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Friday, November 7, 2008

The Dangers of Soy for Men, Women and Infants

When I first started low-carbing in 1999, I thought soy flour was a good addition to my diet, especially since Dr. Atkins used it in his recipes in his book, "The New Diet Revolution". At first I could not stand the taste, but then found a soy flour that was relatively mild tasting and away I went experimenting. A few years prior to that my love of soy veggie hot dogs and veggie burgers was how I ingested soy. I thought I was eating something healthy. I had no idea the adverse effect that soy could have on the thyroid, but as I began developing Splendid Low-Carbing, I became increasingly aware of its dangers and Dana Carpender was one of the more vocal people about this problem in her popular Lowcarbezine that I also received and enjoyed. I quickly realized that many people were afraid of soy and for that reason I tried to give alternatives for soy flour in Splendid Low-Carbing and was successful doing that, barring one or two recipes.

Soy is particularly harmful for males: Weston A. Price Foundation

Here is a site: Soy Online Service that will tell more stories about soy than I can in this short space. I found the testimonies about soy affecting the thyroid interesting and depressing at the same time. I cannot help but wonder if my autoimmune disease, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, was triggered by my consumption of soy products for a few years. Certainly, that period prior to my illness, I was going through tremendous stress with my birth family and perhaps that was a factor too. It is awful not knowing what caused it.  (Update:  My Hashimoto's, I believe, was caused by a mycoplasma infection - I am much better today and if anyone would like to know why - email me!)

It also saddens me to realize that for 4 to 6 months, respectively, my babies were fed soy formula. It is horrifying to me to realize that this could have been harmful to them. I don't notice anything today, but I do wonder if my eldest son's severe asthma as a child had anything to do with that. He was miraculously cured at the age of 9 years after prayer by a pastor of tremendous faith.

Still unconvinced about soy's negative effect on the thyroid? Mary Shomon, Thyroid Patient Advocate, who has written several books, has also written extensively on this subject: Effect of Soy on the Thyroid

To say that autoimmune thyroiditis is caused by too much soy consumption would probably be oversimplifying things. There are many people who get Hashimoto's Thyroiditis who have never consumed soy products. Hashimoto's has been around for years and years. I still think stress is the biggest factor in any disease process in the body, but it doesn't help to consume a food product that is known to compromise the thyroid, for instance.

Note: Apparently, fermented soy as in soy sauce is okay and I think tofu as well.


Vikki said...

I've never been a big fan of the idea of soy. Some how it just didn't sound natural. Of course I'm from Texas where beef is king.

But I've also read quite a bit about how dangerous it can be. Like you I tried soy flour, but man I hated the the taste.

I'm sure I ingest a little here and there in things other than just my soy sauce, since it's a common addition to many things. But since I use few Processed foods, I'm pretty sure I don't try my system too much, at least I hope.
Great post as usual and thank you for the information,

Jennifer said...

LOL Yes, I guess beef is king in Texas.

Yeah, the taste of soy flour - yuck!

They stick soy in lots of things these days, I agree with you. Even dog food is not exempt from this filler. I used to have to search for dog food without soy products in it. However, now my dog, Happy, is very old at 13 years and I have to cook him his food, because his teeth are not good for chewing anymore and his digestive system is very sensitive to a multitude of foods, plus he has allergies.

Sherrie said...

Do you realise flax has similar effects?

Jennifer said...

No, Sherrie. Tell me more, please. I rarely have flax and have only recently added it into the minute muffin, but prefer the one made without.

Vikki loves flax, so please do tell what the problem with flax is.

Jennifer said...

I guess you mean the phytoestrogens in flax? It makes sense. I've googled it, but there seem to be some conflicting thoughts about flax being a problem for the thyroid. I will look into it further when I have the time.

Vikki said...

Please, anyone that finds any info on this let me know, I've googled it but I didn't find anything definitive one way or the other.

I eat a great deal of flax and I sure don't want to blow out my thyroid.

Jennifer I know how busy you are with the move so don't stress over it. I'll keep looking into it.

Jennifer said...

Hi Vikki,

I'm sorry this is causing worry. This is the first time I've heard that it could impact the thyroid. I did know that flax has phytoestrogens, and that it is high in Omega-3's. The latter is definitely good news for reducing inflammation and is probably good for thyroid function.

I think it might be helpful to pose this question on Mary Shomon's thyroid forum and ask her in particular. I have her site linked, but not the forum on my blog. I should look into linking to her forum as well.

Sherrie said...

Flax has both phytoestrogens as well as goitrogens like soy. I wish I could remember where it was but I read many years ago that the phytoestrogens in flax were much higher then soy.

I started LC in mid 2002 and in December 2003 I was diagnosed with having a goiter and then later chronic fatigue which I think is rubbish. I had flax every day, I used to have a flax cereal for breakfast as well as use flax in cheesecake bases and muffins which I usually had every day plus I used to supplement with 1-2 tablespoons of flax oil. Lots of flax!
I also ate lots of broccoli etc

That said it could just be coincidence, I certainly didn't find removing goitrogens from my diet helped any but then it could have just been too late, who knows.

Having said that, you will find phytoestrogens in nuts and seeds to various degrees.

The omega 3s in flax are very poorly converted. Not only that, the oils go rancid very easily, never buy flax meal but rather buy the seeds and grind them fresh as you need and store leftovers in the fridge. I also think if flax goes rancid so easily then it would be a bad idea to cook it!

Jennifer said...

