Busting Soy Health Myths
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 90% of soy grown in the United States has been genetically altered. Various studies have proven that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) increase your risk of developing allergies and strengthen your resistance to antibiotics. This is before taking into account the harmful chemicals – such as aluminum – that food manufacturers use to process soy.
Fermented Soy vs. Unfermented Soy
The Asian culture uses fermented soy products such as miso, natto, tamari, tempeh, Kombucha tea and soy sauce in their regular diets. The health benefits of eating fermented foods such as these have been proven time and again in multiple research studies.
Unfermented soy – such as that found in soy milk, cheese and burgers – tells a totally different story. “The Whole Soy Story,” written by Kaayla Daniel, references thousands of valid studies that link unfermented soy to:
- Digestive Disorders
- Immune Deficiency
- Thyroid Malfunction
- Declining Brain Function
- Infertility & Early-Onset Puberty in Children
- Increased Cancer Risk
- Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Keep in mind that a study praising the health benefits of soy is typically lumping fermented and unfermented soy products together. A Mayo clinic study summed up soy in the most unbiased manner yet: Out of 34 supposed “benefits” of soy, only 3 could be proved. Soy is a valid source of protein, lowers cholesterol, and suppresses diarrhea in infants who are intolerant to regular formula). Every other “benefit” is backed by insufficient evidence, and researchers at Mayo repeatedly stated that results were inconclusive and further research was required.
3 Reasons to Avoid Unfermented Soy
- Potential cross reactivity in gluten-sensitive people via molecular mimicry, or antigenic similarity.
- Phytic Acid: Unfermented soy is high in phytic acid. Unfermented soy blocks your digestive system’s ability to absorb certain nutrients – which is why studies have linked soy to malnutrition. Fermented soy is much more digestible by the human body. In fact, ancient Asian cultures did not consider soy edible until they learned to ferment it. The typical Asian diet includes only 2 teaspoons of soy each day – and it is fermented. It is also consumed with nutrient-dense foods such as fish.
- Phytoestrogens: Soy is higher in these plant-based estrogen’s than any other source. They mimic true estrogen. Too much estrogen in the body can lead to breast cancer, infertility, decreased sexual libido and uterine fibroids. If your infant is on soy formula – the Phytoestrogens they are consuming are equal to 4 birth controls each and every day. Early-onset puberty has shot up in the past two decades…is it any wonder?
When soy is fermented, it destroys these “anti-nutrients” and is safe to eat in moderation.
Including some soy in one’s diet, especially fermented soy, is fine for most people. Soybeans are rich in protein, tryptophan, fiber, iron, and a bunch of other minerals. Tofu and soy milk are examples of foods made with unfermented soy. We do eat tofu because we think it’s best to eat a variety of foods, but we limit it to about twice a week, so long as it is certified organic, gluten-free, and it has a Glycemic Load of 3 or lower.
Lots of processed foods made with soy – like meat-substitutes – are made with soy protein isolate, which is a highly processed food. These are not as good for us as soybeans that are minimally or naturally processed. Fermentation is a “natural” type of processing that doesn’t have the potential to decrease the nutrient value of soybeans the way that high temperature processing techniques do.
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