Seems like we see “low carb” foods everywhere these days. There’s low-carb chicken and tuna salad, low-carb pasta, bread, cereals, corn chips, burgers, protein powders and protein bars (Luna, Kashi, Cliff, South Beach, Atkins, Special K and Think Thin) and a huge assortment of various packaged low carb snack foods.
Many of us happily indulge in these products thinking we are making a “healthy choice.”
We have the best intentions as we hope by eating these products we will get a little closer to our own personal goals of sliding a little easier into our Skinny Jeans, or maybe helping us take off a few extra pounds or perhaps just aiding in improving our health in some way.
However, there’s one very important thing about most low carb foods that you need to know: Almost all low carb products contain unfermented soy protein which is an ingredient that you’d be best avoid if you want to keep your weight, your mood, your hormones and your cancer risk in check.
Why? Read on…
Why You Should Avoid Low-Carb Products That Contain Soy:
1. Unfermented soy can make it hard to lose body fat
Soy is a photoestrogen and therefore “mimics” estrogen in the body. Phytoestrogens are plant-derived xenoestrogens that attach to the same receptor sites as the female sex hormone estrogen does therefore not only competes with our own internally produced estrogen, but also artificially increases the overall estrogen load on the body which disrupts the body’s delicate hormonal balance.
Since estrogen is an “anabolic”, meaning “building” hormone, by its very nature it contributes to cell growth and proliferation so having too much of it can produce a propensity to gain weight and an inability to keep it off. This can result in stubborn, hard to lose body fat…particularly around the middle!
Additionally, soy also contains goitrogens which are substances that depress thyroid function. Since the thyroid gland is the primary gland responsible for our metabolic rate (ability to burn calories), anyone who is trying to lose a few pounds should avoid items that suppress it…such as soy.
2. Unfermented soy can increase your cancer risk
Research has shown an increased cancer risk in tissues that are particularly estrogen-sensitive such as breast, uterus, and thyroid. In vitro studies concluded that females with current or past breast cancer should be aware of the risks of potential tumor growth when taking soy products, as they can stimulate the growth of estrogen receptor-positive cells in vitro.
Please keep in mind, although we are talking about estrogen- which most people tend to think in relation to “women’s health issues”, this issue also applies to men and kids!
Regardless of gender or age, we all have the same assortment of hormones in our bodies. Estrogen is only one of the hormones in which we all possess- both women and men. It is simply the varying amounts of the hormones which then give us our individual characteristics. In other words, it’s not that men “don’t have estrogen”, it’s just that they have more testosterone in relation to estrogen, which gives them their male characteristics; while women have more estrogen in relation to testosterone. Therefore, men, woman and kids need to be aware of foods and products that artificially increase or otherwise disrupt internal hormonal balance which includes low carb foods made with soy. (Most men I know would not enjoy increased estrogen levels and decreased testosterone levels for reasons I probably don’t have to explain!J)
3. Soy and soy products are not “Natural” at all
Soy is a highly processed product and contains toxic chemicals and which can not be metabolized (broken down) by the body. The fragile proteins contained within are damaged during the high-temperature processing necessary to make “soy protein isolate” and “textured vegetable protein”- common ingredients in low carb foods. This can contribute to premature aging and compromised digestion and detoxification pathways.
Plus approximately 99% of soy is genetically modified (GM) and it has one of the highest percentages of contamination by pesticides of any food. In much of Europe, genetically modified foods have been banned for that reason…but not here in the U.S! The long term effects of genetically modified food are unknown, so basically you are gambling with your health when you consume GM’s.
Worst of all, there are no label requirements for GM foods- so you can be eating them and not even know it! However, you can bet if you are eating low carb foods (which contain soy), you can be sure you unknowingly eating a man-made, unnatural, genetically modified substance. Find out more about Genetically Modified Foods here
4. Unfermented soy can contribute to nutrient deficiencies and digestive disorders
Unfermented soy contains phytates and enzyme inhibitors which can lead to nutritional deficiencies by blocking certain important nutrients from being absorbed such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and other minerals. In addition to being necessary for overall health, these minerals are required in order to prevent Osteoporosis, hair loss and other ailments.
The “Pro Soy” Camp frequently sites the Asian culture’s liberal use of soy foods as “proof” that we all should consume more soy, but most people don’t know that the Chinese did not eat unfermented soybeans (such as those contained in most low carb foods) because soybeans inherently contain large quantities of toxins or “anti-nutrients”. Of biggest concern are potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. Therefore by eating low carb, high soy foods, you can also contribute to digestive problems like bloating, gas, reflux, etc.
5. It’s not good for Mother Earth either!
If you haven’t guessed it by now, soybeans are a huge industry and are used in the production of edible oil, cosmetics, foods, and feed for cattle, pigs, poultry and fish.
Environmental groups, such as Greenpeace and the WWF, have reported increased soybean cultivation in Brazil has destroyed huge areas of Amazon rainforest, the Cerrado (wooded savannahs) of South America and is encouraging further deforestation elsewhere.
In addition to being criticized for massive deforestation, big soy manufacturers have been accused of illegal appropriation of public lands, displacement of small-farmers and indigenous peoples, and the lack of compliance with labor laws.
BOTTOM LINE: Always read labels – and particularly “low carb” labels – because “low carb” almost always means contains soy!
The good news is there are plenty of healthy, low carb (soy-free) options…hooray!
You can find many more examples of healthy, delicious, easy, low carb, soy-free foods and meals in my new eBook: Abs in the Kitchen Recipes: Eat Your Way to a Lean, Sexy and Healthy Body Fast!
In conclusion, if staying lean and healthy, eating wholesome, natural foods and supporting the environment are important to you, the next time you reach for that “low carb” product, remember to first check the label for soy (or any of it’s derivatives) so you don’t mistakenly sabotage your own goals!
Amy Fournier is a certified dance, fitness Zumba and yoga instructor; holistic nutritionist, cover/fitness model, performer and nap-lover! For over 25 years she has specialized in awakening the inner spark of passion, energy and enthusiasm in others through the use of food, fitness and fun! To learn more about Amy or to contact her, please visit her website: www.amyfournierhealthandfitness.com, email: email@example.com or call: 978-423-3299.
Copyright© January 2013 Amy Fournier Health and Fitness, LLC
Reproduction either in full or in part only with permission of author
- The Whole Soy Story, Price Pottenger, May 2007
- http://soy.mercola.com/ 2012
- http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/ploy-of-soy 1995