To Soy or not to Soy?
Posted by : Grant Maxwell /
There's been much discussion around the topic of Soy and Soy products at The Kitchen since we opened. The underpinning reason is that we do not advocate the consumption of unfermented Soy products, and this includes Soy milk.
Soy products became a big game player back in the 90's in New Zealand, even though it had been around for hundreds of years, and products like tofu have been consumed by vegetarians and vegans since, well, however long we can remember. These include: Tofu, Soy Milk, Soy Cheese, Soy based baby formulas, Soy Sauce, Soy Bean Oil, Soy Yoghurt, Soy Nuts, Edamame, Soy Ice Cream, Soy Protein Powder - this is often used as a protein supplement and to fortify baked goods such as Breads, Cookies, and Crackers.
Fermented Soy is another story, and we wholly advocate the use of Fermented Soy products such as: Miso (minus the tofu), Tempeh, Tamari, Natto.
So what's the difference?
Soy in its natural state contains plant based phytoestrogens. Depending on what kind of search you do on the internet, and what kind of plant you're talking about, these phytoestrogens can be either very good for you, or very bad. Unfermented Soy contains what we call xenoestrogens. These xenoestrogens mimic the function of oestrogen in the body, without actually fulfilling the purpose. They also contain a list of damaging anti-nutrients, that are removed in the fermentation process of fermented Soy (1). When a Soy product is not fermented, the outer layer of the bean contains a huge amount of phytic acid. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of essential minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, copper, and iodine. Deficiency in these minerals is especially problematic for the digestive tract, and on the immune system. Especially at risk is the thyroid gland, where deficiency can result in hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), and anaemia, resulting from a lack of iron, especially in females. The fermentation process of Soy breaks down the phytic acid, avoiding these issues, and is actually beneficial for digestive health, and to regulate oestrogen imbalances (high and low) in females (2).
The other huge negative impact unfermented Soy has on the body is its ability to severely imbalance the endocrine system in both females and males contributing to infertility, and breast cancers in both sexes. Drinking 2 glasses of soy milk per day for as little as one month is enough to affect a woman’s cycle. In children, especially infants fed Soy-based formula, the amount of oestrogen in their body is equivalent to taking 5 contraceptive pills a day, resulting in long term health risks such as male breast development in children as young as five, cognitive dysfunction, a compromised immune system, and actually contributes to the development of allergies and intolerances (3).
Soy is also one of the biggest Genetically Modified (GMO) crops in the world. GMO foods and animals that have been fed GMO feed contribute to a long list of illnesses that include the development of cancers, autoimmune disease, allergies, low immunity, and infertility in future generations. The high presence of pesticides in GMO soy and the MSG that is added during processing also make it a product that is not recommended by health professionals.
At The Kitchen we use our Housemade Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, and Oat Milk as non-dairy alternatives. We do not use any unfermented Soy on our Menu, and our Miso is sourced locally and guaranteed GMO free. As the consumption of Soy Milk has become accepted and readily adopted into many people’s daily life, especially when it comes to coffee or chai, our Naturopath is more than happy to talk in greater detail with you.
Part of our vision at The Kitchen is to be a trusted partner on your health journey so we strive to promote and sell only positive foods and drink for you and your family’s health.
Written by Melly Lou of Liquorice Lifestyle. 2016
- De Blij, H, Muller.P. Human Geography. Culture, Society, and Space. #3E.
- A Review of Phytate, Iron, Zinc, and Calcium Concentrations in Plant-Based Complementary Foods Used in Low-Income Countries and Implications for Bioavailability
Food Nutrition Bulletin 2010 31: S134-S146