My next FREE SPREECAST is THIS Saturday, June 7, 2014 at Noon (PST). Spreecast is a live interactive video platform where anyone, anywhere (in the world!) can post questions live and I’ll answer them for everyone to hear! It’s a lot of fun…And now to the blog post….
It’s Soy Awesome
In most of the classes I teach and with many of my clients I get the following question: “Is soy good or bad?”
Questions about nutrition and health in the modern world are at best confusing, and at worst economically motivated. We’re bombarded with conflicting nutritional advice, much of which comes from practitioners and professionals with little or no nutritional training. In my quest to simplify the subject as much as possible, I’ll throw in my two cents here in hopes that I don’t further anyone’s confusion…here it goes:
When tackling question of whether soy is good or bad for you, my first response is to address the blatant misinformation surrounding protein. Simply put, humans are not a high protein species. The fact that protein is first and foremost in virtually everyone’s discussion about health is the result of an extremely successful ad campaign. Period. In my classes I show a brochure given to my wife at our OB’s office while she was pregnant with our twins. The brochure is entitled “A Good Start: nutrition during pregnancy,” and the copyright reads “1988, revised 1992, National Cattleman’s Beef Association.” I reference this in my book and have been showing this brochure to disbelieving students for 5 years now. Protein is essential for humans, but no more essential than fat and carbohydrate. The real question we should all ask is what comes with the protein, fat, carbohydrate (i.e. vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, water, fiber), but it’s rarely asked. Again, due in large part to a highly successful ad campaign.
Why is this relevant to soy? Because many people turn to soy after being advised to, for example, give up meat/flesh because of high cholesterol or blood pressure issues, or even because they no longer want to support the animal industry for ethical reasons. This becomes a problem because in most cases, the high protein craziness has not been corrected (i.e. they’ve not been given impartial advice with regard to protein intake, which, like fat intake, should be kept much lower than carbohydrates), so inordinate amounts of soy are consumed as a substitution for a perceived sudden lack of protein (by the way, potatoes are 10% protein—twice what the WHO recommends). Soy does have phytoestrogens, but in small amounts these are not only fine, but actually beneficial to humans. However…eaten at every or most meals (“gotta make sure I get my protein!!!”) and the very same phytoestrogens can negatively affect human health.
However, there’s another part of the “soy-quation” (sorry), and that is that all soy foods are definitely not alike. My philosophy of health is that the closer we get by degrees to what is natural for our species, the more we thrive. Soy is no exception in that the closer we consume soy in its most natural state, the better. Soy’s most natural state is as the bean itself (edemame). A little less natural is tempeh, then tofu, and then all the way to crazy town: soy protein isolate. Soy protein isolate is found in protein powders and all those fake meats (usually coupled with isolated gluten, making many meat substitutes barely healthier or even as unhealthy as the meat products themselves).
So, in going forward, first take a deep breath. Now…a little soy here and there, as part of a mostly heavy box food diet is absolutely fine. You DON’T need soy for protein, and if you’re consuming enough calories, you’re not protein-deficient anyways (unless you only eat white sugar in which case you probably can’t focus long enough to read this post). Personally I eat soy now and then, and frankly make a mean tofu scramble. But for me it’s more about taste than health and definitely not part of my M.O.T.T. (“most of the time”—listen to episode 22 of my Approaching the Natural Podcast).
Hope that helps, and keep listening to the AtN Podcast.
Be well, and I’ll ‘see’ you on this weekend’s Spreecast. –Sid
My four year old is severely allergic to soy and we’ve spent the last four years keeping it out of our shopping cart, completely. As a vegetarian I have found myself, during certain seasons of life like adopting or having a baby, where things are crazy and I end up relying on the premade veggie stuff littered soy. It must be kept to a short season, though, and then you move on and get back to whole plant based food. I’m grateful that I’m back to the season of whole foods…once in awhile its alright but it can’t become the daily norm.