Soy – Is It As Healthy As You Think?

Written by Jordan

February 8, 2017

Today, it’s really easy to become a vegetarian or vegan as the soy industry has created numerous products for vegetarians and vegans to get their daily protein needs. From the humble soy bean we have soy flour, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, vegetable oil, miso, soy cheese, soy burgers, sausages and fillets, soy mayonnaise, soy ice-cream, custards and soy.

Sometimes, we naively believe that the foods, cosmetics, personal care products and cleaning products on our shelves are all completely safe. However, this is not always the case and I encourage anyone consuming soy products to find out what they can about soy, it’s by products and the ingredients that are used in some of the packaged soy foods.

Let’s take a look at some very common foods containing soy that are found in our supermarkets.

  • Honey & Soy Marinade Sauce
    Water, Sugar, Soy Sauce 9% (Water, Salt, Vegetable Protein Extract (Contains Soy), Sugar), Garlic 8%, Thickener (Modified Corn starch, Xanthan Gum (Contains Soy)), Salt, Golden Syrup, Food Acid (Acetic), Clove, Star Anise, Honey 0.5%.
  • Regular Long Life Soy Milk
    Filtered Water, Soy Protein (3.5%), Corn Maltodextrin, Vegetable Oils (Sunflower, Canola)[Contains Antioxidants (Tocopherols)(Contains Soy)], Cane Sugar, Minerals (Phosphates of Calcium And Potassium), Potassium and Magnesium), Acidity Regulator (332), antioxidant (ascorbic acid), Vitamins (A, B12, B2, B1), Natural Flavour. (All Ingredients are Non-animal Origin.)
  • Vegan Soy Cheese
    Water, Vegetable Oil, Soybeans (21%), Thickener (1401,1450), Tapioca, Flavours, Vegetable Gums (410,415), Yeast Extract, Salt, Food Acids (270,260), Natural Colour (Annatto), Mineral Salt (511).
  • Veggie Delights Soy Fillets
    : Water, Vegetable Protein (15%) [Soy Protein, Soybean Meal, Wheat Gluten], Canola Oil, Flavours (Contain Wheat and Soy), Free Range Egg White, Wheat Starch, Whey Protein (from Milk) (Non-Rennet), Sugar, Vegetable Gums (Carrageenan, Locust Bean), Yeast Extract, Minerals (Zinc Gluconate, Ferrous Gluconate), Flavour Enhancer (Disodium Ribonucleotide), Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Spices, Vitamin B12.
  • Soy BBQ Sausages
    Water, Vegetable Protein (25%) (Wheat Gluten, Soy Protein), Canola Oil, Flavours (Contain Wheat, Barley And Soy), Onion, Wheat Breadcrumbs, Sugar, Soy Fibre, Salt, Yeast Extract, Mineral Salt (Potassium Chloride), Vegetable Gums (Guar, Locust Bean), Yeast, Flavour Enhancer (Disodium Ribonucleotide), Garlic, Colour (Caramel), Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Fermented Rice, Minerals (Zinc Gluconate, Ferrous Gluconate), Spices, Vitamin B12.
  • Soy Vanilla Yoghurt
    Water, Sugar, Soy Protein, Maize Thickeners (1422,1442), Dextrose, Maltodextrin (From Tapioca), Inulin (Dietary Fibre), Canola Oil, Vegetable Gums (440,412), Mineral Salts (452, 341), Food Acids (331,296), Flavours, Natural Colour (160b), Live Yoghurt Cultures, Vitamin D.
  • Protein Bombs
    Ingredients: Protein Blend 33% (Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Nuggets [Isolated Soy Protein, Tapioca Starch, Salt]), Protein Compound Choc Coating 24% (Maltitol, Vegetable Fat, Cocoa 2%, Soy Protein, Emulsifiers [Soy Lecithin, E476], Flavour), Humectant (Glycerol), Polydextrose, Water, Maltitol, Sugar Free Mint Chips (3%), Vegetable Oil, Chia Seeds (2.5%), Rice Puffs, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Flavour, Salt, Vanilla Flavour, Stevia Extract, Glazing Agent (Gum Arabic). Protein compound Choc Coating contains Cocoa Solids 12% minimum.

As you can see from the ingredient lists above, these foods contain many chemicals, preservatives and additives which can harm a person’s health. As an example, let’s focus on the very first ingredient listed in ‘Protein Bomb’ – Soy Protein Isolate.

Soy Protein Isolate – is also known as Mono-diglyceride, Soya, Yuba, Lecithin, MSG (yeast extract), Texture vegetable protein or Textured Soy Protein.

How is Soy Protein Isolate made?

After removing the fibre with an alkaline solution, the soy beans are then put into large aluminium tanks with an acid wash. The acid wash actually makes the soy beans absorb the aluminium, which remains in the end product. Aluminium has been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and many other diseases.

The aluminium washed soy beans are then treated with more chemicals including nitrates (which have been linked to cancer development). The end product is a tasteless, fat free powder which is added to up to 60% of processed foods.

As you can see in the above lists of food ingredients, soy protein isolate (or the other names for it) can be found in common processed foods. It can be also be found in protein bars, meal replacement shakes, bottled fruit drinks, soups and sauces, baked goods, breakfast cereals and some dietary supplements.

