Paul Joseph Watson Is STILL Wrong, BUT…

When I made my Paul Joseph Watson response this past weekend, I expected there to be backlash from Paul’s loyal fanbase.

I’ve seen it before when I called out Varg Vikernes and Kinobody, for example.

So, ultimately, it was no shock when the trolls came rolling in, as predicted, with vacuous, repetitive, regurgitated drivel.

However, among the wasteland of fanboys and fangirls, who were clearly triggered by both a bean as well as their idol being refuted, it WAS refreshing to engage in some constructive dialogue among the melee.

A fellow brought my attention to the FULL 2010 paper published in the journal Fertility and Sterility that I had presented in abstract form.

A paper I’ve cited many times previously.

But, up until now, I had only accessed the abstract of the meta analysis titled “Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men”.

While an abstract can provide the overall study conclusion, as well as key design details, abstracts don’t always elaborate on limitations and other caveats. They are really just summaries.

This video is, therefore, a deeper look at the data on soy from that popularly-referenced meta analysis.

I feel it is my duty to my viewers to ensure that I am being as thorough as possible in what I deliver.

If data emerges that I didn’t know about previously, I want to bring it to your attention.

First of all, it must be said that the overall results remain the same. But, let’s review them in greater detail from the full text:

There were no significant effects from soy protein or isoflavones on either testosterone or SHBG. Nor any significant effects on bioavailable testosterone or free androgen index.

There were no significant, overall effects of isoflavones on hormone profile, testosterone, or SHBG. Importantly, there was also NO publication bias NOR over-influential studies detected in the control process of the meta analysis.

There is simply no indication that either soy protein or isoflavone intake significantly alters testosterone, SHBG, free testosterone, or free androgen index.

And these results were the same even at intake levels equal to and considerably higher than what is typical for Asian males… in other words, even when EXCEEDING 45 grams of soy protein per day.

It is worth reiterating that those results came from data collected from 51 total clinical studies, 15 of which were placebo-controlled.

But… now we get to the limitations of the research and some things to keep in mind!

1. There was lack of proper product descriptions used in the studies. And isoflavone content CAN vary product-by-product.

2. The study authors did NOT directly analyze the products that they had used. Instead they relied on the manufacturer to accurately provide product information such as isoflavone content.

3. There was a lack of data on naturally-occuring components such as saponin content, and whether those components interact with or affect the biological actions of the isoflavone content.

4. And here’s a noteworthy one! Approximately 25% to 35% of Westerners possess a specific intestinal bacteria that is capable of producing equol.

Equol is a relatively-stable, but more-biologically-active metabolite of the isoflavone daidzein, which is found in soybeans.

5. It is hypothesized, the key word being hypothesized… thus, NOT proven, that these folks who DO produce equol respond differently to isoflavone-containing products than those who do not.

With that being said, I reiterate that equol-producers only make up 25-35% of Westerners. The majority, or the other 65-75% of Westerners, do not fall into that category, thus needn’t worry about that particular effect.

And it appears to differ by race, which would make sense. Among Asians, equol producers make up 50-55% of the population.

[equol race 2] I don’t know the precise frequency, but Latinos also tend to be large equol producers — apparently, moreso than even Asians or whites.

I could not find any data on equol production and blacks at the time of this video.

It also appears that equol production more commonly occurs in males than females.

As for the difference in hormone values in equol producers vs. non-producers after isoflavone supplementation, at least in healthy Japanese volunteers, by the 3 month mark non-producers experienced no significant changes in estrogen, SHBG, DHT, free and total testosterone.

Producers, however, experienced a 19.35% decrease on average in DHT, and a 6.03% decrease on average in free testosterone, as well as a 21.16% increase on average in SHBG, but no no significant changes in estrogen or total testosterone.

So, there does appear to be some effect on hormone levels in folks who ARE equol producers after a period of isoflavone consumption.

The increase in SHBG would account for the slightly-lowered free testosterone, given that there was NO significant change in total testosterone or estrogen levels.

But, even still, 6.03% isn’t THAT much of a decrease in the scheme of things, assuming you’re a healthy, normal male to begin with.

It’s certainly doesn’t justify the level of fear-mongering we keep hearing regarding soy. Like that from Paul Joseph Watson. And that’s just what it is… fear mongering.

Soy most certainly isn’t going to change your fucking gender, even if you are one of those equol producers.

