Soy milk, soy cheese, soy crisps–there is a booming market for vegan soy-based foods and a lot of supposed health authorities touting its alleged benefits.

What if soy was actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing and only called a health food because its supply was so abundant? What if soy was actually not as healthy as it seemed? As it turns out, that’s what the data suggests. Let’s pull back the curtain and shine a light of truth on soy.

Is Soy Good or Bad for You?

Soy is said to benefit everything from heart disease to menopause. But is soy a true “miracle food,” or just a bunch of hype? Many products in the United States contain soy because soy is subsidized by the US government. Soybean oil, soy protein, and soy lecithin are common ingredients in processed foods due to the sheer volume and availability of soy. It turns out that conventional soy may actually harm reproductive health, according to some studies.

Why Fermented Soy is Better

Soy is also believed to play a role in the long, healthy life span enjoyed by the Japanese people. However, this doesn’t take into account other factors such as green tea consumption, increased exercise, and smaller food portions. Not to mention the fact that the Japanese largely consume fermented soy, which is very different from the soy found in the modern American diet. Fermented soy milk, tofu, miso, soy sauces, tempeh, and natto, actually offer a lot of health benefits.

Fermentation reduces enzyme inhibitors and makes nutrients available for absorption. [1] Soy milk that has been fermented may also provide a more favorable outcome for lipid metabolism, according to one study. [2] Unfermented soy products in America are deficient in isoflavones, and they are full of natural toxins that can block essential enzymes needed for protein digestion.

Soy is GMO

Most soybeans today are also genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides. These then present more toxins to your colon that contaminate the body and block the healthy absorption of essential minerals. You can’t get the benefits of soy the way Americans eat it. If you want to receive the health benefits of soy, you need to eat the fermented versions. These include things like natto and tempeh.

How to Avoid Conventional Soy

As mentioned earlier, soy is in everything. The best way to avoid soy is to switch to a whole foods diet, removing as much processed food as you possibly can. Products containing lecithin, MSG, or “natural flavors” usually contain soy. Never drink soy milk, especially if you are male. Do not feed soy-based infant formulas to your children; breastfeeding is a much better choice. Be careful of the foods that you purchase: soy meat substitutes might be obvious, but soy can be found in unlikely places like salad dressings, mayonnaise, and margarine. Read your labels carefully.

This article originally appeared at Global Healing Center.

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