Tofu Does Not Equal Eating Healthy

tofuI heard it again today, “I eat healthy, lots of tofu and soybeans”.  I know many people, especially vegetarians have been told that soy beans and tofu are the healthy answer to your protein needs.  Sorry, but you’ve been sold a bill of goods by tofu companies making good profits at the expensive of your health.

Tofu/Soy:

Tofu (Soy) was originally a legume used in rotation with other annual crops throughout Asia in order to add/fix nitrogen in the soil.  It was a cover crop to replenish the soil, not a food.  In times of starvation, soy was fermented and eaten as a condiment, usually in fish broth.

One reason is that tofu (soy) contains trypsin inhibitors.  Trypsin in a very important digestive enzyme produced in the pancreas.  Fermenting soy deactivates most of the trypsin inhibitors.  So, usually tempeh, tamari, and miso don’t cause much gas, bloating, pain, and/or diarrhea when eaten.

Another problem with tofu (soy) is the phytates.  These bind with minerals in your digestive tract, taking those very necessary minerals out of your body.  Unfortunately soaking doesn’t disable them, as it does in other grains, nuts, and seeds.  It makes sense then that, when eaten as a condiment, fermented soy was served in fish broth which is very mineral laden – put enough in and some minerals have to absorb.

Tofu/Soy is also a goitrogen, meaning it can suppress and permanently damage the thyroid if eaten in excessive quantities.  Research proved this starting in the 1930s.

Next, tofu (soy’s) phytoestrogens cause hormonal disruption.  Phytoestrogens can lock onto estrogen receptors in the body, blocking true estrogen.  They also disrupt the body’s production of estrogen.  Research has been proving this since the 1940s.  There are direct links to breast cancer, infertility, and endometriosis in women as well as lowered sperm counts, infertility, and nipple discharge in men.

What Makes Tofu Healthy:

So, what makes us think that soy is healthy?  First, the phytoestrogens changed women’s menstrual cycles so it was hypothesized (never proven though) that eating soy could lower a women’s estrogen levels over her lifetime because her cycles were longer and then decreased completely.  This theory was then linked to a hypothesis that lower estrogen levels would reduce the risk of breast cancer.  The soy industry has done a great job marketing this, but there is no proof – it was all speculation, now proven horribly wrong.

Now, there’s proof of accelerated brain aging, diminished cognitive abilities, and diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease twice as frequently for those eating tofu at least twice a week.  The belief is that this is caused by soy isoflavones which block tyrosine kinase, an enzyme needed by the hippocampus which is the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

Worse, soy is now in 70% of all processed foods.   When soy became the oil of choice (another great marketing campaign) there was a defatted mass of protein left after the oil was extracted from the soybeans.  In 1970, soy protein was ruled safe for use as an ingredient in cardboard with some concern that the toxins might leach from the cardboard containers into the foods.  In 1975, the soybean companies realized they could market soy protein to get rid of their industrial waste product, if affluent people thought it to be healthy.  United Soybean, the industry council, spends $80 million every year in marketing to convince us that soy is a natural, healthy product.

If you think I’m crazy, look up how they make soy milk – alkaline solutions, high pressure, the toxin lysinoalanine, damaged nutrients, deodorizing, added sweeteners and flavorings, plus synthetic added vitamins.  Or, look up soy protein concentrate – alkaline solution, high temperatures, toxins, carcinogens, the toxins nitrosamine and lysinoalanine,  more alkaline solution, high pressure, heat extrusion, acid baths, added binders, gums, fats, flavors, and sweeteners.

Still not sure?  Follow the money trail.  The FDA endorsed soy as “heart healthy” even after the American Heart Association changed their opinion in 2006 to not recommend soy.  It’s endorsement was based on a meta-analysis of studies on soy and heart disease, paid for by Protein Technologies International, which is partly owed by DuPont, which owns Solae that produces ingredients for Gardenburgers, Mori-Nu, and Yves Veggie Cuisine.  And I won’t even get started on the food subsidies that are lining the pockets of Monsanto which basically has a stranglehold on the growing of soybeans genetically engineered to be resistant to Round-up, which Monsanto also produces.

If the company is producing plastics and chemical pesticides, I really don’t want them producing food – mine or any one else’s.  Healthy doesn’t come in a neat box or plastic wrapper.

