July 28, 2006

No More Bangers & Soy For You, Little Guv'nuh

sixteen_candles_the-pill.jpgAfter reviewing existing research on the health effects of processed soy in Western diets, the British government's Commitee on Toxicity [CoT] and the Food Standards Agency has recommended that infants not be given soy-based formula except on the advice of a physician.

According to this long, rambling Guardian article on the giant, corporate, pervasive, yet largely unresearched-by-non-conflicted-parties evils of soy, one of the biggest potential risks comes from the plant's phyto-estrogens, which survive modern industrial processing methods. Since soy is used in all kinds of processed foods, adults can get elevated phytoestrogen doses from all over.

Babies fed only soy-based formula, one toxicity researcher calculated, were getting the bodyweight-adjusted equivalent of five birth control pills a day worth of phytoestrogen. And you don't have to have Sixteen Candles memorized to worry what that can do do a guy that age.

But don't Asians eat soybeans, soy sauce, miso, and tofu morning, noon, and night without any problems, you ask? According to the Guardian, soy is just one more Asian thing the West has appropriated and screwed up beyond all recognition, like black lacquer furniture and kanji tattoos. As one Euro-with-a-Japanese wife said rather snootily of recent innovations like soy milk and soy formula, "I will only use a product for my family if there is 200 years of tradition behind it."

Sounds like kind of a high bar, frankly, but given that I've heard nothing ever about soy being evil--and that Americans use 10x more soy-based formula than Brits [30-40% vs 4%], I wonder what parents who do/did use soy formula think of this. Are there resources you used to make your soy decision? Did your son turn into Anthony Michael Hall?

Should we worry about soya in our food? [guardian, also a followup blog post by the reporter, via rw]
Is it ok to give soy-based formula to my baby? [eatwell.gov.uk]

UPDATE: Oy, I should know by now to check with the lactivists before relaying any alarming news about formula. If I had, I would have titled this post, "Guardian reporter rewrites 2-yr-old Mothering article on the Soy Industrial Complex." Seriously. [thnx to Bobbini's comment below for the tip. ]


Ah, but Mothering magazine has already called out the Evil Soy Industrial Complex:

Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food [the title says it all, haha. I'd say it means more edamame for me, but then I'll just have to worry about manboobs -ed.]

Usually the reason given by anti-soy advocates is tofu, miso and soy sauce are all fermented soy products, while soy protein and other things found formula and all sorts of things are not. Apparently unfermented soy products cause cancer, etc., etc.

I was concerned about the estrogen thing when we gave my son soy formula, but there wasn't much of an alternative... he projectile vomited 2 seconds after eating any other kind.

There's a big thing in Nina Planck's new book, Real Food, about how the worst thing you could possibly do for your baby is feed him or her soy, because to process it it actually depletes some vitamins and doesn't have what it takes to grow baby brains... if you're feeding your baby soy formula you should try to figure out if there's some way to get fish oil into him too... I got a 'deodorized', fruit-smelling (kinda) cod liver oil at the health food store for my baby and he eats it, as long as I mix it with equal parts sugar water... I hear when he gets older he'll drink it straight, as long as it's in mango juice or something.

Yeah, I first heard this a couple years ago. We're at all vegetarian, so we do eat a lot of the stuff relatively speaking (no formula though, and the kid doesn't really eat any soy to speak of). I try to stay away from the superprocessed TVP phony phood (I'm looking at you, Boca burger) more on general principle than anything else. No he-breasts yet and empirical evidence in the form of a baby strongly suggests my sperm works, so I guess it's not causing any problems. Everything in moderation as they say.

Considering that soy based forumla has been in widespread use for many years, you'd think serious issues would have made themselves known by now. But I didn't RTA, so maybe they have.

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