In response to Honey who wrote,
" The article was a little heavy, but I thought her sources looked pretty good.
soy article endnotes
She has a PhD in nutrition (from a regionally accredited college) and is a CCN (Certified Clinical Nutritionist)."
We all came to the soy and marijuana articles with our preconceived notions which I think we all need to remind ourselves of in looking at the facts.
I am a soy-eating vegan. When I saw the soy article in the great Mothering magazine (which I tend to trust), I was not thrilled. I feared it would mean a complete overhaul of my family's diet. I put off reading it for a few days and then got my courage up.
When I read the article, it did instill fear in me. Some of the logic sounded (and still sounds) possible and, again, it was in Mothering. Also, I know my biases, so I was struggling to read the article with an open mind and not discredit it just because it didn't say what I wanted it to.
Nonetheless, I took immediate issue with a variety of things in the article.
First, the tone in which it and the side boxes were written does not merely question the safety of soy, it instills fear by word choice and giving limited information. For example, soy "lurks" and "Soy is one of the top eight allergens that cause immediate hypersensitivity reactions such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, hives diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, and anaphylactic shock." What are the other top 8 allergens? Dairy? Eggs? Wheat? Peanuts?
Second, Daniel states opinion or her own personal deductions as fact. For example, "As a clinical nutritionist, I see many clients suffering negative consequences from using soy as their main protein source in vegetarian and vegan diets." This is opinion, not scientific fact. She may suspect this, but it is not proven.
Thirdly, she doesn't fairly present conflicting findings. For example, I've seen early puberty blamed on soy, dairy, high fat diet, pollution...
Even given these issues with the article, I did not want to dismiss it in its entirety. Wanting to know what others thought, I came to Mothering.com for the first time. I found the other thread about this article which, if anyone hasn't read it, has some really good links, discussion and information.
This led me to discover what makes this article really discreditable: she may list legitimate sources, but she does not convey what they say in an accurate manner.
One of her claims is: "The evidence is mounting that greater numbers of boys with birth defects such as hypospadias are born to soy-eating vegetarian moms." She gives two citations for this "fact." The first is a rat study. I didn't bother with this one. Rats we are not. The second one is a study which did find a higher rate of hypospadias in boys of vegetarian moms, but it did not find that they ingested significantly higher amounts of soy. It said more research was needed. (I read the study.)
To make such a strong statement and not back it up is irresponsible and unprofessional. If these are the best sources she has for her "fact" then it is not much of a fact.
I wasn't as alarmed at the marijuana article because it reads more like one person's story (it is) and I found her tone to be almost (not quite) apologetic -- and she certainly explained why she was led to do it. I don't see pregnant women in great numbers rushing out to smoke pot.
On the other hand, I do see - and have seen in these threads - lots of women and men wondering if they should stop eating soy and feeling panicked by the article, not knowing what alternatives to try.
Interestingly, the article which follows the personal story on marijuana use, by Zimmer and Morgan, questions marijuana research for some of the same reasons that I dislike the soy article... E.g. use of animal studies - "Because the effects of drugs on fetal development differ substantially across species, these studies have little or no relevance to humans." Rats we are not. They also note inconsistent findings and highlight the inconclusive nature of the results of studies with negative findings on the matter.
(Personal note: I felt guilty for trying tums for my morning sickness.)
In the end, who knows if there is truly a downside to soy? It is possible. Researching this article at least made me think that we would do well to not rely on soy so much just because eating a variety of foods in moderation is just a better way to go, and the article did give me a kick in the pants to start cutting back even more on processed food. We all know its junk.
A bit more on the soy article from the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. I wrote to them and received this response:About the article, there are a number of questionable points made throughout
the article, and I suspect that the next issue of Mothering magazine will
publish letters from concerned nutrition researchers and health
professionals. We sent in a letter to the editor specifically addressing the
safety of soy formulas, which I have attached.
The main problems with the anti-soy information in the article are that the
author latches on to statistically insignificant findings, understates how
powerfully the research refutes many of her main points, and relies heavily
on animal research studies, which are medically irrelevant to human health.
In addition, Ms. Daniel misquotes Peter Golbitz making it appear as though
healthy Asians typically eat very little soy (in the sidebar reader quiz
titled "Just how much soy do Asians really eat per day?"). Mr. Golbitz has
contacted Mothering about this huge error in converting soybeans to soyfoods
as it essentially throws the whole article out of skew.
For information on soy for human health, please see the following article
which addresses many of the claims made in the Mothering magazine article by
referencing human research studies:
It’s also important to mention that if you are concerned about soyfoods or
allergic to soy products, a healthy low-fat vegan diet doesn't need soy
products to be nutritionally complete. Soy products make convenient and
tasty substitutes for meat and other unhealthy foods that people, quite
rightly, are looking to avoid. However, the benefits of complete protein and
soluble fiber can easily be found in other beans, vegetables, grains, and
fruits. Also, in general, the less processed your diet is, the more
nutrient-dense it will be. Thus, replacing processed soy products such as
veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs with tofu, tempeh, beans, and lentils may
provide you with a more nutrient-dense diet.
I hope this information is useful.
Jennifer Keller, RD
Nutrition Projects Coordinator
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 686-2210, ext. 318
(202) 686-2216 (fax)