On the flip side, it is generally believed that equol producers gain more health benefit from soy consumption than non-producers. Such as reduction hot flashes in menopausal women, as well as bone strengthening and reduction of skin wrinkles.

Thus, while there appear to be minor drawbacks to being a producer, there also appears to be benefits.

But, more research on this particular area is needed in humans specifically.

As humans do not produce equol as readily as rodents, which is why we cannot consider non-human studies to be conclusive for humans.

That all said, does equol production account for the occassional smaller studies where some otherwise healthy men DO witness a reduction in testosterone from phytoestrogen consumption?

Possibly.

But, keep in mind that some of those studies showing a negative effect on sex hormones have a number of inherent design issues, such as: small sample sizes, lack of a control group, no data on baseline hormone values, or even details on how hormone levels were assessed.

Which renders their findings less conclusive. So, you need to take it study-by-study, and review the quality.

It is interesting to note that higher dietary fat intake, or 33-37% or higher of daily calories, is associated with a DECREASE in equol production. Furthermore, higher-carbohydrate intake, or 52-58% or higher of daily calories, is associated with GREATER equol production.

So, essentially, folks whose bodies produce equol may do well consuming a higher-fat, lower-carbohydrate diet… but, not necessarily a ketogenic diet. No need to go extreme. If they wish to limit the equol production within their bodies when consuming soy.

Finally, another limitation in the research is that most of the available studies on soy were short-term, with an average study duration of about 74 days.

As such we simply do not have any data, good or bad, on LONG-term, high-intake of soy foods.

So, longer duration research is needed on humans.

Now, anecdotally-speaking, I’ve been consuming a high-soy diet for the better part of 4 years now. I went vegan in Spring 2013.

Some days, my consumption has been as high as 181 grams of protein from a combination of tofu, soy-based mock meats, and soy-inclusive protein powders.

I’ve never had any issues with low-testosterone, formation of breast tissue, a lacking sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fertility, or loss of strength or muscle mass.

In fact, I’ve gained muscle as a vegan just as well as I did as a lacto-ovo vegetarian.

My gains keep on coming, in fact. As much as can be expected for someone who is an experienced lifter and drug-free.

Granted, that is pure anecdote, but it IS my long-term, personal observation. And I monitor my body, my nutrition, my exercise, my supplementation, etc. with a high-level of scrutiny since this lifestyle is a passion of mine.

I actually keep both handwritten and Microsoft Excel logs. And have done for years. They even include how I’ve felt on a given day.

So, I am not “put off” soy given these clarifications. I will still consume it.

BUT… I do recommend that OTHER PEOPLE, who may be new to soy, “test the waters”, so-to-speak. See how they go.

In case they are among the 25-35% of Western “equol producers”.

And if they think they are an equol producer, to just be wary, and limit their soy intake I suppose. Or avoid it altogether, if they wish. Even speak to a doctor, or a certified nutritionist.

Perhaps try consuming less carbohydrates, no higher than 45-49% of daily calories, with an accompanying higher dietary fat intake, no lower than 33-37% of daily calories.

Also bearing in mind, at the moment, that the equol concern is still a hypothesis. So, lets not resort to fear-mongering and misinformation.

Hopefully you can see that while this doesn’t confirm Paul Joseph Watson’s sweeping over-generalization, it also does not render my response to him completely invalid either.

It does, however, require me to adjust my advice with regards to approaching soy — for at least some folks.

And, clearly, more research is needed on the subject. Especially longer-term. And as that research surfaces, I will do my best to keep on top of it.

Anyhow, let me know what you think in the comments below.

REFERENCES

Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. (Abstract) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19524224

Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(09)00966-2/fulltext

Prevalence of the Equol-Producer Phenotype and Its Relationship with Dietary Isoflavone and Serum Lipids in Healthy Chinese Adults https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3900832/

Demographic, anthropometric, and lifestyle factors and dietary intakes in relation to daidzein-metabolizing phenotypes among premenopausal women in the United States. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18326607

Evidence for Geographical and Racial Variation in Serum Sex Steroid Levels in Older Men https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050097/

Epidemiological profiles between equol producers and nonproducers: a genomewide association study of the equol-producing phenotype https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448036/

Isoflavone supplements stimulated the production of serum equol and decreased the serum dihydrotestosterone levels in healthy male volunteers https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2834330/

Interindividual variation in metabolism of soy isoflavones and lignans: influence of habitual diet on equol production by the gut microflora. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10798213?dopt=Abstract

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