The Ploy of Soy

The ploy of soy is a big one. There are so many claims that it has health benefits and is the perfect substitute for animal protein. I used to eat a lot of soy myself, but over the years I have unearthed some hard truths that now make me think twice about consuming soy. It’s true, many studies have shown traditionally fermented soy--which is the form that is very popular in many Asian cultures--aids in preventing and reducing a variety of diseases including certain forms of heart disease and cancers. But just to be safe, I recommend using these products as a condiment, and not the mainstay of your meals.

I used to eat a lot of soy myself, but over the years I have unearthed some hard truths that now make me think twice. I’ve come to believe through my years of research and practice that soy is not the wonder food product makers claim it to be. Let’s delve deeper into some of the bigger problems with soy:

· Soy lacks methionine—an essential amino acid required to build muscle. I guess that’s why you don’t see a lot of vegetarian body builders.

· Soy suppresses thyroid function because it contains phytoestrogens that can disrupt hormonal balance.

· Soybeans are high in phytic acid, which, in large amounts, can block the uptake of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the intestinal tract.

· Soybeans are very new to the food chain of modern man, since it was never used for food in paleolithic times. Many people are not only allergic to soy, but suffer with extreme gas and bloating from it. If you have any type of autoimmune condition, especially colitis or celiac disease, you should remove soy from your diet immediately.

· Soy is very high in arginine, and can exacerbate cold sores and herpes outbreaks.

If you’re trying to get soy out of your diet, you should know that soy is often a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and can have many aliases: Food processors are less likely to list the three letter word "soy" than a technical term such as "textured vegetable protein" (TVP), "textured plant protein", "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" (HVP), "vegetable oil" or "MSG" (monosodium glutamate). Ingredient lists also include words such as "vegetable oil", "vegetable broth", "boullion", "natural flavor" or "mono-diglyceride" that do not necessarily come from soy, but are likely to. Soy is found in everything from Pizza Hut to Baskin Robbins to vitamins and, yes—even asthma inhalers..

If you do consume soy, I suggest you use it judiciously and only in its fermented form: miso, natto, tempeh, soy sauces, and fermented tofu. The fermentation process stops the effect of phytic acid and increases the availability of isoflavones. The fermentation also creates the probiotics--the "good" bacteria that increase the quantity, availability, digestibility and assimilation of nutrients in the body.

What’s your take on soy?