How To Avoid Soy Lecithin
While soy lecithin is a very common additive in our current food and supplement supply, it can be avoided. If you must consume food containing soy lecithin, choose the certified organic and certified non-GMO option.
Natural foods and cleaner food items contain natural emulsifying agents such as sunflower lecithin and even bee pollen and egg yolks.
Sunflower lecithin is a better alternative than soy lecithin because it can be extracted without the use of harsh chemical solvents.
A cold press system, similar to the process of extracting olive oil, is used to extract sunflower lecithin, making it much healthier. Plus, it doesnt contain GMOs and other problematic things.
What are GMOs? Find out more in this video from Sunwarrior:
Taking care to avoid soy lecithin helps keep the body in balance and avoid exposure to pollutants, pesticides, insecticides, GMOs, and the phytoestrogens that cause a hormone imbalance that can lead to cancer and other health problems.
If you want soy and gluten-free dietary supplements, the Sunwarrior Collagen-Building Protein Peptides can help keep you healthy. Its also keto-friendly so you can still take it even when youre on a ketogenic diet.
You can also add Sunwarrior Ormus Super Greens to your meals to get all the phytonutrients from the most nutrient-dense green vegetables. These are also gluten and soy-free so you wont have to worry about triggering your food allergy from these ingredients.
Why Not Just Avoid Soy
If soy was completely neutral, I would have no problem just telling you to skip over it.
With the conflicting reports out there, combined with the research, it would not be worth the hassle if soy had no effects on your health whatsoever. In fact, it would simply be easier to ignore it and just skip over it entirely.
The problem with soy, though, is that it is not completely neutral. There is strong data that suggests that soy can cut the risk of:
- Autoimmune disease6
- Hip fracture10
- Cardiovascular disease11
Bottom Line: It would be easy to ignore soy if it was simply neutral, but it is not. Avoiding soy can have you missing out on some key benefits, and having soy in your diet can help preserve your health in the long term.
Avoiding Soy In Personal Care Products
Some products that you may not think soy has any business being in may still contain soy, and these products go beyond food. This includes cosmetics, soaps, lotions, and other personal care products. Recently, I was looking at a delightfully natural and organic lotion for myself. It had honey, shea butter, and other lovely ingredients. When I flipped it over, the main ingredient was soybean oil no thanks!
If you are looking for some great personal care products free of soy and other not-so-friendly ingredients for thyroid health, I recommend you check out some of my favorite brands:
- Ann Marie Gianni Skin Care: A line of natural skin care products that you can trust, because they use only herbs and extracts in their purest forms, straight from nature.
- Spa Doctor: A natural skin care system with products and programs to help you achieve glowing skin and vibrant health at any age.
- Acure Organics: Pure, simple and effective plant-based beauty products.
You can find all of these recommendations and more on my Thyroid Pharmacist Resources Page. In the meantime, read more about the importance of using natural skin care items to improve your health and decrease your bodys toxicity load, here.
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May Lead To Birth Defects
Additionally, both soy and soy lecithin have genistein, which might have a detrimental effect on the reproductive system and can lead to infertility. Some studies show that ingesting these compounds can lead to birth defects.
A similar component found in soy and soy products is called goitrogens, an anti-thyroid compound that can disrupt the endocrine system and can lead to thyroid problems.
Since hormones contribute to the proper function of organs within the body, disrupting the endocrine system can result in hormone-related diseases and other health problems.
Soy Can Cause Breast Cancer
Many menopausal women are recommended to eat more soy because its a natural alternative to estrogen boosting drugs.
Yet, there are consequences that come with adding so much soy to your diet.
This study found eating soy can decrease the symptoms of menopause in women affected by it. Unfortunately, there are also many negatives that come with eating soy that take away these benefits.
In this study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they found women consuming soy protein have much higher increases in the number of cells in their breasts most likely able to turn into cancer.
Another study found consuming soy protein by some of the women increased the number of these cells in the breasts that can turn into cancer.
But there are also some observational studies finding women who consume soy had a reduction in breast cancer. The problem with observational studies is they dont prove soy caused these benefits.
All they do is show a correlation between those who have been eating soy and reduction in breast cancer. They could be doing something else that is responsible for this reduction in breast cancer.
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Soy Milk And Allergies
Soy is also one of the top eight allergens, and it’s possible that genetic modification can make the risk of allergies even higher. According to a report published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology in December 2013, genetic modification can introduce another allergen into the soy milk without the public even being aware.
The report notes that when patients who were allergic to Brazil nuts, but not soybeans, consumed genetically-modified soy, they showed an allergic immune response. In other words, even if soy isn’t a known allergy, there’s a possibility that GM soy milk could cause allergy symptoms.
