The Great Soy Debate
Have you ever noticed how soy seems to almost always make its way onto a toxic foods list? From how it’s grown to its effects on the human body, soy definitely makes the list of debatable foods.
Like any great debate, the line between good and bad can sometimes become blurred making it hard to distinguish. Soy is no different.
Today we want to address the great debate on soy and help you better understand if it’s the right choice for you once and for all. At the end of the day, our top priority is keeping you happy, healthy and supercharged. So, let’s dive right in.
Soy and Your Body
Soy is one of the most popular foods in America. In fact, about $40 billion worth of soybeans are grown every year. It’s the second largest crop produced in the USA, just after corn. Whether it takes the shape of oil, beans or processed foods, it’s safe to say that most Americans are eating soy in at least one meal a day.
With that said, the methods in which it is grown are an important factor in the debate. Soy is known to be highly genetically modified which is a discussion in and of itself. We’ll come back to this in a bit. To keep it unbiased, let’s talk about the effects of soy on the body first.
Soy does have a relatively impressive nutritional value. It’s a complete non-animal protein and provides fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and B vitamins.
While this sounds like a clean eating home run, research on regular soy consumption shows otherwise. Studies have found that soy consumed this way actually causes severe nutrient depletion and ironically, an increased need for the same nutrients you are trying to take in from soy. The strange part is that B vitamins are one of the nutrients it counteracts.
Soy also seems to increase the body’s need for vitamin D3 which is an essential nutrient for good health. Vitamin D3 is not found in the plant world. Our main source is sunlight along with fish, eggs and butter. Many people swap out butter for vegetable oil, which is usually soybean oil, and actually ends up causing more harm than good in this case.
The problem with a vitamin D3 deficiency is that the body needs it for calcium absorption. Without enough vitamin D, calcium cannot be absorbed which is why Westerners have such high rates of osteoporosis.
Soy and Hormones
Let’s talk about hormones. A controversial topic in the great soy debate is that soy contains estrogen and will disrupt your natural hormone balance. The truth is that soy contains phytoestrogens, which is basically a general term for many, naturally occurring plant compounds that are similar to the structure of estrogen.
Phytoestrogens have two main functions: to mimic estrogen or block estrogen’s effects. It’s really quite difficult to know exactly how they are functioning in your own body because of their complexity.
What we do know is that phytoestrogens have the potential to either increase or decrease estrogen functions in your body, making them hormone-disrupters. This can cause problems for both men and women.
Genetically Modified Soy
Roughly 91% of the soy produced in the U.S. is genetically modified. The major problem with GMOs in general is that there isn’t enough research yet to understand the long term effects they have on our body.
However, there is some interesting information out there specifically on the relationship between GMO soy and your health. For starters, when GMO soy was introduced to England, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50%.
GMO soy has also been proven to cause infertility, slower growth rates, cause early fertility in young girls and feminization in boys and men. With such a large amount of soy being GMO, it’s hard to tell what you’re getting at the store these days.
On the other hand, fermented, organic, non-GMO soy is actually very good for you, in moderation of course. Tempeh, miso and natto all go through a lengthy fermentation process that make them digestion-friendly.
Tempeh is a fermented plant-based protein with a nutty, mushroom-like flavor. Partially cooked, minimally processed soybeans that are made into a cake and then fermented.
What are the benefits of tempeh?
It’s fermented, meaning it significantly benefits your digestive health. It helps recolonize the good bacteria in your gut, neutralizing bad bacteria. This not only improves your gut’s ability to digest food, it improves nutrient absorption.
2. It’s a complete protein.
Just 3 ounces of tempeh has about 16 grams of protein. More importantly, it’s a complete source of protein — meaning it contains essential amino acids. These amino acids are the building blocks of protein that your body can’t naturally produce, so you have to get them through food.
3. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Tempeh has a significant amount of iron, calcium, magnesium, fiber and B vitamins and increases antioxidant support.
Well, that’s a wrap on the great soy debate. If you find that you’re experiencing any of the negative side effects mentioned in this post, it might be a good idea to start watching your soy intake or omitting it all together. It’s incredibly important to listen to your body and follow your gut intuition.