Reviewed by Irene Pauline Humpelstetter, CNP
Since the 90s, soy has risen to fame as a health food product and it has been advertised as an excellent protein source for vegans and vegetarians.
Despite the praise that soy receives, there has also been a lot of controversy, especially relating to the link between soy and breast cancer.
So what is true and what is false? We decided to take a deeper look at soy so that you can have all the facts.
Soy (or soybean) is a legume that is native to Asia. Soy is high in isoflavones, a plant estrogen. Isoflavones act like estrogen within the body but with a much weaker effect. There are a lot of factors to consider when evaluating whether these isoflavones are harmful, including ethnicity, hormone levels, and the type of soy that is used (unfermented soy vs. fermented soy), (1).
Soy is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Because of this, soy has been used as a dairy alternative, meat alternative, and it is added into many products to boost protein content. (2)
Since soy has become popular, studies have been conducted to evaluate whether it is harmful or beneficial for humans to consume. Small studies have shown that soy can reduce menopausal symptoms, possibly reduce the chances of getting breast cancer and the recurrence of breast cancer, and can even protect against prostate cancer. Some studies have shown that soy isoflavones can also protect against cognitive damage. (3)
It is important to note that many of these studies are small and have only been conducted on animals making it difficult to draw conclusions about the overall benefits of soy.
One drawback with soy is that 90% of soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified and these crops are sprayed with chemical herbicides that can cause allergies, sterility, birth defects, and other issues. (4) In addition, many soy products are chemical extracts, not the whole legume, and these extracts are added to burgers and protein supplements. (5)
Unfermented soy, even organic soy, contains antinutrients which can be harmful to the body and cause damage. While isoflavones can be beneficial, they have been shown to affect estrogen levels leading to certain types of cancer, hormonal imbalances, and infertility. (6)
Despite the controversy over unfermented soy, one thing remains true: fermented soy is a healthy food and is safe and beneficial to consume.
Fermented soy has more protein than unfermented soy making it an even better protein substitute for vegans and vegetarians. (7) And those antinutrients in unfermented soy? Fermentation destroys all of them mitigating the negative effects that they might have. (8) Fermented soy is a good source of K2, a nutrient that prevents osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and dementia.
Fermented soy products nourish the gut, boost good gut bacteria, increase digestion, and aid in nutrient absorption. Our immune system starts in our gut, fermented soy has the positive side effect of improving immunity. It is also easier to digest. (9)
Fermented soy, like miso, natto, and tempeh, is the best whole-food delivery of probiotics with complete amino acids, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. It is proven to be healing to the digestive tract and beneficial around the world for human health.
“Soy is only healthy if it is organic and properly fermented.”
Dr. Mercola (10)
In summary fermented soybean is different than conventional, over processed soy because it includes:
- Less immunoreactivity as identified in third party research.
- Contains all essential amino acids - the complete protein building blocks important for healing the intestinal lining
- Naturally occurring L-glutamine - an important amino acid to boost immune cell health in the gut.
- Bioavailable polyphenols - potent antioxidants only from plant sources that are fermented and easier to digest and absorb.
- Plus all the beneficial microorganisms, enzymes, nutrients and more.
Fermented Soy for Complete Gut Relief
At Living Alchemy, we naturally and traditionally ferment soy for all Your Flora Symbiotics. Our Kefi-Soy™ is a unique Kefir-kombucha fermentation of USDA Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project verified soybean with diverse strains of live microorganisms to nourish and heal the gut. Our fermented soy is the best medium for these microorganisms with proven results. We also use the finest quality sourced from Europe.
Rest assured that our Kefi-Soy™ is also suitable for women who need to optimize their digestion, vaginal and urinary tract health. When organic, non-GMO soy is fermented with the important beneficial strains for women, it creates a healthier whole body ecosystem. This is why Living Alchemy created Your Flora WOMAN. This natural whole food supplement is made with our unique Kefir-kombucha fermented organic soy, dried cranberry juice, and roselle (a species of Hibiscus). Your Flora WOMAN was specifically formulated to help women maintain vaginal health and treat and prevent UTIs, all while giving you good gut health too!
Take our Your Flora quiz to see which Your Flora Symbiotic would be right for you!
1. Harvard School of Public Health. Straight Talk About Soy. Harvard School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/ Accessed Jan 1, 2020.
2. Harvard School of Public Health. Straight Talk About Soy. Harvard School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/ Accessed Jan 1, 2020.
3. Harvard School of Public Health. Straight Talk About Soy. Harvard School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/ Accessed Jan 1, 2020.
4. Dr. Mercola, Joseph. Oct 23, 2012. The Health Dangers of Soy. Huffpost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/soy-health_b_1822466?guccounter=1 Accessed Jan 1, 2020.
5. Barrett, Julia R. June 2006. The Science of Soy: What Do We Really Know? Environmental Health Perspectives. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1480510/ Jan 12, 2020.
6. Konkel, Lindsey. Nov 3, 2009. Could Eating Too Much Soy Be Bad for You? Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soybean-fertility-hormone-isoflavones-genistein/ Accessed Jan 5, 2020.
7. Harvard School of Public Health. Straight Talk About Soy. Harvard School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/ Accessed Jan 1, 2020.
8. Dr. Mercola, Joseph. Oct 23, 2012. The Health Dangers of Soy. Huffpost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/soy-health_b_1822466?guccounter=1 Accessed Jan 1, 2020.
9. Dr. Mercola, Joseph. Fermented vs. Unfermented Soy: Whis is Better? Dr. Mercola. https://probiotics.mercola.com/fermented-vs-unfermented-soy.html Jan 12, 2020.
10. Dr. Mercola, Joseph. Fermented vs. Unfermented Soy: Whis is Better? Dr. Mercola. https://probiotics.mercola.com/fermented-vs-unfermented-soy.html Jan 12, 2020.