Happy Halloween! Today is not only Halloween, but also the end of Breast Cancer Awareness month. So I thought I’d celebrate the day by helping you avoid treats that trick – and cause breast cancer. As well as a host of other health problems. I’m talking about soy, that omnipresent ingredient that’s in 80% of processed foods, the bean that’s been touted as the miracle crop that can feed the hungry, the protein-rich savior of vegetarians and protein shake fanatics across the nation. There’s a dark side to soy though, and it’s time to expose the darkest of health food hoaxes.
If you make any attempt at a healthy lifestyle, chances are you’ve included veggie burgers, tofu, or protein bars or shakes in your diet. If you’re lactose intolerant, soy milk was probably a blessing for your breakfast. If you’re a mother who doesn’t have the time to breast feed, you’re probably feeding your baby a soy-based formula. Soy has become THE food of the 21st century due to its cheap production costs and seemingly endless health benefits; this is just the sort of crop Big Ag loves, and soy food sales therefore increased from $300 million to $4 billion from 1992 to 2006, according to the Soyfoods Association of North America. It is a staple of Asian cooking, and everyone knows Asians are smarter and more fit than Americans. Soy must be super fabulous, right? Wrong! All of the so-called benefits of soy are actually quite the opposite, and the amount of antinutrients and harmful hormones far outweigh the protein content. Not all soy is bad, however. Asians eat fermented soy, and the fermentation process breaks down all the toxins that wreak havoc on your body. Foods like soy sauce, tempeh, miso, and natto are fermented, which means that the shroud of toxins standing between their nutrients and your body is broken down.
But then why is soy hailed as such a healthy food? Both the American Cancer Society and BreastCancer.org claim that the isoflavones (phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens) in soy help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Soy is also recommended for women suffering from menopause effects, as the phytoestrogens can supposedly balance out a woman’s hormones. The truth, however, is the exact opposite. One 100mg serving of soy contains the amount of estrogen found in one high dose birth control pill, and such a high amount of estrogen can not only cause breast cancer, but reproductive cancers, birth defects, infertility, early puberty, and feminine qualities in men. Furthermore, the antibutrients found in soy can lead to ADD/ADHD, severe gastrointestinal issues, food allergies, thyroid disruption, and immune system failure. And it gets even better! 91% of the soy grown in the US is GMO soy, and you know how wonderful GMOs are. Not only is non-organic soy teeming with both naturally occurring toxins AND genetically modified toxins, but it’s contaminated with pesticides and aluminum from the acid-washes used to process the beans. (The processing required to turn soybeans into hydrolyzed vegetable protein also produces glutamate – the G in MSG – and aspartate – a component of aspartame – which are excitotoxins that literally cause your brain cells to explode. Like… BOOM.)
Not all hope is lost. Like I said, fermented soy is not so scary. In fact, it’s a good source of nutrients and can in fact help ward off cancer. Soy is the best food source of vitamin K, though your body can’t access it with all those unfermented toxins blocking its absorption. Vitamin K is necessary for calcium utilization and therefore helps prevent osteoporosis and cardivascular disease. It’s also great for blood health – it’s named after “koagulation” – and the enzyme nattokinase, which is derived from natto, is the most effective method for dissolving blood clots. It is indeed a good source of protein, but that is another nutrient that is only made available once all the antinutrients are dissolved.
Soy can be a great component of a healthy diet, but only if it is fermented. The fermentation process breaks down the toxins and phytoestrogens that cause so many problems for our bodies – and it makes it tastier too! So stock up on some tempeh and natto and check out these resources for more info on soy:
–The Dark Side of Soy
-Dr. Mercola’s “The Truth About Soy Foods”
-Dr. Mercola’s updated article “Newest Research on Why You Should Avoid Soy”
-Kaayla Daniel’s book The Whole Soy Story (I definitely recommend this if you’re a vegetarian or someone who needs more convincing to avoid soy)