The Skinny on Soy: is Soy as Healthy as Health Food Fans Claim?

Soybeans are used in many different foods to create alternatives to traditional meat or milk-based products.  Soy can be bought in many supermarkets and health food stores and can be found in burgers, baby formula, milk substitutes, tofu, and many other products, but one question keeps coming up.  Is soy actually healthy for you?


The simple answer is that some forms of soy are healthy, and some are not.  Becoming informed about the type of soy products that you are consuming will help you determine whether or not soy is actually beneficial to your health.

Proven Health Benefits of Soy


Many reports have indicated that soy is responsible for promoting a longer lifespan and that soy is responsible for other remarkable health benefits.  However, there are some contradictory reports that indicate that soy can actually increase the likelihood that you will contract some forms of disease and that the amount of hormones present in soy can cause health implications in children and adults.  So, which argument is right?


To answer that question, you have to look at how the soy product is processed and how long it has been fermented.  Japan uses fermented soy, while many American products are developed from unfermented soy. 


Why Fermented Soy Products are the Healthy Choice


Japan uses soy all the time in meal preparation, but they use fermented soybeans that have an optimal level of isoflavones.  Soybeans naturally contain a number of phytochemicals, and these are active and vital organisms that are derived from live plants.  Isoflavones are an organic compound found in soybeans, and when fermented, these are the organisms that have been proven to promote good health.


Without adequate fermentation, a soy product will not contain the proper amount of isoflavones, which dramatically decreases the health benefits associated with soy. Since the fermentation of soybeans is so necessary to a healthy diet, you may wonder if the soy products found in the United States are fermented or unfermented.

American Products Rarely Contain Fermented Soy


Dry soybeans, unfermented soymilk, and other products found in the United States are not fermented, so they are deficient in many of the vital elements that are responsible for the increased health of the Japanese people.  Many American products are marketed as a healthy substitute for other food products, but this is simply not the case.  Unfermented soy has very few isoflavones, and it may also contain toxins that make digestion and natural absorption of minerals difficult for the body.


Which Soy Products Should You be Consuming?


If you find a soy product that is made from fermented soybeans, then you will be able to benefit from the natural elements of soy that have made soy products so popular across the globe.  However, if you have been consuming unfermented soy, you may be at increased risk for disease because there are some toxins found in soy products that make it more difficult for the body to absorb essential nutrients and minerals into the bloodstream.

There is also some speculation that unfermented soy may be toxic to your colon, so it is imperative that you assess how the soy products that you consume are fermented so that you can get the full benefit of soy the way that the Japanese have by consuming the products that they do. 



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