The Whole Soy Story
What is "The Whole Soy Story?"
The way that soy fits into our hormonal health is a topic that volumes can, and should, be written about. What we have with soy, and the information forced on us about it, amounts to nothing less than a conspiracy. Yet, a conspiracy it is. The Whole Soy Story, by Kaayla Daniel (find at your local library using WorldCat) is the starting point for discovering the facts and the intentions behind the soy propaganda campaign, and for discovering just how healthy this health food is.
I'm not going to go through and mention everything that Daniel writes about in the book, but highlight on the endocrine disputing properties of soy. Everyone that follows health food trends probably already knows that soy contains phyto-estrogen. Phyto-estrogen is, quite simple, plant estrogen, while humans make animal estrogen. The two are molecularity very similar, so much so that our body responds to the plant estrogen in soy, and our endocrine system--that is, our hormonal system--is impacted because if it. The hormones in the body are responsible for 100% of our system's functioning, and they hormones are present in very small, but very powerful quantities. We know what these feel like when they immediately enter our system, like when a car cuts in front of us, or while walking home at night we come across a group of ominous looking characters, and our adrenal glands (which sit on top of our kidneys) secrete tiny amounts of adrenaline, setting of the famous "fight or flight" response. I bring up this example to remind us how very powerful hormones are.
When we eat soy, or soy containing foods, we are increasing the levels of estrogen in our body. The effects are slower than the above example, but just as extreme. Over time, the elevated levels of estrogen in our systems wreak havoc, and these effects can be especially profound on men. People joke about developing soy boobs, but that is exactly what is happening. The medical terms for soy boobs, is feminization. This is where the male body exhibits female sex characteristics. Growing breast might not concern some people, but we have to remember that it is an external manifestation of what is happening throughout the body--effecting women and men alike. Think of the excess breast tissue development as a flashing neon sign of total system imbalance. Other signs of elevated levels of estrogen in the body may be sluggishness, weight gain, loss of libido, ED, loss in interest in hobbies, et ectera, poor memory and focus, and more and more. Remember, that these negative effects are not caused by estrogen, but by an excess of hormone disrupting phyto-estrogen. Estrogen, in the male and female bodies alike, is an important and vital hormone.
Aside from soy, the other main culprit in adding phyto-estrogen in massive amounts to the body is hops. Many people do not realize that hops, the ingredient which is included in every beer made commercially, is one of nature's most potent sources of estrogen. This is why long term beer consumption results in a beer belly, that beer belly is the end product of phyto-estrogen feminizing the body and signaling it to store excess fat in the mid section--very important for women to bring a healthy baby to term.
Another great book on this topic is the Anti-Estrogenic Diet, by Ori Hofmekler. According to Hofmekler, signs of elevated estrogen due to diet cause in women hormonal conditions such as PMS, endometriosis, fibroids and menopausal symptoms; and in men it may show up as prostate disorders and a reduced sperm count. More generally, at a sub-clinical level, elevated estrogen will result in an inability to lose stubborn abdominal fat, reduced libido, chronic fatigue and a reduction in the ability to tolerate stress.
The good news about phyto-estrogen, soy, and hops, is once you know of the havoc they are wreaking on your endocrine system and your life, you can begin to take quick action against them.
For a full discussion of how elevated levels of estrogen in men cause such a wide variety of negative health effects and disease in men, please see the book Vital Man by Stephan Buhner.
To learn the Whole Soy Story, and where soy hides in our food supply, see Daniel's book.
And check out the Anti-Estrogen Diet, for a quick primer on turning your diet into one that balances your hormones rather than one that promotes imbalance.