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Soya - The Two-Edged Sword

Soya is often promoted as a wonder food for humans, containing a high protein content (c 40%) in proportion to fat (c 20%), with about one third of the carbohydrate content found in wheat or maize. It is very much cheaper to produce in quantity than meat, fish or eggs. Products derived from soya include milk, tofu, coffee substitutes, stock feeds, and milk formulas for babies allergic to cows milk.

But major evidence now exists to suggest the soya bean is inappropriate for human and stock consumption at current levels. As a legume, it is known to contain phytoestrogens - plant versions of the female hormone estrogen. Phytoestrogens came to the fore when farmers discovered that stock browsing quantities of red clover had reproductive difficulties. Legumes were shown to be one of the prime sources of phytoestrogens and it was this content that was playing havoc with the stock's reproductive systems

In recent years, Western women have been encouraged to supplement their diets with quantities of soy products at menopause to keep up their estrogen levels, on the basis that the higher intake of legumes by women in Eastern countries accounts for the apparent lack of menopausal problems there.

International research findings quoted in New Zealand Medical Journal of May 1995 and a Swiss Public Health paper indicated that 100gm of soy product has the estrogenic content of one contraceptive pill. And further research is beginning to reveal more of the soya story.

Questions about the use of soya-based infant formulas were first raised in New Zealand in late 1994 when Richard and Valerie James of Whangarei commissioned a wide-ranging scientific study following painful deaths and early maturing of parrot chicks at their aviary. The chicks had been reared solely on a commercial soy-based bird feeding product. The toxicologist carrying out the survey confirmed high levels of estrogenic compounds in the feed, and also in four infant formulas, likening the content to that of contraceptive pills. He confirmed that depending on age, quantity and feeding methods, infants on soya formula might be consuming the equivalent of up to 12 contraceptive pill equivalents a day.

Then, after further studies by the manufacturers and the Ministry of Health, it was announced that there was insufficient evidence to implicate soya products.

More recently however safety questions were raised again in New Zealand, with suggestions being made that soya-based infant formulas should be available only on medical prescription. The Ministry of Health finally confirmed that infants with possible thyroid problems should not be put onto them, and that it would be preferable if they were used only under medical supervision.

The Australian College of Paediatricians also came out with the view that the use of soya formulas may not be without side-effects.

Meanwhile, a variety of press statements were issued following a number of research projects on soya:

(a) A study by the National Institute of Aging in Hawaii warned people in middle age to stay off tofu because of a risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease. The Hawaiian researchers claim that phytoestrogens do not necessarily act like natural estrogens, and they are not necessarily good for humans. The 30 year study found that those men who reported eating tofu at least twice weekly were 2.4 times more likely to have developed Alzheimer’s in old age than non-tofu eaters.
NZ Herald 8 June 1998

(b) The American Academy of Science Report “Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods” stated that phytoestrogens are capable of producing growth of the vagina, uterus and mammary glands and female secondary characteristics.

(c) A report from the University of Turku in Finland warned that, in doses exceeding the daily intake in Asia, phytoestrogens are potential hormone disrupters in males.

(d) A new book, “The Phyto-Factor” by Maryon Stewart, founder of the Women’s Nutritional Advisory Service in Great Britain, claims phytoestrogens are thought to act in a similar way to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen in combating hormone-sensitive cancers, protecting agaist osteoporosis, heart attacks and menopausal flushes.

(e) Working on statistics from the World Health Organisation, two official scientific panels have recently concluded that there is almost no evidence to suggest a link between phytoestrogens and a reduction of cancer risk. It was noted that while the Japanese and Chinese have lower than average rates of breast cancer, both countries have very high rates of stomach and liver cancer.

(f) The US Food and Drug Administration Centre for Toxicological Research pointed out that phytoestrogens should be regarded as toxicants rather than being recognised as safe. This is because consumption of phytoestrogens carries an increased risk of goitre and thyroiditis, as well as a significant dose-dependent risk of developing dementia and brain atrophy from the consumption of tofu.

