There are so many questions when it comes to soy. Do you believe the cardiac health benefits soy provides? Or do you avoid soy because of the phytates? Are you unsure about it? Most importantly, what are we talking about when we say the word 'soy'?
Traditionally, soy was eaten as fermented foods but now nearly all the soy we see & eat is genetically modified (GM) & unfermented. 91% of soy grown in the US is GM. While this increases farming efficiency & provides cheaper soy, the downside is that your soy is loaded with toxic pesticides. Current research indicates that GM soy is linked to an increase in allergies & even more frightening may have the potential to cause infertility in future generations.
For centuries, Asian people have been consuming fermented soy products such as miso, natto, tempeh, & tamari safely. After a long fermentation process the anti-nutrient levels of soybeans are reduced. These antinutrients, called phytates, are compounds which interfere with the absorption of nutrients & are what can cause unpleasant tummy upsets.
So if you are going to eat soy, make sure you get fermented soy such as tamari, tempeh, miso & natto & avoid soy protein products. Whilst soy sauce is fermented the consensus is that the cheaper style at the supermarket is massed produced using a chemical process & no longer fermented.
The best way to eliminate non-fermented soy from your diet is to avoid all processed foods & instead purchase whole foods that you prepare yourself. Here is a guide of common soy protein foods to avoid:
TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
Soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy yogurt
Soy infant formula
If you do buy packaged foods, you can check the label to see if it contains soy. Food manufacturers are required by law to list & bold soy on the label, because it's one of the top eight food allergens. One other common source of soy is lecithin (Number 322 or E322) which is used as an emulsifier in many foods & supplements. As always check for non-GMO labelling & choose organic where you can!
You can learn more about soy on my podcast The Naked Naturopath or join the mailing list to be the first to know when I am presenting my Soy Talk next.