By Al Sears, MD
Buddhist monks live a strict life of depriving themselves. They don’t have any kind of sexual activity and try to stop themselves from even having any desires. They are not allowed to marry, or even touch a woman. Sex and lust are the most important things to avoid.
And do you know how they prevent all those sexual urges and desires?
They eat soy.
If that’s what you had to do to be healthy, I think I’d pass.
Soy promotes what I call testosterone resistance in your body. When you don’t have enough testosterone it can rob you of your sexual desire and energy. And studies show that soy’s two main estrogen-like compounds — genistein and daidzein —create this resistance to testosterone.
They block your sex hormones, called androgens, from reaching their androgen receptors.1
Soy appears to have three ways it does this:
1. Soy interferes when testosterone wants to bind to its natural hormone receptors.
Genistein and daidzein bind so strongly to androgen receptors that they take the place of testosterone in your body. When researchers looked at how this affects development in boys, they found that it can wreak havoc on sexual development.2
2. Soy Increases SHBG.
Why is SHBG (or serum hormone binding globulin) so important? Because it regulates your sex hormones. When you have too much, it lowers the amount of free testosterone you have, and your hormones go out of whack…which can lead to impotence and low libido.
Japanese researchers gave healthy men only 60 mg of soy for three months. Their SHBG jumped, and their free testosterone went into free-fall.3 For women the effects are worse. In addition to diabetes, low SHBG levels can cause infertility, polycystic ovaries, acne and uterine cancer.
3. Soy lowers the amount of testosterone your body produces.
In a study investigating ways of reducing testosterone for prostate cancer patients, researchers discovered a surefire way to lower total testosterone in men: soy.
They fed animals less than 1 mg of soy and found that their testosterone levels dropped like a stone.4
To avoid testosterone resistance, my advice is that both men and women should avoid all soy products.
The problem is it’s not always easy to tell what has soy in it and what doesn’t.
Here are two ways to help you avoid hidden soy so you can keep your sex drive alive, have lots of energy and stay happy:
Step 1. You probably don’t like to read labels, but it’s best to be aware of how much soy you’re consuming, given the potential health hazards. Avoid these ingredients in your food. They are all usually made from or contain soy:
- Bulking Agent
- Glycerol monostearate
- Guar gum
- Gum arabic
- Hydrolyzed plant protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Liquid smoke
- Mixed tocopherols
- Mono- and di-glyceride
- Monosodium glutamate
|- Natural flavorings
- Protein concentrate
- Protein extender
- Protein isolate
- Smoke flavor
- Textured vegetable protein
- Thiamine mononitrate
- Thickening agent
- Vegetable broth
- Vegetable gum
- Vegetable oil
- Vegetable shortening
Step 2. Soy isn’t just hidden in your food, it’s hidden on your food — like fruits and vegetables.
To make them look shiny and delicious on store shelves, and to seal in moisture, produce is sprayed with a waxy coating. You may already know that these waxes can be made from petroleum, but what you may not know is that most are not.
Many waxy coatings — including officially organic-approved food-grade coatings made from vegetable, beeswax, carnauba wax or lac resin — use soy protein to thicken the wax so it sticks to the produce.
The government puts these coatings in their “generally recognized as safe” category, which is good enough for the big food manufacturers. Unfortunately, many people in the organic food business consider anything made from soy “natural,” meaning good for you, even though it’s anything but.
That’s why fruits and vegetables are one instance where organic isn’t good enough. I buy what I like to call “better than organic” — fresh, local produce. I love shopping at the farmer’s market near my house. It makes me feel good to know where my food is coming from.
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1 Nishizaki, Y., Ishimoto, Y., Hotta, Y., et al, “Effect of flavonoids on androgen and glucocorticoid receptors based on in vitro reporter gene assay,” Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett.Aug. 15, 2009;19(16):4706-10
2 Sherrill, J.D., Sparks, M., Dennis, J., et al, “Developmental exposures of male rats to soy isoflavones impact Leydig cell differentiation,” Biol Reprod. Sept. 2010;83(3):488-501
3 Tanaka, M., et al, “Isoflavone supplements stimulated the production of serum equol and decreased the serum dihydrotestosterone levels in healthy male volunteers,”Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2009;12(3):247-52
4 Weber, K.S., Setchell, K.D., Stocco, D.M. et al, “Dietary soy-phytoestrogens decrease testosterone levels…” J. Endocrinol. Sept. 1, 2001;170:591-599