Soy Foods Have Downside For Health Of Infants' Adults
Soy Foods Have Downside For Health Of Infants, Adults
Susan Star Paddock,
Gettysburg Times 17 March 2001.
Myra was like a lot of educated women today. She listened to dietary advice and ate more vegetarian foods. She heard from many experts that soy foods were great for her heart so she began to eat soy several times a day. She loved soy milk, soy cheese, soy cereal, soy burgers, soy bacon, tofu etc, etc.She often had soy supplements. She was wondering why on such a healthy diet she couldn’t lose an ounce, no matter what she did. In fact, over the last few years she’d gained steadily. Her energy seemed to disappear and she developed dry skin, a puffy face, headaches, constipation, and painful joints. She always felt cold, and had to fight depression. She chalked it all up to aging, but a thyroid test found her thyroid gland was hardly functioning. Of all the risk factors for developing thyroid disease, Myrna was shocked to discover that over-consumption of soy foods was the major culprit.
Soy is touted as a wonder food , and even the Food and Drug administration released a statement last year saying that soy products could help prevent heart disease. No longer confined to health food stores, soy products are in every supermarket. But through all the hype, many scientists are challenging the safety of soy products. Two of those scientists, soy researchers with the FDA National Center for Toxicological Research, tried to stop the FDA statement with a protest letter about the negative health effects of soy. Their letter and other concerns about soy can be found at www.brain.com or www.soyonlineservice.co.nz,.
Apparently scientists have known for years that the isoflavones in soy products can depress thyroid function and cause goiters in otherwise healthy children and adults. Researchers at Cornell University Medical College said that children who got soy formula were more likely to develop thyroid disease and that twice as many diabetic children had received soy formula in infancy as compared to non-diabetic children. In fact, in other countries such as Switzerland, England, Australia and New Zealand, public health officials recommend highly restricted medically monitored use of soy for babies and for pregnant women. Soy formula is a lifesaver for the 3 to 4 percent of babies allergic to cows milk, but it is so widely advertised that it is sold to 25% of the entire formula market.
Soy also contains a natural estrogen, which is why it is recommended to women at menopause. The president of the Maryland Nutritionists Association, Mary Enig, Ph.D. stated that "The amount of phytoestrogens that are in a days worth of soy infant formula equals five birth control pills." Dr. Enig believes that soy infant formula may be associated with early puberty in girls and slower physical growth in boys. Others say it may effect fertility and normal brain development.
Brain.com reports an ongoing study involving 3,734 elderly Japanese-American men. That research has found that the men who ate the most tofu during mid-life had up to 2.4 times the risk of later developing Alzheimer’s disease. Lead researcher Dr. Lon R. White said that men who ate tofu at least twice weekly showed brain aging about five years faster than those who seldom ate tofu. Soy has also been implicated in interference with the absorption of zinc, calcium, protein enzymes and amino acids.
Soy is an important crop on American farms, and there is a strong soy lobby. Nutritionists may urge people, especially women to eat more of it, citing the good health of the Japanese and Chinese. But as Dr. Larrian Gillespie, MD says, "I was recently in China and saw how little soy is used in the daily diet of the Chinese. We in America think we must consume the entire container of tofu in one or two days, when that is enough for a whole week!" So moderation is a good rule for soy as for everything else. The supplements in particular are unnecessary overconsumption.
Susan Star Paddock, MSW, is family counselor and family business consultant in Gettysburg, PA. This is a weekly column to which Susan retains all rights. It was originally printed in The Gettysburg Times on Saturday, 3/17/01.