Happy Friday! Yesterday was Weezy’s 6th birthday and she had the best day. Her little friends at school made cards for her, and she got to bring in homemade cupcakes that she helped me make. Last night we ordered a food and just hung out.
Actually, she crashed on the sofa at 5pm because she was up SO early due to excitement. Poor thing.
Weezy’s really into Five Nights at Freddy’s so, we got her a bunch of mystery packs and a “plushy” to complete her collection.
Today happens to be Cinco De Mayo!
This was like my favorite holiday ever when I was in my early 20s.
We used to go to this huge bar on the river in Manayunk for an outdoor festival and drink too many margaritas. I can’t remember what went on there, but I know it was a blast.
Our area actually has a ton of great Mexican restaurants. Tacos from El Limon in Conshohocken is Ella’s favorite! We also really love Whole Food’s taco truck (the build your own salad with Mexican slaw and chicken tinga is to-die-for).
A few years ago when I was pregnant with Jaxon we went to this really great restaurant for tacos in Manayunk, and I will never forget what the disclaimer said on the menu.
I am mis-quoting, but it was something along the lines of:
“We are committed to the health of our customers so we use soybean oil in all of our cooking at this restaurant.”
I was pretty upset when I read this and wanted to write an email to the owners for spreading misinformation. In fact, I think I may have but can’t remember getting a response.
I’ve mentioned in the past how I was a vegetarian on and off for about 17 years.
Yes, 17 years!
So, needless to say I had eaten a lot of soy in my life as a protein replacement.
My last bout with vegetarianism I actually tried to avoid eating lots of soy. I’d eat sprouted lentils, nuts, seeds and a sprinkle of organic tempeh (fermented soy) here and there … and lots of hemp protein.
Soybeans are legumes originally from East Asia that are now being mass produced in the United States.
One thing I knew was that my body never did great with soy. Did you know it is one of the most common food allergies?
Soy has always been one trigger for eczema in my daughter, so we have been avoiding it for a long time!
Should you avoid it? If you are a vegetarian or a vegan it may be SUPER hard, and there are ways to be healthy about it. I am going to lay out some info and you can decide for yourself!
1.Soy Isn’t As Healthy As You Think:
Is soy a health food? There has been back and forth on this questions for YEARS! What’s the real story?
Claims being made about soy were that soy-based foods lowers cholesterol, helps calm hot flashes for menopausal woman, prevents breast and prostate cancer, helps you to lose weight, and wards off osteoporosis.
Many of the claims made for soy were based on preliminary evidence, and they were looking at benefits based off the soybean’s high concentration of isoflavones, which is a phytoestrogen (plant-made estrogen), that in fact may be harmful to your health!
In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration allowed companies to claim that diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that also contain soy “may reduce the risk of heart disease.” (3) The claim was based on early research showing that soy protein lowered levels of harmful LDL cholesterol.
A number of solid studies done since then have tempered this finding, (4) as well as those regarding soy’s effects on other conditions.
2. We already consume too much Omega-6 fatty acid.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid are known as “essential fatty acids.”Meaning, our bodies do not have the enzymes to produce it so we need to get it in our diets. Omega-3 fatty acids provide a starting point for making the hormones that regulate blood clotting, the contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. One of the most beneficial factors of Omega-3 fatty acids are how powerful they are in preventing heart disease and stroke. They may also play an important role in protecting against cancer and other conditions and disease.
Omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid), on the other hand, is an EFA that we don’t have any trouble getting in our modern diet today. In fact, we get too much of it.
Meanwhile, consumption of animal foods high in Omega-3 is the lowest it has ever been.
Our bodies need a ratio of 1:1 Omega-3 fatty acid to Omega-6 fatty acid, yet with our Western diet today we are getting a ratio more of 1:15 and up to 1:40 Omega-3 to Omega-6 which is incredibly off balance!
Inflammation is a good thing, it’s your body’s way of protecting you (i.e. when we get a fever to slow down infection or swelling when injured to protect the body). However, when we get chronic inflammation that we start to get into trouble.
Having a diet high in inflammatory foods cause adverse health problems, obesity, and disease.
Soybeans are LOADED with Omega-6, so we really need to watch the amount we consume and load up on Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods!
3. It may increase your body’s need for B-12. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, this is NOT a good thing.
One of the things I was psycho about supplementing with when I was a vegetarian was B-12, which is a water soluble vitamin that is involved in the function of every cell in the body.
B-12 is involved in the formation of blood and the function of the brain. Vegans especially often become deficient in B-12, and do need to supplement, deficiencies can be very dangerous.
In addition to this, consuming fortified soy milk can actually cause even MORE of a deficiency!
From Chris Kresser: “a common myth amongst vegetarians and vegans is that it’s possible to get B12 from plant sources like seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina and brewers yeast. But plant foods said to contain B12 actually contain B12 analogs called cobamides that block intake of and increase the need for true B12.” (source)
I remember reading The China Study and watching lectures by T. Colin Campbell talking about taking a B-12 supplement and avoiding all animal products.
