- 867-5) reveal:

The percentage of phytates in soymilk is listed as 0.11%.

Wheat has been called the "Staff of Life."

Durham wheat contains 8 times more phytates than soymilk (0.88%).

Whole wheat bread contains almost 4 times more phytates than soymilk (0.43%).

Wheaties, contain nearly fourteen times more phytates than soymilk (1.52%).

Let's use common logic here. If wheat contains more phytates than soymilk, then wheat should not be eaten either, right? What a silly claim soymilk detractors make. It is completely without merit.

A typical portion of breakfast cereal consists of two ingredients, cereal & milk. The proportions: three-quarters of a cup of Wheaties weighs 22.5 grams. One-half cup of soymilk weighs 122.5 grams. Ergo, the wheaties contain 342 milligrams of phytates. The soymilk contains 135 milligrams of phytates.

Now, let's get to the point of this. In their introduction and summary of the scientific substantiation to follow, the authors of Food Phytates write: "Recent investigations have focused on the beneficial effect of food phytates, based upon their strong mineral-chelating property...The beneficial effects include lowering of serum cholesterol and triglycerides and protection against certain diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, renal stone formation, and certain types of cancers."

So you see, phytates are healthy for you. Phytates represent a prime example of using food for medicine.

Of course, if you happen to believe all of the negative soy hype, skip the Wheaties. Skip the soymilk. You can always have a corn muffin, right? Let's go to the phytate chart. What percentage of corn bread is phytates? Oh, no. Corn muffins contain twelve times the amount of phytates as soymilk, or 1.36%. An extra-large 6-ounce corn muffin (168 grams) contains 228 milligrams of phytates, midway between the (3/4 cup) Wheaties and (1/2 cup) soymilk.

So, take your pick. All of this negative soy rhetoric is either A) serious stuff B) ridiculous propaganda originating from the 'you know who' industry.

Robert Cohen

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