A friend and I were on our way to coffee at a new cafe. Walking from the car, she mentioned "they don't serve soy milk, by the way". I've been processing my thoughts on this comment for a few weeks now. Here is what I have come up with, read on if you are interested.
You've probably gathered by now, that I am very big on individualised dietary recommendations. Read more about my health philosophy here, and you will most likely be able to guess what I am going to say!
Research into genetics and digestive health is helping to confirm the old saying that "one man's meat is another man's poison". Bio-individualised nutrition (basing nutritional recommendations on genetic and metabolic characteristics) will be big business in the future. We will one day be able to find out exactly what foods agree with our genes and our microbiome (digestive bacteria). Until then, it's best to just accept that there is not just one diet or way of eating that suits everyone..
Applying any nutritional recommendation in a black and white fashion just doesn't make sense. Even if a particular food is not good for some (or even most) of the population, there will always be some people that thrive on it. It could even be a therapeutic for them. Education and reflection can help you decide what your relationship with soy should be. So, are soy products the meat or the poison in your diet?
- Soy is a complete vegetarian/vegan protein source
- Soy is good for heart health, including cholesterol reduction
- Soy contains phytoestrogens for managing menopausal symptoms
- Soy may reduce hormonal cancer risk
- Soy can be useful for people with an overactive thyroid
- Soy is a high-protein substitute for dairy milk
- Soy has a long tradition of being consumed in healthy asian cultures
- Soy is in many processed foods and difficult to avoid
- Soy contains FODMAPs (read more here) which can cause bloating for some people
- Soy requires preparation to be a nutritious food source
- Soy can impair the absorption of some minerals due to it's phytic acid
- Soy is one of the most commonly genetically modified (GM) crops
- Soy can be heavily sprayed with pesticides (note: choose organic)
- Soy can have an unwanted oestrogenic effect
- Soy is a very common food allergen
- Soy can slow metabolism through it's thyroid lowering effect
Where does this leave us with soy? Firstly, the most nutritional benefit is always gained through wholefoods prepared in a traditional way. This is particularly true when it comes to soy. Choose organic and whole soybeans or products, which have ideally been fermented (such as tempeh and miso).
Consider your individual nutritional requirements and decide whether soy is useful in your diet. I recommend always having periods without a food to evaluate your relationship with it, even if this is just a few days or a week every now and then. If you need help balancing your diet or are wondering if there are foods you should be avoiding, feel free to make consultation at our clinic to discuss your health. More information on making an appointment here.
As for a cafe that doesn't serve soy milk, I guess the perks of having your own business if that you get to make up your own rules. But just like my nutritional philosophy, I prefer my cafes to be inclusive rather than exclusive.