I wanted to bake my own bread at first because I thought it would be fun and yummy, and a bit of a challenge. (I had never done it before!) When I discovered I could bake a pretty good loaf, I decided to bake bread more regularly to avoid the preservatives that are in the bread at the grocery store. That, in turn, got me thinking about eating healthier in general, and avoiding, as best I could, all those preservatives and multi-syllabic, science-lab-created additives in all the food products I buy. I wanted to go fresher and more natural.
This desire to eat healthier, as well as beginning this blog, led me to other blogs written by vegetarians, vegans and raw foodists. I became curious about their choices of foods, and noticed that soy was not a regular part of their meals. Isn’t soy supposed to be good for you? So I asked one of the bloggers, and she answered that she personally avoided soy because it did not agree with her system, and suggested I research the topic further on my own. I immediately looked up information, and came across several books. I borrowed The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food, by Kaayla T. Daniel from the library. It seemed the least “scientific” and easiest to read.
It was easy to read, although it is still chock full of scientific terminology. It is full of interesting information that makes me wary of buying any soy product, including any products that have soy additives, such as bread, crackers, turkey lunchmeat, and tuna! Yes, those products all have soy added as a filler or protein additive.
I believe there is good and bad in everything: people are both nice and naughty, life situations can be bad but there is always a silver lining, and food can be good tasting but not be good for us or taste yucky but be full of nutrients. There’s good and bad in everything. And, soy fits the bill. There is good and bad in soy. The soy industry focuses on the good, while not letting us average Americans in on the bad. Kaayla T. Daniel’s book does that. She informs the reader about the original use of soy in Chinese history, the fermentation processes that allow the good nutrients to shine while eliminating the bad anti-nutrients, and how the soy industry processes skip the fermentation of soy, which does not eliminate the bad stuff so it’s still in there, wreaking havoc on our bodies.
According to Daniel, ancient peoples regarded the soybean plant as an agricultural help – plowing it under to help with the soil. Ancient peoples also did not eat soy as a staple, and added it only after a lengthy fermentation process, which removed all the bad stuff (anti-nutrients). The lengthy fermentation process is not done by modern manufacturing standards and therefore, does not get rid of the bad stuff in soy. Yet soy protein isolate, soy lecithin and textured vegetable protein, and soybean oil are common ingredients in almost everything that comes pre-made in your local grocery store.
Take a look at the ingredients of products you regularly buy, and I bet you’ll see soy. My husband thought his intake of soy was really low, having edamame every once in a while at a Japanese restaurant, or tofu in the miso soup. Once I started looking at the labels, he did too. He discovered his intake of soy was much higher than he realized. Soy is in bread, tuna, mayo, crackers, and lunchmeat. It’s in almost everything! And he didn’t think he was eating it at all. The fact that soy was in products that don’t come from soy just made him angry and vigilant about avoiding soy. Why would soy be in canned tuna of all things? Isn’t canned tuna just tuna? It should be, but it’s not.
The soy industry and food manufacturers have jumped on the “soy is a miracle food” bandwagon, touting the Asian cultures’ low incidences of breast cancer and heart disease, and implying that these low incidences have to do with the soy intake in their traditional diets. What the soy industry and food manufacturers don’t mention that I read in Daniel's book is that soy was not part of the traditional Chinese or Japanese diet; these same Asian cultures intake a miniscule percentage of soy relative to what we Americans are consuming; AND there is a higher incidence in these cultures of prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and other digestive health issues.
Have you ever noticed after eating a fast food burger feeling extremely bloated and gassy? I did, and I attribute that to the soy additives that were likely in the burger patty. Maybe there was some soy in the bun, too, and maybe the fries I shared with my husband were fried in soy oil, aka “vegetable oil”. If something makes me that uncomfortable, then I don’t think it’s very good for my system.
Here’s another interesting thing: my daughter and I are not biologically related, and yet, we both have had breakouts of eczema on our chins. This just occurred in the last 5-7 years for both of us. There is no family history of eczema for either of us. I found it very curious that we could have the same reaction, and figured the only commonality for us was the food we intake. In reading The Whole Soy Story, Daniel mentions that eczema is an allergic reaction, and can be caused by soy. I thought about when I began drinking soymilk and eating edamame regularly. I also thought about when my eczema outbreaks started. I never had eczema as a child, or a young adult. My daughter either. It was only after I started buying soymilk to add to my morning coffee and smoothies, and buying edamame to eat as a “healthy” afternoon snack, that my eczema occurred. My daughter also drank the soymilk, mostly in smoothies, and also ate the edamame for a snack. My husband never touched the soymilk because he didn’t like the taste, and rarely chose edamame as his afternoon snack. He does not have eczema outbreaks. Soy is the only food item I can think of that my daughter and I ate, therefore, it was common to both of us, and that my husband did not. Everything else we all ate regularly, and I used the same laundry detergent for all our clothes, and the same cleansers throughout the house. It has to be the soy!
So for digestive health reasons, and because of a little backlash at the manufacturers, we are no longer purchasing products with soy in them – except Kikkoman soy sauce. Well, we actually purchased a huge container of it when we started stir-frying meals regularly, so we’re kind of stuck with it. I checked out the Kikkoman Company’s website and they actually talk about their old-fashioned fermentation methods for making their soy sauce. I figure it’s highly likely their soy sauce does not contain as many of the anti-nutrients because they do ferment it for months.
I would highly recommend any one to pick up this book and become more educated about what is in the food purchased at the grocery store and the fast food restaurants. You may not think you are eating soy, but you probably are unknowingly! The link posted above goes to Kaayla T. Daniel's website where you can find more information for yourself.