Kaayla T. Daniel is a clinical nutritionist with a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and Anti-Aging Therapies. She is a popular speaker on the subjects of nutrition and longevity and she advises clients on a wide range of nutritional health issues. The subtitle of this book, The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food, describes its purpose perfectly… to counter the exaggerated health claims about soy and soy products and to provide a more balanced view based on facts and science.

The book is divided into seven sections:

  • Part One, “A Short History of Soy,” disputes the myth that soy is an ancient food that has always comprised a significant percentage of Asian diets. To quote from the book, “The ancient Chinese valued the soybean as a national treasure and honored it with the name ‘the yellow jewel.’ Yes, the Chinese revered the soybean — but they did not eat it.” Soybean was originally considered to be “green manure,” a cover crop that could be plowed under because it held valuable nitrogen in the soil. Since soybeans are toxic unless they are processed in a special way, they did not actually become a food item until comparatively recently when people discovered ways to neutralize the toxins (usually by fermentation). Other chapters describe the rise of soy in Western society and how different modern forms of soy are from the traditional soy foods of Asian cultures.
  • Part Two, “Types of Soy,” details how soy is transformed from a bean that humans can’t actually digest into the wide range of additives and processed foods that are so promoted today. It divides soy-based foods into “first generation” (foods that contain recognizable soy like soy flour, soy nuts, and soy grits) and “second generation” (what the book calls “analogues,” foods like Harvest Burgers where hidden soy is made to look, smell, and taste like something else). The book also explains how soy oil is manufactured (“The only economical way to obtain it is to use a complicated high-tech process that includes grinding, crushing and extracting, using high temperature, intense pressure and chemical solvents such as hexane.”) and describes how waste soybean sludge replaced eggs as the primary source of commercial lecithin.
  • Parts Three, Four, and Five examine the nutritional claims made by the soy industry about soy being a healthy food and conclude that almost all of those claims are not backed up by fact. Another conclusion… soy in food poses many potential health risks that the author feels are not being adequately investigated. For example: “Even the small quantities [of soy] used as extenders in meat products, bakery goods and other ordinary supermarket products can adversely affect people whose digestive capabilities are already compromised by low hydrochloric acid levels, pancreatic insufficiency, bowel diseases and other health challenges. It may not be coincidental that these problems are on the rise even as ‘hidden’ soy has been slipping into more and more food products.” The book suggests possible links between soy and thyroid disorders, kidney stones, infertility, and various types of cancer. One sidebar even describes a study that suggested that men and women who ate tofu at least twice a week experienced shrinkage of the brain!
  • Part Six, “Soy Allergens: Shock of the New,” describes the relatively new phenomenon of the soybean allergy, which can be quite severe, and accuses the soy industry of adding to the danger by misleading labeling even though soy is one of the top five food allergens. The author also explains something I had never heard of before, that children who already suffer from peanut allergies can develop sudden (and sometimes deadly) soybean allergies. Another direct quote: “If your child is allergic to peanuts, you must eliminate all soy as well as all peanuts from your child’s diet. Your child’s life may depend upon it.”
  • The final part, “Soy Estrogens: Hormone Havoc,” goes into even more detail about soy’s interaction with body hormones, with particular emphasis on soy’s effect on cancer, the reproductive system, and the thyroid. The author is very concerned about soy-based baby formulas and their effects on young children at the most formative and vulnerable time of their lives: “Parents who feed their infants soy formula are unwittingly giving them the hormonal equivalent of three to five birth control pills per day.”

This extremely well-researched and sometimes quite technical book is very interesting reading. The author obviously shares my feeling that the explosion of soy in the food supply is not as wonderful and healthy as the advertisers would lead us to believe. The Whole Soy Story ends with these questions: “What will the coming years bring? More false claims for soy protein — and new claims for soy oil — as the healer of everything from cancer to ingrown toenails? Or a genuine, consumer-driven, grassroots movement demanding honesty, integrity, common sense and ‘real food’? The challenge and choice is ours.”

The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food, by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. Hardcover, 457 pages (including end notes and index). Published by New Trends Publishing. I received my review copy of this book from the author. Ironically, like most books these days, this book is printed with soy ink.


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Ashley

Sounds like a great book! I’d heard some of it, as the book Nourishing Traditions takes a good look at soy.

Did it say anything about soy milk? My SIL feeds that to her young sons. I just cringe inside and don’t say anything because A) I don’t have facts B) we’re too quirky a family to be taken really seriously anyway.

I’ll have to see if I can read this one. Thanks for the in-depth review. :)

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Actually, yes, there is a whole chapter about soy milk and soy cheese. You should tell your SIL to read the book… she might have second thoughts about giving soy milk to her kids.

ChristyACB

I grow edamame soybeans…eaten just steamed. I’m assuming those are different than the soybeans that are round, small and dried for those other purposes.

Hmm…sounds interesting…

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Christy, I asked Kaayla Daniel your question about the edamame soybeans, and this is her response:

“Edamame is green, immature soybeans. Compared to the mature dried beans, there are lower levels of the plant estrogens and the antinutrients such as trypsin inhibitors, phytates, etc. Edamame’s not a problem if eaten occasionally in small quantities, as is served at Japanese restaurants. However, many people today are snacking on whole bags of edamame as if it’s popcorn. [That’s why you see whole freezer cases of the stuff at Whole Foods etc.] And that would be a problem as the estrogens and antinutrients can add up quickly. I hope I’ve been helpful.”

Jon in France

Soy – except as soy sauce – is not something we see much in foodstuffs here. It does appear in animal feed, but that is it, and there is an increasing amount of feed being sold that makes a virtue of being soy-free.

I thought it was just some fad; I can see I shall have to read this book!

Ilah

I am half way through this book, and I’m enjoying it immensely. I grew up on soy, and suffered from painful cystic acne, obesity and exhaustion. I traveled to Spain, and my skin cleared up, I lost 10 lbs and my energy improved, in spite of enjoying wine and a lavish diet. Soon after I returned home, I went on a meditation retreat, where soy and beans were consumed everyday. I felt exhausted after every meal, the weight returned, and my skin was awful. It wasn’t until I returned home that I made the connection between being on a soy-free diet, and eating soy with almost every meal. I don’t know if Kaayla mentions this, but I understand many people who are allergic to gluten may be allergic to soy as well.

Clare

I will be ordering your book.I was a very healthy but overweight 83 year old.I went on a diet based on soy,lost 30 pounds,but had terrible gas and unpleasant odor.I got sick with many things and then got Polymyalgia rhuematica,all in a period of 2 months.I believe I am allergic or very sensitive to soy and have been very careful since reading all this information.my doctor has me on high doses of prednisone which caused me to lose the hearing completely in one ear.There is no known reason for getting the PMR,but it makes me wonder if the soy might have started it.I was wondering if anyone else has had similer things like this happen to them.Thanks for listening.

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Clare, I think it is very possible that the soy-based diet did cause the other problems you’re experiencing. Other readers have told me about their very similar experiences with soy-based diets and resulting (they think) physical problems. Some people believe the genetically modified soy is causing more and more severe allergic reactions. Thanks for sharing your story, and I hope you feel better very soon.