Soy foods have been around for thousands of years, well at least in China.
But it wasn’t until recently; we began to see an explosion of soy based products invading our supermarkets, fast food stores, baby milk powders and a whole bunch of other foods. I am sure you must have ordered a “soy latte” or had miso soup in your lifetime.
But are soy foods really that beneficial to our health?
I asked this question to some of my friends and 4 out of 5 of them said that it is a very healthy food while the other one was undecided. When I asked him why he wasn’t sure, he merely replied that he didn’t know enough to say if it was healthy. When I asked my other 4 friends why they thought it was healthy, they mentioned that they have read that it does prevent certain types of cancers like prostate and breast cancer.
While my 4 friends are right to a certain extent, they probably did not know that these days there are all sorts of soy based food products in the market that the masses simply cannot tell if everyone of them is good for your health.
Soy Foods: How Did They Become So Popular?
Soy foods did not become popular in the Western world until later on in the 20th century but its popularity did not come overnight either. It was a result of massive advertising and publicity by powerful food manufacturers aimed at promoting the benefits of eating soy food products to the masses.
Here are some startling stats:
- From the year 1992 to 2006, soy food sales increased from $300 million to about $4 billion.
- And during this period, food manufacturers have been churning up to 2000+ soy food products to the public in various forms. Everything from soy milk, soya sauce, soy cheese burgers, soy based infant formulas and soybean oil were sold to the public in huge amounts.
- Approximately 90% of soy grown for the public are GM or are “Genetically Modified.” Most of these GM soy crops are contaminated with pesticides.
- As a result of the increasing popularity with soy foods, about 80% of the public perceive that the soy food products are healthy
- Almost all of those who believe that soy food products are healthy believe that eating them reduce heart disease and cancer risk.
Although Asians have been eating soy food products for a long time, there is a difference between the type of soy food they eat and what we eat in our soy foods.
The Great Deception
The real story is that all of us have been duped to believe that all soy foods are healthy and have anticancer and cholesterol lowering properties.
In the late 20th Century, a number of prominent researchers and research papers showed that soy products are toxic and can lead to digestive problems, infertility, increased allergic reaction to soy products, increased risk of cancer and increased heart problems.
Unfortunately, a number of greedy influential figures in the soy food industry thought that there is a lot of money to be made from selling soy products so people working in the FDA were coaxed to change some of the labelling regarding soy products so that it will sound as if it is healthy. Strong criticisms from some prominent scientists were also dismissed and so the soy food manufacturing industry gained the upper hand and the media promoted the idea that soy foods were great and healthy and so for a long time we continue to believe in fallacy that all soy foods are healthy.
Here are some things that you should know about soy foods…
The soy foods that we have in our diet today are mostly unfermented soy products. The food industry have led you to believe that soy milk, soy bean oil, soy cheese, soy infant formula are all good for your health when in fact they are NOT healthy at all!
The Chinese have been having fermented soy products for the last hundreds of years.
Thanks to the unfermented soy products and the processed soy products found in the food industry, eating them poses great risks. Here are just some of the problems eating them.
- Soy foods contain “Anti-Nutrients”. These “anti-nutrients” interfere with enzymes in our body which makes digestion more difficult or even impossible (in large quantities).
- Phytates. Phytates prevent absorption of important minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc which have important biochemical roles in our bodies. Less calcium and magnesium absorption means decreasing bone density. Less iron means more chances of getting anaemia
- Goitrogens. This compound prevent the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interferes with iodine metabolism. There have been cases of an individual with hypothyroidism following consumption of soy food products
- Haemagglutinin. This substance causes clumping of red blood cells. Clumping causes impaired oxygenation and hence a person will feel more lethargic and tired.
- Isoflavones. Soy has a lot of genistein and daidzein which are both isoflavones. These two compounds mimics human oestrogen and causes and increased risk of breast cancer and can cause infertility. The FDA has regulations against consuming oestrogen food products but surprisingly none for soy products. I wonder why”¦.
- Genetically Modified Soy beans. Eating GM soy beans means that the body is unable to remove all these bad toxins for a long time. Prolonged exposure poses an allergenic risk as well as exposes our body towards a host of health problems.
What About The Good Soy Foods?
I am sure you have heard of this before. Yes, it is also true but note that fermented soy products gets rid of the dangerous toxins otherwise found in unfermented ones and the Japanese and Chinese are really good at making fermented soy products which reduces the risks of prostate and breast cancer. They also help with blood clotting.
The good soy foods are tempeh, some soya sauce (especially the traditionally made ones), miso and natto. Tofu is NOT a good soy food.
I hope that you will be convinced that not all soy foods are healthy. My friends were pretty shocked when I told them that tofu is not a good food at all. They were even more amazed when I told them that most soy food products are bad for health except for just a few.
What are your thoughts about soy foods?