Addition of soy lecithin to foods is a dangerous change to food supply, Brownstein's 'Soy Deception' says

Jed Stuber  ·  May 29, 2018

It is estimated that more than half of the 40,000 items in an average supermarket contain soy. A generation ago, almost none of them did.

Soy lecithin, a leftover sludge waste product from processing, has become a ubiquitous stabilizer and emulsifier found in countless foods. Dr. David Brownstein, medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Michigan, says this radical change to our food supply is dangerous.

Brownstein saw the need for his book The Soy Deception because more and more of his patients came to him with severe hormone disorders that were caused by soy consumption. He writes, “I have found it nearly impossible to balance the thyroid and the rest of the endocrine system in those patients who ingest large amounts of soy.”

Based on decades of clinical experience and research, Brownstein believes hormone problems play a major role in many diseases and chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, infertility, chronic fatigue, depression, headaches, etc.

Soy's contribution to health problems

How does soy contribute to health problems? Dr. Brownstein counts the ways.

The most obvious concern is that it wreaks havoc on the thyroid, one of our largest glands that regulates many critical functions in the body. Studies showing soy’s adverse effects on the thyroid date back 75 years.

Soy causes goiter, which is swelling of the thyroid gland. Soy interferes with thyroid function and inhibits peroxidase, which is necessary for the thyroid to be able to use iodine to make thyroid hormones. Infants who are given soy formula develop goiter and hypothyroidism.

Soy also inhibits the uptake of iodine, which is used by the thyroid gland in the production of thyroid hormones. Dr. Brownstein writes, “My research has shown that over 95 percent of patients are suffering from iodine deficiency.”

Another problem with soy is that it contains phytoestrogens, which are chemicals that mimic estrogen hormones. Two phytoestrogens have been found to be carcinogenic and DNA-damaging.

While some claim that the phytoestrogens may have some positive effect on menopausal symptoms, Dr. Brownstein says there is good reason to believe soy is dangerous and that it contributes to hormone sensitive cancers such as breast, uterine, ovarian, prostate, and testicular cancer. He says natural hormones offer a better way to treat menopause symptoms anyway. He also cites evidence that soy destroys libido in men and contributes to infertility by lowering sperm count.

Dr. Brownstein is so concerned about soy’s effects on sex hormones that he says all soy baby formulas should be removed from the market. Soy expert Kaayla Daniels has calculated that babies on soy formulas are consuming the equivalent of five birth control pills a day. Unfortunately, the use of soy formula has grown to the point that it is estimated that a fourth of infants in the U.S. receive soy formula. Dr. Brownstein traces the rising incidence of early puberty in girls and delayed puberty in boys to the increase in soy consumption.

Blocking the body's ability to assimilate minerals

The next problem Brownstein explains is that the phosphates in soy hinder the body’s ability to assimilate important minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. It also interferes with the ability to produce Vitamin D and can cause a Vitamin B12 deficiency. According to Brownstein, minerals and vitamins play a crucial role in regulating hormones, and deficiencies can contribute to many diseases and chronic conditions.

Another significant problem with soy is that it is highly allergenic—easily in the top ten allergens—and because it is in so many foods, it is extremely difficult to avoid. Ironically, soy is promoted as a safe alternative for those who have other allergies such as peanuts, dairy, and gluten. Dr. Brownstein explains that even though someone may not have a strong allergic reaction to soy, it could still be causing mild problems that will eventually become a major problem given time. Any allergen can contribute to leaky gut syndrome, holes in the gastrointestinal lining which allow toxins into the blood stream. Leaky gut is yet another condition that contributes to diseases and chronic conditions, and it has specifically been linked with autism.

Brownstein also explains that the processing of soy often results in food products that contain toxins such as lysinoalinine, MSG, and aluminum. He also includes a chapter about the potential dangers of genetic modification of soy and residues from herbicides ending up in food.

Brownstein is appalled that the media and medical establishment have fallen for soy industry propaganda promoting the idea that soy is healthy. “I am continually amazed by the misinformation about soy propagated by the media,” he writes in the introduction.

Soybean production’s farm value is about $40 billion per year, second only to corn among U.S. produced crops. In 1999, after heavy lobbying from the industry the FDA approved the health claim that diets including soy may reduce the risk of heart disease. Amazingly, soy is still listed in the FDA’s poisonous plant database. The use of soy has expanded relentlessly, and soybean oil now accounts for three fourths of all edible fats used annually in the U.S.

Soy can be lurking in almost any food product: bread, burgers, condiments, chocolate, dressings, spreads, marinades, milk, pasta, flour, protein bars, sauces, snack foods, waffles, yogurt, and many more. It is also found in health and beauty products as well as vitamins and supplements.

What can a conscientious consumer do?

So, is there anything the conscientious consumer can do? Dr. Brownstein has answers.

First, never use soy formulas for infants. Second, avoid using soy completely or only use it in very small amounts and learn to find products that contain fermented soy. Third, learn the technical names and tricks used to hide soy in foods, and read labels carefully. Fourth, learn to prepare healthy foods at home.

Preparing your own foods will allow you to avoid canned and frozen foods which often contain soy; to use real fats like butter, coconut oil, or olive oil instead of vegetable oils which are mostly soy; and to make your own salad dressings to avoid the large amounts of soy in store bought dressings. The book has a chapter with many helpful tips and recipes, and more can be found at SherylShenefelt.com, the website of Dr. Brownstein’s co-author and colleague who is a Certified Nutritionist.

Dr. Brownstein also recommends that if you suspect hormone and nutritional problems are contributing to your health problems, work with a doctor who will help you get off soy, make sure you are taking optimal amounts of iodine, and balance your hormones. Visit the International College of Integrative Medicine website to search for doctors that may help address those issues.

See reviews of Dr. Brownstein’s other books here, including the following: Salt Your Way to Health: The Remarkable Healing Ability of Unrefined Salt, Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders, The Miracle of Natural Hormones, and The Statin Disaster.

This article is for educational purposes and not meant as medical advice.


Soy aliases: Read labels carefully

  • edamame (soybeans in pods)
  • hydrolyzed soy protein
  • kinnoko flour
  • miso
  • natto
  • Okara
  • shoyu sauce
  • soy albumin
  • soy bran fiber
  • soy flour
  • soy grits
  • soy milk
  • soy nuts
  • soy sprouts
  • soya
  • soybean curd
  • soybean granules
  • soy protein isolate
  • soy lecithin
  • supro
  • tamari
  • tempeh
  • TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • vegetable oil
  • yakidofu
  • yuba