It all depends on what type of soy you consume. As we will see, not all soy is made the same way. However, when studies on this plant are made and released to the public, there is not clear distinction as to the type of soy used. Generally, they show negative effects of its consumption. In this article, I want to share with you my perspective. So again, let’s ask the question: Is Soy Really Bad for You?
The other day, I was ordering a matcha tea with organic soy milk at a local coffee shop when my friend freaked out and said: “You shouldn’t! Soy is so bad for you!” I still ordered it because I have long reflected on the topic and understand that as much of a bad rap soy has, it has helped me balance my fiery Pitta dosha.
WHAT IT IS
Soy is a good source of protein, vitamin C, folate, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium phosphorus, potassium and tiamin. It is also abundant of phytoestrogens (compounds found in plants that play a similar role to estrogen). It is known that even moderate amounts of phytoestrogens can produce biological changes in our bodies.
Western science associates estrogen exposure to breast cancer, the conclusion has been made that soy then, will likely cause this condition. Traditionally, soy has been taken in natural fermented ways. Tempeh, miso, soy sauce, tamari, and some tofus are examples. Unfortunately, negative studies on soy use as the main sources of the plant soy isolate powders and other highly processed forms. These soy isoflavone supplements are untested new drugs that should be avoided by everybody.
JAPAN AND SOY
When I went to Japan, I was astonished to see how healthy most people looked. Specially in the small cities like Matsumoto, Nara, or Hikone, they really looked incredibly healthy. It was a big contrast with what you see in any Walmart in America. See, japanese people consume moderate amounts of soy DAILY. They have been doing it for thousands of years! But, they get it in whole and minimally processed forms that are easily digestible like cooked tofu, tempeh, and miso. Women in Japan have a very low incidence of breast cancer compared to wernern women. However, when they switched to the Western diet their rates of cancer increase.
WE MIGHT BE OVERDOING IT HERE
Soy in minimally processed and cooked forms with spices is believed to be good for cardiovascular health, osteoporosis, and particularly beneficial for menopausal women due to its isoflavone levels. Soy may increase fertility, reduce cholesterol, and even regulate cell growth which can help prevent some cancers.
Sadly, the consumption of highly processed derivatives and forms of soy has dramatically increased in the past years. You find it as the main ingredient in many processed veggie “meats”, protein shakes, and even baby formulas. We noticed how healthy Japanese people were by eating soy and figured More is Better. Then, instead of using the whole forms of soy traditionally eaten by them, we isolated their “active” ingredients. As a result, instead of getting “healthier”, soy was found to be harmful for the hormonal system and was erroneously linked to breast cancer. It is concerning that americans are eating way too much highly processed soy.
WHOLE IS BETTER
I think modern medicine is trying to play God. Nature made soy a certain way, including inactive ingredients. By isolating, processing, and concentrating the “active” compounds of plants, we are playing with fire. I believe if this process is replicated with widely accepted healthy foods like spinach or kale, we would be finding also negative effects on humans. Less is more many times.
AYURVEDA AND SOY
Ayurveda advocates for a vegetarian diet and soy can be a wonderful addition to a vegan or vegetarian approach. Just make sure that you get it organic, non GMO, and in minimally processed forms. I suggest fermented forms like tempeh or miso if you are having a poor Agni or digestive fire. Regardless if you are a man or a woman it can support hormonal balance and provide you with excellent health benefits if you eat small amounts of it every day. Also, it is good to cook it with mild spices like ginger to render it more digestible.
I honestly think soy is a food that has been treated unfairly. It is safe to eat it if we respect nature and consume it as whole as possible. My favorite forms are Tofu, Tempeh and Soy Milk. In fact, I make a delicious scrambled “eggs” breakfast recipe which my hubby loves! Check it out here.
Let me know what you think in the comment section below! 🙂