How Soy Harms Digestion And Stresses The Pancreas

soybeansSo you got the memo that soy is very bad for the hormonal system.

If you think that is the extent of the damage the lowly soybean can wreak on your health, you may be surprised to learn thatsoybeans are also notoriously hard to digest with GMO soybeans widely used in processed foods the absolute worst.

The culprit is the protease inhibitors found in all soybeans whether organic or GMO. As the name suggests,protease inhibitors suppress some of the key enzymes that help us digest protein.

Thebest known and most important of the protease inhibitors is trypsin. GMO soybeanshave more of them than organic or conventional beans, and to make matters worse,those protease inhibitors are stubbornly resistant to deactivation by cooking or otherprocessing methods.

Soybeans are not the only foods that contain protease inhibitors. All beanscontain them, as do grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables of the nightshade family, eggwhites, and other foods. However, the protease inhibitors in those foods rarelycontribute to health problems because few of those foods are eaten excessively andcooking deactivates most of them.

Protease Inhibitors In Soybeans

In contrast, there are more protease inhibitors insoybeans than in any other commonly eaten food. While protease inhibitors are not aproblem for people who enjoy the occasional soy dish, the quantities add up quicklywhen people consume soy daily in the mistaken belief that it is a healthy meat anddairy substitute.

For decades, USDA and other researchers put their efforts into finding safe andinexpensive ways to deactivate the protease inhibitors found in soy. Boiling,roasting and modern processing methods help, but cannot destroy all of thesetroublesome components. The only way to come close is through the old-fashionedfermentation methods used to make miso, tempeh and natto. Modern industrialprocessing techniques involving heat, pressure and chemical treatments have beenreported to kill off as much as 80 to 90 percent, but thats a promise, not a guarantee.

The numbers of live protease inhibitors remaining in soy products varies from batch tobatch, and investigators have found unexpectedly high levels of protease inhibitorspresent in some soy foods, and startlingly high levels in some soy formulas.


Protease inhibitors are an especially bad problem in GMO soybeans. With morethan 90 percent of commercial soybean crops now genetically modified up fromaround 50 percent in 2007 there are very real health risks. Monsanto, of course,claims these beans are substantially equivalent to the conventional soybean, hencesafe.

In fact, tests have shown significantly higher concentrations of protease inhibitorsin the toasted GMO soybean compared to conventional soybeans. Furthermore, thosefound in the GMO strain proved stubbornly resistant to deactivation by the heattreatment known as toasting.

When the results first came in, Monsanto took the bad news to mean that the GMbeans had not been properly cooked and asked for retreatment of the sample. Furtherheating, however, widened the difference even more. The logical conclusion would bethat a substantial difference exists between the GMO and conventional soybeans, andthat the GMO soybean is more likely to cause digestive distress and growth problems inhumans and animals.

Monsanto, however, concluded that the second toasting was still not enough andtoasted twice more until they got the result they wanted, namely that all proteins weredenatured and inactivated. At this point, most of the soybeans protein value was alsodestroyed, but it gave Monsanto the proof it needed to conclude that where proteaseinhibitors were concerned, GM and normal soybeans were equivalent.

Protease Inhibitors Do A Number On The Pancreas

Why be concerned about protease inhibitors? They are the reason soybeans arenotoriously hard to digest, and why soybean consumption stresses the pancreas.Because the protease inhibitors in soy inhibit the protease enzyme we need to digest protein,the pancreas has to work overtime to produce more. If this happens only occasionally,the pancreas quickly recovers. But if soy is consumed day after day, week after week, year after year, there will be norest for the weary pancreas. The result is an increase of both the number of pancreaticcells (hyperplasia) and the size of those cells (hypertrophy).

The extent of soy-caused pancreatic hypertrophy and hyperplasia varies widelyfrom species to species in the animal kingdom. In some soy-fed animals, the pancreasswells quickly, in others more slowly, and in some not at all. However, all animals including the human animal will suffer from the loss of the ability to secrete sufficientenzymes if regularly consuming protease inhibitors. That means digestive distress fornearly everyone and growth problems for the young.

With pancreatic stress and cell proliferation, cancer becomes a distinctpossibility. Pancreatic cancer currently ranks as the fourth leading cause of cancerdeaths of men and women in the United States, and is predicted to move into secondplace by 2020. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, researchers studying damage to thepancreas caused by protease inhibitors noted that pancreatic cancer had then movedup to fifth place, and suggested a soybean-protease inhibitor connection.Since thenthe rise has been even more alarming.

The fact that it has occurred along withincreased human consumption of soybeans and over the past decade GMOsoybeans is probably not coincidental. Association, of course, does not prove causeand effect, but looking at the rise of pancreatic cancer alongside the evidence of somany animal studies is suggestive and sobering.

Irvin Liener, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota and theworlds leading expert on anti-nutrients and toxins in plant foods, sums it up well,Soybean trypsin inhibitors do in fact pose a potential risk to humans when soy proteinis incorporated into the diet.

Author Bio:

KaaylaT. Daniel,PhD, CCN, is known asThe Naughty Nutritionistbecause of her ability to outrageously and humorously debunk nutritional myths. She isauthor of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of Americas Favorite Health Food,endorsedby Drs. Joseph Mercola, Larry Dossey, Jonathan Wright, Doris Rapp and other leading health experts, and Vice President of the Weston A. Price Foundation. copyright 2013 Kaayla T. Daniel PhD. To follow Kaayla on Facebook: To subscribe to her edu-taining blog:

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