The soy story PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Karel Nunnink   

 

America has a love affair with soy — especially women who believe it fights osteoporosis and that soy formula is a good choice for infants. Although promoted as a health food, soy has been linked with numerous diseases including infertility and cancer.

 

Soybean farming is a multibillion-dollar industry. In fact, many of the world’s rain forests were cleared to provide more land to grow them. And as with so many health issues, once enormous profits are involved, it becomes difficult to get to the truth

 

I have two concerns about soy products. One is the direct effect of all soy products on health. The second is that more than 80 percent of all soybeans used for manufacturing foods are GMO (genetically modified). Genetic modifications cause the plant to produce abnormal proteins as well as to overproduce toxins normally produced by the plant.

 

But it’s not just modified soy that poses problems. Even natural soybeans have real dangers for health. One study found that infant monkeys fed soy extract soon after birth exhibited increased aggressiveness later in life and were socially withdrawn. Bad dietary choices can have profound effects on behavior, even producing criminal and sociopathic behavior. Soy foods are major players in this process. 

 

Because soy contains estrogenic compounds, there is worry that it may disrupt the normal development of the brain, especially the brain’s sexual development. One study found that soy extracts could alter the development of the male hypothalamus, causing males to act more like females. It is the hypothalamus that determines our sexual behavioral development, especially a nucleus called the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area (SDN-POA).

 

When newborn male animals were fed soy formula (similar to human soy infant formula), this critical nucleus was reduced in size. In addition, males had greater difficulty maneuvering a maze when fed soy formula as an infant. In humans, this would mean boys would have greater difficulty learning. 

 

Some studies have found soy formula had no effect on testosterone levels, but others found they were decreased. Most found that the prostate gland was significantly smaller in the soy-exposed males. Of considerable importance is the worry that feeding soy infant formulas to babies may cause them to act more feminine. 

 

The soy-fed males also were found to have lower levels of brain 5-alpha-reductase in the hypothalamus and amygdala. These areas of the brain play a major role in sexual behavior. Low levels of this enzyme reduce levels of deoxytestosterone in the brain, the more powerful form of testosterone. A careful balance between estrogen and testosterone in the hypothalamus during early development is critical to sexual behavioral development. 

 

The females fed soy had their own problems. The study found that when soy was fed to female newborns there was a significant fall in the release of oxytocin (dubbed the “love hormone”) from their brains. At least in the mice, this caused a decrease in sexual receptivity — that is, they were less interested in sex. Oxytocin is also critical for normal social development. Among its many additional functions is protecting the brain from inflammation.

 

The females fed soy as infants also had much lower brain 17ß-estradiol (estrogen), which was found to have adverse effects on normal female behavior. 

 

In essence, these studies clearly indicate that even small changes in estrogen and testosterone can have undesirable effects on the sexual behavior of both male and female animals. They also demonstrate that compounds such as soy extracts can have negative effects on these delicate hypothalamic nuclei even in adulthood.

 

 

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