Mainely Tipping Points 44: December 7, 2012
Part I: THE WHOLE SOY STORY
Just the other day I stood in front of a store cooler with $40 worth of a premiere brand of bratwurst sausages in my hand. How delicious they would be for dinner grilled and served alongside applesauce, pan-sautéed cabbage, corn bread, and assorted pickles and mustards. Almost absentmindedly, I glanced at the ingredients on the label and was startled to see soy protein isolate. I put the sausages back into the cooler for two reasons: I don’t think our food should be padded with soy “meat extenders” so industry can make more money, and I don’t think commercial soy is at all safe to eat, especially the highly processed forms like soy protein isolate.
The person I rely on for soy information is Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, the author of THE WHOLE SOY STORY: THE DARK SIDE OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE HEALTH FOOD (2005). Daniel is known as the “naughty nutritionist” because with outrageous humor she specializes in debunking food myths, like the myths surrounding commercial soy. And, Daniel comes with the kinds of credentials and training which allow her to understand the value of what she is researching, like why some studies have good designs and are executed properly and why others are corrupt, in that they have been designed and paid for by industry to make commercial soy appear to be safe and, even, healthy, when it is not.
If you are totally confused by the alphabet soup that follows many names in the nutrition field, take a look at Daniels article “What Should I Do to Be a Nutritionist? Making Sense of All Those Confusing Degrees and Credentials,” published in the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) journal, “Wise Traditions,” Fall 2009, http://www.westonaprice.org/health-issues/what-should-i-do-to-be-a-nutritionist. Daniels walks the reader through what kind of nutritional programs are available and what their strengths and pitfalls are. She explains what kinds of organizations certify people with dietary and nutritional training, which lets them begin to use the coveted initials behind their names.
You’ll find, too, that this terrain is a minefield of disingenuous claims. For instance, , anyone can claim to be a nutritionist, so the alphabet soup tells everyone what kind of training and testing has been involved. And, Daniels notes that Mary Enig, PhD, MACN, “is fond of saying [that] `Dietitians are trained to dispense processed food.’ (That MACN behind Enig’s name is the coveted Master of the American College of Nutrition, “a prestigious category for those who have made outstanding contributions over an extended period of time to the field of nutrition.”)
Daniels herself studied under the legendary H. Ira Fritz, PhD, CNS, FACN. The CNS stands for Certified Nutritional Specialist, and the FACN designates that Fritz is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. The FACNs, explains Daniels, “hold doctoral degrees, [have] expertise as practitioners or educators and [have] a publication track record.” (Dr. Enig’s MACN is a step above the FACN, which she also holds.)
Dr. Fritz is now emeritus professor at both Union and Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and was, in addition to Daniels, mentor to a number of “superstars” in the field of nutrition. Daniels herself is a CNN, or Certified Clinical Nutritionist, which is a very respected credential. And, she is a board member (Vice President) of the WAPF and regularly publishes articles in its journal “Wise Traditions,” where she also has a column on soy issues. And, she blogs at the WAPF web site and on her own blog, http://liberationwellness.com.
With the publication of THE WHOLE SOY STORY, Daniels acquired a national reputation. She appeared on the Dr. Oz show, where that megalomaniac did not allow her to speak more than one sentence. (Oz ended that segment by passing out stalks of soy to the audience, each fluttering with raw edamame pods.) She appeared on the Oz show as counter to Dr. Mark Hyman, a pro soy advocate, who did not seem to know that soy milk and tofu are not fermented soy products, which are safer to eat. Her in-depth response to Hyman in the Fall 2010 “Wise Traditions” is worth reading, in that it discusses in a short article many of the myths and dangers of eating untreated soy: http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/response-to-dr-mark-hyman. Daniels has been on ABC’s View From the Bay, NPR’s People’s Pharmacy, and will soon appear on PBS Healing Quest. She was WAPF’s 2005 recipient of the Integrity in Science Award.
I am taking a lot of time setting up Daniel’s credentials because I hope this activity helps readers understand not only what I am looking for when navigating the maze of whom to believe when it comes to nutrition, but how readers, too, should discern the value of what they are reading. We can no longer rely on studies from Harvard as being reliable just because they come from Harvard. One has only to look at the recent study denouncing red meat done to see that Harvard nutrition scientists are perfectly capable of producing terrible, useless studies. (See my blog, https://louisaenright.wordpress.com/?s=red+meat.). Daniels has solid credentials, she works with people at the WAPF who also have solid credentials, and for THE WHOLE SOY STORY she looked at the history of soy, at all the major soy studies, at the major soy issues, and at the major soy industry proponents.
We are being besieged at the moment with the idea that we should all eat mostly a plant-based diet. Vegetables and fruits are touted as being chock full of wonderful ingredients that will make us healthy. What is being lost in this current moment of insanity is not only that plants are not nutrient dense, but that plants manage their lives chemically and that some of those chemicals are so potent that they can cause quite a bit of harm to humans. Many of the plants that we eat everyday can, if overdone or eaten without being treated to reduce the chemical load, cause serious trouble. And, it’s easy to over eat certain foods since they are now available all year round. Take spinach, for instance. It’s loaded with oxalates, which can cause kidney stones if eaten in excess. Or, the grains and legumes I wrote about in the Mainely Tipping Points Essay series on the Paleolithic diet, essays 41, 42, and 43, which are loaded with antinutrients that must be treated to be safe to eat. For more information in this vein, see Daniels; “Plants Bite Back,” “Wise Traditions,” Spring 2010, http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/plants-bite-back.
Soy is a dangerous plant food without a long history of use as a food. And we are feeding it to animals and fish we eat and whose eggs we eat. We are dumping soy into processed and packaged foods, including things like canned tuna fish and, unlabeled, in the hamburger in your local grocery store. We are loading it with sugars and drinking it, to include putting it into baby formula. We are, in short, wallowing in soy.
Here are some quotes from the flyleaf of THE WHOLE SOY STORY: “Soy is NOT a health food. Soy is NOT the answer to world hunger. Soy is NOT a panacea. Soy has NOT even been proven safe.”
And, here’s a quote to help start off this series on soy, again from the flyleaf: “Hundreds of epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive problems, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, immune system breakdown, even heart disease and cancer. Most at risk are children given soy formula, vegetarians who eat soy as their main source of protein and adults self-medicating with soy foods and supplements.”
Next: how soy got into our food chain.