August 01, 2012
Soy: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Soy is very controversial in the nutrition field. For years, the public has perceived soy as a health food, an ideal source of protein which lowers cholesterol, protects against cancer and heart disease, reduces menopausal symptoms and prevents osteoporosis but is that really the truth?
The bean part of the soy that we eat in its unfermented form (tofu, soy milk, edamame, soybean oil and soy lecithin) is toxic, which is why it’s well known in Asia to soak or ferment the seed/bean to remove the toxins. The only forms of soy that I recommend are those that have been fermented, which include: miso (to make soup, dressings for fish and salads), tempeh (a fermented soy and grain product) and tamari (a wheat-free soy sauce). Fermented soy contains higher amounts of B vitamins, probiotics and an enzyme that helps to open up arteries.
I challenge you to pull out ALL the products in your kitchen, refrigerator and freezer that contain soy in its various forms to see how much you are actually eating - you will be absolutely shocked at how many things it is in. Consider keeping your home soy-free, because you are likely getting an overkill amount of it when you eat out since most restaurants use soybean oil for cooking because it is so inexpensive.
Concern over genetically modified soy
Unfortunately, 95% of the soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are organisms that have been created through the gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology.
In 30 other countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all the nations in the European Union, there are restrictions or outright bans on the production of GMOs, because they are not considered proven safe. In the U.S., though, the Food and Drug Administration approved commercial production of GMOs based on studies conducted by the companies that created them and profit from their sale. Many health-conscious shoppers are concerned over the lack of independent, scientific examination on the impact of consuming genetically modified foods.
Primary health concerns about processed soy
Blocks the uptake of essential vitamins and minerals. Included are calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, iodine and especially zinc. The phytic acid in soy binds to minerals, proteins and starch, and results in lower absorption of these substances. Vitamin B-12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B-12. Phytic acid foods also increase the body’s requirement for Vitamin D.
Thyroid issues. Processed soy inhibits the uptake of one of the most important minerals needed for growth and metabolism, iodine, which is used by the thyroid gland in the production of thyroid hormones. Unfermented soy may also block absorption of thyroid medications if taken at the same time.
Hormone disruption. Perhaps the most disturbing of soy’s ill effects on health has to do with its phytoestrogens, which can mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen. These phytoestrogens have been found to have both beneficial and adverse effects on various human tissues. For example, drinking two glasses of soymilk daily for one month is enough to alter a woman’s menstrual cycle. However, modest amounts of fermented soy do not show any hormone-disruptive effects.
Protein inhibitors. You do not get the protein listed on the label because soy is denatured and therefore not bio-available. Soy interferes with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders.
MSG. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing, and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
Whole Journey's Recommended Fermented Soy Products:
Tamari: Gluten-free fermented soy sauce.
Tempeh: Fermented soybeans similar to tofu.
Miso: Great for making miso soup or a glaze for fish or chicken.
While this soy information may not be good news to you, I hope it helps make you more aware. Read labels so that you can become an empowered consumer and take charge of your own health and wellness.
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