Extraordinary Nutrients:


The Soy Letters

(This page combines two Nutri-Spec Letters, originally published in September 2000 and October 2000. If you wish to print these issues, we suggest you do so from the Nutri-Spec Letters section of the website.)


Volume 11, Number 9

Guy R. Schenker, D.C.
September, 2000

Dear Doctor,

The health food industry is at it again. It's propaganda machines are cranked up into high gear -- spewing out tons of garbage on the purported health benefits of soy products. As usual, your patients have been swept off their feet by this heavily hyped and mega financed sales pitch. You are certain to have encountered the soy propaganda yourself -- and you, too, may have found it convincing. After all, the health food industry is quite adept at quoting the scientific literature selectively and out of context.

It is our goal to see that all NUTRI-SPEC practitioners, and all your patients, enjoy the benefits of scientific truth applied to nutrition. To that end, we are engaged in a never-ending battle against quackery and charlatanism in the marketing of nutrition products.

Until now, we in NUTRI-SPEC customer service have been dealing with the soy foods issue on an individual basis -- enlightening each of you as you call in with questions or comments regarding the effect of soy on one of your patient's health, or wondering how it might fit into your own family's nutrition regimen. But now, since the soy issue has become a monster of such grotesque proportions, we must deal with it in this Letter.

The soy propaganda machine is a perfect example of how deviously under-handed the natural food industry can be. There are three principle purported benefits for which soy products are promoted -- and each one is ludicrous.

Soy is often included as a source ofprotein in health food products. Your patients must understand that soybeans are entirely indigestible. To obtain a somewhat digestible "food," the soy protein products are severely de-natured by prolonged exposure to high temperatures, not to mention the oxidation exposure as they are blown into a fine powder. Because of their difficulty of digestion, plus their extremely processed and de-natured qualities, these are a deplorable choice as a source of protein.

Not only is the protein in soy toxic garbage because it is so extremely de-natured, but the soy protein is woefully incomplete as it severely lacks the critical amino acids methionine and cysteine (and that is even before you account for the lysine and glutamine and other amino acids that are destroyed in the processing). Furthermore, soy beans contain potent enzyme inhibitors which actually block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion.

So -- soy as a source of protein? You could laugh at such nonsense except that so many of your patients have fallen for it.

Many soy products are promoted because of the chemicals that have been isolated from soy that are anti-cancer. It turns out that every word that the natural food industry says about certain substances in soy decreasing cancer is true. There are several substances that have been isolated from soy that have shown a beneficial effect on a few forms of cancer -- and this piece of truth is what the health food industry has seized upon in their promotions. The problem is that there are even more substances that have been isolated from soy that cause cancer, and the health food industry conveniently ignores that information.

The third promotional point used by the health food industry for soy products is their estrogenic effect. This is the most absurd notion of all. The phytoestrogens isolated from soy are a major problem when used therapeutically, for the very reason that they do have estrogen activity. Almost all people (including both women and men) are suffering the effects of excess estrogen -- which is a damaging stress hormone. Because of their estrogenic activity, these soy products accelerate aging, exacerbate cardiovascular disease, contribute to osteoporosis, etc, etc.

We could cite countless studies from the scientific literature demonstrating the estrogenic effect of soy, and these are some of the same studies quoted by the health food industry. The conclusion reached by these researchers was that they were alarmed by the toxic estrogenic activity of soy products. It was demonstrated that these phytoestrogens from soy have all the damaging affects of estrogen -- including causing breast cancer, inhibiting the thyroid, elevating cholesterol, causing osteoporosis, etc.

All the health food industry did was quote out of context from these articles showing that phytoestrogens have estrogen activity, and then tried to peddle them to women entering menopause. This lack of integrity is the norm in the natural foods industry.

(You have just as big a need for a NUTRI-SPEC LETTER addressing the issue of estrogen damage as you do soy damage. We'll see that you get one in the next few months.)

One of the most common tricks employed by the health food industry in generating propaganda on any subject is shrouding a product with a certain mystique. Mystery and exotica have a tremendous emotional appeal to people -- particularly the most irrational and gullible. Did you ever notice how all of the "healing herbs" are only found in remote parts of the Himalayan Mountains, or in a hidden valley in China, or in one remote, primitive village of South America? Why is it that none of them grow along the highway in Peoria, Illinois?

