Soy - Wolf in Grandma's Clothing
Geoff Bond and Natural Eating's Insights into the Soy and Bean Myth

Humans, as plant predators, have developed defenses against a great range of naturally occurring plant poisons. Plant secrete these poisons (or "antinutrients") to fight off insects, bacteria and funguses. In other words, pesticides, fungicides and bactericides. Legumes (beans and lentils) have never been part of the human diet. It happens that they secrete a range of plant poisons that human bodies cannot cope with. This is an extract from a forthcoming book by Geoff Bond to be published by Square 1 publishers of New York.

Legumes are not exempt from the same kinds of anti-nutrients, particularly lectins of the kind that we also saw in cereals. Lectins in winged beans, kidney beans, mung beans, lima beans and castor beans are toxic in the raw state. Lectins bind with the wall of the intestine causing scars. They destroy the incredibly fine hairs known as ‘villi’ that line the intestine; this undermines the body’s ability to absorb nourishment.

Nutrient absorption is impaired; the intestine wall becomes porous to bacteria. The barrier breaks down and allows toxins and lectins to pass into the lymphatic system and blood stream. There they cause havoc directly.

Chemical Warfare Agent
Just in case you are not convinced, we can reflect on the castor bean. It has become notorious as the source of a chemical warfare agent, ricin. This nasty poison, a kind of lectin, causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration, shock, kidney failure, liver failure and, finally fatal stomach bleeding. Levin reports[i] how ricin is also toxic to the heart  and bursts red blood cells. Greenfield, who works on chemical warfare, notes[ii] that when ricin is inhaled, lung disease is the consequence. F. Sharom, an immune system researcher, finds[iii] that lentils, soybean and peas contain a related lectin that undermines certain immune system cells known as lymphocytes.

Now we must surprise you by tarring soy with the same brush. You do not hear much about it -- the soy industry has too much momentum behind it for that. However, remember that, until about 50 years ago, soy was unknown in America but it was progressively introduced to feed livestock and then, finally, people.

Antinutrients and Allergens
Soy is loaded with anti-nutrients such as genistein, daidzein, trypsin inhibitors, allergens and phytoestrogens. The wonders of marketing have turned these drawbacks into advantages: women are sold soy as a remedy for female conditions such as hot flashes and PMS. It is even sold as having anti-cancer properties when in fact, as toxicologist Retha Newbold shows[iv], it increases risk of uterine cancer if fed to babies. Many studies such as those by RC Santell[v] and CD Allred[vi],[vii]show links with breast cancer.

Allergies and Thyroid Problems
Soy gives you allergies. Foucard and Yman of Uppsala, Sweden found[viii] severe allergic reactions in Sweden. Hideaki Tsuji (he of gluten allergens) reports[ix] that over 16 allergens have been identified -- of which at least three, Gly-m-Bd-68K, Gly-m-Bd-30K, Gly-m-Bd-28K, are classified as severely allergenic. The toxicology researcher, Rao Divi, reports[x] how soy’s antinutrients, genistein and daidzein, attack the thyroid gland. This leads to goiter and, in extreme cases, to thyroid cancer.

Tofu and Senile Dementia
Soy gives you brain atrophy. The more people eat tofu for example, the more likely they are to have senile dementia in later life. In a ground-breaking study[xi], Lon White and colleagues of The National Institute of Ageing found that consumption of only two portions of tofu a week raises the chances of disease by 50% compared to those who consume no tofu at all. Here, finally, is an explanation why, more than anyone else, the tofu-eating Okinawans lose their mental faculties in old age.

Gastritis and Pancreatic Disease
As noted both by Fereidoon Shahidi[xii] and by Loren Cordain[xiii], soy disrupts gastric function: trypsin inhibitors disrupt the pancreas causing it to secrete out-of-control quantities of chole­cystokinin (a gastric hormone). Result: wither­ing of the pancreas and even cancer.

