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Soy – The Whole Story

The once touted “newest” health food on the planet, soy, seems to be getting more and more negative press these days.

So what’s the deal?

Well, like all foods on the planet, the closer soy is to it’s real, whole, natural self the more nutritious it is. Once it’s processed and separated into fractionated pieces of it’s once whole self, it is loses it’s “health” properties and becomes nothing more than yet another “toxic-man-made-food-like-substance” that society has gradually begun to accept as food.

So let’s try and break this down into bite size nuggets…

The Basic Health Pro’s and Con’s of Soy:
Soy advocates believe that some of the benefits of (whole) soy include lower rates of hormonally driven cancers (ie, breast and prostate), longevity, and sustained energy.
Opposing views state that soy consumption is associated with are associated with raised estrogen levels, suppresses the thyroid, and inhibiting protein-digestive enzymes.
Some experts, including Dr. Andrew Weil claim that many of the opposing statements on soy have never been proven.
The Whole Story:
Whole forms of soy seem to be the only forms of soy that we should even consider ingesting. Whole and real sources of soy include; edamame, soybeans, tofu and tempeh. Because soy crops are heavily treated with pesticides, I definitely recommended choosing organic soy products whenever possible.
Soy Bean Oil
In order to extract the oils from soybeans, there needs to be an immense amount of heat and pressure. The problem with this is that heat-treated oils go rancid (that is why healthy oils like olive oil are cold-pressed!) and rancid oils are carcinogenic. Then once the oils are extracted from the soybeans, factories treat the soybean pulp with chemical solvents just to be sure they have extracted every last drop of oil possible.
If you think this is crazy, just wait…
Soy Isolates
Soy Protein Isolates are essentially a toxic by product leftover after we extract the oils from the soybeans. Remember the leftover chemically treated and rancid soy pulp we mentioned earlier? Yep… well, that is the soy protein isolates that we find in foods like fake hamburgers and hotdogs, soy ice cream, and fake cheese! Yikes…
Oh and if you guys haven’t heard enough yet, check this out:
Soy protein has NOT been approved by the FDA (even though it is in everything!). The FDA refused to approve isolated soy protein as a safe food additive with the designation “Generally Recognized as Safe” (whatever that means).
So how is soy protein found in so many food products if it has not yet been approved by the FDA? It seems, as long as companies gain a pre-market approval for each product, they are good to go (and clearly this is not very hard to do!)
If this isn’t reason enough to stick to real foods in your life, I don’t know what is!
The Bottom Line:
SO If you want to make soy a part of your clean and delicious lifestyle be sure to stick with these simple guidelines:
1. Go Organic. The best way to protect ourselves from the pesticides used on soy crops is to choose organic products whenever possible.
2. Keep it Real. Always choose whole forms of soy that are closest to their natural state as possible. This is not hard to do., it’s a short list: tofu, tempeh, soybeans, and edamame.
3. Be Moderate. Stick with 1-2 servings of whole soy products per day. An example of one serving is ½ cup of edamame or 4 oz of tofu.
And if you want to save yourself from all the hoo-ha of nutritional data, do yourself a favor and simply enjoy real, whole, unprocessed foods as close to their natural state as possible (most of the time)!
So what are your thoughts? Did any of this soy info surprise you as much as it has surprised me!?


*Want to learn even more about soy?  Here are some of the Articles and sites that I referenced:

The Billion Dollar Myth – How did soy get it’s reputation as a cure-all for modern ailments?  Follow the money... by Nina Planck

Soy Protein from Answers.com

The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food by Kaayla T. Daniel

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6 comments on “Soy – The Whole Story

  1. Hi Dani, Great post! The soy thing is pretty confusing huh? Ive tried to cut down quite a lot but I just love love soy milk… plus I live in the UK where almond milk is super expensive so im a bit stuck for alternatives. Do you still use soy milk or have you switched to something else? Thanks!

  2. Emmy – Thanks and YES! It does get confusing. I, much like yourself, enjoy soy milk. I drink anywhere from 1/2 – 1 cup per day (either in coffee or cereal) BUT I make sure to buy organic and unsweetened. I use brand called WestSoy and the ingredients listed are: Filtered water and Whole Organic Soy Beans SO that works for me:)

  3. Very good post. I think the “whole” soy story needs to come out. All soy isn’t created equal and I worry about clients who come in with all sorts of processed soy in their diets. I also like that you listed your sources for further reading. Even whole soy gives people digestive issues, really needs to be a condiment not a mainstay.

  4. Thanks for the great info. One of my vegetarian friends introduced me to tofu and I enjoyed it….so she tried to get me into “fake meat” products. I just couldn’t stand them and literally couldn’t make myself swallow them….now I’m happy I didn’t like them!

  5. This is really interesting, and I will never look at the soy by-product ingredients the same way!

    What is the thinking on soy milk? I use it in my coffee, tea, and oatmeal/grain cereal for breakfast instead of dairy milk because I’m mildly lactose intolerant. Is it harmful or okay? What about giving it to my toddler? I always choose organic, unsweetened soy milk. I can’t seem to find much reliable information.

    • Me too Cady! Personally, I’m cool with soy milk b/c it’s not a ‘fractionated’ soy product – meaning it is a whole, unrefined product. I also buy organic, unsweetened soy milk (Westfield).

      Here is some helpful info I found from Dr Weil:

      “Soymilk is made by soaking dried beans in water, grinding them, heating them in water, pressing them, and straining the milk.”

      “Based on the weight of available evidence, I remain convinced that soy is safe and nutritious when eaten in relatively whole and unrefined forms in reasonable amounts. I recommend one to two daily servings, which can include a cup of soymilk, a half cup of tofu, tempeh or green soybeans (edamame) or roasted soy nuts. Soymilk provides all the benefits of cow’s milk, without the milk protein (casein), which can increase mucus production and irritate the immune system in some people, and milk sugar (lactose), which can cause digestive distress if you lack the enzyme that breaks it down.”

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