Smart About Soy

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Superfood soy? Not so fast. Unfortunately many of us have been taught that soy is a health food. But is it?

Soy is present in many processed foods in our American diet, used as a protein replacement in vegetarian and vegan diets, and is promoted for health benefits. While it’s widely used, its many adverse affects are often ignored.

Possible Negative Health Effects

• Impaired thyroid functioning, often leading to hypothyroidism (especially in women).

• High phytoestrogens that can trigger thyroid and autoimmune conditions, especially in infants and women.

• Possible neurological distress, damage and other developmental abnormalities in children. 

• MSG, commonly added to soy for taste, increases soy’s reactivity in the body.

• Soy is high in phytates, which block absorption of minerals including calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc.

• Soy can contribute to various cancers.

• Contains trypsin inhibitors, preventing the enzyme trypsin from digesting protein, which can lead to pancreatic disorders.

• Complete, but low quality protein, with very low amounts of two essential amino acids, lysine and methionine.

• Soy may disrupt sex hormones and contribute to infertility.

• Soy further disrupts the imbalanced American diet overloaded with omega-6 fatty acids.

• Promotion of kidney stone formation.

Weeding Out the Good From the Bad

Unfermented soy products, including soy milk, cheese, burgers, ice cream, and others, are the ones we want to avoid. Our Western culture most frequently consumes the soybean in its highly processed separated oil and protein parts. Often times, soy creeps its way into our foods under the aliases ‘bouillon,’ ‘natural flavor,’ ‘hydrolyzed vegetable protein,’ ’lecithin,’ ‘starch,’ ‘vegetable oil’ and ‘textured plant protein,’ leading to unintentional consumption of soy from processed foods.

Soy is inexpensive to grow and almost all forms of soy within our food supply are genetically modified. The genetically modified soy products can be sprayed with potent pesticides, and because of the fat content in soy, it easily absorbs these pesticides which we later ingest. These products can lead to antibiotic resistance in the body as well as harmful food allergies.

Fermented soy foods, on the other hand, give the body natural probiotics that benefit digestive function and body health. Fermentation reduces the level of isoflavones, structures which interfere with the body’s production and functioning of estrogen. Healthful sources of soy can include:

  •  Natto: fermented soy beans loaded with vitamin K and a cheese-like flavor.
  • Tempeh: fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty mushroom flavor.
  • Miso: fermented soybean paste with a salty butter-like texture.
  • Tofu: fermented soy bean product high in calcium (depending on the type).

What are some of your favorite fermented soy products and how do you prepare them? Comment and share!

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December 2022