Soybean Oil Vs. Brain & Metabolism. Micro Changes, Macro Consequences:
The App Store has a fun smartphone & tablet game called, “Fruit Ninja”.
As SCIENCE! focuses on smaller threats, people who study nutrition are finding things you might call “Food Ninjas”.
They appear unexpectedly, wreck the place, and then disappear into the night.
Just like Ninjas, they can be found in ordinary places we used to think were safe.
Like every item we see in a store that we assume is health-ninja-free.
But as fate would have it, UCR has discovered another heavy-rotation food component that just might shuriken the hell out of your body…
What Kind Of Food-Safety Testing Do We Really Have?:
I guess many of the previous safety tests must have been informal ones.
So much so, that maybe the producers just thought, “Ok, it’s cheap. Why not use it?”
And then you end up with a society suffering from ills we don’t understand.
Those ills may have originated with incorrect-assumptions.
And in this case, it’s sure seeming like producers of foods using Soybean Oil made the wrong ones.
Because The Short Answer for the current work shows that in-addition to fairly-damning prior studies,
Soybean Oil affects the brain, in a specific region, and interferes with your DNA,
And compromises at-least 1 hormone that may destabilize parts of mood, brain-function, and metabolism.
Read on to find out the details…
This Stuff Is Like Fungus. It’s Everywhere:
So here’s some really bad news.
Soybean Oil is everywhere.
I had previously-assumed that Canola was the most widely-used oil in food-production.
Boy, was I wrong! According to the UCR chart, Soy makes up about 2/3 of all the oils used in food production.
The other major ones appear to be ~20% for Canola, and 17% for Corn.
Why does this matter?
Our Omega 6 To Omega 3 Balance Is Out Of Whack:
Because these are all industrially-extracted, high Omega 6 oils.
Their processing can cause them to go rancid quickly, and they are in every processed-food you eat.
They are also in every piece of fried-food you eat, too.
So, not only are modern-eaters 7-10x out of balance in our Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio,
Which should be around 1/1 or 2/1.
These oils in the current-context have some unflattering study-data around them.
Our Ideas On Total Nutrition Effects Might Be Too Simple:
For a short trip down the aisles of a store, let’s think about our assumptions.
If it’s on a shelf, it’s been tested safe for the purpose it’s sold-for, right?
We certainly think that about food. We might even assume it about Ultra-Processed Foods.
We think foods just get digested in our stomach and go out like tiny lego-blocks to do their jobs in our body.
We don’t think they have any bio-chemical effects.
And we would never think that any food, or its digestion by-products would have Genetic effects…
Two Previous Studies Set The Stage. Obesity And Worse:
So to set the stage, 2 earlier studies from the UC-Riverside group already showed some crazy stuff about soybean oil.
Experiments with amounts of fat similar to the standard American diet found:
1) Soybean oil intake is associated with Obesity, Diabetes, Insulin-Resistance, and Fatty-Liver
2) Removing 1 component from the oil reduces Obesity and Insulin-Resistance, it is still highly-correlated with Diabetes and Fatty-Liver
So clearly, something that got approved for wide-scale use in foods is not very healthy, and engineering it to be less-so is not immediately-obvious.
The Current Work Takes That A Mystifying Step Further:
So this new study tried 3 different dietary oil types.
1) Regular Soybean Oil
2) The Modified Oil from the second study in 2017 (reduced linoleic-acid)
3) Coconut Oil
And guess, what? The news was even worse than the 2017 study.
While they found looking at 1 brain region, it was unaffected by Coconut Oil,
It was absolutely-affected by both types of Soybean Oil!
In the region they looked-at, called the Hypothalamus, UCR’s team found the minimum-effect it had was to reduce the production of the body’s cuddle, bonding, and love hormone, called Oxytocin.
Soybean Oil Affects Hormone Production & At-Least 1 Brain Region:
Not only did it reduce that production, but the previous studies may have been a tell.
Because the Hypothalamus is associated with all the problems from those previous papers.
It influences and regulates among other things:
8) Circadian Rhythms
Not great if you want to stay slim & healthy, right?
Wait, it gets even worse than that, because it’s not just affecting 1 hormone.
The researchers found it’s affecting the GENE that permits your body to produce that hormone in the specific part of your brain.
You think that’s bad? Hold my beer.
Because, when the team looked around for more, they found,
Oh, And It Also Changes The Expression Of More Than One Gene!:
At-least One Hundred Genes affected in the Hypothalamus, by Soybean Oil!!
So those prior-results all dealing with metabolism & fat-storage seem pretty plausible.
And on a different note, because there is a correlation between similar metabolic-problems and the intake of our other favorite Omega 6 oil (canola),
It’s kinda-looking like these things might not be so healthy.
Furthermore even though it hasn’t been proven yet for Soybean Oil, UCR is also going to examine it’s correlation with other brain-disorders,
Because as we’ve talked about before, Canola Oil is associated with cognitive-performance and working-memory problems in prior studies.
Whoa Nelly! A Few Caveats To The Study Results:
The doctors performing the study did want to clear-up a few potential hurdles as they try to test if the results can be extended to the general population, so:
1) The study was performed on mice
1a) Mouse-results do not always map exactly to human-reality when tested with people
2) These findings would only apply to the OIL
3) There is not enough of a concentration of it in any soy product like Edamame, Tofu, or Soy Milk to have the same effects
4) Trans-Fats and Saturated-Fats are typically associated with bad health outcomes
5) Soybean Oil may be one of the first non-saturated fats to be associated with bad health-outcomes
6) The study was only conducted on Male Mice
6a) This may be important for future-work, because mothers depend on the cuddle-hormone, oxytocin to develop strong-bonds with their children
6b) If it translates to humans, this may negatively-impact families
Other studies also show:
1) Because of the way most oils are extracted, especially from seeds, they may be compromised or go rancid very quickly
2) Soy-products can have pseudo-estrogen effects, so studies on females may be especially-important
Looking Toward The Future:
Here’s at-least a little good news, other than Dr. Deol’s advice to get as much soybean oil out of your diet as possible.
The UCR team next has to look-into what components in soybean oil can be removed or changed to nullify the bad-effects.
Thankfully, they already have 2 crossed out.
1) Linoleic Acid
Even more thankfully, there really aren’t that many components left; about 4 to be exact.
The major ones are Alpha-Linolenic Acid, Oleic Acid, Stearic Acid, and Palmitic Acid.
So if UCR is lucky, the brain-melting culprit is on that list.
Who knows what the “fixed” Soybean Oil will end-up as when they process it.
Maybe it will still be usable, or the refining operation could produce junk.
So finding out that Soybean Oil can not only affect your hormones and your brain, but also your GENES, is another win for SCIENCE!s ability to examine the tiniest levels and return with absolute health-gold!
References & Links:
• Source: UC-Riverside
• Source Study:
1) Endocrinology – Dysregulation of Hypothalamic Gene Expression and the Oxytocinergic System by Soybean Oil Diets in Male Mice
• More Coverage:
2) PlosOne – Soybean Oil Is More Obesogenic and Diabetogenic than Coconut Oil and Fructose in Mouse: Potential Role for the Liver
3) SciRep – Omega-6 and omega-3 oxylipins are implicated in soybean oil-induced obesity in mice