Soy Protein Isolate Warnings in Meal Replacement Bars

Dr. Leia Reports on Soy Meal Replacement for Weight Loss

Question for Dr. Leia: I have been searching for credible information on soy protein and soy meal replacement products like Slimfast, and soy protein bars.

I have a hectic schedule and find that I eat far to much junk food if I don’t have alternatives that are handy. But looking for affordable meal replacement products is challenging, and now I am hearing from friends about the dangers of soy.

But how can that be, since Asian people are some of the most slender and healthy people, and they eat a lot of soy. What’s up with that? Do you have other recommendations that would be better for fast food choices that still offer protein? Thanks Charlotte

Dr. Leia’s answer: Dear Charlotte, eating healthy is always a challenge, especially in our modern fast-paced world in which we live. Meal replacement products such as you mentioned above are not really meant to be long-term regular replacements for a good healthy diet and regular meals which include live, raw fresh vegetables and fruit.

Most meal replacement products are touted to be for short-term weight loss only, and should not be used long-term for people with busy schedules. The same is true of protein bars, whether they are made from soy, rice, milk, nut, gluten, whey, or other substitute meat proteins. These high protein bars may contain too much added sugar and are made originally as supplemental nutrition for athletes and active people who get a lot of heart healthy aerobic exercise or more strenuous exercise such as competitive athletes, muscle builders, marathon or triathlon runners.

If you do not get any exercise or minimal exercise, or are sedentary, then a balanced healthy diet and regular meals are important for your health. It is probably ok to occasionally use a meal replacement or a protein bar in lieu of a meal, and most of us have done this at times, but again, I will emphasize that it should not be done on a regular basis.

Currently, there is a lot of controversy over the use of soy products, especially in their ubiquitous form of protein bars, protein powder, ice cream, cheese products, milk replacements, and pills. The Asian people have incorporated soy in the form of tofu, tempeh, miso, tamari, Soya sauce, for a long time. It is a part of their culinary history. However, in China they use very little in their daily diets, only about 10 grams (2 teaspoons), and in Japan daily consumption is about 30 to 60 grams per day. These soy products are used as condiments, meaning that they serve as additions or flavorings to their food, not a substitute for animal protein. And most of this soy used is in the form of fermented soy such as tempeh, natto, tamari, soy sauce, and not as protein isolate powders, protein bars, substitute cheese, and soy ice cream products.

Unfermented soy products contain toxins in the form of phytates and trypsin inhibitors, the former of which leach important nutrient minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron from the body, and the later which interfere with protein digestion and affect normal pancreatic function.

All soy contains phytoestrogens which are endocrine inhibitors that affect the hormonal balance in babies, growing children, women, and men alike. Soy also has a potent antithyroid affect upon the thyroid gland and its hormones, and increases the body’s need for vitamin D, which is important for strong bone health and in preventing osteoporosis. The native protein present in soy is fragile and is easily denatured, or broken down, by the use of high temperatures required for the production of soy protein isolate and textured soy vegetable protein. The by-products of this high temperature processing results in the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines and toxic lysinoalanine. Because of this problem, soy protein isolate products should not be the protein of choice for the human body. In addition, highly processed soy products may contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the body, especially the kidneys, the nervous system, and the brain.

If you need to use protein supplements, which are recommended for vegetarian and vegan diets, then the best choices would include whey protein (if you are not allergic to milk and dairy products), and rice protein, which is not highly allergenic. High quality whey protein is useful in detoxification of the body and is an excellent choice for balanced amino acid supplementation. You might also want to check out hemp protein and other newer protein sources. And it might be good to rotate the use of such proteins so that you don’t develop an allergy to them. Variety is important in food choices, thus giving the body access to varied nutrients which might not be present in mono diets.

As far as healthy fast food choices, you might want to use a handful of nuts, along with fresh cut vegetables such as carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, cucumber sticks, etc. which can be prepared the night before and refrigerated until ready for use. Almost all pre-prepared package foods contain additives, coloring agents, high salt, and/or high fat content, so it is wise to use raw, fresh vegetables and nuts in their raw natural state without added fat and salt. This way you can be assured that you are getting the freshest most natural products available and they will give you the necessary enzymes needed by the body, and also will help with your weight maintenance and loss. Good luck in your healthy eating habits!

Read an Interesting Article on the Importance of Digestive Enzymes

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