Posted by: Ticktock | July 14, 2008

I Throw Soy Milk Under the Bus!!!

Our family drinks a lot of soy milk.  Perhaps too much.

We even briefly used soy milk to wean our one year old off of the breast, which caused our pediatrician to scold us for choosing soy over formula.  We didn’t feel we deserved the reprimand because we were also supplemeting her diet with full fat yogurt and meat baby foods for protein and fat.

Just to be safe and balanced, we’ve since included whole dairy milk into the routine and eased off of the soy.

I recently read about a vegan couple who were wreckless with their baby’s diet.  They fed their infant nothing but apple juice and soy milk, which ultimately lead to her death.  Vegans!!!  They were sentenced to life in prison for the stupidity.  It was this trial, and some previous knowledge about soy’s link to estrogen, that made me want to examine the beverage further.

Based on my research so far, I can safely say that soy is an imperfect health food.  Vegans and health alternative parents, including myself, should limit or eliminate their daily use of soy milk.

I’ve found so many contradictions in the scientific literature about soy milk:  it gives you cancer, it prevents cancer, it makes you smarter, it gives you dementia.  Since researching the topic, I’ve decided that soy milk is both good for you and bad for you, depending on your specualtive perspective, but the science on both sides of the debate is being manipulated to serve those informed speculations.  The truth lies somewhere inbetween, and as always, that makes me lean to the side of caution, since it’s unfair to my kids to gamble their health for the sake of neutral critical inquiry.

The contradictions of soy milk begin with it’s high amount of heart-healthy isoflavone phytochemicals that mimic estrogen and potentially disturb the body’s reproductive hormones (the one’s that are already being disturbed by bisphenol-a and triclosan).   Lab rat studies show that soy increases reproduction problems with puberty (and all that) and induces thyroid disease.  Its been said that feeding a child soy formula is the equivalent of giving them four or five birth control pills.  Needless to say, I’m skeptical of that claim.

It’s been shown that the phytochemicals in soy can be effective and beneficial for women during menopause.  Two glasses of soy milk a day is even enough estrogen to throw off a woman’s cycle.  That’s a crapload of estrogen, and to think that most baby’s are getting all that in BPA plastic bottles cleaned out with triclosan antibacterial soap.  Who knows what kind of reproductive problems we’ll see down the road.

Soy should be a good protein alternative for children who are (mis)diagnosed as lactose intolerant.  Soy milk and other soy products contain a processed ingredient called Soy Protein Isolate (SPI).  But looking at SPI further reveals some unsettling facts.   SPI is a soy waste product that is recycled back into the product, after being processed in vats of aluminum.  Of course, the aluminum contaminates the soy milk (about a 100 times more than cow formula).  The processing also creates nitrites, a carcinogen found in deli meats that slightly scare me, and lysinoalanine, a pseudo-toxin that doesn’t really scare me yet.  The FDA has yet to deem SPI safe for consumption, even though some vegans are eating it nearly every day.

Soy is popular in the diet of Japanese, who have low rates of heart disease and cancer, but they generally consume unprocessed fermented soy and a lot less of it.  The fermentation of tofu eliminates many of the aformentioned toxins that pose a health threat to soy milk drinkers, including phytic acid, a toxin that inhibits vitamin absorption.

The list of negative soy studies is long and complicated.  I’m extremely disappointed that soy milk hasn’t stood up to scientific scrutiny.  It seems so healthy, but any critical thinker would be quick to put me in my place on that simplification.  As with any product I serve up to my children, I must choose safety over comfort, health over principle, and science over hype.  I guess the cow industry just received a permanent convert.  Yay!

As with all controversial topics, I welcome and encourage topical comments and thoughts from relevant experts and random visitors.  Thanks for the feedback!

*UPDATE 7/23/08*  Soy milk may lower a man’s sperm count!

**UPDATE 10/3/08 – Soy does not lower LDL cholesterol as claimed.**

***UPDATE 10/3/08- Soy may help stroke victims***

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Responses

  1. I knew I was avoiding soy milk for a good reason :}

  2. this was brought up at the convention in 2006 – that is that there is too much estrogen in soy milk for little bodies – but it was disputed by the natural foods speaker (of course).

    when i told my older sister we had switched from cow’s milk because i felt like my kids where getting allergies at an abnormal rate she asked how did they get their calcium. i pointed put there are other ways to get calcium (even though soy milk has calcium).

    i think moderation is key. our kids have soy milk with their cereal which is probably less than a cup a day so i don’t think that is going to make them grow breasts or anything.

    but is does bring up the point of: a.) good marketing and b.) inferior scientific studies.

    SNL sucks now.

