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Avoiding soy

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It's an additive to a lot (a LOT) of foods.

So you should avoid all non-traditional Asian soy foods if you're hyperthyroidal.

That's far more difficult that it seems.

From The Grauniad: Should we worry about soya in our food? This was published in June 2006; bravo! to The Guardian.

"Whether you know it or not, you'll probably be eating soya today. It's in 60% of all processed food, from cheese to ice cream, baby formula to biscuits.
"'We discovered quite quickly, ... that soya contains toxins and plant oestrogens powerful enough to disrupt women's menstrual cycles in experiments. It also appeared damaging to the thyroid.'
"More than 60% of all processed food in Britain today contains soya in some form, according to food industry estimates. It is in breakfast cereals, cereal bars and biscuits, cheeses, cakes, dairy desserts, gravies, noodles, pastries, soups, sausage casings, sauces and sandwich spreads. Soya, crushed, separated and refined into its different parts, can appear on food labels as soya flour, hydrolysed vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, protein concentrate, textured vegetable protein, vegetable oil (simple, fully, or partially hydrogenated), plant sterols, or the emulsifier lecithin. Its many guises hint at its value to manufacturers.

"Soya increases the protein content of processed meat products. It replaces them altogether in vegetarian foods. It stops industrial breads shrinking. It makes cakes hold on to their water. It helps manufacturers mix water into oil. Hydrogenated, its oil is used to deep-fry fast food."

It doesn't help to go for all-organic foods, either: the organic crowd embraced soy protein lo-o-ong before mainstream production did.

Read labels religiously, and ditch all and any "vegetable protein", "protein concentrate", "plant sterols", and of course, anything which even remotely resembling the three letters s, o and y, and your thyroid should be safe. Or at least, safer. (I don't know how bad lecithin would be, sorry.)

Soy oil is another problem (from the same Guardian article):

"Soya oil - high in omega 6 fatty acids and 18% of the whole bean - has meanwhile driven the postwar explosion in snack foods around the world. Crisps, confectionery, deep-fried take-aways, ready meals, ice-creams, mayonnaise and margarines all make liberal use of it. Its widespread presence is one of the reasons our balance of omega 3 to omega 6 essential fatty acids is so out of kilter."

And soy sauce isn't a real old-fashioned Asian food anymore:

"In so-called "naturally brewed" soya sauces the processed soy protein meal is mixed with the mould spores and given accelerated ageing at high temperatures for three to six months. Non-brewed soya sauce, the cheapest grade, is made in just two days."

(Used to be, you'd boil the whole beans for three days and then let them ferment with their mold spores in salt water for 18 months. Not anymore, they don't.)
I expect that the production process of miso is as shortened as that of soy sauce, these days.

So. Tofu shouldn't be problematic - if it's ingested in small doses, not as the main course. I have no idea about tempeh, as I've never seen it, and even less eaten it.

Go read the whole grauniad article on soy foods, it's fascinating reading. And good luck in pursuing your diet free of modern-day soy foods!

Related entries: Soy beans - Lifestyle troubles - Lycopus and hyperthyroid


slow down hetta.

do you mean hypothyroid?

the Guardian article is a typical extreme anti-soy rant that is way over the top. granted there are problems with soy in processed foods, never mind the GM issue, but that stuff should not be used anyway...but exaggerating the case is for for readership figures not facts


so if isoflavones are "bad" what about all pulses, legumes and beans- staple dietary ingredients of dozens of cultures from antiquity? are they out too?

"Powerful plant estrogens?" gimme a break. alarmist crap. how about millions of women being put on powerful pregnant horse estrogens and getting breast cancer? = HRT. let's rant about the right thing for heaven's sake.

better get my coffee



Hi I'm looking at your blog which is a year old so I'm not sure if you'll read this
But I am extremely allergic to all soya products - I've researched my allergy to discover that it was practically unheard of 10 years ago but with the increase in use of soya (most soya products are GM ) in processed food this allergy is increasing in the west. soy sauce which you get with your rice or noodles in a restaurant doesnt make me sick but if i eat soya leichtin, soya flour and other soya products in cakes, chocolate, drinks, dairy free food, cheese etc etc. I immediately get very very sick with blinding headache. its difficult to avoid soya in processed food. i have read about the production of soya and i have learned that they are clearing more forest in south america for soya bean production than for any other reason! this is shocking for an environmental reason if for any reason. and every time you switch the TV on there are ads for soya yogurt and soya milk etc selling it as a healthy option - but i believe this is just marketing and there is a corporate push to make people consume soya and GM soya more and more

No, I mean hyperthyroid: Paul Bergner has found that if you remove all modern soy foods (soy milk, soy beans, soy bean whatnots, soy protein bars, soy this and soy that) from the diet, most hyperthyroids clear up.

That's difficult if the stuff is hiding in most any manufactured food there is.

Thanks for the isoflavone info (I don't know which bit of soy is the bad one, I just know there's one, and it's made harmless by fermenting), and yep, the plant estrogen thing is alarmist, but shrug.

I am a [deleted age] [deleted country of origin] with [deleted problem] and I want to know what vitamin/herb combination [deleted the rest].

Whatever made you think that I'd reply to health questions in my blog comments?

What do you think about soy milk? I used to drink it a lot but I don't anymore because the information on it seems to be so controversial. I have a friend though who drinks it almost everyday. She also has had a problem with cysts on her ovaries. I was wondering if the excess estrogen from soy milk could be a contributing factor to this.

Soy milk is extremely allergenic. Ditch it. Dunno about your friend; she might want to help her liver to help her body clear out hormone bits'n'pieces. And to read up on syndrome x, which is the main cause of polycystic ovaries.

Hello Henriette,
This is my first visit and Im already enjoying ya blog, Great job!
Soy article was great ty!
I wanted to ask if you discuss and post articles about such chinese herbs as well? I am talking about TCM,
Keep up the great work!

I'm a western herbalist, and like to use local plants.