Is soy healthy? Yes and no, soy can be healthy or unhealthy depending on whither or not it is fermented. The “soy lies” started in the early 1990’s when soy products became a popular health food fad offering many health benefits and provided a fabulous meat alternative for vegetarians. Misleading marketing of unfermented soy has been lead to its incorporated in many foods while claiming to provide the same health benefits as fermented soy but it’s simple not true. Learn details about the difference between fermented soy and unfermented soy below.
The Healthy Aspects of Soy: Fermented vs. Unfermented
In order to back up the claim that soy is a health food, privately funded “researchers” have been quick to point out that Asians, who consume a diet high in soy, have less risk of breast, uterine and prostate cancer. Unfortunately, they leave out two very important points:
The reason Asians have an increased risk for some cancers is the same reason they do not develop others: unfermented soy. The soy marketing and promotion gurus left out this critical piece of information. Would you rather have one cancer over another? Isn’t that like asking whether or not you’d like to be whacked in the head with a two-by-four vs. a wooden stick?
You might be asking yourself what the big difference is between consuming a fermented soy product such as, say, tempeh, vs. tofu or a veggie burger. I’m here to tell you, the difference is night and day.
Unfermented AND fermented soy contains hormonal mimics in the form of isoflavones which can not only disrupt delicate hormone systems in your body, but also act as goitrogens, substances that suppress your thyroid function. When the thyroid is suppressed, a host of health problems result, namely:
- Anxiety and mood swings
- Difficulty losing weight
- Difficulty conceiving children
- Digestive problems
- Food allergies
And so much more. No wonder soy can lead to thyroid, esophagus and stomach cancer! Unfermented soy is also chock full of phytic acid,8 an “antinutrient” responsible for leeching vital nutrients from your body. Phytic acid also blocks the uptake of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc especially.
Now, fermented soy products do provide health benefits.
As I mentioned in my previous article, some examples of healthful fermented soy products are as follows:
- 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.
For those of you who enjoy tofu, I’m sorry to say it didn’t make this list because tofu is an unfermented soy product.
So, What Are The Health Benefits of Fermented Soy Products?
The claim that soy products can prevent osteoporosis, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia, and protect you from cancer of the prostate, lung, and liver is actually true, but ONLY if the soy is fermented.
The process of fermenting soy destroys the above-mentioned dangerous substances, thereby making it fit for consumption. Also, fermented soy products, such as those listed above, are a rich source of vitamin K2, a vitamin that works in harmony with vitamin D to keep you healthy. Vitamin K regulates your body’s blood clotting ability and helps prevent cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. And vitamin D is essential to the function of every system in your body.
Warning to Vegetarians About the Risk of Mineral Deficiency
Since phytic acid or phytates sap the nutrients from your body, if you’re eating a vegetarian diet that has replaced meat with mostly unfermented soy such as veggie burgers containing GMO soy protein isolate, you are at risk for severe mineral deficiency.
In addition to this nutrient loss, many processed veggie burgers and the like are packed with harmful artificial flavorings, particularly MSG and textured vegetable protein products to give them their strong “meat” flavor.
What’s even worse is the process soy has to go through to become soy protein isolate. Acid washing in aluminum tanks, which is designed to remove some of the antinutrients (but the results often vary widely), leeches aluminum into the final product. Aluminum can have adverse effects on brain development9 and cause symptoms such as:
- Antisocial behavior
- Learning disabilities
- Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia10
As I mentioned in a previous article about soy, this makes processed vegetarian fare more palatable, but far from nutritious. Vegetarians have plenty of options for well-rounded, nutritious meals without needing to eat soy or soy-based products.
- Beans are an inexpensive, protein-rich food that can be eaten alone, added to salads or served as a side dish. Be sure to purchase organic dried beans and cook them at home to avoid the adverse health effects of eating canned food. Ideally, it is also best to soak them for at least 12 hours before cooking them.
- Nuts are also an excellent source of protein. For optimal health benefits, reach for organic nuts such as almonds or walnuts, instead of overly processed mixed nuts.
- Quinoa is a gluten free grain that can be enjoyed as a cereal, side dish or added to homemade vegetable stews as a thickener.
- Flaxseed, which is rich in essential omega-3 fats like ALA, is an excellent source of protein. Add it to salads or sprinkle it over yogurt to infuse your meal with vital nutrients. However, it is important to grind flax seeds just prior to eating them because100 percent of commercially ground flaxseeds are rancid. Hemp seeds11 are also an excellent source of protein.
Most conventional doctors use what is called the cookbook approach to treating patients. They treat a health condition in the same manner with every patient. Using the holistic model, we could take ten different patients with low back pain and each one of them could have this symptom for a different reason. Make sure you put your health in the hands of someone who cares about your long-term well being, contact Dr. Della Parker today.