In that same spirit of magical mystery, a myth of soy miracles has been contrived that attributes low cancer incidence and many other health benefits to the Asian populations who have used soy products as a staple in their diet for thousands of years. This is all a lot of hog wash.

Unlike lentils and a few other legumes that have been used for many thousands of years as a food staple in many parts of the Orient, soybeans have a relatively recent history of use as a food. Furthermore, that use is almost entirely as a condiment, not as a dietary staple. The historical truth on the soybean is that it was designated by the Chinese many thousands of years ago as one of the sacred grains -- but not because it was eaten, but because it was used for its nitrogen fixing properties in soil as part of crop rotation. The soybean was deliberately avoided as a food, as the Chinese knew of its harmful effects.

It took the Chinese thousands of years to stumble across the fermentation process that made soybeans edible (though not necessarily healthful). Even though the fermentation process does eliminate many of the enzyme inhibitors in soy and also the hemaglutinin (which causes red blood cells to clump together), these substances are not eliminated entirely. One way to summarize this is to say that there are a zillion damaging effects from eating soy products, and two of those zillion (the trypsin inhibitors and hemaglutinins) are partially eliminated by fermentation.

You and your patients must understand that, contrary to health food industry propaganda, soy foods a) do not make up a large percentage of Oriental diets, and b) do not have a long history of being consumed in significant quantities in the Orient.

Katz SH. "Food and biocultural evolution: A model for the investigation of modern nutritional problems." Nutritional Anthropology, Allen R. Lis Inc., 1987;p.50.

Here are some other essential facts about soy foods, with references to back them up. Please understand that when we talk about these negative effects of soy foods we are not talking about phenomena that are technically true, but quantitatively not that significant. No -- these damaging effects of soybeans become clinically significant immediately, and with very small intake of soy foods.

The phytates in a soy-based diet (again, contrary to heath food industry propaganda) really do interfere with the uptake of important mineral nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and especially zinc. The soybean has the highest phytate content of any grain or legume. Furthermore, it is highly resistant to many of the phytate-reducing techniques such as long, slow cooking. Asian children who eat significant amounts of tofu and soy bean curd suffer a high incidence of rickets, stunted growth, and other developmental problems.

People who consume tofu and bean curd and soy protein "health bars" as a substitute for meat and dairy products risk not only protein insufficiency, but also severe mineral deficiencies.

Van-Rensburg, et al. "Nutritional status of African populations predisposed to esophageal cancer" Nutrition and Cancer. V4 1983 pp. 206-16.

Moser, PB et al. "Copper, iron, zinc and selenium dietary intake and status of Nepalese lactating women and their breast-fed infants" American Journal of Clinical Nutrition V47 Apr 1988 pp7 29-34.

Harland, et al. "Nutritional status and phytate: Zinc and phytate X calcium: Zinc dietary molar ratios of lacto-ovo-vegetarian Trappist Monks: ten years later" Journal of American Dietetic Association V88 Dec 1988 pp 1562-66.

Tiney, EL. "Proximate composition and mineral and phytate contents of legumes grown in Sudan" Journal of Food Composition and Analysis V2, 1989 pp67-78.

Ologhobo, et al. "Distribution of phosphorous and phytate in some Nigerian varieties of legumes and some effects of processing." Journal of Food Science V49(1)Jan/Feb 1984 pp199-201.

Sandstrom, et al. "Effect of protein level and protein source on zinc absorption in humans." Journal of Nutrition V119(1) Jan 1989 pp48-53.

Tait, Susan. "The availability of minerals in food, with particular reference to iron." J-R-Soc Health V103(2)April 1983 pp 74-77.

Leviton, "Phytate reduction of zinc absorption" J-R-Soc-Health V103(2)April 1983 pp14-15.

Mellanby, Edward. "Experimental rickets: The effect of cereals and their interaction with other factors of diet and environment in producing rickets" Medical Research Council V93 Mar 1925 pp2-65.

Wills, et al. "Phytic acid in nutritional rickets in immigrants" The Lancet April 8, 1972 pp771-73.

The extreme temperatures and pressures that must be used to break down soybeans so that they are palatable, do extreme damage to the nutrients. The proteins are so severely de-natured that they become very difficult to digest and much reduced in their biological activity.

Wallace, GM. "Studies on the processing and properties of soy" J-Sci-FD-Agric V22 Oct 1971 pp526-35.

