- Hannah Aylward
Is Soy Actually Good for You?
By Hannah Aylward
Soy is a tricky one. There is information out there stating that it will help you and heal you. Some recommend it as a wise plant-based alternative to meat, while others swear that it increases the risks for disease.
As usual, the answer is not so black and white.
I can tell you this: soy is not healthy, most of the time.
Not all soy is created equally. Most of the soy today is genetically modified. Yes, I am talking about that tofu in last night’s stir-fry and the edamame at last week’s sushi date. This means they most likely contain glyphosate, which has been linked to multiple different diseases including autism, immune-system breakdown, cancer, cognitive decline, infertility, and heart disease. Genetically modified foods are linked to many health problems, as they kill off good bacteria in your gut and also damage the working of your digestive system. Therefore, it is critical that all soy products are all organic. Soy is one of the highest pesticide contaminated foods out there, along with corn, wheat and sugar beets. Always look for organic, non-GMO soy foods that can actually come bearing benefits when consumed in moderation. If it doesn’t say organic or non-GMO, assume it is no good and stay away.
There are many different types of soy products on the market today. It is important to eat traditional forms of soy, as close to its natural state as possible. Many studies showing the health benefits of soy refer to these natural, traditional, whole-food forms. So those soy hot dogs, soy milk and soy cheese products, where soy is only one of many ingredients on that long list, don’t make the cut. These are highly processed, a nightmare to digest and most likely dangerous. Soy that has gone through a fermentation process is the best kind to consume. Fermented sources of soy include tempeh, miso, tamari and natto. These are lower in “antinutrients” that act as toxins in the body, much easier to digest (most people do not have the enzyme required to digest regular, unfermented soy), and high in vitamin K2.
Soy seems to slip into everything, leaving most of us consuming much more of it than we are aware of. Soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, and textured vegetable protein are among the top contenders. These “soy products” are often extracted from hexane, a neurotoxic byproduct of gasoline refining. These forms of soy are a cheap way to bulk products, meaning that the manufacturing company saves on cost. However, we don’t. Take a peak at ingredients lists the next time you go shopping. Chances are you will see a soy derivative listed.
How do you react? Whether soy is good or bad for you is somewhat different for everyone. This is where bio-individuality comes into play. When consuming soy products, really tap into how they make you feel. This will most likely vary with different types of soy too. Personally, I seem to be ok with tempeh, while tofu is a recipe for a bloated stomach. It is really important to listen here. Bloating and indigestion may seem like a surface level problem, but over time these gut health disturbances lead to much larger issues.
In my experience with clients, I have never seen anything negative happen from making the change to a soy-free diet.
I have, however, seen very positive digestive progress when soy is omitted.
When it comes down to it, don’t rely on soy for your protein, but think of it as a small portion of a balanced diet. There is no need to panic when you find that it slipped into a few things here and there. An order of edamame over good conversation with girlfriends isn’t the end of the world. Just don’t do it consistently, especially if you have any autoimmune, gut health or hormonal issues.
Hannah Aylward is a Certified Health Coach, nutrition consultant, fitness instructor, healthy living expert, and founder of HAN. She helps both men and women around the world lose weight, heal skin disturbances, balance hormones, heal gut imbalances and feel at home in their bodies through healthy eating, movement, mindfulness and positive self-talk. Her goal is to help others “learn the tools that they need to live the lives they deserve”. Get to know her by visiting her website and following her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.