Natural Alternative to Soy Milk | Health Blog

Date: 05/22/2007    Written by: Jon Barron

Soy Milk, Problematic or Healthy

Fermented soy is a "reasonable" part of the diet when used in "reasonable" amounts. Soy becomes a problem food when used as the main protein, or as a large scale dairy replacement, in the diet. To paraphrase the old spiritual saying: "Too much of a good thing is bad. Too much of any single dietary component is bad. No matter how healthy a food is, if you overindulge in it, disease will result, not health."

In large amounts, the high levels of phytoestrogens in soy become problematic. Also, soy beans have the highest levels of phytic acid of any grain or legume known. Phytic acid is a substance that can block the uptake of essential minerals -- calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc -- in the intestinal tract. Phytic acid is neutralized in fermented soy, such as tempeh and miso, but not in soy milk or tofu. Soy also contains goitrogens, which are substances that depress thyroid function. Not a problem in small amounts, but a significant problem when consumed in larger amounts.

Note: Soy is especially not appropriate for children under the age of 5-particularly as a major component of their diets. I'm not a big fan of soy milk for children of any age, but especially for infants. The phytoestrogens are really more than their bodies were designed to handle. One exception is for girls between the ages of 5-11. Small amounts of soy in the diet (preferably fermented) may be cancer protective later in life.

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    Submitted by Bob on
    February 15, 2008 - 7:02am

    I like to have milk with my oatmeal, cereal. After reading your website and noticing that after breakfast I do have to blow my nose as you have mentioned pertaining to an allergic reaction; I have decided to stay of milk and see how my body reacts. I am looking for a substitute for milk. YOu state not to use soy or rice, almond milk drinks either. You have stated that goats milk is closest to human milk, but I expect that you are talking about the non-homogenized, non- pasteurized version - hard to find. Is there a substitute that you do support as being a good substitute for milk that can be taken with meals?

    Submitted by Eugene Mansour on
    May 22, 2007 - 1:16pm

    I keep hearing people talking about reasonable amounts. What would be a ""reasonable"" amount for soy milk?
    P.S. Non-organic soy is a GMO.

    Submitted by Frank Jensen on
    October 28, 2007 - 11:28pm

    I wonder about the scientific basis for the info on soy.
    You write ""...the highest levels of phytic acid of any grain or legume known..""
    I found the following information (see below).
    Could you elaborate a bit on this?
    Charts contained on pages 30-34 of Food Phytates (edited by Rukma Reddy and Shridhar Sathe, CRC Press, ISBN # 1-56676-867-5) reveal:
    The percentage of phytates in soymilk is listed as 0.11%.
    Wheat has been called the ""Staff of Life.""
    Durham wheat contains 8 times more phytates than soymilk
    Whole wheat bread contains almost 4 times more phytates than
    soymilk (0.43%).
    Wheaties, contain nearly fourteen times more phytates than
    soymilk (1.52%).
    Let's use common logic here. If wheat contains more phytates
    than soymilk, then wheat should not be eaten either, right?
    What a silly claim soymilk detractors make. It is without
    A typical portion of breakfast cereal consists of two ingredients, cereal & milk. The proportions: three-quarters of a cup of Wheaties weighs 22.5 grams. One-half cup of soymilk weighs 122.5 grams. Ergo, the wheaties contain 342 milligrams of phytates. The soymilk contains 135 milligrams
    of phytates.
    Now, let's get to the point of this. In their introduction and summary of the scientific substantiation to follow, the authors of Food Phytates write:
    ""Recent investigations have focused on the beneficial effect of food phytates, based upon their strong mineral-chelating property...The beneficial effects include lowering of serum
    cholesterol and triglycerides and protection against certain diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, renal stone formation, and certain types of cancers.""
    So you see, phytates are healthy for you. Phytates represent a prime example of using food for medicine.
    Of course, if you happen to believe all of the negative soy hype, skip the Wheaties. Skip the soymilk. You can always have a corn muffin, right? Let's go to the phytate chart.
    What percentage of corn bread is phytates? Oh, no. Corn muffins contain twelve times the percentage of phytates as soymilk, or 1.36%. An extra-large 6-ounce corn muffin (168 grams) contains 228 milligrams of phytates, midway betweenthe (3/4 cup) Wheaties and (1/2 cup) soymilk.

    Submitted by Jon Barron on
    February 15, 2008 - 12:04pm

    Actually, I'm fine with rice, oat, or almond milk in moderation.

    Submitted by Jon Barron on
    October 27, 2008 - 3:29am

    As I mentioned just above, I'm fine with rice, oat, or almond milk in moderation.

    Submitted by Jon Barron on
    October 29, 2007 - 3:03am

    Your analysis is absolutely correct.
    HOWEVER, you missed the point of the blog. We were not talking about carbohydrate sources here. We were talking about protein sources. People do not eat corn muffins as a meat replacement. They do, however, drink, 3-4 glasses of soy milk and have a tofu packed meal a day for that purpose. For all the reasons cited above, I am not a fan of soy as a protein supplement.
    As for wheat, corn, and the other grains -- no I am not a huge fan of those either, as you've probably gathered by browsing through the website. In fact, the focus of next Monday's newsletter is, by pure coincidence, grains. You should find it interesting.

    Submitted by Jon Barron on
    May 22, 2007 - 1:52pm

    The "reasonable amount" refers to fermented soy products such as tempeh, not soy milk. Since soy milk is not fermented, the less used the better - for all of the reasons cited above.

    Submitted by lisa on
    October 26, 2008 - 3:34pm

    I am a vegitarian. My children like cereal. I have been using soy milk instead of cow's milk and dairy products. I stay away from isolated soy products. I eat a soy yoguart every day. I use soy butter--I do not like animal products. What should I do?

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