Furthermore, the extreme processing of soy produces a carcinogen called lysinealine, plus, reduces the content of the important amino acid cystine, which is already lacking to an extreme in soybeans.

Burke. "Technology of production of edible flowers and protein products from soybeans" FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin 97 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 1992 p 85.

Nitrosamines, which are potent carcinogens are also found in soy protein foods, and are greatly increased during the high temperature drying process.

Rackis, JJ et al. "Quality of plant foods in human nutrition" V35 1985 p 232. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition

In test animals, soy foods cause enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, as well as increased deposition of fat in the liver.

Smith. "Soybeans chemistry and technology" Vol 1. Avi Publishing Co Inc. West Port CT 1972 p.183.

Jenkens, et al. "Nutritional assessment of twelve protein foods/ingredients" Nutritional Research V9(1)Jan 1989 pp 83-92.

One common claim of the health food industry is that soy foods lower cholesterol. Quite the contrary -- in human feeding tests, soy products did not lower cholesterol, and in fact, more often raised cholesterol levels.

Wolfe, BM. "Elevation of VLDL cholesterol during substitution of soy protein for animal protein in diets of hypercholesteremic Canadians" Nutri-Rep-Int V32(5)Nov 1985 pp1057-65.

Are you beginning to get the big idea here? Yet to come (in next month's Letter) is the story on how soy foods:

  • cause cancer

  • cause premature aging and tissue destruction with rancid fatty acids

  • poison you with hexane and other chemical solvents

  • cause breast cancer and fibrocystic breasts

  • destroy thyroid function

  • inhibit brain development in infants

  • cause kidney damage

  • contribute to Alzheimer's disease

  • damage the pancreas

  • turn little boys into girls, and little girls into pathological pigs

  • cause osteoporosis

  • destroy libido

Get off the soy!

Guy R. Schenker, D.C.


Volume 11, Number 10

Guy R. Schenker, D.C.
October, 2000

Dear Doctor,

Last month we butchered a favorite sacred cow of the health food industry – soy foods. We would much rather devote these Letters to expanding your awareness of the benefits of achieving metabolic balance through the NUTRI-SPEC objective testing system – but the soy monster has become so big, and is attacking so many of your patients, that we have to devote whatever space is necessary in this Letter to refute the heavily hyped and mega financed misinformation campaign promoted by the quacks and charlatans of the health food industry.

You learned last month that:

  1. Soy is not a source of protein, but is actually a source of protein destruction.

  2. Soy is not cancer protective, but rather, will often cause cancer.

  3. Soy is a phyto-endocrine disrupter which potentiates the toxic effects of estrogen, accelerates aging, exacerbates cardiovascular disease, contributes to osteoporosis, causes fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer, inhibits the thyroid, and elevates cholesterol.

  4. Soy is not (contrary to the health food industry myth) a staple in Asian diets, but is used only in small quantities as a condiment.

  5. Soy inhibits the absorption of essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and especially zinc.

  6. Soy foods cause enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, as well as increased deposition of fat in the liver.

So -- to complete our roasting of the disgusting and dangerous soybean, let us read on ...

The health food industry promotes soy foods as helping to prevent cancer. It is true that some of the substances isolated from fermented soy foods such as isoflavone aglycones as extracts have shown anti-carcinogenic activity in laboratory tests. However, no studies have shown any anti cancer effect of a high soy food diet. But, it doesn't matter anyway, since these isoflavone aglycones are destroyed in soy products such as tofu and soy milk. Furthermore, there are many actual carcinogens that have been isolated from soy. Some evidence exists that the rapid increase in liver and pancreatic cancer in Africa is due to the introduction of soy products there.

Katz "Food and bicultural evolution: A model for the investigation of modern nutritional problems" Nutritional Anthropology Alan R. Lic Inc. 1987 p.50.

Robuck, et al. "Effects of dietary fats and soybean protein on pancreatic carcinogenis" Cancer Research 1987 March 1;47(5):1333-8.

One other damaging effect of the extreme chemical processing, high temperature, high pressure and hot air spray processing that soy under-goes is that the fatty acids are made rancid. Not only are the soy oils made rancid in the processing, but hexane and other solvents which are used to extract the oil from the soybeans remain as traces in soy foods.

There is a ton of easily found information on the damaging effects of soy in terms of its estrogen content. Here are just a few references of hundreds we could give you on the toxic estrogenic effects of soy.

