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The Myths and Facts About Soy Milk

The Myths and Facts About Soy Milk

I stop by Starbucks every now and then for my morning coffee. The other day I noticed they’d put some pamphlets on the checkout counter about how good their soy milk is for you. I’d like to share my thoughts on this.

Many people think of soy milk as a healthy milk substitute – including a lot of my clients – and I doubt Starbucks means its customers any harm. But you shouldn’t drink it.

Soy milk is bad for you. Not just the brand Starbucks uses. Any brand. It’s an unnatural byproduct of soy that your body can’t digest.

If you were to eat unprocessed soy, it would cause cramping, nausea and more serious health problems.

Here are a few of the pamphlet’s false claims about soy milk (and the truth about them):

Claim: “In countries where soy is a dietary staple, such as China and Indonesia, soy consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of certain chronic diseases.”

Fact: This is only half-true. The soybean itself is inedible. It contains toxins meant to ward off insect predators. These include:

* anti-nutrients that prevent your body from absorbing essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.

* enzyme inhibitors that make it harder for your body to absorb protein.

(Both of these substances can give you abdominal pain, gas, nausea, cramps and other gastrointestinal problems.)

* hemagglutinin, a substance that promotes blood clots.

* goitrogens, which cause gout and thyroid problems.

Societies that depend heavily on soy-based foods use traditional preparation methods thousands of years old that neutralize or eliminate these poisons.

Tempeh, miso, natto and soy sauce are fermented products. The fermentation process destroys the toxins. Tofu comes from the pressed “curds” of the soybean. The rest is thrown out – and the bad stuff along with it.

Compare this with the industrial processes that go into making soy milk: washing the beans in alkaline or boiling them in a petroleum-based solvent; bleaching, deodorizing and pumping them full of additives; heat-blasting and crushing them into flakes; and then mixing them with water to make “milk.”

This only adds more dangerous chemicals without removing any of soy’s natural toxins. This is NOT a “dietary staple” in China, Indonesia, or any other country. And it shouldn’t be here, either.

Claim: “Also, interest in soy is rising because scientists have discovered that a soy component called isoflavone appears to reduce the risk of certain diseases.”

Fact: The opposite is true. Recent science suggests soy “isoflavones” are dangerous to your health.

Isoflavone isn’t actually a single substance, but a category of substances. Isoflavones include “phyto-estrogens,” plant-based compounds that mimic the female hormone. Eat enough of these and you’ll upset your body’s hormonal balance.

The young are especially vulnerable: research published just last year found that soy-based phyto-estrogens can cause “precocious puberty.” The study focused on a four-and-a-half year old girl who had developed breasts because her parents fed her too much soy formula.

Clinical research also links two of these phyto-estrogens, genistein and daidzein, to childhood leukemia and breast cancer.

Stick with a little milk or half-and-half in your coffee. It would be great if Starbucks offered organic dairy. That would be truly healthy. Keep some on hand at home and in the office if you have access to a refrigerator (and if you tolerate it). Better yet, switch to green tea.

As for soy products, the traditional fermented soy foods like tempeh, miso and soy sauces are safe and healthy. (Again, go organic if you can.)

To Better Health!


Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Health, Vegan, Vegetarian, Whole Soy Benefits, , , , , , , ,

Written by Reed Davis, CN, Contributor to Holistic Nutrition on

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8:34AM PDT on Jul 16, 2014

That, of course, is always a matter of personal choice. I don't consider it any more unnatural than drinking cow milk. Cow milk, in all sincerity, is produced by cows and is naturally intended for calves rather than humans. that is one of the many reasons that many adult humans develop a dairy sensitivity which effects their health negatively.

8:10AM PDT on Jul 16, 2014

Informative article. Confusing opinions from posters. I'll stick with my own opinion: soy milk is unnatural and I would not drink it.

8:08AM PDT on Jul 16, 2014

I also will add that SOY DOES NOT CONTAIN THE STROGEN you say it does. Soy contains Soy beans are rich in phytoestrogens, a subclass of a group of antioxidants known as isoflavones. The chemical structure of phytoestrogens is very similar to that of the human sex hormone estrogen (phytoestrogen literally means plant estrogen). The similarity of the structures allows phytoestrogens to sometimes mimic or inhibit the hormone in animals with estrogen receptors (i.e. mammals).

