From Christina: I am asked about soy and thyroid all the time so I thought I would go an expert on the topic, my great friend, Andrea Beaman. Here are her thoughts on soy. I hope this helps clear things up for you all.
It’s time to separate fact from fiction about this notorious and often misunderstood food.
The Soybean (Glycine max) is a member of the Fabaceae family (bean, legume, pea) and includes lentils, garbanzos, peas, licorice, kudzu, mimosa, peanuts, fenugreek, clover, lima beans, green beans, runner beans and more. Needless to say, it’s a very big family that includes nearly 20,000 species of trees, shrubs, vines and herbs. That’s a LOT of relatives to invite to the next dinner party!
Energetically, soybeans are cooling and can reduce heat and inflammation in the body (ex: heart disease, heart burn, inflammatory breast cancer, etc.). If you are feeling cold most of the time, soy foods may not be the best choice, but if you are suffering with rising liver heat (excessive anger, migraine headaches, dizziness, facial flushing, menopausal symptoms), soy could be a great choice
Soybeans contain potent enzyme inhibitors that can block protein absorption, plus high levels of phytate (phytic acid) that can bind with zinc, copper, iron, magnesium and calcium, and prevent these minerals from being absorbed. To circumvent the absorption issue and enhance their health benefits, soybeans were traditionally fermented before being consumed.
Some popular fermented soybean products include tempeh, miso, shoyu, natto and tamari. Tofu or bean curd is not fermented, but curdled (as the name implies) like cottage cheese. Keep in mind that these foods were generally eaten in small quantities, as a compliment or condiment to a meal NOT as an entire meal… as in the case with Tofurkey. A giant turkey-sized amount of tofu is generally NOT a healthy choice to consume in one sitting.
Sometimes people seeking health will often overeat a specific food because it has been scientifically proven to have healing benefits, but always remember what George Ohsawa (founder of Macrobiotics) said, “Quantity, changes quality.” Be mindful of this.
A note of caution regarding improperly processed soy products. In America, and now around the world, we’ve mass produced the soybean and exploited it to create many unhealthy soy foods. Soybeans that aren’t properly processed through traditional sprouting and fermenting methods have been linked with thyroid disease, digestive problems, reproductive disorders, cancer and other illnesses.
Some of those “not-so-healthy” soy products include: isolated soy proteins, soy dogs, soy burgers, soy meats, soy bars, soy ice cream, soybean oil, soy yogurts, soy margarine, soy nuts, and much more. If it’s not traditionally prepared, odds are it’s not good for your health despite its popularity. Highly processed modern soy foods are considered “health-food junk foods” so don’t eat large quantities of it, or any at all.
With knowledge comes power! You can make the best soy choices at your very next meal.
For more information about what to eat for the health of your thyroid, check out my latest book, Happy Healthy Thyroid – The Essential Steps to Healing Naturally.
Andrea Beaman is a Natural Foods Chef, health educator, thyroid expert, holistic health coach and herbalist, dedicated to alternative healing, and sustainable eating and living.
Andrea was a featured contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef. She is a regularly featured expert on CBS News, and hosted the Award Nominated, Fed UP! A cooking show that educates viewers how to cook for, and cure, their bodily ailments.
Andrea is recognized as one of the top 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness, received the Award For Excellence in Health Supportive Food Education from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health, as well the Health Leadership Award from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
As a keynote speaker and teacher, Andrea inspires audiences to take action on their health. She teaches engaging cooking demos and health programs to students and clients through live conferences, schools, and online programs, reaching vast audiences around the world.
Andrea is the author of The Whole Truth – How I Naturally Reclaimed My Health, and You Can Too! and The Eating and Recipe Guide – Better Food, Better Health, and Health is Wealth – Make a Delicious Investment in You! And, Happy Healthy Thyroid – The Essential Steps to Healing Naturally! Andrea makes learning about better health, good food, and sustainable living, a fun experience for everyone.