Do you know the soy lecithin side effects whenever you consume it as an ingredient in your food? Find out what these effects are and how to avoid them.
RELATED: Thoughts On Soy’s Role In Your Diet
Soy Lecithin Side Effects You Should Be Aware Of
What Is Soy Lecithin?
Take a look at a few labels the next time you go grocery shopping; soy lecithin is almost in everything. So why is it bad?
You’ll find it in hundreds of products on the shelves of grocery stores today. Soy lecithin is an ingredient used in processed foods such as:
- soy and milk alternatives
- salad dressings
It is also commonly found in health supplements, too. It’s known to boost immunity and aid in easing menopausal symptoms.
Other soy lecithin benefits may include lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and helping with stress-related disorders.
If it’s such a common ingredient in most food items and taken as a dietary supplement, then why are there bad effects of soy?
Manufacturing Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is used so commonly in our food supply because it acts as an emulsifier.
An emulsifier is used to make oil and water mix when they otherwise would not, and it helps stabilize and keep the ingredients from separating later. It also prevents food from becoming sticky.
Let’s begin with how soy lecithin is made.
Using a chemical solvent, manufacturers take soybean oil from raw soybeans. This soy oil is then mixed with water until the lecithin portion of the oil separates.
This lecithin portion is dried, and sometimes even undergoes a final processing step of being bleached with hydrogen peroxide.
The exact composition of soy lecithin varies slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but lecithin itself is made up of soybean oil and phosphatidylcholine, a type of phospholipid (or fat).
Other Sources of Lecithin
Lecithin is the general name for fatty compounds extracted from animal or plant sources. Soy is just one of the sources for lecithin.
Back then, egg lecithin was the go-to option. Today, it is isolated from soybeans, cottonseed, rapeseed, and sunflower.
Although it’s usually used as a liquid, lecithin powder and lecithin granules are now available for purchase.
Soy Lecithin Dangers to Look Out For
1. May Cause Diseases and Nutrient Deficiencies
One of the reasons soy lecithin is best avoided is because almost all soy in our modern day comes from GMO (genetically modified organism) crops.
This means any soy or product derived from soy, such as soy lecithin, are GMOs and have all of the accompanying health dangers, including an increased chance of having cancer.
The entire process of creating GMOs may produce carcinogens, allergens, and toxins. Aside from cancer, these chemicals may induce birth defects, sterility, and other possible nutrient deficiencies.
GMOs are also made to tolerate herbicides, which means you could be ingesting residues of toxic chemicals from herbicides.
2. May Increase Cancer Risk
There is a component of soy known as phytoestrogen that mimics the effect of the naturally occurring estrogen hormone. These phytoestrogens act to alter or decrease naturally occurring estrogen in the body.
So when these phytoestrogens from soy are ingested frequently, the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer, is greatly increased. In men, these phytoestrogens can cause testosterone imbalance, infertility, low sperm count, and an increased risk of cancer.
A 2014 study shows frequent ingestion of phytoestrogen in low doses promotes breast cancer cell development during test tube experiments and induces tumors in living organisms.
3. 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.
4. May Cause Allergic Reactions
Soy lecithin is also usually contaminated with a number of pesticides and insecticides and can cause allergies in sensitive individuals.
People who have a soy allergy may experience certain soy lecithin side effects. In fact, it is one of the most common allergies in humans.
Though not fatal, a soy allergic reaction makes people uncomfortable because of the hives and itching. In rare cases, though, people may experience life-threatening reactions to soy.
Some of the most common side effects seen with taking soy lecithin include:
- gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea
- weight gain
- loss of appetite
- low blood pressure
- blurred vision
5. May Cause Toxic Buildup
If you want to avoid GMO-based soy lecithin, you can opt for food products using the organic version of the ingredient. But even then, you may still be exposed to certain toxic chemicals.
That’s because the extraction process for soy lecithin uses hexane. This chemical solvent is also used in varnishes and glue.
Though it should be removed through another process, there might still be chemical residue left. A buildup of these toxins may lead to kidney and liver disease in the long run.
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 doesn’t 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. It’s also keto-friendly so you can still take it even when you’re 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 won’t have to worry about triggering your food allergy from these ingredients.
Have you experienced any soy lecithin side effects? Share what you went through in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 3, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.