Wow, Sherrie, I don't know what to say, other than I was also diagnosed with a goiter about the same time as you. You can read my thyroid story on my blog (just do a search. Whenever a goiter is found, it is important to do a TPO (thyroid antibody test) to rule out Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which is subsequently the autoimmune disease that was discovered going on in my body. Hopefully, they did that test for you.

I don't know how Vikki will react to this news. I really think we need to find out definitively, because flax is so useful for low-carbers who like it. It would be sad to jump to conclusions too quickly, but on the other hand, I'd really like to know.

I usually freeze my flax meal, but I've only recently bought some again and have rarely used it during my low-carbing years, mainly because my digestive system reacts badly to too much flax. However, as I said I did have lots of soy in the beginning, but always tried to make sure to provide alternatives in the few recipes that I developed using soy flour. After More Splendid Low-Carbing, I dropped soy altogether.

Sherrie said...

Looking for links for you now, here's one on google booksrole of goitrogens in the etiology of iodine deficiency disorders

To the bottom of that page it mentions flax under cyonagenic glycosides.

Sherrie said...

Heres one I didn't know, bamboo shoots... BAH I love these in stir frys!

Time for me to make up a list of goitrogens!

Sherrie said...

Never mind, I should finish reading before opening my trap (re: bamboo shoots)

"The process of canning bamboo
shoots liberates and adequately removes hydrogen cyanide."

Jennifer said...

Thanks, Sherrie, for going to that trouble. I didn't know about some of those either. I eat broccoli and cauliflower and peanut butter knowing full well they are goitrogens. I usually cook the broccoli and cauliflower though.

I just noticed you have been busy-busy on your blog. Looks very, very interesting and as soon as I have the time, I will be going over to read and comment. Love the look of that muffin and yule log. Wow!

Sherrie said...

The flax council themselves say flax is goitrogenic: safety of flax

This page shows the cyanide level in linseed (flax): Chemistry and world food supplies

Amy Dungan (Sparky's Girl) said...

Well, soy is officially out of my diet. After seeing a great doctor this week, he believes I have autoimmune thryroiditis. We are getting blood work done today to find out all the fun details. BUT THANK GOD I'VE FINALLY FOUND A DOCTOR WHO'S LISTENING TO ME!!!

Jennifer said...

Oh gosh, Amy! You have the same thing I have. Don't worry, thyroid hormone will fix you in no time. I take my little pill (natural thyroid hormone works best for me - has not only T4, but also T3, T1 and T2 for metabolism to work better) chopped in quarters throughout the day and I feel fine. Under stress, I need more though. Don't think sick, just live your life and live it to the full - thyroid problems are fairly easy to treat.

I have to go! We're moving!! Talk to you later. Hugs, Jennifer

I am so thankful that you have found your answer. I'm sad you have Hashi's but it is better to at least know what you are dealing with.

Jennifer said...

Oh, I just read your comment again, Amy. I was in such a rush. You might not have Hashi's. Let's hope so.

Sherrie said...

Excellent news AMY!

Vikki said...

The topic of cyanide levels has come up before, and I've found that the levels are too small to truly fret about, and heating distroys the cyanide so it's pretty much moot for me since I rarely have flax raw.
I've also done quite a bit of research on heating flax since this topic resently surfaced on the forum I belong to. All I've been able to find is, there is nothing definitive on ground flax seeds but most find it safe and that you never ever heat flax oil, which I already knew
As for the thyroid, that I will have to do some research on. But I sure hope it's ok, I eat quite a bit of flax and I'd really hate to give it up.
That being said I don't want to harm my family either.
Thanks Sherrie for info. I'll check out the links for sure and I'll have to check out your site again. I've got it on my homepage, but I didn't notice you'd been to work ...giggle

Amy I'm so glad you found a doctor who listens and that your on your way to a diagnosis. I so relate to the being in limbo for so long.

Thanks everyone, I guess I have some research to do.

Jennifer said...

Vikki, please let us know what you come up with. I'd be very interested.

Sorry you've also had trouble with doctors listening to you. :-( Been there and done that and it is so very frustrating and often humiliating. It is important for us to take a pro-active stance with our own health (the internet is a great resource), as I believe most doctors don't have the time necessary to devote to each patient to do a really thorough job. Some of the patients sadly fall between the cracks and suffer needlessly for many years. I can't believe Sherrie has waited 5 years feeling awful and now, Amy, too and you, Vikki. It is not right and it is not fair!

Amy Dungan (Sparky's Girl) said...

I'm still waiting for the Endo to get back with me on his interpretation of the test results. My doctor here, who only goes by lab numbers, says my ranges are fine with the new tests. The catch here is that she uses a lab that uses the old numbers for TSH. Quest diagnostics refuses to update to the new levels that were recommended 6 years ago. The my local doctor only goes by those numbers. So I'm waiting to see why my Endo has to say. He's the one that said, after feeling my neck, that my thyroid was slightly enlarged and firmer than is should be. He's also taking in account my family history (both parents and two aunts hypothyroid) as well as my symptoms. I'll keep you all posted!

Jennifer said...

Sometime email me your test results (and ranges)if you like, Amy. I can help you interpret from my own experience with this. The worst part is not knowing, but sounds like you are getting closer, as is Sherrie. Keep us posted. I'm sure you will get your answers this time. If the thyroid is enlarged, it could be Hashi's, but it certainly shows it is struggling. A thyroid antibody test is in order to rule out Hashimotos Thyroiditis. Answering between packing. I'm opening several boxes and seem to have lost a couple. What fun! lol