Soy in your diet

While searching the net over the last month or so for different recipes & methods of fermentation for soybeans, I’ve noticed quite a large percentage of the people in the world confused about soy beans.  Some believe all soy is GMO (genetically modified), while others believe soy should be avoided like the plague due to nutritional reasons.  What I believe is happening is misinformation being passed by pseudo-science in old wive’s tale form.  Also, broad standards are applied by most people without realizing that not everything happens to every person in the same way.

The first wide-spread thought is that soy should never be digested because of it’s effect on the thyroid.  This came about due to soy containing isoflavones, which do contain hormonal properties.  There have been many studies done, and there has been a rare occasional exception to the most found answer that isoflavones do not directly cause hypothyroidism.  As with any foods, some bodies do have adverse effects.  There have been studies performed on animals that were fed soy as a primary protein source which had thyroid hormonal shifts, however the amount hasn’t been reflected in humans that I have seen.

There is also a wide-spread thought that soy is GMO, and should be avoided.  While Monsanto does have a GMO version that is RoundUp ready, not every soy is GMO.  In fact, there are a wide selection of soy available that are made by farms that are exclusively non-GMO with prices that are not artificially high.  The one I use (just because I’ve had great results with them for over a decade) is Laura Soybeans from Chambers Family Farm in Corwith, IA.  I order through their website.  (  Of course there are many others but I only have experience with one.

Many believe soybeans are bad for the digestive system, as well.  This is an exaggerated thought, based upon the fact that soybeans do contain phytic acid along with other compounds which inhibit the digestive systems ability to ingest minerals from the soy.  Taken as raw soy, this is very true.  However, soaking and boiling soy is usually the first step taken which lowers the amount of phytic acid.  When soy is fermented, a whole other world of nutrition is created which allows the human body to absorb a large variety of nutrition without any of the other issues.  Hexane is another worry, but most fail to realize it’s a foreign pollutant and is not in organic soy.  It is an airborne particulate, and used by some companies to extract proteins.

Last but not least, the machismo flag comes out and soy is considered a “non-manly” drink due to the belief that when a man drinks it, they become more female due to the estrogen in it.  First off, there are no estrogen hormones in soy.  The proper name is phytoestrogen.  Yes, the name literally translates to “plant estrogen”, mostly because of the chemical structure is similar to the hormone estrogen.  Many studies have found that the male body does not have more then a negligible effect when large amounts of soy are digested.  The effects found were when some male participants digested 3 quarts of soy milk daily for 6 months.  After which, the body self regulated and returned to normal.  The main idea to take away from this is there have been little to no findings of anything more than negligible results from extreme cases.  There are more positive results (protection from prostate cancer, etc) than negatives, which should be kept in mind as well.

When given the choice, soy should be digested in fermented state.  While soy milk & tofu are not necessarily bad for the human body, when tofu is fermented (tofu misozuke) it lasts for long periods of time and the simpler broken-down nutrients are absorbed more readily by the human body.  There are a large variety of fermented soy foods, from a variety of countries throughout the world, which can be produced in your own home with very little effort.  Japan is one that I believe most Americans can connect to when it comes to fermented soy recipes, and here are a few:

  • Natto
  • Soy Sauce (Yes, it’s fermented soy)
  • Miso
  • and others…

Other countries soy foods that are fermented:

  • tempeh
  • Cheonggukjang
  • pickled tofu
  • stinky tofu
  • tamari
  • doenjang
  • oncom

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