 

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for this Article! I have heard for so long that Soy and Tofu were the healthy alternative to meats for protein and the myth is widespread . I have recently read about cases where men with high intakes of soy and its photoestogens have registered estrogen levels above that of a pregnant woman. And much of the associated symptoms were irreversible.

    • susan says

      Before you go on about how negative tofu is, you left out the most important point…..

      anything that is genetically modified that has to do with soy- tofu is dangerous for your cells – because they add a “PROCESSED” estrogen

      NOT GENETICALLY MODIFIED TOFU actually can help ward off breast cancer because the estrogen in it, actually “cleans up” the bad estrogen in your body.; Look for this type of tofu with NON GM label on its’ packaging.

      • says

        I would partially agree – non-GMO and organic is one of the most critical pieces. Unfortunately it is getting extremely hard to find and even labeled as organic can include up to 5% non-organic product. Currently there is no GMO labeling requirements unless it is voluntarily “Non-GMO Verified” by a third party as part of the Non-GMO Project. Otherwise manufacturers can write anything they’d like on the pacakaging.

        Second, tofu is not properly prepared in a way that the body can access most of the nutrients. If people really want to eat soy products I recommend they choose non-GMO, organic tempeh rather than tofu.

  2. kokina says

    “Now, there’s proof of accelerated brain aging, diminished cognitive abilities, and diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease twice as frequently for those eating tofu at least twice a week. The belief is that this is caused by soy isoflavones which block tyrosine kinase, an enzyme needed by the hippocampus which is the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.” Where did you get these info??? From which research it is based on???

    • Kellie says

      When I wrote this blog I wasn’t as good about foot notes as I am now. Some of the best research, in no particular order:
      Kaayla Daniel’s book The Whole Soy Story” The dark Side of American’s Favorite Health Food
      Fallon and Enig’s “Tragedy & Hype: The Third International Soy Symposium”.
      Fallon and Enig’s “Soy: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite ‘Health’ Food.
      Barclay, Laurie and Charles Vega’s “American Heart Association Does Not Recommend Isoflavone Supplements”. Medscape Medical News. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/522256
      Judy Krizmanic’s “Prisoners of the Plate: Can a Meatless Diet Mask an Eating Disorder?” Vegetarian Times, April 1995. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0820/is_n212/ai_16845854
      Julia Ross’s books The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure
      Nigel Hawkes “Low-fat food is ‘bad for you'”. The Times, February 28, 2007.
      Mercola’s “Strict Vegetarians Can Develop Blindness and Brain Damage” Mercola.com http://www.mercola.com/2000/mar/26/vegetarians_blindness.htm
      Mercola’s “Vegetarian Diet Increases Alzheimer’s Risk” Mercola.com
      Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth.

  3. kokina says

    In all links you gave me, Judy Krizmanic’s article can be view and talk about eating disorder and not a word about tofu…
    the rest are “page not found”….

    • Kellie says

      I’m sorry, most of this was well over a year ago so obviously people aren’t keeping the links up. Definitely check out the books then. Lierre Keith’s is very well researched with a wonderful bibliography. She spent 20 years as a vegan and writes about her journey and discovery. She gets on a little bit of a soapbox at the end, but up til that she is well written.

      Here is another link that has many articles and studies. I just checked and it is a good link.

      http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert

      I hope you can find what you are looking for. Best of luck.

  4. Ivriniel says

    Given the fact that tofu has been widely eaten in east Asia for thousands of years these claims seem really dubious. Take for example the claim of an association with Alzheimer’s disease and tofu. The fact is that studies show that the rate of Alzheimer’s is lower in Japan, china and Taiwan than in other industrialized countries. As a matter of fact, the rate of Alzheimer’s is lower for Japanese living in Japan than it is for people of Japan descent living in America and eating western style diets.

    What’s more, studies of Seventh Day Adventists in North America who eat more soy than the general population have lower rates of dementia than the general population.

    The claim that there is an association between tofu ans Alzheimer’s came from a single study with inadequate control for confounding factors.

    • Kellie says

      The Asians have eaten soy for thousands of years, but in a completely different form that what is generally available to Americans, and in much less quantities. Soy in America is allowed to be genetically modified, is frequently processed and isolated, and seldom fermented. All very different ways of ingesting soy compared to Asian countries.

