Ok, let’s examine the holy grail of the vegetarian foods, SOY! We have heard all the wonderful benefits of adding soy to our diets. We have heard about how in Asia and other countries, people are healthier and live longer because of the soy that they get in their diets. We have heard that if you have dairy intolerance then the best thing to do is to switch to soy.
In the vegetarian sections of many stores we can find soy burgers, soy hotdogs, soy milk, soy beans, and soy ice cream. That doesn’t even include soy in most packaged foods, bread, pancake flour, pie crusts, frozen desserts, salad dressings, etc etc.
Interesting to note that the main producers of soy are the United States (35%), Brazil (27%), Argentina (19%), China (6%) and India (4%)
BUT having soy in all our foods is wonderful isn’t it? Aren’t we all going to live longer because of it? Well maybe, according to some great marketing, but if we stop and think for ourselves, let’s see what we find out.
A Little History:
For centuries, Asian people have been consuming fermented soy products such as natto, tempeh, and soy sauce, and enjoying the health benefits. Fermented soy does not wreak havoc on your body like unfermented soy products do.
Only a few decades ago, the soybean was considered unfit to eat – even in Asia. The pictograph for the soybean, indicates that it was not first used as a food. Apparently the soy plant was initially used as a method of fixing nitrogen.The soybean did not serve as a food until the discovery of fermentation techniques. The first soy foods were fermented products like tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce. The use of fermented and precipitated soy products soon spread to other parts of the Orient, notably Japan and Indonesia.
Unfortunately, many Americans who are committed to healthy lifestyles have been ‘educated’ into believing that unfermented and processed soy products like soymilk, soy cheese, soy burgers and soy ice cream are good for them.
The Bad News
Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, points out thousands of studies linking soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, kidney stones, immune system impairment, breast cancer, infertility, and heart disease.
>Soy is higher in phytoestrogens than just about any other food source. Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens that mimic estrogen in our bodies. A leading cause of breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, infertility, and low libido is estrogen dominance.
>Many foods are goitrogenic (thyroid suppressing), but soy is king of them all. Goitrogens work by preventing your thyroid from getting the necessary amount of iodine. The negative effects that soy has on your thyroid is huge especially if someone already struggles with thyroid issues.
>Soybeans are high in phytic acid, present in the bran or hulls of all seeds. It’s a substance that can block the uptake of essential minerals.Vegetarians who consume large amounts of tofu and bean curd as a substitute for meat and dairy products risk severe mineral deficiencies. The results of calcium, magnesium and iron deficiency are well known; those of zinc are less so.
>According to an article in The Guardian , researchers have discovered that consuming unfermented soy may be linked to reduced male fertility, increased cancer risk, damaged brain function, developmental abnormalities in infants, and early onset of puberty.
>93% of soy is genetically modified. Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% after GM soy was introduced in the UK.
>Nearly 20 percent of U.S. infants are now fed soy formula, but the estrogens in soy can harm your baby’s sexual development and reproductive health. Infants fed soy formula take in an estimated five birth control pills’ worth of estrogen every day. Infant soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
The Good News
Soy can be incredibly healthful, but ONLY if it is organic and properly fermented.
After a long fermentation process, the phytate and “anti-nutrient” levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system.
When you hear that Japanese people live longer and have lower rates of cancer than Americans because they eat so much soy- it’s primarily fermented soy that they consume, and it’s always been that way.
One of the main benefits of fermented soy, especially natto, is that it is the best food source of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is essential to preventing osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diseases of the brain such as dementia, and protecting you from various cancers including prostate, lung, liver cancer and leukemia.
Fermented soy products are the only ones most nutritionally knowledgeable physicians recommend consuming.
These are the primary fermented soy products you’ll find:
- Tempeh a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
- Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
- Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
- Soy sauce, which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes; be wary because many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.
- Tofu is not fermented….bummer.
I would not rule out soy completely. Just as I will be careful in in consuming sugar, in moderation I will also chose my soy. I will still enjoy some Edamame. If I am going to have soy it is going to be fermented or in raw form. Sadly 80% of all soy beans grown in the USA are Genetically Modified.
I hope this helps you to make your decision about soy, if it is your friend or foe…or maybe just an acquaintance that you enjoy some of the time.