The Truth about Soy

May 15, 2014

For years, in an attempt to copy my Vegan mom, I would buy tofu.  Alas, my plans for a fabulous vegan repast were foiled every time. The tofu would end up in the garbage and my dreams of eating a plant based diet were put on hold, again.  To be fair, I was subjected to many questionable vegan dishes in my youth.  I remember being served slippery and rubbery pieces of tofu floating in a suspicious liquid.  It must have been the texture, but I couldn’t make myself eat it.   After some health issues, specifically chronic bladder, sinus and yeast infections, I completely overhauled my diet.  I discovered food allergies were the underlying cause of my infections.  After going gluten, dairy, processed sugar free I noticed a huge improvement.  I then decided to take it a step further and introduce plant based food into my diet. 

That’s when I found myself wrestling with a package of tofu, in a futile attempt not to spill the liquid in the package all over the counter.  After figuring out that I had to squish the liquid out, by leaving a very heavy object (my high speed blender) on the tofu, I discovered how easy it was to cook.   I’ve made an easy tofu scramble all the way to a vegan tofu lasagna and tofu cheesecake for my daughter’s birthday.  Turns out tofu can be quite delicious.

During my journey towards epic health, to my surprise tofu was not the healthy wonder food that I once thought.  As I began to learn more about tofu and soy products in general, I discovered that tofu is still considered a processed food.   Many of us are eating way too many processed soy products, in a false belief that we are eating healthy.  I still indulge in tofu a couple times per month, but I’ll let you decide what is right for you.  If you decide to eat tofu, here are a few things you should know about soy.

  •          Consume only 1-2 soy products per week.  Soy naturally contains toxins, phytoestrogens and anti nutrients.  It’s best to consume fermented soy products such as miso, tempeh and soybeans.
  •          Limit your consumption of processed soy (e.g. tofu, soy lunch meats, soy yogurt, soy burgers and soy cheese). These unfermented soy products cause a myriad of health problems, such as higher risk of infertility, increased risk of breast cancer, hypothyroidism just to name a few.
  •          Ensure you purchase non-genetically modified soy products.  Soybeans are a highly genetically modified crop.  Look for organic non-genetically modified soy.
  •          Soy is one of the top allergens, especially genetically modified soy.   Many people think they are eating a healthy alternative to dairy but the symptoms of a soy allergy can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, sinus congestion and skin rashes.

There are a number of ways to determine if you have an allergy including a skin prick test, blood test and an elimination diet.  Some people like to have the test results so they know what foods to avoid; others like to experience how their body feels during an elimination diet.  The choice is up to you.

I’m not allergic to soy, but many people feel better when they eliminate soy from their diet.  It’s amazing how great we can feel when we transform our diet.  It changes our outlook on life. It may have taken me years to transition to a mostly plant based diet, but the benefits for my health are too many to count.  It’s not about doing it perfectly and holding yourself to an unattainable standard.  It’s doing the best you can and making small steps forward everyday.  Cheers to your health!