Starbucks has most of us convinced that soymilk is a healthy alternative to dairy milk for our coffee. Our understanding of Asian culture convinces us that soy products are one reason behind the increased level of health among Asians, but is soy really all that beneficial?
Dr. Joseph Mercola from the Huffington Post explains why soy might not be a healthy alternative to dairy and argues that it is, in fact, detrimental to health especially in women and young children. He cites thousands of studies that have shown connections between soy consumption and increased health problems such as digestive distress, thyroid dysfunction, reproductive disorders and in extreme cases, cancer and heart disease.
He focuses on two critical distinctions between modern-day soy consumption as seen in the United States verses traditional soy consumption as seen in Asia and other parts of the world. One difference is that Americans consume soy that has been genetically modified, and conventionally (non-organically) grown 90% of the time whereas other countries such as France have banned genetically modified organisms (gmo’s). The other difference is that soy products in the United States are unfermented and make up a larger part of Americans day-to-day diets (most processed foods contain soy in one form or another) than in Asia, where the typical individual consumes about two teaspoons of fermented soy daily. Dr Mercola explains the health detriments of consuming unfermented soy, such as tofu, soy milk, TVP, hydrolyzed soy, and infant formula. He lists 10 adverse effects: high phytic acid (a digestive inhibitor), protein denaturing, and MSG to name a few. He even states that one should never feed infants soy formula; “Drinking just two glasses of soymilk daily” he says, “provides enough of these compounds to alter a woman's menstrual cycle. But if you feed soy to your infant or child, these effects are magnified a thousand-fold.” When soy products are fermented, not only are these dangerous substances replaced, they’re replaced with beneficial substances such as vitamin K2. Such fermented products include tempeh, soy sauce, miso and natto. In conclusion, remember Dr. Mercola next time you reach for the tofu in the supermarket thinking that you are avoiding the evils of industrialized meat.