Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

Controversy # 2 - To Soy or Not to Soy?


My latest blog discusses the road blocks to eating healthy in our modern society. It's hard to deny that one of the main contributors to our obesity epidemic is the increased consumption of over-processed sugary carbohydrates. Still, it's hard to drop that cannoli when we are swayed daily to make fast paced food decisions, that don't necessarily favor nurturing our bodies with a well cooked and planned meal.

A wave of dietary books on paleolithic eating and cutting carbs has become a solution by many health experts to slim down America. Still, many dislike the idea, or taste of, a more animal based the situation brings to question, "Is Soy ok?"

Well, first, let me say as far as for eating more protein, I agree that its a solution for balancing blood sugar, decreasing cravings, and trending away toward sugary treats (read my latest blog at for why). I recommend healthy, organic meats and wild caught fish, various nuts, seeds, and legumes. But Soy?

Let's look at this... onto soy..... or not to soy....

It's been exalted, it's been cursed, it's caused mass confusion, it's created great debate amongst health experts......I'm talking about soy. Poor little bean!

Below is a summary on the controversy and the rebuttal from two famous medical doctors.

Side 1: Villain (Dr. Mercola)

Soy. Many protein bars contain soy, either as their dominant or secondary source of protein. The soy industry's media blitz has been so phenomenally successful that nearly everyone has been brainwashed into thinking soy is actually healthy.

Enlightened consumers avoid unfermented soy because it contains:

  • High levels of phytic acid, which reduces assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc - and is known to cause growth problems in children.
  • Trypsin inhibitors interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders.
  • Phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and can potentially cause fertility problems and breast cancer.
  • The processing of soy protein forms a toxin, lysinolalanine, and a carcinogen, nitrosamines. Soy also has high aluminum levels, which are toxic to your nervous system and kidneys.

Furthermore, soy increases your requirements for vitamin D and B12... and hinders thyroid function, making it extremely challenging to lose weight, besides other problems.

Worse yet, soy is one of the world's most genetically modified products.

The bottom line?  In my opinion, soy is NOT a health food. Soy's media hype only makes you believe it is.

Source: Dr. Mercola. "Chocolate Breakthrough: Eat This to Help Build Muscles and Fight Aging". March 8, 2012.

Side 2: Questionable Hero:

The Soy Controversy (Dr. Hyman)

Breast Cancer
How soy lands in the "harm" camp has to do with the protein receptors contained in and on the surface of many human cells, including cancer cells. Receptors have a particular affinity for certain molecules and are very finicky about what shaped molecule they will accept. It must be a fit, like a key fits a lock. The hook-up is important because it tells a cell how to behave. It can be a neurotransmitter chemical or a hormone such as estrogen, even a specially designed drug. Some "keys" will activate a cell's activity (agonist) and some will block one from occurring (antagonist). Studies show soy can do both. Cells can't distinguish soy molecules' plant-derived estrogens from human estrogen because it has the same shaped key. Some cancer cells have estrogen receptors that fuel their growth. In fact, one treatment strategy for women with estrogen-positive breast cancer is to rid or block the body of any estrogen. The theory holds that the phytoestrogens in soy may act similarly to human estrogen causing breast cancer cells to grow. On the other side of the argument, some think that the plant estrogen could protect against breast cancer by hedging into the receptor slot in place of human estrogen, derailing estrogen's ability to fuel cancer growth. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 2009) tracked 5,000 women with breast cancer living in Shanghai, China and found that those who ate diets high in soy - more than 15 grams a day - had a 29% reduced risk of death and a 32% decrease in the risk of cancer recurrence.

A review of the research found no significant effects of soy on the thyroid except in people who are iodine deficient -- a condition that is rare in this country.Another well-designed study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (iii) studied the effect of realistic amounts of soy protein on hormones, including thyroid hormone. It found that soy had no significant effects on these hormones.

Baby Formula Yet the only large, long-term study on humans, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, (ii) found that there were no major health differences in 811 men and women between the ages of 20 and 34 who had been fed either soy or milk formula as infants.More recently, a report issued by the National Toxicology Program Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction concluded that there just isn't enough human or animal data to say for sure whether soy formula harms a baby's developmental or reproductive health.

Bottom Line:
When you are considering the media reports about soy, here are some things to remember:
1. The dangers of soy are overstated (and the benefits may be, too).
2. We eat far too much processed soy (and processed foods in general). Stay away from those in your diet including soy protein concentrates or isolates, hydrolyzed or textured vegetable protein, hydrogenated soy bean oil, non-organic sources of soy, and soy junk food like soy cheese and ice cream. Don't eat them. 3. Whole soy foods can be a source of good quality protein and plant compounds that help promote health.
4. Eat only organic soy. Stay away from genetically modified versions.
5. Replace soy oil with olive oil, fish oil, nuts, and seeds.

Source: Hyman, M. Dr. Hyman's Discussion about Soy on the Dr. Oz Show. September 9, 2010.

My opinion:

Here's my take. I do concur that fermented and non-GMO soy products are the way to go if one consumes soy. Dr. Hyman and Dr. Mercola agree with me, yeah! :)  It's known that non-organic soy does contain aluminum, GMO, pesticides, and many imbalanced phytohormones from processing.

I enjoy Dr. Hyman's suggestions because it puts it back to bio-individuality and to the very educated consumers or practitioners hand. It's true with any food, for some man it's a cure, another a poison. How do you know? Listen to your body, if your confused, research and ask for help. That's what we're here for! 

Now, click over to my "Drop the Cannoli, Grab a Whole Food" blog on my homepage and read about other hints to get back into your optimal food vibe! :)

What are your thoughts??

.....I'd like to hear from you.......

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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...

About Dr. Sarah Lobisco

Dr. LoBisco has been in holistic healthcare for over 10 years. She became interested in holistic medicine when she was able to heal two herniated discs through nutrition, yoga, supplementation, and chiropractic. She has mentored with holistic practices throughout New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. In addition to her Naturopathic and Functional Medical training, Dr. LoBisco has extensive training in a variety of healing modalities, including therapeutic essential oils, nutraceuticals, herbs, whole food supplements, nutritional medicine, and mind-body therapies. She is a graduate of the accredited, four year post-graduate program in Naturopathic Medicine at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. This program includes clinical rotations and a demanding scientific curriculum in integrating conventional and natural medicine. Dr. LoBisco holds her license from the state of Vermont.

Dr. LoBisco has completed her postdoctoral training as a certified functional medicine practitioner. She is also certified in Applied Kinesiology and holds a BA in psychology from SUNY Geneseo. She has contributed as an item writer for the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE)and has several articles that have been published in the Naturopathic Doctor News and Review Digest (NDNR) and the Townsend Letter, both physician- based journals. Dr. LoBisco is also a hired speaker on integrative medical topics for medical professionals.

Dr. LoBisco currently incorporates her training in holistic medical practices and conventional medicine through writing, researching, private practice, and through her independent contracting work for companies regarding supplements, nutraceuticals, essential oils, and medical foods. She has a small, private wellness consultation practice through telephone and Skype. Dr. LoBisco also enjoys continuing to educate and empower her readers through her blogs and social media. Her new book, BreakFree Medicine, is now available on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble. Please inquire here for more specific information.

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