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Q: Should I Eat Soy? Part 5
A: The allegation has been made by some of those publishing articles arguing against soy consumption that one of the dangers of consuming soy is that it increases the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in men. Careful examination of the information, however, leads one to an entirely different conclusion.
The Honolulu Heart Program has been conducting and on-going study of Japanese American men living in Hawaii. During the study, it seemed that men who consumed tofu twice per week during middle age showed the most signs of mental deterioration in later years, including a greater incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
If tofu indeed increases the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, then we should expect to see a much greater incidence of Alzheimer’s in Japan, since Japanese men consume much more tofu than Japanese American men living in Hawaii. There are 30,000 tofu shops in Japan.
However, the opposite is true. So, what can account for the findings of this study?
Here is one explanation. People with Alzheimer’s usually have higher levels of aluminum in their brains. There are studies showing a link between increased aluminum consumption and Alzheimer’s. Bill Harris, a physician practicing in Hawaii, had soy products made in Hawaii and those from the mainland U.S. tested for their aluminum levels. The aluminum levels in the products made in Hawaii were found to be significantly higher. Perhaps it is the use of aluminum in the processing of some soy products in Hawaii that accounts for this result. This would make sense, since there are no other links between the consumption of soy products and Alzheimer’s at this time.
On the other hand, students at Bay Point School have had a very different experience using soy. This is an alternative residential school for students age 13 to 18, most of whom are sent there by the court system. Most of them are academically failing upon entering the school. The school has instituted a vegetarian program that challenges the kids to be vegetarian for one month. Students’ grades, health and energy levels have been increasing. Most have opted to continue their eating habits after the end of the program. And, not one student in the program scored below 85 on their final exam.
So, what we have is one study, the results of which may have been blown entirely out of proportion, especially since there is absolutely no other research or population study that duplicates its result.
Again, I continue to recommend soy as a safe and better alternative to so much animal protein in the diet.