I’ve been vegetarian, mostly vegan, for quite a while now. (Note, I am not against eating meat- especially when done in an EDUCATED way. Research what you’re putting into your body!) Most people know this about me, and consequently, are VERY excited to tell me when they have opted out of eating meat. Unfortunately, the misconception is that soy products- fake meats- are the healthy alternative. Sometimes I don’t have the heart to squash their genuine attempts- but the truth is, soy ain’t doing you no favors.
The soy industry began when manufacturers were in need of a cheap oil. Thus, soy beans were planted in hopes of extracting soy oil. The process, though, produced a residue- a soy protein byproduct. Because this soy protein could not be fed to animals, manufacturers looked for another huge market… human consumption! Lucky us.
The endless masses of useless soy byproduct motivated a multi-million dollar advertising campaign and FDA lobbying that resulted in over 74% of US consumers believing soy was nutritional.
There are two types of soy, unfermented and fermented. Within these two groups there are two subgroups, organic and Genetically Modified. In North America, between 75-89% of soy beans are grown genetically modified. NEVER EVER EVER NEVER EVER EAT GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOY. End of story. As with most products, always aim for organic!!!!
Unfermented soy is the damn devil. Unfermented soy products such as tofu, bean curd, soy milk, soy infant formula, soy protein powders, and soy meat products are made from hydrolysed soy powder, which derives from the soy bean. Soy beans are from the legume family, as are many other beans. Legumes and all whole grains (rice, wheat, barley, etc.) contain phytic acid. In the body, phytic acid bonds to minerals, proteins, and starches, making them less absorbable for nutrition. So, in large amounts, phytic acid can block the absorption of substances that are needed for most processes within the body.
This can lead to a myriad of issues, including, but not limited to:
contributing to thyroid disorder (especially in women)
promoting kidney stones
weakening the immune system
contributing to food allergies and digestive intolerance
contributing to pancreatic disorders
disrupting endocrine function and potentially causing infertility
potential early onset of puberty
potentially promoting breast cancer in adult women
increasing the body’s need for B12 and D vitamins
And it doesn’t end there! Have you ever heard someone say soy can give men ‘man boobs’? Unfortunately, this is true. Perhaps the most disturbing effect of soy consumption is from the phytoestrogrens it contains. These little buggers mimic the female hormone, estrogen. For a reference point, drinking two glasses of soy milk a day for only one month puts enough phytoestrogens in the body to alter a women’s menstral cycle. Babies who are fed only soy formula are estimated to ingest the equivalent of five birth control pills worth of estrogen A DAY.
But what about fermented soy?
Well, when soy undergoes the fermentation process, the phytic acid is neutralized- making FERMENTED SOY something worth eating. In fact, fermented soys- such as organic miso, organic tempeh, soy sauce- are very friendly to the helpful bacteria in one’s lower intestine. So, ORGANIC FERMENTED soy is the only *nutritional* option.
AND SO(y) IT IS. Fermented, I hope.