Bad for Babies
Soy is not great for babies: babies fed on soy-based formula receive the adult equivalent of five birth control pills per day. Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has raised the alarm
[xiv] about feeding soy to babies. It calls upon the Department of Health to revise its guidelines on soy-based formula milk. They cite one study where such babies were five times more likely to have genital abnormalities. The same report also decided that there was no evidence for the supposed benefits of soya in osteoporosis, heart disease, menopausal symptoms or cancer.

Children of both sexes suffer disproportionately from extreme emotional behavior, asthma, immune system problems, pituitary insufficien­cy, thyroid disorders and irritable bowel syndrome[xv],[xvi].

Lack and colleagues in a study[xvii] on over 13,000 school children in UK, found that those children who were fed soy-based formula milk as babies were 2½ times MORE LIKELY to suffer peanut allergy than other children. The New Zealand Government already issued a warning[xviii] in 1998 about the use of soy in infant formula.  

Depressed Female Sex Drive
Heather Patisaul researches the effect of soy toxins on brain function and mood. In studies on rats she finds[xix] that soy supplements decrease female sex drive by as much as 70 per cent. The breast cancer drug, Tamoxifen, which opposes the function of estrogen in some tissue, had a similar but smaller effect. This, with evidence from other studies[xx], leads Heather to believe that the soy isoflavone is also acting as an "estrogen opposer". She adds that there is anecdotal evidence of decreased sex drive in women taking tamoxifen, as well as problems with vaginal dryness.

Soy and Beans Summed Up
Because of their antinutrients, legumes – and soy in particular – are not miracle foods. They are beans to which humans have never become naturally adapted – and it matters. Their anti-nutrients are diverse kinds of poisons or toxins that disrupt many bodily processes, making us sick in many subtle ways never before suspected.

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[i] Levin et al; Rare Jatropha multifida intoxication in two children; J Emerg Med 2000 Aug;19(2):173-5

[ii] Greenfield et al; Microbiological, biological, and chemical weapons of warfare and terrorism; Am J Med Sci 2002 Jun;323(6):326-40.

[iii] Sharom FJ; Inhibition of lymphocyte 5'-nucleotidase by lectins; Biochem Cell Biol 1988 Jul;66(7):715-23.

[iv] Newbold RR, Cancer Res. 2001 Jun 1;61(11):4325-8

[v] Santell R C; J Nutr. 2000 Jul;130(7):1665-9..

[vi] Allred et al; Cancer Res. 2001 Jul 1;61(13):5045-50.

[vii]Allred; Carcinogenesis. 2001 Oct;22(10):1667-73.

[viii] Foucard and Yman; Allergy 1999;54:261-265.

[ix] Allergens in Major Crops; Tsuji et al; Nutr Res; 21; 2001

[x] Divi et al; Anti-thyroid Isoflavones from Soybean; Biochem Pharm; 54; 1997

[xi] White et al; J Am Coll Nutr; 19; (2) 2000

[xii] Shahidi et al; Antinutrients in Food; Am Chem Soc. 1995

[xiii] Cordain; Humanity’s Double Edged Sword; W Rev  Nutr Diet; 1999; vol 84

[xiv] Food Standards Agency, Phytoestrogens and Health;  May 2003

[xv] Adverse Effects of Soy Infant feeding; Irvine et al; N Z Med J. May 24 1995

[xvi] Premature Thelarche in Puerto Rico; Am J Dis Child; 140 (12) Dec 1986

[xvii] Lack, N Engl J Med 2003 Mar 13; 348(11): 977-85

[xviii] New Zealand Ministry of Health; Soy-based Infant Formula; Dr Pat Tuohy; Dec 1998

[xix] Patisaul; Society for Neurosciences Meeting, New Orleans. November 12, 2003

[xx] Patisaul et al; Soy Isoflavone Supplements Antagonize Reproductive Behavior and Estrogen Receptor alpha- and beta-Dependent Gene Expression in the Brain; Endocrinology; 142: 2946–2952, 2001.

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