Is there a problem with that? Let’s have a look at some of the facts.

What is wrong with soy?

Remember that when you’re reading studies showing the effects of consuming soy, some studies have been sponsored by the soy industry, or the authors may have some kind of financial ties to the soy industry. This is a major conflict of interest.

1. Soy is a Goitrogen

Soy is a natural goitrogen. This means it has the ability to impair iodine absorption and reduce thyroid function.

2. Contains Phyto Acids

Soy has a high concentration of phytates. Phytates have the ability to bind minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc and prevent them from being absorbed in the body.

3. Most soy is GMO

There is a lot of imported GM food coming into Australia, mostly from the Americas. These foods are added to Australian made and imported products that are found in our supermarkets as well as being fed to our animals.

Did you know that more than 90% of world soy production is genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup?  Concerning levels of glyphosphate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is found on Roundup Ready crops such as soy. Glyphosphate is linked to a number of serious health problems as well – see below.

4. Affects the Microbiome

Our bacteria within the body outnumber our own cells 10:1. So for every 1 human cell, there are 10 bacteria, microbes of various sorts. All of these bacteria have the shikimate pathway which is extremely disrupted by glyphosate.

Glyphosate disrupts the beneficial bacteria in our microbiome which allow the pathogens to over grow. These pathogens produce toxins that lead to gut permeability, gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhoea, colitis and Crohn’s disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and many other diseases.

In the video ‘The Health Dangers of Roundup (glyphosate) Herbicide. By Jeffrey Smith & Stephanie Seneff’, Stephanie Seneff talks about how genetically modified organism (GMO) crops such as soy can cause a significant change in the composition of the gut microbiome.

5. Hormonal, Infertility and Miscarriage Issues

It has been found that those who consume GMO soy can have severe hormonal disruptions including an overabundance of estrogen and damage to the pituitary gland. Studies have found that glyphosate can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle and can lead to abnormally heavy or a longer menstrual period, or the opposite – no menstrual cycle.

Glyphosate is also toxic to the placenta, which is responsible for delivering vital nutrients from mother to child, and eliminating waste products. Once the placenta has been damaged or destroyed, the result can be miscarriage. In those children born to mothers who have been exposed to even a small amount of glyphosate, serious birth defects can result.

If you want to learn more about the dangers of soy read Cyndi’s report titled ‘Soy – The Hormone Disrupter’.

What Should You Do Now?

It’s easy, avoid soy and stick to foods that come from nature. Healthy eating can be simplified into four words: JUST EAT REAL FOOD.

However, sometimes this is easier said than done when we are bombarded with food companies’ marketing claims about ‘all natural’ health foods, or when there are many different names for soy and soy derivatives.

Here are five questions that I suggest you use to ask yourself if an item is real food:

  1. Is it a product or is it a food?
  2. Is it made with ingredients that humans have used for thousands of years?
  3. Is this something that your great-grandmother would recognise as food?
  4. Can you make it in your kitchen yourself?
  5. Is it advertised on TV?

Jordan Pie


Reference List

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  1. Nancy

    What about organic soy milk and other products without the crap chemicals you mentioned. Is organic soy still something to steer clear of?

    • Jordan Pie

      Hi Nancy, thank you for your questions.
      If you are going to consume soy, it is least harmful in its fermented state. Foods like Tempeh and Miso have some health promoting properties and many of the harmful anti-nutrients are fermented out. These are fine for some people (not everyone) in small amounts (consume like a condiment). Just look for ones that have been traditionally fermented.I would also recommend you read the following blog post in regards to the soy milk question:

      • Fortini

        If soy is so harmful what about the asian cultures that use a lot of soy in their cooking. Has it not harm their health.

        • Jordan Pie

          Hi Fortini,
          I was about to type a very similar response to what Chris Kresser wrote in the following blog, but thought it may be easier to send you the link in case you had more questions about Soy:

  2. Angela

    Hello Jordan
    What about Non GMO soy milk?

  3. Catharina Visser

    I heard that fermented soy is ok to have. Is this right?

    • Jordan Pie

      Hi Catharina,
      If you are going to consume soy, it is least harmful in its fermented state. Foods like Tempeh and Miso have some health promoting properties and many of the harmful anti-nutrients are fermented out. These are fine for some people (not everyone) in small amounts (consume like a condiment). Just look for ones that have been traditionally fermented.

  4. Rachael

    My son has a milk protein and egg allergy. We were recommended soy as an alternative. Do you have a recommendation instead of soy? Thanks

    • Shannon

      My son has a milk protein allergy. We got recommend soy but then I nearly killed him when changing over to soy he developed a twisted bowel. The dr I got a the hospital said it was the soy milk it should never given to kids especially boys. More I looked into it the more cases and how bad soy milk is.

      • Jordan Pie

        Hi Shannon,
        Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that, how horrible for you and your son. Luckily there are plenty of other alternatives ‘milks’ you can try such as; homemade nut or seed milks and coconut milk.

  5. Lynda

    I can’t have soy as I have a goitre and when you start reading food labels it’s in almost everything including chocolate!


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