Levy et al, "Effects of prenatal exposure to the soy phyto-estrogen genistein on sexual differentiation" PSEBM 208, 60, 1995.

Lyn-Cook et al. "Methylatation profile and amplification of proto-oncogenes (cancer causing) in rat pancreas induced with phyto-estrogens" PSEBM 208, 116 1995.

Petrakis et al. "Stimulatory influence of soy on breast secretion in pre-and post menopausal women" Cancer Epidemological Bio-Markers Preview 1996 Oct 5:10, 785-94.

This study showed gross cystic disease fluid protein concentration in response to soy. Furthermore, there was breast hyperplasia in seven out of twenty four women during the months they ate soy.

Hilakivi-Clark, et al. "Maternal genistein exposure mimics the effects of estrogen on mammary gland development" Oncology Reports 1998 May/June 5(3)609-16.

This study showed that both human and animal data indicate that high maternal estrogen exposure from soy during pregnancy increases breast cancer risk among daughters. It was also concluded that genistein acts as an estrogen in utero, and may increase the incidence of mammary tumors if given to a pregnant mother.

The other gland that is devastated by bean consumption in general, and soybeans in particular, is the thyroid.

Ishizuki, et al. "The effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans administered experimentally in healthy subjects" Endocrinology in Japan 1991 May 20 67:5, 622-9.

Hypo-metabolic symptoms such as malaise, constipation, sleepiness, as well as goiters appeared in half the subjects after taking soy beans for three months.

Suzuki, et al. "Plasma free fatty acids, inhibitor of extra thyroidal conversion of T4-T3 and thyroid hormone binding inhibitor in patients with various non-thyroid illnesses. Endocrinology In Japan Oct 1992 39:5, 445-53.

Whitten, et al. "Potential adverse effects of phyto-estrogens" Journal of Nutrition 1995 March 125:3.

Food allergies to soy are extremely common.

Ganse, R. "Causes of food allergies" School Food Service Journal V40(4), May 1986 pp38-39.

Here is one for good measure that popped up with my soy search which refutes another health food industry myth -- the purported benefits of flax seed.

Obermeyer, et al. "Chemical studies of phyto-estrogens in related compounds" Proc soc exp bio med 1995 Jan 208(1):6-12.

This study showed that flax seed contains damaging levels of phyto-estrogens every bit as bad as soybeans.

One of the most pernicious uses of soy is as the main ingredient of soy-based infant formulas. This one cannot be blamed on the health food industry, as it has been a standard practice of Agri Business (to unload the by-products of soy produced for soy oil) for 50 years in America. Along with trypsin inhibitors, these formulas have a high phytate content which has been shown to cause zinc deficiency in infants. Aluminum content of soy formula is ten times higher than milk based formula, and one hundred times higher than unprocessed milk. Aluminum has a toxic effect on the kidneys of infants, and has been implicated as a causative factor in Alzheimer's Disease in adults.

Soy milk formulas are often given to babies with a milk allergy, but the truth is that allergies to soy are just about as common as those to milk. Soy formulas are also totally deficient in cholesterol, which is an absolute essential for the development of the infant's brain and nervous system. Soy formulas also have no lactose and galactose, the milk sugars that are equally important in the development and function of the infant's nervous system.

Lonnerdal, B. et al, "The effect of individual components of soy formula and cows' formula on zinc bioavaibility," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition V. 40 Nov 1984, pp. 1064-1070.

Palmer, G. "The politics of breast feeding," Pandora Press, London, 1993, p. 310.

Ganse, R. "Causes of food allergies," SchFoodServJ, V.40(4), May 1986, pp 38-39.

Dukakis, E., et al, "Evaluating the nutritional quality of infant formula," Nutr-Res, V.9(1), Jan 1989 pp.93-104.

There is a brochure put out by the Weston A. Price Foundation (website:www.WestonAPrice.org) which gives many additional facts to shoot down the soy myth. First, their literature confirms that Asians do not consume large quantities of soy foods. Average consumption of soy foods in Japan and China is 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) per day. Asians consume soy foods in small amounts as a condiment, and not as a replacement for animal foods.