If you’re allergic to soy, you’ll need to completely avoid soy milk and any processed foods containing it. Unfortunately, soy isn’t always listed as such on the ingredient list, so you’ll have to watch out for other names for soy, like:
Read more:Soy Protein Intolerance Symptoms
What About Current Research
As for the latest and breaking research, there is a large study that has been recently done linking vegans with fewer occurrences of autoimmune thyroid disease12. This study argued that the soy intake of vegans may play a role in that.
Personally, I do not recommend vegan diets across the board for those that have not chosen them for environmental or ethical reasons.
But, the argument that soy causes thyroid disease is not founded in any clinical research that I can find.
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Risks And Side Effects
Although soy foods may be associated with several potential health benefits, there are a few side effects and risks that need to be considered as well.
For starters, isoflavones act as phytoestrogens, meaning that they mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. For this reason, many people choose to avoid soy foods due to concerns about their effect on hormone-linked cancers, such as breast cancer.
Interestingly enough, however some studies have actually found that soy isoflavones could actually be linked to a lower risk of developing breast cancer. According to one 2016 review, higher consumption of soy products was linked to a 30 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer among Asian women.
Of course, its important to note that these populations typically consume non-GMO, fermented and minimally processed soy foods, which is a stark contrast to many of the highly processed products consumed in most western countries.
Because of the phytoestrogen effects of soybeans, many also wonder: Is soy bad for men? Studies have turned up mixed results on the impact of soy consumption on hormone levels for men.
Allergies to soy products are also very common, with one study estimating that soy allergy affects around 0.4 percent of children. Although many people do outgrow these allergies, its important to avoid soy products if you have an allergy to prevent adverse side effects.
So Why Are Vegetable Oils So Bad For The Thyroid
2 words: polyunsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fats impair and slow thyroid function in 3 ways :
And I’ll throw out 2 more reasons:
Action Step: The only way to stop the inflammation and thyroid suppression that vegetable oils cause is to avoid them completely. Choose traditional, nourishing, unprocessed fats: butter, ghee, coconut oil, palm oil, tallow, and lard.
As you seek to treat your thyroid holistically, I highly recommend working with a functional medicine practitioner or naturopath to find a diet, supplements, and lifestyle that work for YOU. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to any disease.
Yet it is so interesting that the very foods that nourish the thyroid are some of the same nutrient-dense foods we talk about all the time at Traditional Cooking School. And the same foods that weaken your immune system are weakening your thyroid as well.
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Myth: If You Have A Lump On Your Neck You Definitely Have A Thyroid Problem
Fact: A lump on the neck is not necessarily a goiter . While the thyroid is the most common thing that can enlarge in your neck, there are a lot of other things in the neck besides the thyroid, says Dr. Fink.
Other causes of a neck lump could be a swollen lymph node or cyst. Either way, Dr. Fink recommends you get any neck lumps checked out by your doctor, who will evaluate the problem with a quick exam and order up ultrasounds or CT scans, if necessary.
May Help Protect Heart Health
Diets rich in legumes, including soy, may help lower your risk of heart disease .
It appears that soy isoflavones may help reduce inflammation in blood vessels and improve their elasticity two factors believed to protect the health of your heart .
A recent review further links soy-rich diets to a 20% and 16% lower risk of stroke and heart disease, respectively .
Additional research suggests that diets rich in soy foods may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by up to 15% .
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Is Soy Still Around Today
Absolutely. From restaurant food to breakfast cereal to bottled salad dressings to bread, it’s in everything. Look in protein bars, children’s snack foods, infant formula, mayonnaise, hummus, and potato chips it’s there too.
Perhaps most disgustingly, soy is still proclaimed a healthy protein source. Upon walking into almost any health food store, one can find soy masquerading as chicken, cheese, sausage, and hot dogs.
Infants suffer from autoimmune thyroid disorders, leaky gut syndrome, and liver and kidney problems when they eat solely soy-based formula .
Soy can adversely affect thyroid hormone production as well as interfere with the uptake of synthetic thyroid hormones. Not to mention, almost all soy on the market nowadays is genetically modified, so it’s not even good for those with optimum thyroid function.
Like sugar, soy hides in places you’d never expect. For this reason, we always encourage you to make your own salad dressings and condiments, mayo, and other foods that contain soy when purchased from the store.
Action Step: Diligently read labels on every pre-made food you purchase. Place it back on the shelf if it contains soy in any form. Learn how to make your own healthier versions at home to save money and your health.
Can You Eat Too Much Iodine
Yes. The safe upper limit of iodine intake is considered to be 1,100 micrograms per day. Since 1 teaspoon of iodized salt contains 284 micrograms of iodine, if you eat 4 teaspoons of iodized salt in a day, you have already exceeded the safe amount.
