Monday, July 21, 2014

The Most Dangerous Food You're Probably Eating

Ok, sorry if I'm being dramatic.  Nothing irritates me more that fear mongering in the health and fitness industry.  It is dangerous, irresponsible, and the tactic that spun me into vegetarianism leaving me sick, tired, and metabolically damaged after 3 years.

Let's be honest here.  There are foods that we should be eating every day, foods that we should mostly avoid, and foods that can really only be rationalized on a very special occasion.  And of course, we all have our own personal poisons that we should never touch.

But there is one food, in my opinion, that brings no value to anyone.  Ever.  So I'm going to break my own rules on this one.  

Spoiler alert... it's not Gluten.  Although I think that's plenty nasty,  I still think this food is worse.  PS- have you seen the Gluten Free Duck video??  Hilarious. Don't be that Duck.

This food is highly processed, can have a devastating impact on your hormonal system, is very difficult to source, and is claimed to be a health food.  Now we can say this about a lot of foods,but what makes it so dangerous is that it's in everything.  Seriously- it's everywhere.  It's probably creeping up behind you right now.... (made you look).  

Are you ready?


What?  But soy is so good for you.  That's what Tofu is made out of.  I'm obsessed with Soy milk!  And what the heck would I put on my Chinese food?  

Sorry to be the one to break the news, but this former super food is quickly falling from grace.  Let's look at the evidence against it:

  • According to Chris Kresser, studies have linked soy to malnutrition, digestive problems, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, immune system breakdowns, low sperm counts, and even heart disease and cancer.
  • Soy isoflavones (estrogen), while said to be healthy for women, can actually prevent ovulation and cause cancer cells to develop.
  • Soy is highly processed. Modern processing methods make soy from the waste of soybean oil.  So it's easy and cheap to make, meaning it makes a great filler. 
  • Soy in baby formula is linked to early puberty, an increased risk of infertility, and cancer later in life in females.  For males, an increased risk for a delay or retardation of the development of sex organs.  A study from New Zealand found that the hormones in soy baby formula is equivalent to 5 birth control pills per day.  And guess what- 30%-40% of all babies in the US drink formula with soy in it. 
  • It is estimated that 90% of all soy sold in the US is genetically modified and Round-Up ready, increasing chemical run off around the world.  Soybeans can also be farmed using monocropping, which is a contributor to soil erosion and the loss of biodiversity.
  • Soy is an anti-nutrient, meaning it keeps the body from absorbing nutrients. It specifically depletes Vitamins B12 and Vitamin D.

So how did soy become America's new favorite health food?  Well, remember that it's cheap to make.  So the food industry has a big incentive to get it added to as many products as possible....  38 billion reasons to be exact.  

The food industry has also used the long lifespan of Asians countries and their consumption of soy as proof that the stuff is healthy.  But truthfully, traditional Asian cultures ate fermented soy, which decreased many of the toxic properties.  Additionally, soy only accounted for less than 1.5% of daily calories.  

So contrary to popular belief, soy is just not that good for you.  But so what?  Neither are Oreo's, pizza, or soda.  Well, I can tell you definitively when I am eating any of those.  And furthermore, I can tell you definitively that I'm eating a soy burger or Tofurky.  But what happens if you don't know that you're consuming soy?

The biggest danger of soy is that it's added to 70% of processed food products (remember- cheap).  It's commonly found in canned tuna, soup, protein powders, pizza, bread, bread crumbs, imitation crab meat, bacon bits, chewing gum, cosmetics and even CHOCOLATE.  Soy is also an additive in over the counter and prescription drugs and vitamins.  

And soy isn't always called soy.  Common names for soy as an ingredient can include:
  • Artificial flavoring
  • Natural flavoring 
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • Textured plant protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Vegetable oil
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Lecithin
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Vegetable Gum
  • Vegetable Starch

Is an occasional small amount of soy going to cause significant health problems?  Unless you have an allergy, probably not.  Where we run into problems is repeated amounts of soy masquerading as health food and safe fillers. 

So what to do?

Eat fresh meat, fish, veggies, and fruit.  When you do have to venture into the processed section of the grocery store for your olive oil, nuts, and coconut milk, read the labels.  Get the unflavored version of everything you can.

Do the best you can with what you have!  If you keep it whole and minimally processed, you'll not just avoid the soy, but most of the other nasty fillers as well.

Is this all news to you, or have you been avoiding soy all along?  Share your experience in the comments!



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