The Good, the Bad and the Soy ProductsWritten by Monica Mikolajczyk | | email@example.com
The decision was made to embark on the vegetarian lifestyle. Perhaps the choice was made to reduce your global footprint (kudos to you, by the way), because you had been reading about animal cruelty (those slaughterhouses are worse than puppy mills!) or you have been spending too much time with me and my preaching about veganism has finally rubbed off on you. Whatever the reason, you are in a food frenzy as you attempt to find a product to replace your dairy and meat. Suddenly, like a beacon in the night the word “soy” comes to mind. It is the healthy alternative to meat and dairy, right? All of that tofu in the organic section at your local grocer must mean something positive.
I admit, when I began to transition away from meat I was consuming Tofurky and soy lattes almost on a daily basis. What I couldn’t understand was why I didn’t feel lighter and more energized, as the vegetarian lifestyle had promised. Almost every vegetarian that I encountered was beginning their day with a bowl of granola with some tasty vanilla soymilk (this stuff is a million times better than skim milk, ha!). However, most of these people weren’t bursting with energy, still suffered from many ailments that a healthier lifestyle should diminish. I decided it was time to embark on a little research journey.
I was knee-deep in information about raw and vegan lifestyles, when I stumbled upon enlightening information. Soy seemed to be a sad excuse for an alternative to anything. While soy is derived from soybeans, a natural product of Mother Earth, it wasn’t eaten until fermentation techniques were discovered. Fermentation (which actually creates probiotics, or good bacteria, needed for your body) was necessary to make soy digestible and have nutritional value. Let me break it down for you.
Tofu and soymilk are all created from unfermented soy products. This means the vegetable protein is processed using extremely high temperatures and acid and alkaline chemicals. Unfermented soy products contain certain antinutrients that block enzymes (trypsin) that are necessary for proper protein digestion. Meaning, eat this soy and your bowels will most certainly be irritated. You can almost count on being the newest member to the I (irritable) B (bowel) S (syndrome) club (congrats). Unfermented soy also contains phytic acid which blocks the absorption of essential minerals, particularly calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. Over time, this can lead to some serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies. These products also contain hemagglutinin, which causes red blood cells to clump together. The phytic acid and hemagglutinin together create a killer growth depressant tag-team (slaughtering any normal growth inhibitors in their path). Soy products also contain isoflavones that suppress thyroid function (think: slow metabolism, weight gain and lack of energy).
The list seemed to continue: soy is linked to reproductive disorders, allergies, asthma, acne, dermatitis, cognitive decline — To name a few. I was disheartened and a little frightened since I had been overloading my poor digestive system with soy-a-licious everything! I was immediately set into panic mode as I thought of myself standing in line at the local coffee joint ordering a double grande chai tea latte … with SOY. When I read that the negative effects that soy had on my body would stop (and some of the toxic build-up it had caused would be eliminated) if I made the choice to end my relationship with this product (in its unfermented state), I was able to breathe again. I could still enjoy tempeh, miso and soy sauce, as these are all fermented (remember: fermented, fabulous and unfermented, unfavorable).
Remember, as you bid adieu to unfermented soy products as a dietary staple, you are also saying goodbye to any negative effects this product could have on your body. Letting go of any habit, or making a lifestyle change, is a difficult task, to say the least. So, don’t beat yourself up if you do occasionally (key word) order that grande vanilla latte, with soy. Moderation and balance are both key to creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Meanwhile, if you are nixing the tofu and want to warm up on one of these chilly winter nights, try some vegetarian chili from the Attic on Adams. They use tempeh in their recipe, which is both delicious and good for you. And if you are searching for an alternative to the soymilk in your morning bowl of cereal, try some tasty almond milk. This can easily be found at Claudia’s Natural Food Market or Bassett’s (both local health food stores). So, for now, so long soy lattes, ta-ta tofu, adios antinutritents, peace-out phytic acid and hello health.