They also confirm the damage done by left-winged socialist internationalist bureaucrats in America and Europe that have force fed soy foods to developing nations in the name of preventing starvation, and saving the planet from eating "too much" meat, poultry and eggs. In third world countries, soybeans have been forced down the people's throats as a replacement for their traditional crops and natural, healthful foods. Meanwhile, the only real beneficiaries of this left-winged lunacy are the multi-national Argi-Business corporations who grow the soy crop (which requires tremendous amounts of herbicide, creating toxic run-off -- a tragedy which the environmentalists choose to ignore.)

The Price Foundation literature also does a nice job of attacking the use of soy formula for infants. They point out the damage from the trypsin inhibitors that destroy protein and affect pancreatic function; they show that such a diet leads to stunted growth; they show that soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D and thus decreases bone mineralization and growth; and, they show that the reduced availability of iron and zinc damages the development of the infant's brain and nervous system, as does the lack of cholesterol in soy formula.

The literature also points out that the outrageous doses of phytoestrogens in soy formula have been implicated in the current trend toward increasingly premature sexual development in girls, and the delayed or retarded sexual development in boys. This is a fascinating subject about which you and your patients must be aware.

Babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula.

Infants exclusively fed soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day.

Male infants undergo a "testosterone surge" during the first few months of life, when testosterone levels may be as high as those of an adult male. During this period, baby boys are programmed to express male characteristics after puberty, not only in the development of their sexual organs and other masculine physical traits, but also in setting patterns in the brain characteristic of male behavior.

Pediatricians are noticing greater numbers of boys whose physical maturation is delayed, or does not occur at all, including lack of development of the sexual organs. Learning disabilities, especially in male children, have reached epidemic proportions.

Soy infant feeding -- which floods the bloodstream with female hormones that inhibit testosterone -- cannot be ignored as a possible cause for these tragic developments. In animals, soy feeding indicates that phytoestrogens in soy are powerful endocrine disrupters.

Almost 15 percent of white girls and 50 percent of African-American girls show signs of puberty, such as breast development and pubic hair, before the age of eight. Some girls are showing sexual development before the age of three.

Premature development of girls has been linked to the use of soy formula and exposure to environmental estrogen-mimickers such as PCBs and DDE.

A high intake of phytoestrogens during pregnancy may have adverse affects on the developing fetus and the timing of puberty later in life. Many people (vegetarians in particular) delude themselves into thinking that soy foods are a vegetarian source of vitamin B12. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the Price Foundation literature points out, vitamin B12 is not absorbed from plant sources, and modern soy products actually increase the body's needs for vitamin B12.

Soybeans: Chemistry and Technology Vol. 1, 1972.

The Price Foundation also points out that many people delude themselves into thinking that since soy foods contain phytoestrogens, they can help prevent osteoporosis. Again, this is opposite to the truth. When we give you a complete report on the toxic effects of estrogen, you will see that estrogen actually causes osteoporosis -- it does not prevent it. But, as regards soybeans, soy foods, in addition to their estrogenic effect, can cause deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D which we all know are needed for healthy bones. It is also pointed out that the calcium form bone broth, and the vitamin D from sea food, lard, and organ meats, is what prevents osteoporosis in Asian countries -- not the little bit of soy foods they consume.

You will also see a brief summary of the hormone disrupting effects of soy foods in the Price Foundation Brochure (they use many of the same references that we have already given you). Soy isoflavens are phyto-endocrine disrupters. At minimal dietary levels they can prevent ovulation and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Eating as little as 30 grams (about 4 tablespoons) of soy per day can result in hypo-thyroidism with its lethargy, constipation, weight gain, and fatigue.

They go on to point out that soy foods can stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent tumors, and cause thyroid pathology, particularly in association with menopausal difficulties. Furthermore, women with the highest levels of estrogen in their blood had the lowest levels of cognitive function. In Japanese Americans, tofu consumption in mid-life is associated with the occurrence of Alzheimer's Disease in later life.

Furthermore, numerous animal studies show that soy foods cause infertility in animals. Soy consumption enhances hair growth in middle age men, indicating that it decreases testosterone levels. Tofu was consumed by Buddhist Monks to reduce libido.

So, Doctor, we have not even gotten a fraction of the way through all the literature on the damaging effects of soy, and we have already probably reached the point of over-kill. Do yourself a big favor -- stay off the soy; keep your family off the soy; warn all your patients about soy; and give each patient the diet that objective tests show is ideal for his or her metabolic type.

Guy R. Schenker, D.C.