Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
It is true that genetically modified foods including soya don’t seem to be safe but it doesn’t mean that a non-GMO and organic soya or foods based on it are unhealthy. However, it doesn’t mean that even healthy soya foods won’t cause side effects if they are consumed too often, which by the way is often true with regards to other good plant foods. There are many vegetarians and vegans who have tendencies to consume way too much of soya every day as it is offered in many different forms such as soya milk, Tofu, soya protein, or other popular dairy and meat substitutes based on soya. On the other hand, there is no evidence that moderate consumption of non-GMO cooked soya, organic unsweetened soya milk or Tofu may contribute to any health problems unless you are allergic or intolerant to certain substances or ingredients found in soya products.
For instance, there are some popular pseudo-scientific rumours according to which soya contributes to breast cancer. But according to Nathan Zassman, “The anti-soy ‘madness’ is fuelled by the American Dairy Association and the Weston A. Price Foundation, through articles written by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph.D. Both organizations stand to lose the most money due to soy consumption.”
The truth is that there is no scientific evidence to back up this idea. Honest examination of scientific knowledge leads to the conclusion that soya not only doesn’t contribute to breast cancer but it is clear that it helps to prevent breast cancer. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (July, 2012), “Eating 1-2 servings of whole soy can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence by 25%!”
The key cause of any cancer including breast cancer is never good organic and non-GMO soya products but the following: meat, dairy, sugar, refined carbohydrates, bad fat, free radicals, candida, stress, toxins, bad diet, stimulants (including wine, caffeine products or chocolate), pollution, bad lifestyle, lack of exercise, sleep, water, sunlight, nutritional deficiencies, antioxidant deficiency, etc.
On 3rd of August 2015 The Daily Mail – UK published an article with the following title, “Cure Breast Cancer By Avoiding All Milk Products. Give up dairy to beat cancer.” According to that article, “A leading scientist given just months to live changes her diet and is still alive nearly 20 years later after eliminating dairy and all animal foods from her diet.” Professor Jane Plant, a specialist in environmental carcinogens, in her book about breast cancer included the following statement: “Undoubtedly, the best anti-cancer diet would be completely vegan (a diet completely free from animal foods: no poultry, beef, pork, seafood, egg, cow’s milk, yogurts or cheese). If you want to reduce your risk of breast (or prostate) cancer, become a vegan, but on no account become a dairy-eating vegetarian. If any anti-cancer diet includes any kind of dairy products, ignore it.”
Unlike meat and dairy soy products have anticancer properties and can also lower bad cholesterol. Researchers in the College of Medicine at the University of Kentucky analysed results from 43 previously published studies on soy protein and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). They found an overall decreased risk of CHD when 30 grams of soy protein was consumed on a daily basis. Decreased LDL cholesterol was found to be an important part of this lowered risk.
Soya is full of nutrients, fibre, omega-3 fats and vitamins and minerals like folate and potassium. It is also high in complete protein including all essential amino acids that our body needs but is unable to produce. Also increased activity of antioxidant enzymes – including superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and catalase – has now been linked to intake of genistein from soy. When we enjoy this antioxidant-rich legume, we also benefit from its phenolic acids, including caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, and sinapic acid.
However, knowing that soya, like other pulses, is healthy try to not overdose it as it is available in many different forms and foods. The most reasonable choice seems to be just cooked soya beans from time to time, and then other foods such as Tofu or fermented soya products. With regards to other foods I would recommend to read labels as many products associated with soya contain ingredients that can’t be regarded as healthy.
If the labels found on soya products do not contain any information concerning genetic modification try to contact the manufacturer. I know that, for instance, products made by Alpro or Waitrose are non-GM.