      I have not studied the association between Alzheimer’s and tofu very thoroughly so I can’t comment. I have studied other associations and find that frequently, in order to make foods sound better or worse, it’s a matter of semantics. For example, for urban Chinese men the rate of heart attack is about half of the US American male, but their rate of stroke is almost six times higher. For urban Chinese women the heart attack rate is 3/4 of the US American female but their rate of stroke is five times higher (Eades & Eades, Protein Power, 1999). Whether someone dies from a heart attack or a stroke, the end result is ultimately the same. Unfortunately when it comes to selling products or making their points, people often find the statistics that back up their beliefs rather than looking at the whole picture. It is easy to be deceived. As I’ve said before, we have to learn to think for ourselves.

      Regarding the Seventh-Day Adventists, it is much like comparing apples to oranges in regards to the average US American. Certainly there is evidence that they have better overall health but there are more differences than just soy, and therefore one element is impossible to isolate. For example, Seventh-Day Adventists are forbidden to drink alcohol and coffee and aren’t allowed to smoke. They eat more fresh foods and substantially less processed foods. Can we say it’s a vegetarian diet then? No. Mormons also abstain from alcohol, coffee, and tobacco while eating less processed foods AND they eat meat. Current research shows they out live Seventh Day Adventists. For more information on this research read Steven Aldana’s The Culprit and the Cure: Why Lifestyle Is The Culprit Behind American’s Poor Health and How Transforming That Lifestyle Can Be The Cure. as well as Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth.

      Thank you for continuing a very valuable discussion!

  5. Kristen says

    I just find it extremely biased how you only use sources that portray soy in a dark light. Everything we eat and every behavior we have now, has some sort of side effect if done in excess.

    • says

      Definitely there is truth that almost anything in excess is a problem. Even spinach, which is one of the most nutrient-dense healthy foods can be problematic if eaten from a conventional source (as it’s one of the foods that holds pesticide and insecticide residues in large amounts) or eaten in excess as oxilates can build in the body potentially damaging the kidneys in those with weakened organs.

      But, that being said, there are some foods that really are a problem, excess or not. And soy is one of those, unless it is properly fermented such as miso, natto, tamari, or tempeh. Outside of these forms I believe soy is in a dark light and should not be eaten. The only sources that I can find portraying soy in a bright light are paid for by the soy manufacturers. If you know of other research, please feel free to pass it along. I’m always willing to reassess my recommendations based on new research, as nutrition is an ever-changing field.

      • Robert says

        He is want I think, there so much out there to read and so much to think. All I know is that our government is not looking out for us only for how much power they can have and money. Its very sad to feel this way but this is want I feel. Now we have to fine ways to protect our self and be as healthy as possible. One way of course is to grow your own food, relax, exercise and of course help other peoples when we can. I’m know there’s more but I’ll let you guys think some. Hey we all better stop and check the Roses not just smell them, they also may not be real, thanks to MONSONTO and our government.

  6. Anita says

    Thank you very much for some more insight. I rarely find articles that break down the actual chemistry of how soy works in the body and like you, I’m open to hearing both sides. I am however more inclined to believe that soy is vastly different than how it should be produced, and thanks to chemicals and gmos it’s much worse. Recently, I was speaking to an allergist who told me that soy is climbing up the list of allergens and turning out to be one of the most common, along with peanuts, dairy and gluten. Coming from his experience (I rarely think much about doctors advice, for my own reasons), I think it’s safe to say avoid the soy as much as you can. It’s in everything already and seeing the reaction of its effects, puts it in new perspective. More people need to know this, so thank you for your research and time and effort. There are those who disagree, but I’m not one of them.

  7. Mikhail says

    I’m sorry, but you really need to quote some scientific source for all these claims you are making. I mean, the Chinese have been eating Tofu for over two thousand years and they live longer on average, with greater mental acuity in their golden years, than their western counterparts. You may account this to a generally healthier diet and more exercise, but you cannot prove that those two factors alone would be enough to balance out your purported negative effects of Tofu. If you had simply claimed that Tofu is not as much a nutritional powerhouse as claimed, I would have bought more into your article.

    • says

      First, the Chinese have not be eating genetically modified tofu for over two thousand years as you claim. GMO soybeans, which are now approximately 85% of the US soybean crops (http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/grocery_shopping/crops/19.genetically_modified_soybean.html) weren’t planted in the US until 1996 and most Asian countries have banned the product.
      Second, the amount of tofu (or any non-fermented soy product) eaten in Asian countries is minimal compared to the amount of tofu and soy isolate protein being hawked in America. This is a completely unnatural food. The Soyfoods Association of America has a soy protein “fact sheet” defining soy protein isolate as the following:
      “Soy protein isolate is a dry powder food ingredient that has been separated or isolated from the other components of the soybean, making it 90 to 95 percent protein and nearly carbohydrate and fat-free.” Not the same as anything traditionally eaten in any country.

