In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
By Karima Burns, MH, ND
Qur'an is filled with wisdoms about every aspect of life from praying and sleeping to eating and drinking. However, no matter
how powerful the wisdoms of the Suras we read, sometimes the suggestions of advertising and media ring stronger in our minds.
is especially true in the case of dietary needs. In the Quran and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Mohammad) there are numerous
guidelines for diet. Muslims are told which foods are halal (lawful) and which are haram (forbidden). Muslims are also given
suggestions on how to follow a healthy diet. Muslims are told to eat whole and natural foods in moderation and to be careful
of what they eat that they do not cause illness in themselves:
O children of Adam! Attend to your embellishments at
every time of prayer, and eat and drink and be not excessive; surely He does not love the extravagant (Quran 7:31).
you who believe! eat of the good things that We have provided you with, and give thanks to Allah if Him it is that you serve
The stomach is the source of many diseases (Hadith).
However, oftentimes, advertising or articles
in journals can convince people to forgo what they know. This is apparent in the case of the health benefits of wine. Some
Muslims, reading the articles about health benefits of red wine decided it was wise to try this medicine (see The Misleading
Health Bennefits of Wine by Dr. Wagdy Sawahel). However, studies later showed that grape juice was actually healthier than
the red wine. Similarly, soy producers have recently touted the benefits of soy as a healthy, estrogen balancing, allergy-free
bean. Yet, researchers are beginning to find that soy is harmful in many people and that excess soy is harmful to everyone.
Although Muslims are told in the Quran and Hadith that breast milk is the best milk for babies, many Muslims have
given their children soy milk on a regular basis. And although Muslims are told that fresh cows milk was one of the Prophets
favorite drinks, they have still decided to follow the trend away from milk products and drink soy instead. Last, but not
least, even though Muslims are told not to eat or drink anything in excess, some people have adopted soy products for medical
reasons and are consuming three or more servings a day.
It is common knowledge that soybeans are loaded with plant
compounds that mimic estrogen, a female hormone. Many post menopausal women use soy products to help control hot flashes and
other problems caused by hormonal imbalances. However, this same estrogen surge can wreak havoc in the systems of young children,
men and even some women who already have sufficient estrogen levels.
Some studies on the effects of soy products on
humans have been in progress for 40 years. Researchers are now examining the brain tissue of the deceased and there are many
recent studies done on animals. They noticed that birds fed soy developed their adult plumage at two months old instead of
the normal 18 months. At first this was an advantage because the young chicks could be marketed better with their full adult
color. Then they noticed that the early maturing, soy-fed birds aged prematurely and died young. This caused much consternation
among bird handlers, for they also noticed a great increase in growth disorders, thyroid problems, infertility, and tumor
Researches then started asking, If soy does this to birds, what is it doing to us? National health agencies
and physician associations of some countries have warned their populace to exercise caution in using soy based infant formulas
(Malloy). In the U.S., two of the Federal Drug Administrations (FDA) own researchers, Daniel Doerge and Daniel Sheehan, have
stepped forward to protest their own agencys allowance of health claim labeling regarding the effects of soy protein on coronary
health. In a letter to the FDA, they cite their deep disturbance over potential risk to the public by the FDAs failure to
require that the same safeguards be put in place for soy use as for estrogenic (prescribed hormone substances) and goitrogenic
drugs (thyroid medication), They suggest that people be informed of the risks and be under a physicians care while using it
Preliminary studies on children indicate even more disturbing news. Studies show that children given soy formula
go through puberty much earlier than children who were not fed soy products because the phytoestrogens and isoflavones in
soy act like a hormone in the body, causing the infant to have hormones like the adult body. A 1994 study done in New Zealand
revealed that, depending on age, potency of the product, and feeding methods, infants on soy formula might be consuming the
equivalent of up to ten contraceptive pills a day (Ross). Phytoestrogens (substance in soy) are now strongly implicated, through
research, in thyroid disorders, behavioral and developmental disorders and cancer. Theodore Kay of the Kyoto University Faculty
of Medicine noted in 1988 that thyroid enlargement in rats and humans, especially children and women, fed with soybeans has
been known for half a century (Mercola).
However, the hormone issue is not the only concern. Research now in progress
strongly ties aggressive behavioral problems in children to soy. Soy formula has manganese levels that are 50 times higher
than the level found in mothers breast milk (Ross). Research is now showing that high levels of manganese found in soy beverages
may be neurotoxic to babies, causing brain damage. These studies suggest a correlation to the dramatic increase in Attention
Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and violent behavior seen in adolescents today (Mercola).
Allergies are also
a growing concern. Soy is one of the most allergenic foods in modern diets. It is reported in several research reports to
contain at least 30 allergenic proteins. Many prepared foods from MSG to crackers and cookies, to frozen fish sticks, and
T.V. dinners, drinks and many things in-between contain soy. In addition, many soy products are listed as natural ingredients
or natural flavorings (Malloy).
Researchers also believe that the trend toward lower male fertility may be due to environmental
estrogens, including the soy phytoestrogens. There is strong evidence that soy phytoestrogens inhibit an enzyme which is required
for the synthesis of testosterone and the development of the CNS-gonadal axis (White). Much research is now being done to
determine the effects of soy on male animals (even male insects) of all sorts. Research with animals and insects from the
grasshopper to the cheetah, are showing that soy affects males by making them less confident, less aggressive, indecisive,
show less sexual interest, lower sperm count and in some studies less everything male.
Although there is much positive
information written on soy, as well, this is one of many cases where following the suggestions of the Quran would be wise:
and drink and be not excessive.
*White, Dr. Leonard. Uncovering the Truth About Soy. Soy Online Services.
*Malloy, MH. Soy Based Formulas. CDC Database. 1999..
*Ross, Brian. The Other Side of the Story.
ABC News Online. June 9, 2002.
*Mercola, Dr. Joseph.The Truth about Soy. Mercola News. 2001.