The move from animal-based proteins to protein alternatives have raised concerns over what’s healthy and what’s not. With the exclusion of certain foods, comes the introduction of others. One specific food whose nutritional value that has constantly been in question is soy. Soy has been marketed as the perfect alternative to dairy and source of protein. But unfortunately, soy is not the miracle health food its been hyped to be and is not the best replacement for dairy.
Some of the valid concerns surrounding the consumption of soy products include:
- Soy is genetically modified
Soy is genetically engineered, which causes two issues. First, genetically modified foods cause health risks to people who ingest them. Second, genetic modification can create or set off an allergic reaction in people – this is why soy is one of the most common allergenic foods.
- Soy contains trypsin inhibitors
Trypsin is an enzyme that helps the body digest protein. The inclusion of trypsin inhibitors in soy reduces protein digestion.
- Soy reduces your thyroid function
Soy contains isoflavones, which are substances that lower thyroid function. The thyroid is in charge of your metabolism, so when the thyroid is slowed down, one of the issues that can arise is weight gain.
- Soy contains phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are substances that can interact with your endocrine system (which regulates tissue function, mood, metabolism, growth and development, sexual function and reproductive processes) and may cause a whole host of hormonal complications.
- Soy is not good for children
When children ingest phytoestrogens early in their life, this can result in reproductive issues later in their life.
Fermented soy products, such as miso aren’t as bad for your body, if consumed in moderation. The fermentation process deactivates the trypsin inhibitors in soy, making them more easily digestible by the body. Edamame, for example, which is a green immature soybean, contains less toxins than soybeans and can be enjoyed in moderation.
So, what is it exactly that you should be avoiding? Tofu, soy milk, commercial energy bars, protein powders, soy-based foods (such as soy burgers, soy cheese, etc.), soy protein isolates or concentrates, or textured vegetable protein. It is of the utmost importance to check the ingredients list when buying packaged foods, as you will be surprised at the amount of commercial foods that contain soy.
For other non-dairy milk alternatives , check out our article to find out about the many options and their nutritional values.