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Is "Vegan" Soy Protein Isolate a Health Food?

Is "Vegan" Soy Protein Isolate a Health Food?

Can we be honest? One of the very best things about the standard American diet (SAD) is its convenience. Although I love cooking, I admit there have been a few days when I've missed the ease of my former diet. I could swing through a fast food joint and grab a quick, warm meal. I could breeze through the grocery store, tossing boxes and packages into my cart, then go home and within minutes have dinner on the table.

The SAD diet grabs us with convenience and keeps us locked in with addictive and concentrated ingredients like meat, cheese, eggs, sugar, and oil. Deciding to ditch our SAD way of eating can leave us a little overwhelmed as we contemplate "having to cook everything from scratch." Enter frozen veggie burgers, vegan "chicken" nuggets, and the like. These vegan fast foods can make the transition to a plant-based diet easier by preserving convenience as we adapt our taste buds to new flavors and textures. But these foods may also be almost as damaging to our health as the animal products they replace. A major problem is the ingredient "soy protein isolate." Once you start reading the list of ingredients on packaged foods, you'll discover isolated soy protein in many products. Energy bars, meat substitutes, vegan cheeses, shelf-stable tofu, protein powders, and even some breakfast cereals contain this ingredient. 

In the following presentation, John McDougall, MD, explains that soy protein isolate raises insulin-like growth factor one (IGF-1) which is a powerful growth promoter. IGF-1 is a good thing when we're young and growing. However, since IGF-1 promotes growth rather indiscriminately, it also ages us more rapidly and promotes the growth of cancer cells if our level of IFG-1 stays high throughout life. Dr. McDougall examines the research and shows that dairy consumption raises our levels of this growth hormone significantly, but surprisingly, consuming isolated soy protein raises IGF-1 even more than milk products. 

Soy protein isolate is a highly processed, concentrated form of soybeans and most often appears as an added ingredient in other highly processed foods. All highly processed foods — whether plant-based or otherwise — increase our health risks. As we transition to a plant-based diet, we sometimes think that avoiding animal products is enough. Unfortunately, this isn't true. The label "vegan" often lures us into the convenience trap where highly processed foods lurk. The standard American diet is damaging not just because of the meat, eggs, and dairy products, but also because of the highly processed convenience foods we've come to depend on in our fast-paced life.

Once we make optimal health our goal, our priorities change. I've found that no convenience is worth it for me to go back to my former way of eating. A low-fat, whole-plant food diet, free from added oils, is the way to a slimmer body, a happier disposition, and loads of energy. That's my goal. If you've made optimal health your goal, too, I invite you to join my Starch-Smart® community at DrCarney.com as we support each other in learning and living a low-fat, whole-food plant-based lifestyle. 

For additional reading:

(1) Soy — Food, Wonder Drug, or Poison?

(2) Are Soy Products Healthful?

(3) Jazz Tofu

(4) Soy and Your Health

John McDougall MD Links

John McDougall MD  |  LinkedIn  |  Wikipedia  |  VegSource  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Books  |  Videos

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