Studies show that this can effect rodent fertility to some small degree but studies also show that it did not effect mamals and primates. It does not effect humans.

Like I said before,there is plenty of information out there so that people can know the truth. They don't have to buy into misinformation and rumors unless they wish to do so.

7:57AM PDT on Jul 16, 2014

Actually anyone who is willing to research what I posted so that they can know the truth in it is welcome to do so. It takes a few minutes to read and find knowledge which will last a lifetime. Therefore I stand behind what I wrote and I invite any one who wishes to check out and find the actual validity of it to do so. I do believe a more informed public is better than one which is fed misinformation for them to swallow unquestioningly.

2:38AM PDT on Jul 16, 2014

Chazz said that it's dairy milk that contains more estrogen, but that is not based on facts. Dairy milk from some dairies, especially the larger commercial ones that routinely over-use hormones to keep milk production at a peak, will contain chemicals that most of us who are concerned about our health would want to avoid, but estrogen is not one that dairy milk would pass on. Soy, on the other hand, does. The fact that 97% of soybeans are GMO'd is also a concern to many of us.

2:33AM PDT on Jul 16, 2014

Morteza, dairy cows' milk is not "bad" for you, it just depends on the source and if you have lactose intolerances. There just are alternatives and to me, after doing my research, soy milk is not a logical choice for many reasons, but mainly the taste (to me, it tastes watery and less "fulfilling") and I question the estrogen in soy milk products. I have tried and like almond milk and think it's a suitable choice to make.

1:53AM PDT on Jul 16, 2014

Great article, thanks; I've read alot about cow milk online and they all say it not good for you either! So what would be the healthiest alternative specially for breakfast?

7:38AM PDT on May 10, 2014

You make a great point J. I also think that soy gets demonized unduly anyway, Cows milk contains a higher than normal amount of estrogen due to the way industrial dairy farms are run. This fact is rarely mentioned while Soy Milk is raked over coals for aiding a body in creating estrogen, and over blocking nutrient absorption. I kind of question that one though. I would love to see more unbiased studies on it. I was using Soy Milk long before being a vegan and have not experienced any negative effects from it. I admittedly enjoy the taste of the Soy Milk as well as enjoy the various ways I use it in cooking foods. It is also true that Cow milk blocks a persons body from absorbing and utilizing calcium, so that is also equally bad if not worse than the claim that soy blocks the absorption of nutrients. My reasoning would be simple. Women especially suffer from osteoplorises. They need the calcium worse than anyone. In fairness however, I know very few people who consume either of the two products daily. :-) I seem to get plenty of the needed nutrients while still consuming Soy Milk. Naturally I don't drink it every day, but water is the only set daily constant in my life. LOL! We do need water for hydration though, Right? I think we each make valid points with what we are discussing here. We each have a chance to view the subjects from multiple angles this way.

1:58AM PDT on May 10, 2014

Kali, I mentioned almond milk several times, but those are far back there. I have no issues with dairy, but find vanilla almond milk tastes almost the same and has more health benefits...........fewer calories, more calcium and it does not sour. I've had a 1/2 gallon of Silk Vanilla Almond milk in the fridge for a month and it is just as fresh as the day I bought it.

2:48PM PDT on Apr 11, 2014

why no mention of nut milk options? I have read many studies about how harmful dairy is for us, even if it is organic. You mention soy inhibiting absorption of nutrients.. did you know coffee does as well, and studies show milk does too? What about the naturally occurring hormones in dairy and meat? I know so many people who act like soy is poison but consume endless amounts of factory farmed meat and dairy, refined sugars, etc.

A lot of things are bad for us if we have too much. Drives me nuts seeing so many people demonizing soy and then recommending something that also has a lot of negative research surrounding it. Even nut milk has drawbacks (too many omega 6 fatty acids and not enough omega 3s is not good for you)

Did you know people with thyroid problems are told to reduce their intake of calciferous vegetables, strawberries, walnuts, etc? But those are healthy foods! Did you also know MANY plant foods contain phyto-estrogens? The level of phyto-estrogens in soy milk is comparable to the amount in whole grain bread (same amount of grams). Flax is high in phyto-estrogens, beans, broccoli.. I am actually reading something about hyperthyroids may actually benefit from soy.

I could go on forever. What about the phytic acid in brown rice? What about grains? Unsprouted and unsoaked grains, beans, and nuts? It just goes on and on. Something negative can be said of pretty much everything we eat.

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