A common question I get is, “Is soy bad for you, or is soy good for you?” And the answer is, the majority of the time, soy is bad for you, but sometimes it can be good for you. It depends on the form you’re buying it in, and I’m going to go over the benefits and the side effects of consuming the right and the wrong type of soy.
What Soy to Avoid in Your Diet
Regarding that first, “Is soy good for you, or is soy bad for you?” — the answer is that it’s mostly bad because 95 percent of the soy out there today that people consume is bad for you.
Now, soy was popularized because we found in Okinawa, Japan — considered by some people to be the healthiest place on earth — they consumed a lot of soy. The problem is, it was a different type of soy than we consume today. In other words, it was the soy to eat rather than soy to avoid.
The issue with soy is most soy today contains something called phytoestrogens, and these phytoestrogens are estrogen mimickers in the body. And so, if you’re a male consuming extra estrogen, it’s going to give you more feminine characteristics.
If you’re a woman consuming foods that increase estrogen levels, it’s going to increase your risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and other hormone imbalance-related disorders.
That’s the main issue with most soy products today — avoiding excess estrogen — when you’re consuming a general processed soy. It’s a big issue.
Another big deal is that 90 percent (!) of soy today is also genetically modified. Genetically modified foods are linked to many health problems because they kill off good bacteria in your gut, known as probiotics benefits, and also damage the working of your digestive system.
Therefore, most soy products today — because of the phytoestrogens and being genetically modified — are terrible for your health. This includes soy protein (it’s why soy is inferior to whey protein), soy milk (if you drink soy milk because of allergies, you’re much better served by trying goat milk or coconut milk) and almost any type of soy out there today, aside from something like a soy lecithin (which isn’t unhealthy to consume).
Is Some Soy Healthy?
Now on the flip side, soy can be good for you if it’s an organic, fermented soy. And organic means that it’s not GMO. There’s no chemicals or fertilizers or pesticides. Fermented means it’s similar to turning a milk into probiotic yogurt or cabbage into sauerkraut.
Fermenting a food actually increases its probiotics. For example, natto is the type of soy they consume in Okinawa, Japan, where people have lived to be well over 100 years old all the time. It’s one of the healthiest fermented foods, is loaded with probiotics, is non-GMO and also is very high in a vitamin called vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 is even more beneficial in therapeutic benefits than vitamin K1, which is found in things like nutritious spinach and kale. Vitamin K2 has been shown to help build strong bones, support brain health and naturally heal your body.
So again, if it’s an organic fermented soy product, it actually is terrific for your health.
Final Thoughts on Soy
But let me throw this out there again. While I said earlier — answering the question, “is soy bad for you?” — that 95 percent of it is bad for you, the case in point is that 99 percent of the soy products we’re consuming today are conventional, GMO and toxic to your system. For that reason, soy is bad for you.
But if you’re looking to improve your heart health and bone health plus increase your life span, consuming natto, also known as vitamin K2, on a regular basis can actually be terrific for your health.
So if you want to reap the benefits of soy, go and find a fermented soy product like natto or search for a supplement that’s vitamin K2, also known as MK-7. Either can actually be very, very beneficial for your health.
Years ago, soy used to be labeled a superfood. But besides natto, real superfoods are things like chia seeds and flaxseeds. Beneficial for vegans and vegetarians alike, flaxseeds and chia seed benefits include having the same amount of plant-based protein but high levels of omega-3 fatty acids as well. These are a much, much better option than regular soy products.