Friday, December 24, 2010

So good or so not -SOY MILK debate.
The trend of soy milk as a dairy milk alternative at Sydney cafes appears to still be a popular choice, but with a bit of confusion about it's health properties. It's the only substitute widely available for those who enjoy a white-coffee, and are either against commercial dairy altogether, are lactose intolerant, or simply do not enjoy the taste of milk.

Reading most of the commercial soy milk containers in the supermarket made me realise how much junk is added into the non-organic options. So, unsure whether soy is a healthy alternative or not, I have been reading a few sources to make a decision.

The best source of information I found was in Chris Clark's eye-opening book titled The Health Freedom Cookbook, where he discusses topics from the problematic fluoride in our water, aspartame, GMO, Vaccines, Dairy, Soy, and many more topics. I couldn't agree more with his section on dairy, but will not get into that on this blog for the time being. However, I truly feel what Clark says about soy milk needs to be shared -especially to us Sydney-siders! 

I've had this post sitting in my drafts for the past two weeks trying to figure out how to pass on the wonderful information I've read into a paragraph ...but it could just not be done! So below is a brief introduction to soy from Mr. Clark and then briefly his categorization of the bad soy products. If you want any more information feel free to ask me or you can find his book for sale HERE.

The Good
The common thread uniting all "the good"soy is fermentation [(i.e. soy sauce -also known as shoyu or tamari, miso, tempeh and natto)]. With few exceptions, historically soy has almost always been fermented. Soy originally comes from China, the same region that developed Traditional Chinese Medicine. Early TCM pioneers tested, observed and catalogued thousands of herbs and plants, gaining intimate knowledge of these plants and their effects on human beings. And with this same experimental, observational approach, they also developed their culinary traditions. Food preparations had to appeal not only to the senses, but to the digestion as well. This practical approach explains the widespread fermentation of soy in China and also throughout ancient Asia. Anyone who has ever simply soaked, boiled, salted and eaten plain soybeans knows that bouts of digestion distress are sure to follow....[this] is because soybeans contain high levels of phytates and enzyme inhibitors....[e]nzyme inhibitors are molecules that bind to enzymes [and are found] in most seeds, nuts, grains and legumes, they act to protect and preserve the dormant seeds until they germinate. Soaking in water effectively removes enzyme inhibitors for most seeds, but not for soybeans. (There is also an interesting point about Phytic acid which is found in bran and hulls of all seeds, and interferes with the absorption of many minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc!)

The Bad
Many studies have linked soy to various cancers, birth defects, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, and impaired thyroid function [(I remember when I came home last month that my brother told me there were a few stories on the news about girls having thyroid problems from drinking too much soy milk)]. The culprits of these afflictions, however, are not the traditionally fermented soy products discussed above. Rather they are soy products spawned from the industrial ideology of absolute efficiency....modern industry seeks to isolate, process and refine all waste products and reinvent them as additives and ingredients for a multitude of processed foods. With soy the preliminary culprits include:

  • Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
  • Soy Flour
  • Soy Milk
  • Soy Oil (often referred to as vegetable oil)  [(AH! That seems to be in everything these days)]
  • Soy Lecithin (GMO especially)
  • Soy Protein Isolates (SPI)
  • Textured vegetable Protein (TVP)
These products are commonly added to soy burgers, soy ice cream, energy bars, and many other foods masquerading as health foods thanks to massive marketing and misinformation campaigns. But when the masks come off, their purported health benefits rapidly dissipate. The various soy protein extracts involve complex processing including solvent extraction methods, various chemical baths and various chemical spray-driving techniques....[s]oy lecithin, ubiquitous in processed foods, cosmetics, and even expensive organic chocolate, is a nasty sludge-like byproduct of soy oil production. After bleaching and deodorizing, this highly denatured product is added to processed foods.

Chris Clark also explains that soy milk is actually the left-over cooking liquid of tofu, which inhibits the most amount of enzymes, and was originally discarded in traditional tofu production. There's so much more to explain about the process, but I feel this post has almost turned into an essay. So honestly feel free to ask any questions, I'll try my best to help. He does recommend rice milk, oat milk and almonds milk as better choices/milk-alternatives -especially if they're home made. 

Personally I love oat milk, but with cafes not providing it, I may have to give in to a soy latte every now and then until I can rid it from my cafe routine.

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