Soy has long been eaten in its fermented form of miso, tempeh, tamari or natto in Asia. In the US, it is believed that soy was first planted in 1765, and was not preliminarily scientifically studied in Agricultural College in New Jersey until 1879. Soy was mainly cultivated as a forage crop in its early existence in the US. During the Second World War though, its agronomic role significantly changed. With the disruption of the trade routes due to the war, the US started large-scale planting of soy for its oil.
To this day, soy is utilized as a main or supplementary ingredient in a whole host of processed food products, from textured vegetable proteins, to soy nuts, to cereals. While this is the case, there’s a great deal of research that products like soy protein powder as well as other processed soy made from uncooked, unfermented or unroasted beans pose risks to human health.
Continue reading to learn more about the negative effects of soy protein powder, and why the Superhuman Food Pyramid recommends you avoid them as a source of protein.
Soy Protein Powder Risks:
Soy protein powder comes from soy protein isolate or SPI. SPI is extracted by washing the dried defatted and flaked soybeans with either water or alcohol. Afterwards, the flakes are dehydrated so as to achieve powder form. This manufacturing process fails to remove the phytic acid, a known anti-nutrient, from the soy. As it turns out, phytic acid can be neutralized only through long and slow cooking in high heat. This process is absent in the making of soy protein powder. Phytic acid binds with zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, and copper resulting in deficiency in these essential minerals.
Soy protein powder contains plant oestrogens as well which affect the normal production of hormone in the endocrine glands. In men, the effect is decreased production of testosterone resulting in reduced sex drive as well as the enlargement of breast tissue in men, a condition called gynecomastia. Individuals suffering from hormone-sensitive cancers like uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers are advised against taking soy as well since the soy’s oestrogen-like effect may potentially stimulate the growth of tumours.
SPI, and therefore soy protein powder, also contain toxic substances that prevent trypsin, a type of enzyme, from doing its function which is to aid in the digestion of protein. Because the trypsin inhibitors block the breakdown of protein, this then results in oftentimes serious gastric distress, and even worse, prevents the absorption of essential amino acids. Some of these trypsin inhibitors, much like phytic acid, can be neutralized through high-temperature processing. However, high-temperature cooking is essentially a double-edged sword. While it can indeed remove some of the trypsin inhibitors and the phytic acid, it can also denature some of the proteins in the SPI rendering them unsafe for human consumption.
Additionally, the preliminary process of washing the soy flakes is done in tanks made from aluminium. Aluminium has been found toxic to nerve tissues and may even be the culprit causing Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia-related illnesses. Also, processing soy into SPI results in the production of the toxin lysinoalanine. The presence of lysinoalanine was the reason the Food and Drug Administration didn’t label SPIs as “Generally Recognized as Safe”.