Soy is no health food. In fact, it's bad for your body, your thyroid, and your child's development, as Kaayla T. Daniel, PHD, CCN, explains in this exclusive video interview.

Dr. Daniel earned her PhD in Nutritional Sciences and Anti-Aging Therapies from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, was board certified as a clinical nutritionist (CCN) by the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists in Dallas and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

As a clinical nutritionist, she specializes in digestive disorders, women's reproductive health issues, infertility, and recovery from vegetarian and soy-based diets.

Dr. Daniel is the author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food (New Trends, March 2005), which has been endorsed by leading health professionals, including Kilmer McCully, MD, Doris J. Rapp, MD, Jonathan V. Wright, MD,Russell Blaylock, MD, Larrian Gillespie, MD, Joseph Mercola, DO, Debra Lynn Dadd and others.

Larry Dossey, MD, called it "science writing at its best" and William Campbell Douglass, II, MD called it "the most important nutritional book of the decade."

Dr. Daniel has been extensively quoted in major newspapers and magazines, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Toronto Globe & Mail, Glamour, Oxygen, Utne Reader, Alternative Medicine, and other publications and has appeared as a guest on NPR's People's Pharmacy, the Discovery Channel's Medical Hotseat and ABC's View from the Bay.

A popular speaker at conferences, she appeared most recently at BoulderFest 2008. She has also appeared as an expert witness before the California Public Safety Committee and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. In 2005 she won the Weston A. Price Foundation's Integrity in Science Award.

In February 2008, Dr. Daniel joined Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and leading scientists Mary G. Enig, PhD, Kilmer S. McCully, MD and Galen D. Knight, PhD, in presenting a 65-page petition to the FDA asking the agency to retract the currently allowed soy-prevents-heart disease health claim.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

If you carefully review the thousands of studies published on soy you will reach the following conclusion:

Any possible benefits of consuming soy are FAR outweighed by the well-proven risks.

Yet, many Americans still believe that processed soy products like soy milk, soy cheese, soy burgers and soy ice cream are healthy. And many others eat soy whether they like it or not -- in the form of soybean oil that's added to virtually every processed food.

In fact, Dr. Joseph Hibbeln at the National Institutes of Health told he estimates that soybeans, usually in the form of oil, account for 10 percent of the average person's total calories in the United States!

Not surprisingly, ever since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a health claim for soy foods in 1999 that said diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. soy sales have skyrocketed.

From 1992 to 2006, soy food sales have increased from $300 million to $3.9 billion, according to the Soyfoods Association of North America.

This is a concerning increase because processed soy is not something that most anyone should be eating.

As Dr. Daniel said, "I started looking into the research, found thousands of studies, many which seriously questioned the safety of soy, not even that it's not a health food but that it's not even safe."

So What's Wrong With Soy?

"Unlike in Asia where people eat small amounts of whole soybean products, western food processors separate the soybean into two golden commodities--protein and oil. There's nothing safe or natural about this," Dr. Daniel says.

"Today's high-tech processing methods not only fail to remove the anti-nutrients and toxins that are naturally present in soybeans but leave toxic and carcinogenic residues created by the high temperatures, high pressure, alkali and acid baths and petroleum solvents," she continues.

To make matters worse, Americans are consuming soy in unprecedented amounts. Among the many health problems linked to a high-soy diet are:
- Thyroid problems, including weight gain, lethargy, malaise, fatigue, hair loss, and loss of libido
- Premature puberty and other developmental problems in babies, children and adolescents
- Cancer
- Brain damage
- Reproductive disorders
- Soy allergies
Most soy, perhaps about 80 percent or more, is also genetically modified, which adds its own batch of health concerns.

If Soy is so Bad, How Can it be so Widely Promoted as Healthy?

This is due to marketing spin at its finest. Dr. Daniel explains:
"One of the most effective things they [the soy industry] did was, some years ago, they recognized that they had a whole lot of soy that they wanted to sell, but they didn't have a market for it because most people perceived soy products as something that was a communist food or fascist food. Or soy was perceived as a hippie food ...

So either way soy did not have a good image and they got to thinking, "Well how can we make soy into an upscale food that people will want to buy and want to pay well for?" And what they did was absolutely brilliant. They came up with the idea of turning it into a health food. And that way rich people and upscale people would start to popularize it and the image would improve and then middle class and lower class people would want to eat it as well.

And that's exactly what happened. And they began funding studies and publicizing studies and they hold huge symposia where they announced all the latest findings on soy and health -- and then they publicize all those and so it goes."
Never mind the fact that studies reviewed by Dr. Daniel and colleagues have found that soy does not reliably lower cholesterol, and in fact raises homocysteine levels in many people, which has been found to increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and birth defects. Meanwhile, according to Dr. Daniel, soy can increase your risk of heart disease.

As a result, she and other experts have sent a 65-page petition to the FDA asking them to retract the "soy prevents heart disease" health claim, and let's hope they do the right thing and comply.

Babies and Children Should Not Eat Soy

Soy is bad enough for adults, but children and babies who are still developing are particularly vulnerable to soy's hormone-mimicking effects. This means avoiding soy infant formula like the plague, and also not eating soy products if you are pregnant, is a health necessity.

Not only does soy infant formula have profoundly adverse hormonal effects, but it also has over 1,000 percent more aluminum than conventional milk-based formulas. Many soy foods also have toxic levels of manganese. Soy formula has up to 80 times higher manganese than is found in human breast milk.

In terms of the hormonal dangers, a Lancet study showed that the daily exposure to estrogen-imitating chemicals for infants who consume soy formulas was 6-11 times higher than adults consuming soy foods.

And the blood concentration of these hormones was 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than estrogen in the blood. An infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of up to five birth control pills per day.

If you are a new parent, breastfeeding is the best choice to feed your baby, but if you can't breastfeed you can make this healthy infant formula at home using raw milk.

Which Soy Foods Should be Avoided ... and How do You Avoid Them?

Because soy is so pervasive in the U.S. food supply, avoiding it is not an easy task.

"The best -- and maybe the only -- way to completely avoid soy in the food supply is to buy whole foods and prepare them ourselves," Dr. Daniel says. "For those who prefer to buy readymade and packaged products, I offer a free Special Report, "Where the Soys Are," on my Web site. It lists the many "aliases" that soy might be hiding under in ingredient lists -- words like "boullion," "natural flavor" and "textured plant protein."

As always, sticking to unprocessed, whole foods is best, but if you do purchase a packaged food, those that contain soy should be clearly marked as a result of the Food Allergen and Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (which requires that products that contain any of the top eight allergens, including soy, clearly state it on the label).

There is one final caveat that I'd like to mention, and that concerns the few types of soy that are healthy; all of them are fermented. After a long fermentation process, the phytic acid and antinutrient levels of the soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties -- such as the creation of natural probiotics -- become available to your digestive system.

It also greatly reduces the levels of dangerous isoflavones, which are similar to estrogen in their chemical structure, and can interfere with the action of your own estrogen production.

So if you want to eat soy and not ruin your health ... and in fact gain health benefits, the following are all healthy options:

1. Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor. It's loaded with nattokinase, a very powerful blood thinner. Natto is actually a food I eat regularly, as it is the highest source of vitamin K2 on the planet and has a very powerful beneficial bacteria, bacillus subtilis. It can usually be found in any Asian grocery store.
2. Tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
3. Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
4. Soy sauce: traditionally, soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes, however be wary because many varieties on the market are made artificially using a chemical process.