In my endeavors to become a better informed consumer and improve my health, I have decided to completely give up soy. Yes, soy is sold in health stores and marketed as a healthy alternative to meat proteins, but since I’ve been doing my homework, I’m convinced that we, as consumers, are not getting the whole truth about soy.
So, if soy is really unhealthy, how come we don’t know about it? Well, soy is a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s not easy to take down a beast this size.
From my readings, I’ve come to understand that soy reduces the absorption of minerals like calcium, because of its high levels of phytic acid. It also interferes with protein digestion and can cause pancreatic disorders. Soy increases the body’s requirements for vitamin D and B12. When soy is processed, it forms MSG: you may have heard of it… it’s a very potent neurotoxin. Furthermore, soy contains high levels of aluminum which is very harmful to the kidneys and nervous system. But what I remember reading about the most, was how soy disrupts endocrine function and can potentially cause infertility or breast cancer in women.
And yet, after all those warning signs, soy is still considered a health food. This article was particularly interesting to me, because the author (PhD) took all the pro soy arguments in the ongoing debate out there and explained how they reached their conclusion and why it is flawed. My favorite part is the Okinawa argument. Yes, Okinawans eat soy and yes, they are a healthy people. But guess what. They eat soy as a condiment, not as a main protein replacement. Apparently, old-fashioned fermented soy products like miso, natto and tempeh are fine. In North America, none of our soy products are fermented. Also, Okinawans eat a lot of fish and *drum rolls*: lard. I’ve barely summarized just a small part of the article but this is a must-read for anyone interested in the soy debate.
Alright, so how do you not eat soy? Well… you have to be careful. Soy is apparently in at least 60% of processed foods found at the grocery store and pretty much 100% of fast foods. Soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier in almost all chocolates. Anything with vegetable oil has soy (mayo, sauces, and salad dressings come to mind); a lot of sausages and deli meats contain soy. And of course, there are the obvious, like soy milk and tofu. You just have to be careful and read the ingredients.
It’s really not that hard, when you’ve been doing it a while. And it allows you to get creative in the kitchen! Make your own mayo (red palm oil is a great substitute), make your own salad dressings, make your own chocolate! Even make your own soy sauce with healthy substitute ingredients!
This may not be a dietary change where you will feel the benefits right away, but after examining all the details, it is definitely a very smart long term health choice.