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Book Review: The Hidden Dangers of Soy by Diane Gregg

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I am one of those people who is always behind any current trend. I like it that way. By the time I have accepted a trend, if in fact I do accept it, that particular trend has been found tried and true. Heck, I still have never tasted margarine. And that caution on my part has definitely shown my fears were well-founded. And I’m still wary of Canola Oil, Stevia, aspartame, mammograms and countless other praised things.

I’m pretty cynical, which helps in a world built on hype where money and market forces care more about sales than the health of the marketplace . Add to this personality trait of mine the wise words of a very grumpy and way-too-honest old woman acquaintance of mine, “Never trust anything that you see advertised on television” and well, you have someone who avoids all the great Newest Medical Miracle.

Diane Gregg’s new book, The Hidden Dangers of Soy, published by Outskirts Press. should be read by everyone. The nutritional world and alternative medicine folks like to think they are more aware of food issues. And in many ways they are. But they are as much victims of advertising as folks who don’t regularly listen to alternative media. Soy is praised everywhere as a super health food. Gynecologists tout it, as well as pediatricians.

Before her discovery of soy’s hidden dangers, Gregg had no concerns about soy. She neither praised nor disparaged it. But when she bought the hype about soy’s benefits to peri-menopausal women and started taking soy she began to see how dangerous soy could be. She gained weight, developed panic attacks, went into anaphylactic shock and almost died. All because she wanted to be healthy.

If she had been only mildly allergic to soy – after all she had eaten everyday foods all her life and the small amounts of soy in them hadn’t affected her – her decision to add soy burger, soy nuts, soy drinks, and all the other specialized soy products to her diet tilted her body towards a full-blown extreme allergy.

She wrote the book, which is filled with well-researched articles, website resources, and much anecdotal evidence, to show the problems she and other well-meaning-but-duped people have encountered because they believed in the health benefits of soy. The stories abound. Thyroid problems, for instance, abound among soy eaters. Breast issues and cancers, in male and female children, baldness in men and women. Weight gain, etc. One never knows, of course, if these issues relate to all people who eat soy. How many people are allergic to it? Does it only affect all those who are allergic to it? Or is it a more equal-opportunity poison?

Many people in the AMA are aware of the dangers of soy. Gregg explains that the Chinese people traditionally were aware of it and over the centuries have devised tried and true ways of removing the toxins. But the Chinese soaked the soy nuts longer than the hasty western companies. In addition, the typical Chinese diet contains less than 9% soy. The typical American diet, on the other hand, contains about 23% soy.

And for those who believe that soy is a health food, the percentage is even higher. Gregg lists many governmental and medical sites and articles – including articles by the FDA – that challenge the safety and supposed health benefits of soy. Yet the large food companies have not desisted in praising this very troubling legume. And why should they? They make a lot of money from it.

When my son was young the doctor suggested soy. I was never into soy but I bought the stuff. It was only later that I discovered that certain children who were slow-speakers or non-verbal began to speak when soy products were removed from their diets. Even then I merely removed my son from soymilk, I didn’t go wild, though. Soy products are ubiquitous in food products. From the trickily-named “vegetable oil” to health products to the average baked foods and snacks soy is everywhere. I didn’t remove it entirely from his diet. I will definitely do so now. It’s a tough commitment to make but The Hidden Dangers of Soy has made me believe that such a commitment should be made.

The book is a well-researched and easy read and I’m definitely going to put my copy into the hands of my fast-food-eating son. 

You can visit Diane Gregg at her website for more information and links.

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