The Dangers of a High Soy Diet
Interview with Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel
Interviewed by Dr. Joseph Mercola
Dr. Joseph Mercola: Are there any specific side effects or consequences of consuming the soy diet in high concentrations that you’ve seen that stand head to shoulders, or is this a wide variety of diseases?
Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel: There’s a wide variety of problems. What I see most often is when an adult suddenly starts to eat a whole lot of soy, like drinking soy milk, and a typical population that would do this would be midlife women because they’ve heard soy might help them with menopause. So they start guzzling soy milk every day and maybe they’re in a hurry and they’re eating soy energy bars and they’re eating veggie burgers and they’re snacking at night on whole bagfuls of edamame, eating it like it’s popcorn. So very high soy consumption from some of these people, and the first effect I usually see with them and I hear complaints about would be thyroid. And, of course, midlife women are at right anyway for thyroid problems and there they come in with all the problems of weight gain, lethargy, malaise, fatigue, hair loss, loss of libido and they are told by their regular doctor that, of course, what do they expect? They’re in midlife, it’s menopause time. And, in fact, usually they were doing pretty well before they started with the health conscious diet which was high in soy.
JM: Interesting. Now, do you- in your recovering program that you developed in time, are you able to help most of these women recovery their thyroid function?
KD: Most of them we can help them recover, though the one that’s the most challenging with would be the ones who are on soy infant formula as a baby or who were eating heavily of soy as they were growing up because that affected their entire development. Now when we get an adult who suddenly starts eating a lot of soy, that’s certainly a problem. Generally, when they start eating a lot of soy, that might have come about because they weren’t healthy to begin with, so we’re probably dealing with plenty of issues besides the soy. I tell people that it’s rarely just the soy and it’s really not a matter of just going off the soy. Like eliminating soy from the diet, of course that’s an important first step, but there’s usually other factors too.
JM: I think one of the most tragic consumptions of soy is really from parents who didn’t know any better and they were doing the best they could and thought that a soy formula would be very helpful and, as we discussed earlier, the hormonal concentration in soy formula is equivalent to the typical usage of between two and five birth control pills a day which can have pretty devastating consequences. It’s been, I think in both of our experiences, that when these parents hear this alarming information they’re really quite devastated and afraid that they’ve damaged their children and I’m wondering- at least that’s been my experience and I’m wondering what strategies you have or what words of wisdom you can give to parents who made that mistake unknowingly.
KD: I tell parents that first of all there’s no point in worrying about it, that it’s happened, that they did the best that they knew at the time and worrying is not going to improve things and I’d much rather they put the energy into trying to help that child become as healthy as possible at this point. The other thing that’s very important to remember is that risk is not the same as certainty. Yes the risk is considerable and anyone who hears that soy infant formula is a problem should have the smarts to realize that this is not appropriate for a baby, but after the fact we can hope that in any individual case that that baby is not going to be damaged as much as would be possible. Now, in terms of what we can do for that baby, a lot of what’s going to go wrong, if it’s going to go wrong, is not going to show up until puberty. That is one reason that it’s been a long time since people have not seen cause and affect clearly enough, that’s why it’s taken so long to recognize the role soy is playing in some of these problems. Now for a baby girl who is on soy infant formula, that little girl will be overly estrogenized and she may go through puberty very early. I would never say that soy formula is the only reason for the epidemic of premature puberty in this country, but it’s certainly one of the factors and it’s certainly one that we can control the most.
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