This was one of the things that made me go “hmmmm” when I wasn’t feeling great and tinkering with the idea of eating animals again. Religious and ethical reasons I get. Believe me I was there struggling SO hard about the compassionate end of it (for YEARS), but in the end I had to have compassion for my own body and do what I thought was best for my children. Part of that was eating the same diet as them, and if I thought veganism wasn’t the healthiest for them, than why was I doing it?
One thing I learned was that the only way to get a readily available source of B-12 is through animals, our bodies cannot produce it and we need to get it through our food.
It can be found in meat, fish, and eggs.
Sure you can supplement, but that is not the most reliable way to digest, absorb and assimilate B-12.
I think this was pretty much why I I started to feel like crap (weak, pale, dizzy, sleep all the time) when I tried to go raw vegan, and why I felt so much better and energetic once I incorporated fish and eggs back into my diet.
4. It may be screwing up your hormones.
You’re familiar with estrogen, right? It’s a hormone that plays a major role in sexual function and reproductive health in women.
The way estrogens (and other steroid hormones) work, is that they travel into the nuclei of cells and activate the estrogen receptor.
Estrogen receptors aren’t very selective in substances that can activate it, so isoflavones (the estrogen-like compounds occurring naturally in soy foods) can activate estrogen receptors.
What’s the big deal with that?
Well, it can disrupt the normal function of hormones in the body and reduce estrogen activity due to the isoflavones blocking the actual, more potent estrogen from binding, or it can lead to an increased estrogen activity due to the isoflavones activating the receptors (source).
This can lead to thyroid issues, weight gain, reproductive issues, and other health problems!
Isoflavones act as the plant’s natural pesticides, causing insects to become sterile. Research has shown that isoflavones can prevent ovulation and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. As little as 38 mg isoflavones per day (less than the amount found in 1 cup of soy milk) can result in hypothyroidism with symptoms of lethargy, constipation, weight gain and fatigue. The isoflavones in soy have been shown to cause reproductive problems, infertility, thyroid disease and liver disease in mice, rats, cheetahs, sturgeon, quail, sheep, pigs and marmoset monkeys. (source)
Ah, agricultural biotechnology.
94% of soybeans grown in the US are GM crops.
Genetically modified organisms (or GMOs) are created when a gene from one species is transferred to another, creating something that wouldn’t normally be found in nature.
There is a large percentage of domestic crops in the U.S. (94% of soy, 88% of corn) that contain DNA that was tweaked in a lab.
Though many GMOs are not involved directly in human consumption (we feed much of it to the animals we eat), most processed foods have ingredients derived from GMOs.
Aside from soy: corn, sugar beets and rapeseed (canola) are also highly-grown GMO crops in the United States.
Nearly 90 percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science believe GMOs are safe to eat, and 39 percent of American adults believe that genetically modified foods are worse for health than their conventional equivalents according to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center.
So what should we do? Are all of these anti-GMO campaigns fear-mongering, or should we really be concerned? Is it politics?
I was always in the camp of GMOs not having had enough tests conducted to prove them safe for human consumption.
It’s a science experiment I don’t really want to be a part of, but I will be 100% honest … I REALLY hope the things I have been reading lately about GMOs being safe and some of the new studies coming out to be true. I really, really hope so because if not, and we are being “poisoned”, well, that really sucks.
Trust me, I have signed petitions, I have voiced my concerns, and I have written many blogs and newsletters about this subject. Only time will tell. For now, I try to do my very best to avoid GMO crops and foods, but it isn’t always easy!
If I could add a sixth reason, I would chat about phytic acid … but I feel like that is a topic for another blog post! It can be complicated. For now, I will tell you that soy isn’t a lost cause if you are a vegetarian and have limited options. Check it out:
Eating small amounts of fermented soy like tempeh, natto, miso, and brewed soy sauce (not commercially-made acid-hydrolyzed vegetable protein soy sauce) can be fine for vegetarians and vegans, or anyone that wants to consume it.
- When soy is fermented, it becomes loaded with probiotics, making it healthier on your gut.
- Fermenting soy will help reduce phytic acid, which impairs the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium, and may promote mineral deficiencies. This means eating organic tempeh will give you more bioavailable vitamins and minerals than say conventional edamame.
- Fermented soy STILL contains isoflavones (see #4). Eating iodine-rich foods can counter the effects, just be sure to eat it all moderately and mindfully.
I do not consciously consume soy (I usually pass on the edamame and don’t eat tofu anymore), but I couldn’t say my diet is 100% soy-free. We do eat out, and I do love a good miso soup every now and then.
Sometimes it creeps in other foods I eat but I do consciously try and avoid it as much as humanly possible.
I even buy soy-free organic eggs from my farm 🙂
Hopefully this article sparked an interest to do more independent research to see if you want to consume less soy or not.
Have a great weekend!