Strange as it may seem, hypothyroidism can be caused both by too much iodine and by too little iodine. Excess iodine interferes with the release of thyroid hormone into the bloodstream and can cause goiter and hypothyroidism.
Excess iodine is generally well tolerated, but individuals with underlying thyroid disease or other risk factors may be susceptible to iodine-induced thyroid dysfunction following acute or chronic exposure. Sources of increased iodine exposure include the global public health efforts of iodine supplementation, the escalating use of iodinated contrast radiologic studies, amiodarone administration in vulnerable patients , excess seaweed consumption, and various miscellaneous sources.
The foods most commonly associated with excess iodine are seaweed and iodized salt. A single gram of seaweed can contain anywhere between 16 and 2,984 micrograms of iodine!
In addition to containing high amounts of iodine, seaweeds in the Laminaria family contain phloroglucinol and other polyhydroxyphenols, which are potent anti-thyroid compounds themselves.
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What About Soy Formula
Soy is not a friend of babies. Check out what the researchers in this study found:
Infants fed soy formula are at higher risk for hypothyroidism and for later development of autoimmune thyroid diseases. In humans, goiter has been detected in infants fed soy formula this is usually reversed by changing to cow milk or iodine-supplemented diets . After the 1960s, manufacturers reportedly began adding iodine to formulas to mitigate thyroid effects.
Soy formula should not be your go-to option if you are having difficulties breastfeeding. Watch out, because even formula that isn’t labeled “soy formula” can contain soy.
Food #3 Raw Cruciferous Veggies
Sources differ on this topic. Many claim the benefits of raw cruciferous vegetables far outweigh the risks they pose to the thyroid. Still others claim the exact opposite raw crucifers are goitrogenic and should always be cooked prior to consuming.
The cruciferous family of veggies is rich in sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates detoxifying and anti-cancerous substances which are very beneficial to the whole body . Cruciferous vegetables are sometimes called brassicas and include:
- broccoli and cauliflower
- kale and other leafy greens like arugula, watercress, mustard greens, and collard greens
And they should be a part of everyone’s diet, in my opinion.
Yet they are also goitrogenic in nature. A goitrogen is a substance that interferes with the thyroid’s uptake of iodine. When the thyroid isn’t uptaking enough iodine, it swells to try to uptake more iodine. This forms a lump in the throat called a goiter. Health practitioners should always palpate your throat area to check for a goiter, which is a sure sign of a thyroid problem.
Some argue, however, that though goiters are caused by interference in the uptake of iodine, that uptake isn’t blocked by food. Rather, they say, goiters are caused by inflammation from chronic autoimmune thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto’s. The solution, then, is to treat the autoimmune thyroid condition, not to remove goitrogenic foods like cruciferous veggies from the diet.
Myth: Consuming Extra Iodine Will Improve Your Thyroid Health
Fact: Your thyroid needs iodine to function properlybut most Americans have no problem getting enough of it. Taking supplements or eating a ton of seaweed could actually do your thyroid more harm than good, Dr. Fink says. Excess iodine can trigger thyroid dysfunction: If you dont have the proper mechanisms working in your thyroid to shut it down when its overdosed on iodine, it will turn into this iodine-using factory and keep churning through all this iodine and make too much thyroid hormone, she says. It can cause an overactive thyroid if you really overdose on it.
Gluten And Your Thyroid
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Unless you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, it probably wonât affect your thyroid. Gluten can damage the small intestines of people with celiac disease. They can have other autoimmune disorders like Hashimotoâs disease and Graves’ disease . If you have celiac disease, a gluten-free diet may help prevent these thyroid diseases.
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Thyroid Medication And Your Food
The foods you eat can affect your thyroid medicine. They can slow down how your body absorbs medicine. It can also affect how well it does it.
- Take medicine on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning.
- Iron and calcium can interact with your thyroid medicine and keep it from working.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information about timing your food and other meds around your thyroid treatment.
Complete Idiots Guide To Thyroid Disease
When I first wrote the Complete Idiots Guide to Thyroid Disease, I argued that I did not see much evidence saying that soy was a bad thing for those who had thyroid disease. I could not find any, so I did not see it as fit to argue the case that it was.
Over the years, though, the fervor against soy intensified both in general and in the world of thyroid health.
It seemed as though people were vilifying soy, and the growing opinion was that it should be avoided. Between now and the writing of Healing Hashimotos I had made two assumptions based on this public sentiment:
For these reasons, I went along with the discussions that suggested avoiding soy entirely. I thought there was a possible risk of having soy in your diet, and that there was not any real harm in avoiding it.
Key Insight: I fault myself for not diving deeper into the primary research around soy. Since then, I want to share with you the information found to date on this meaningful topic.
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