  3. […] beverages being fair… I threw soy milk under the bus. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Good germs, bad germsThe fight over raw milkWhy […]

  4. So good to see a bunch of “Dads” digging deeper. Enjoyed your article. Many of us out here are so turned off to soy for the simple reason of the hormonal injury – especially to children. Exception, of course for the fermented – I am big on that and have posted on the process of fermentation here and there. (Tedious, but worth it.) But my main turn off with soy is the fact that almost all of it available for purchase is Genetically modified GMO’s so this is a huge no-no to me. Won’t buy any of it, corn too which is heart-breaking – I love corn.

    Many famous but divergent authorities debunk the usage of milk in any form. For those of us in western culture, it is hard to give up as we were raised on it – plenty of it. How can anything so good be so bad for us? As a youth, my son used to consume a couple of quarts daily. He had maybe the worst acne a gorgeous hunk can endure. He was at a loss. I was at a loss. I knew it had to be something dietary, but physicians told me diet had nothing to do with it. They were so wrong. I figured it was chocolate with me (I had adult acne into my 40’s) But it was the dairy.

    When my granddaughter became afflicted as well, I wrote to Dr. John McDougall and he informed me that it was the dairy. I have since proved to my satisfaction that he is correct.

    Dr. McDougall (one of my heroes)teaches through his newsletter, books and videos, the sanity of a starch (plant) based diet. It works for me. The main reason I gave it a go was the pain of arthritis. He claims it is the excess protein (and dairy). The proof is in the eating. It happens overnight. I have posted on Dr McDougall frequently. He is one remarkable man.

    Then there is the Paleo Diet which I have showcased frequently on my blog – Dr. Loren Cordain. Brilliant. Big on protein, the diet of the hunter-gatherers. Also a free newsletter anybody can subscribe to. Paleo says no grains of any kind, no dairy at all – the cause of many health issues. Not to lecture or go overboard here, just showing many experts out there can prove thru empirical evidence that there are problems with dairy.

    Humans do not need the amount of calcium we are touted to believe. I take none. Am not a user of milk either. My bones are fine. I posted on “I worry about Sally Fields” covering this subject.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to get carried away. Somebody over here come to my blog and once in a while I feel motivated to see who some of those people are who come to see me or the scenery at my place. Good luck fellas, you’ve got a great space. Jan

  5. […] Health Ranger believes that phytochemicals, like the kind in soy that make your child’s alternative milk a river of estrogen, are ALWAYS good. (The ignorance of this intellectual position is […]

  6. For the record (2 years too late I guess), most tofu isn’t actually fermented, the soy milk is boiled and then coagulated using your coagulant of choice, the, the curds separated and pressed into blocks. Fermented tofu does exist, but I’ve not yet seen in in America or Japan, and I’ve visited a fair number of fancy pants health food stores. Plus I actually like the stuff (normal tofu).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tofu#Fermented

  7. I just discovered this blog through an answer on http://moms4mom.com. It’s wonderful, thanks!

    On the subject of soy milk, I’d like to add that my reason for avoiding it is simply the added sugar. Apparently it needs sugar to make it palatable. I find it too sweet, and I don’t want my baby to be eating extra sugar when I could just feed him cow’s milk or my own.

  8. As a vegan, just like to comment that those people who killed their baby on apple juice and soy are NOT reflective of vegan community as a whole. They were part of a fundamentalist religious sect and that says it all. Vegan mums breastfeed their babies to 2 years or more and are generally aware of the soy controversy. Vegans as a group are generally quite well versed in health of foods etc. I use a mix of soy milk, and rice milk for my 3 yr old, and lots more water, heaps of food and she is tall (as I am) and very bright for her age (not just my opinion :). I wanted to feed her myself to this point but it wasnt possible. Should I find she is not thriving as well as she could I will put her on organic eggs or similar asap. I have a supportive GP who regularly asseses her so I don’t miss anything. I am not so committed to my ideal as to risk her or my own health, but I know how poorly I deal with animal derived protein. So please….by and large vegans are very cautious about their kids health and perhaps more so than the mainstream society with their UHT fruit juice, cordial, chips and love of cholesterol saturated foods.

  9. stellaargent:

    As a vegan, just like to comment that those people who killed their baby on apple juice and soy are NOT reflective of vegan community as a whole.

    Thank you. And I am not vegan, though I know a few (does that sound weird?).

    The problem was that they only used soy milk, not soy formula, a product that allowed my little sister to actually live. She was born in the early 1960s as a seven month premie with no ability to digest lactose. So she could not have breastmilk, nor regular formula. Hence the soy. (and yes, it was weird growing up in the 1960s and 1970s with someone who could not drink milk!).

    The difference is your child is three years old and not an infant. There are essential fats and nutrients missing from soy milk, but are absolutely required for an infant… which you obviously provided through breastmilk.

    I know two people who are both lactose and gluten intolerant (celiac). They are doing okay. Though the mom of one (and she also as celiac disease) worries about her daughter since she is vegan. But I understand she is doing well. (the daughter was in marching band with younger son, band trips were fun as she brought all of her own food!)


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