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What’s The Story on Soy?

Unfortunately, there are still so many misperceptions out there about soy – especially unfermented soy.  For those of you interested in hearing a brief history and a few “myths and truths” – take a minute to read this overview:

Soy dates back thousands of years to Chinaand Japan, when farmers planted soy beans to bring nitrogen back into the soil.  Rice is a nitrogen-depleting crop so soy was helpful and beneficial for harvesting more rice.  Soy was rarely eaten because it was so difficult to digest.

Soy made its appearance in the United States in the 1900s when Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of Kellogg Cereals, promoted its benefits and warned against eating meat. Soy became more readily consumed in World War II due to food shortages.  Shortly thereafter, soy was proclaimed a health food and the vegetarian community embraced it without knowing the difficulties that lie in ingesting unfermented soy. 
Many are surprised to learn that soy is actually one of the most genetically-modified foods in the US after corn.
The problem is that soy cannot neutralize its anti-nutrients – even through soaking and slow cooking.  Anti-nutrients are what protect the seed and plant but cause considerable problems in our ability to digest it.  So, in addition to our inability to properly digest, soy, the anti-nutrients have a negative impact on our bodies.  Here are some of the reported issues:
Phytates- can lead to osteoporosis, anemia, and more

Protease inhibitors interfere with pancreatic enzymes.

Saponins can damage the intestinal mucosa

Oxalates- high amounts of this can cause kidney stones

So when consumed occasionally, soy does not pose a serious health problem but consumed regularly, you risk digestive lining damage, as well as a host of other problems.  However, it’s very important to note that digestive problems are not associated with fermented soy. 

Most common in Asian food and diets, fermented soy products like miso, wheat free soy sauce, tempeh, natto, fermented soymilk and fermented tofu have been put under the proverbial microscope in recent years and studied for potential health benefits.  Fermented soy foods can help hot flashes, reduce cholesterol, slow the progression of atherosclerosis and in some cases have been reported to be protective effect against the development of certain cancers in the body.  Fermented soy products have also been linked to an increase hyaluronic acid, which can lubricate joints and reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis. 
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