Soy has long been heralded as a 'health food' when in fact nothing could be further from the truth! The soy story sounds more like something out of a Hollywood movie....involving 'money, power, lies and deception!' Even big time celebrities and elite athletes have been brought onboard to help sell the soy story, as a health and even beauty food! Yep...it seems when you have buckets of money behind you, you can make people believe anything! And that's just what the soy industry has done, for one simple reason... there is BIG bucks in soy, nothing more nothing less.
The real story behind soy is this. There are two types of soy - fermented and unfermented. Fermented soy in the form of tempeh, miso, natto, traditionally fermented soy sauce and milk ( this does NOT include commercially produced soy milk in your supermarket). Unfermented soy is found in processed foods such as soy milk, soy ice cream, yoghurt, cheese, tofu and vegetable soy protein and oil is used in everything from snacks and sauces to protein bars and weight loss shakes. Even worse soy is in many baby formulas!
Fermented soy is the only form to possess any health benefits, because the traditional fermentation process used by the Asian cultures, produces probiotic cultures - the "good" bacteria that live within our gut or gastrointestinal tract. In addition, unlike unfermented soy, fermented soy like miso, inhibit the effect of a compound known as phytic acid which binds with certain nutrients, to inhibit the absorption of essential minerals like magnesium and potassium.
The manufacturers of the Non-fermented soy products have very cleverly and deceptively, traded off the health benefits of fermented soy, however none of these cross over to the non-fermented soy products which are in fact extremely damaging to our health, rather than protective.
The reason why soy is bad for our health
Soy contains natural plant oestrogens known as 'phytoestrogens. These plant oestrogens mimic our own human oestrogens which in their 'natural' unprocessed state can be protective against oestrogen dependant cancers and reproductive conditions. However the processing method used to manufacture unfermented soy products, like soybean oil and protein, alters the molecular structure of the naturally occurring plant oestrogen, into what is referred to as a 'xeno' or foreign oestrogen. It's these xeno oestrogens that scientific research is discovering could be feeding the increase in oestrogen dependant cancers and reproductive disorders, amongst other illnesses. You can read more about xeno oestrogens here
To make matters even worse, around 90% of soy in the US is now genetically modified, meaning it is heavily contaminated with pesticide residues, compared to non GMO crops. Genetic modification alters the foods DNA and research has revealed mounting evidence to indicate this is having a catastrophic impact on our own human DNA and health. But I'll save the GMO story for another post, as that's a BIG topic in itself! But if you think you're safe from GMO soy in Australia, think again, because many Australian processed foods contain imported US soy - being the largest soy producer in the world, but food labels will not necessarily indicate if a product contains imported GMO soy!
Many of us are under the misconception that we are not eating any soy because we don't consume products such as soy milk, yoghurt or cheese for instance, but the worst part about soy is so much of it is hidden in processed foods so we don't even realise we are eating it.
Examples of processed foods containing soy
Manufacturers can legally disguise soy on food labels under the name of 'vegetable protein' and vegetable oil' without having to reveal its derived from soy. I spent three hours in my local supermarket the other day researching for this article and I would have to say that at least 70% of the processed foods I surveyed contained some sort of soy whether it was in the form of soy protein, oil or flour and that's excluding foods such as soy milk, ice cream yoghurt and soy meat substitutes!
Organic ( non GMO) fermented soy products are okay in small amounts, like the traditional Asian cultures consume, but the majority of the western world is under the misconception that processed products like soymilk and tofu (which are also generally genetically modified) are healthy for us.
Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of "The Whole Soy Story" discusses thousands of studies linking soy to everything from thyroid & reproductive dysfunction, including infertility, digestive complaints, immune-system distress, cognitive decline, as well as oestrogen dependant cancers and heart disease.
So I strongly recommend you start paying careful attention to your food labels and analyse these for any form of soy, whether it be in the form of soybean oil or protein or vegetable oil or protein as this is the most common terminology used to list soy on packaged foods. I guarantee you'll be shocked by just how many common foods lurking in your pantry contain soy.
The best way to avoid soy in your diet whether it be hidden or actual soy foods, is to avoid processed foods and prepare your meals from fresh natural ingredients! As the old saying goes, if your great grandma wouldn't recognise it, don't eat it!