Recently, I became aware of the idea that some medical practitioners believe soy is evil and people shouldn’t eat it. Being the spouse of a vegetarian, I’ve eaten my share of soy products and hated almost every bite. If you are going to eat soy as a meat replacement, just eat some meat. After doing some research about the evils of soy, I wasn’t able to change my spouse’s mind about eating meat, but I saw a connection between it and the Paleo Diet.
Dr. Kaayla T Daniel, PhD, CCN, believes that soy is not a health food, does not prevent disease and has not even been proven safe. Laboratory studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive problems, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, even heart disease and cancer.[i] Like wheat, soy wasn’t eaten by people until agriculture was developed. Even then, soy wasn’t eaten by people until more than 2200 years ago when the Chinese learned to ferment it. In evolutionary terms, soy has been a part of the human diet for a very short period of time.
The Paleo Diet is based on the concept that modern man is designed to eat the types of foods that our ancestors consumed during the Palaeolithic era. This era occurred between 2.5 million and 12000 years BP. During the period, the early hominids were hunters and gatherers. Fruit, vegetables, plants, nuts, fish, seafood and game were the staples of the Paleo Diet. To learn more about the Paleo Diet read What is the Paleo Diet.
For optimal nutrition, modern man needs to eat like his ancestors. Evolution has modified homo sapiens genes to maximize nutrition from a hunter-gatherer diet. A perfect example of evolutionary genetics and its relationship to diet can be seen in the variation of the human amylase gene in the article Evolutionary Genetics Study Validates Paleo Diet.
Soy has been part of our diet for a little more than 2,000 years. In evolutionary terms, this is a blink of an eye. From the perspective of the Paleo Diet paradigm, the fact soy causes digestive problems, is linked to malnutrition and may cause heart disease or cancer shouldn’t come as a surprise. Evolution didn’t design people to eat soy. Two thousand years isn’t a long enough time period for our bodies to learn how to eat it.
Soy can’t even be eaten by people in its natural state. It has to be processed either through cooking, refining, or fermentation. You can’t eat raw soy beans. This is the first clue that the human body is not designed to eat these products. To eat soy is to eat a processed and refined food, and these types of food play no role in the Paleo Diet.
How do the evils of soy prove the Paleo Diet paradigm? The very fact that thousands of people are allergic to it and it may cause so many health problems. If homo sapiens were designed to eat it, soy wouldn’t have the allergenic properties that it has and people would be able to eat it in its natural state. Allergies to fruits, vegetables, and animal protein are rare. These are the foods that we ate during the Palaeolithic era. Our bodies were designed to eat these foods over hundreds of thousands of years, not 2,000 years. It’s no wonder that so many people are allergic to soy.
[i] Kaayla T Daniel, The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food, New trends Publishing, 2005