Big thanks to Visalus 90-day promoter, Cheryl Currie for the below article as originally published here.
I wrote to Audrey Sommerfeld, VP Marketing at ViSalus® because someone was spreading horror stories about soy on Facebook. It is not uncommon to hear rumors about successful organizations or high-profile people or even smear campaigns. But when someone tells me I am harming people, I’m going to take a time-out and do some research.
I want scientific evidence and authoritative source materials — not opinion or hearsay.
Since it was Audrey Sommerfeld who answered me first and comprehensively, I decided to share her answer with you. We’ll call the person who was spreading the bad news “Mr. Anonymous” (for legal reasons).
Here’s what Audrey said:
“(Mr. Anonymous) likes to create fear, so that he can be seen as the expert, so he can sell more of his products.” (In reference to what he told me…) ”Several things get taken out of context, and different topics blended together, which drives me crazy.” (Me, too!)
“Soy protein is protein ‘isolated’ from the soybean. Soy protein isolate has been widely used since 1959 in foods and for its functional properties, and has been used since 1936. There are no enzymes in soy protein, it is simply made by mashing up soybeans, and using hot water to extract the protein. No fiber, or phytates, or isoflavones, or anything else.
“There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about soy in the marketplace today. In countries where consumption of soy is high (like Japan) the populations are healthier and have fewer health issues than in America today. So we know that there is misinformation, and facts being taken out of context.
“Since some people say ‘yeah, and they eat fish and healthy foods’ here is information on what they eat:
“Every day in Japan, for example, people eat at least seven servings of vegetables, including sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, seaweed, onions, and bean sprouts; at least two servings of anti-oxidant rich fruits; and two or more servings of soy foods. The Japanese also sip several cups of tea every day. They eat a serving of fish, consumed at more than 150 pounds in a year.
“The confusion about how much soy Asians consume is based partly on a simple mathematical misunderstanding. In studies of intake, findings are sometimes expressed as the amount of soy protein that people consume—which is different from the total amount of soy food in their diets. For example, according to surveys in Japan, older adults consume around 10 grams of soy protein per day, which is the amount of protein in about 1 to 1 ½ servings of traditional soy foods. Because a number of authors have misunderstood the relationship between soy protein and soy food, they’ve greatly underestimated the amount of soy in Japanese diets.
“It’s much harder to determine soy intake in China because diets vary greatly across regions. The most extensive data are available for Shanghai where large studies of health habits include dietary data from close to 100,000 adult men and women. Average intake in Shanghai is a little bit higher than in Japan. But the range of intake is extensive and a large number of the adults in these studies—as many as 15 to 20 percent of the men and 10 percent of the women—consumed 2 to 3 servings of soy foods per day.
“With the exception of Hong Kong, there isn’t quite as much data on soy intake in other countries and regions. But, the available findings suggest that, compared to Japan and Shanghai, soy consumption is much lower in Hong Kong and Thailand, about the same in Indonesia, and a bit higher in North Korea.
“And contrary to popular opinion, the soy products regularly consumed in these countries are not all—or even mostly—fermented. In Japan, about half of soy consumption comes from the fermented food miso and natto and half comes from tofu and dried soybeans. In Shanghai, most of the soy foods consumed are unfermented, with tofu and soymilk making the biggest contributions. In fact, even in Indonesia, where tempeh is a revered national food, unfermented soy products like tofu account for around half of soy intake.
“Soy foods have been consumed in China for at least 1,500 years and in Japan for 1,000 years. The evidence shows that soy foods—unfermented and fermented—continue to be a significant part of traditional Asian diets.
“Of the concerns over soy, there are a few common ones. First, is referring to raw soybeans, which can contain a form of phytic acid that can block certain minerals absorption. However, that is based on massive consumption quantities and of the raw soybean and only occurs in those animals that lack the digestive enzyme phytase. It is only an issue for people who consume those foods to get minerals in their diet, and in massive quantities. The issue is in developing countries, and may have a genetic basis as well because they are lacking the digestive enzyme (which can be supplemented and therefore alleviate the concern). It is not an issue for our products (ViSalus®) because of how we process the ingredients.
“Some people say only fermented soy is healthy. Fermentation of soy is done using bacteria and yeast, both of which add flavors and many bacterial concerns. As far as needing fermentation, that is a lie. Tofu is NOT fermented. Tofu is made without bacteria and is pure protein. If you want fermentation that is called SOY SAUCE or MISO. And we can’t use these since the protein content is destroyed.
“The isoflavones are removed through the cross-current membrane technology developed by a number of high-tech companies. This process is similar to making purified drinking water…”
“The second common concern with soy is due to some of the components of soy, particularly the isoflavones genistein and dadzein which can affect and inhibit thyroid peroxidase which is necessary for the production of T3 and T4. Thus there is some evidence that it could lead to thryoid enlargement (Goiter) . Our soy has been processed to remove the isoflavones, so this is not an issue.
“A third common concern about soy is the effect it may have on estrogen levels in the body. This is again due to the isoflavones, which we have had removed. So this is a non-worry. We should note that many menopausal women do supplement with isoflavones, as it has been shown to help them experience fewer side effects of menopause.
“Lastly, our Soy is not genetically modified (it is non-GMO). Many people worry about genetically modified soy, and if any of the ingredients got altered in the breeding process. We use the most natural form we can get, that has not been genetically modified.
“We use soy because it is a complete protein, easily digested, can help the body lower cholesterol and c-reactive protein (an indicator of heart disease and inflammation), and helps build lean muscle equal to (if not slightly better than) whey. I am attaching an article on protein and sports nutrition, and the clinical trials showing how it helped.”