Soybean Oil Linked to Obesity and Neurological Problems

Soybean oil is like gold for food manufacturers. It appears in every manner of processed foods from nondairy creamer to crackers and much of everything else in between. But while it may prove an easy profit enhancer for food manufacturers, it can spell big trouble for consumers.  New research findings have revealed a dirty secret in this widely used industrialized food additive:  Soybean oil can not only lead to obesity and diabetes in some people (something that has been suspected for some time), but it also appears to have the potential to trigger neurological problems–which could potentially lead to conditions like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and depression.

Backstory

It was back in the early 1990’s that soybean oil (and all soybean byproducts, for that matter) went on my own “Food additives to Avoid” list.  After extensive experimenting and testing using myself as the guinea pig, it became clear that industrialized soybean oil was among those synthetic and industrialized food additives that triggered an immune response that led to serious health issues.  Over the course of the next decade I worked with a number of other people whose adverse symptoms dissipated when removing soybean oil from their diets.  It was during this time period that word began to spread among clean food advocates that the industrializing process of soybean oil (it begins as a natural ingredient, but then is chemically altered in a lab) was possibly behind a range of adverse health consequences: “Avoid soybean oil” began to become a commonly heard piece of advice at healthy eating conferences and seminars across the country.  By 2010 a number of foods with packaging announcing they were “soy-free” started popping up in health food stores across the U.S. It was around this time that scientific researchers started to seriously investigate possible links between this industrialized food additive and adverse health consequences.

Study results overview

The results of this most recent study investigating the health effects of industrialized soybean oil in processed foods revealed that it has pronounced effects on the hypothalamus–the area of the brain that regulates hormones responsible for body weight, metabolism, stress responses and reproductive functioning.  While much more research is needed, in the recent animal study conducted on mice the researchers discovered over 100 genes adversely affected by soybean oil in the diet. The scientists believe this discovery could have ramifications not just for energy metabolism and weight control, but also for proper brain functioning and diseases such as autism and Parkinson’s disease.  The takeaway from their findings, according to the researchers is: “The observed effects of soybean oil on hypothalamic gene expression could have important public health ramifications.”  It should be noted that this latest study was conducted by the same researchers who previously discovered that soybean oil induces obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, and fatty liver in mice.

Conclusion

As stated earlier, more research needs to be conducted in order for definitive answers to be reached about the adverse effects industrialized soybean oil has on human health and well-being, as well as to uncover what specific chemical compounds in the industrialized version of soybean oil may be behind adverse outcomes.  For now, those consumers who want to minimize their risk of problems like weight gain/difficulty losing weight, obesity and diabetes–as well as the potential for neurological problems–should minimize their consumption of the food additive soybean oil.  There are two ways this can be accomplished: Firstly, switch from a diet of highly processed foods to a diet of homemade meals and snacks made from fresh, whole ingredients, organic where possible.  Secondly, because even low-processed foods may contain industrialized soybean oil–including those foods labeled as “organic” and found inside health food stores–look for alternatives that label their foods as “soy-free”. Read the ingredients labels to be sure “soybean oil” is not listed.


 

Journal Reference:  Deol, P., et al. (January 2020). Dysregulation of Hypothalamic Gene Expression and the Oxytocinergic System by Soybean Oil Diets in Male Mice, Endocrinology Journal, bqz044, Study https://doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqz044  /Overview/