(g) A very significant volume of evidence is now emerging that children fed soya formulas and women taking soya products to assist with the menopause are developing serious thyroid problems and autoimmune diseases. To follow this story further, please click on the links at the bottom of this page.
To learn more about proposed legal proceedings, Click Here.

(h) For even more about estrogens in food you can't do better than read John B. Symes, D.V.M. on the subject at DogtorJ.

What emerges from all of this material is a very serious question about the over-use of soya in both adult and infant diets - especially infant diets, where nature's intended food source is being replaced by an entirely foreign product.

Read The Whole Soy Story........

The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food
The book that tells the truth about soy that scientists know, that you need to know, and that the soy industry has tried to suppress.
by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN
The Whole Soy Story

Genetic Engineering
Finally, a serious drawback with soya products is genetic engineering which is now a factor in the commercial production of the soya bean. At this stage, there is no requirement in New Zealand or the USA for genetically engineered foods to be labelled as such. It is however admitted that at least 38% of the world supply of soya beans is being produced with the aid of genetic engineering.

Some New Zealand doctors have called on the NZ government not to adopt a ANZFA standard which would allow the sale of genetically modified foods regarded as "substantially equivalent" to existing foods without special labelling. The Royal NZ College of GPs stated that the phrase "substantially equivalent" was a scientific nonsense. "ANZFA is not the body to decide what should be introduced into the food chain of our patients" the doctors said. "This technology must be subject to rigorous epidemiological surveillance and cross-over trial, for at least 25 years, before it can be declared to be free from risk of causing what may be yet unknown disease processes in the human species."
NZ Herald 1 August 1998

For the latest on the ANZFA decision, Click here
For a great genetic blunder, Click here

It is unfortunate that very little attention has been given in Western countries to the use of goats milk as a first line replacement for babies unable to tolerate cows milk.

It is time to give serious consideration to a milk that has been shown to be very suitable for the rearing of young of many species. David Mackenzie, the writer of the comprehensive, practical, thought-provoking and readable "Goat Husbandry" had this to say about goats milk in a chapter he called "The Universal Foster Mother":

"To the supreme honour of a place in the heavens, among the signs of their zodiac, the Greeks elevated three of their domestic animals: the Bull who drew their ploughs; the fleecy Ram who clothed them; and Capricorn the Goat.

"The name of the goat who earned this honour for her species was Almalactea - "Fostermilk". Her constellation still brightens the 20th Century sky.

"While relatively few of the newly born of other species can be satisfactorily reared on cows milk, however modified, there is probably not a single species among the larger land mammals the young of which will not thrive on suitably adjusted goats milk. The reasons for the high digestibility of the constituents of goats milk have been explained in Chapter 3.....

"People are..... for the most part, convinced that cows milk, which is designed to suit the fast growth rate of the calf, is perfectly suitable for feeding the slow-growing human infant..... but.....there is a massive collection of scientific evidence to show that all young farm stock, if fed on a diet too rich in digestible protein, are liable to mineral deficiency disease sooner or later."

Needless to say, this applies equally to the human infant.

See Resources listed below and:
Table : Comparative Average Composition per cent of Milk
Table : Comparative Composition of the Milk of Various Species

Note: The above information is offered not as a prescription or in place of proper medical care, but as a report on research findings which may be of interest. In cases of sickness, the attention and care of a nutritionally aware health professional are essential.


Soya Resources:
Soy Online Service
"The Dark Side of Soy"
"Soya Bean Crisis: Scientists V the Soya Industry"
"Soya Alert Over Cancer and Brain Damage Link"
"Soy: Too Good to be True"
More links

Goats Milk Resources:
"Goats Milk - The Natural Alternative" Tinsley Beck BA MEd
Available from: Tinsley and Margaret Beck, 7 Willaring Drive, Beckenham, Western Australia 6107
(ph 0061 8 9358 2383)
See brief excerpt:"What's the Matter with your Baby?"
Goat's Milk for Infants by JB Tracey MB
Goats Milk
Why Goat Milk by G F W Haenlein PhD
Differences Between Cow and Goat Milk by G F W Haenlein PhD and R Caccese
The Chemistry of Cream by R Goodwin

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