  8. Ray C says

    Not sure about what youre saying but, Youre blaming genetically modified plants intead of the food it self. So youre saying that if I ate a genetically modified chicken then I will prone to disease ? Or If i ate a genetically modified frutis then it will kill me in long term just because you think its not natural. Then I guess you dont really understand about evolution. Vegetables do not have mutagens unlike animals. Without mutagens these things hardly can evolve into a better species. We humans are gifted with knowledge to improve the properties of these vegetables withgenetic engineering. So how stupid are the creator to create things that eventually will be consumed by them self containing poison and deadly substance. If youre saying chinese people do not eat the same tofuas americans. Guess again, they use formaldehyde since decades ago to perserve tofu. And these people ate that stuff everyday. Most of the live up to 90 years old. Problem?

    • says

      I haven’t seen or been able to find any information that the Chinese used formaldehyde to perserve tofu for decades. Please send me this as I’ll definitely evaluate it. They certainly did ferment it to create tempeh, which as I stated I would recommend.

      There is a big difference between the natural or even organized evolution of plants through cross hybridization (and yes, that’s been done for centuries) and the genetic modification of adding pesticides (or other chemical substances) into the DNA of the plant. This has only occurred since 1996 and the original research was all done by the companies promoting the GMO. Research showing potential problems to those eating these foods has only recently surfaced. The results are unclear. But, if you’re willing to eat it, with the risks being unknown, feel free. For me, I’m not willing to be a human guinea pig for large corporations.

      • Ray C says

        I found this at Wikipedia,

        Contaminant in foodScandals have broken in both the 2005 Indonesia food scare and 2007 Vietnam food scare regarding the addition of formaldehyde to foods to extend shelf life. After a four-year absence, in 2011 Indonesian authorities have again found some foods with formaldehyde being sold in markets in a number of regions across the country. Besides using formaldehyde, they also use borax, but not combined together.[64] In August 2011, at least at 2 Carrefour supermarkets, the Central Jakarta Livestock and Fishery Sub-Department found a sweet glutinous rice drink (cendol) contained 10 parts per million of formaldehyde.[65] Foods known to be contaminated include noodles, salted fish, tofu, and rumors of chicken and beer. In some places, such as China, formaldehyde is still used illegally as a preservative in foods, which exposes people to formaldehyde ingestion

        Not really sure how Wikipedia documented this but theres almost no Tofu with formaldehyde can be found in supermarkets, but in traditional markets and house industries, you can bet the tofu is using Formaldehyde. The taste is different, tofu without formaldehyde tends to taste sour and spoiled quickly but easier to destroy, while tofu with formaldehyde is more firm.

        You can use this trick to know if tofu using formaldehyde or not
        http://notecook.com/desserts/fruits/how-to-know-tofu-formaldehyde/

  9. Nicole says

    Hello, I am wondering about miso. Since it is the whole bean fermented, is this good to eat?
    I had it tested on me, it tested good.
    But what do you think?
    Thanks

  10. Amber says

    I too bought into these claims about soy being detrimental to health for the last few years of my new to being vegetarian lifestyle, and while I agree that GMO’s in general are toxic, most(85% or more) GMO soy(corn and wheat) is fed to animals in CAFO’s a.k.a factory farms, which provides almost all meat products to the country…whoops! So if you’re a meat eater you are actually getting all of that toxic GMO soy. I intend to lean more on fermented organic soy products but I do also feel better about adding in certified organic, sprouted tofu which is widely available after reading these following sources, it changed my whole fear of soy that is widely spread online, especially by Weston A Price(A dentist) foundation who have big financial supporters all throughout the meat industry(information about this included in article 3)
    http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/08/06/how-soy-can-kill-you-and-save-your-life/
    http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=80
    http://freefromharm.org/health-nutrition/vegan-doctor-addresses-soy-myths-and-misinformation/

    • says

      Hi Amber,
      I agree, as I stated in the article – properly prepared (sprouted or fermented) organic tempeh/tofu is a good food. It can be difficult to find, but is healthy. I also agree with your comment regarding GMO feed to factory farmed animals which is why I recommend grass-fed, pasture raised meats only. There are options out there and I do highly recommend people become informed – education is truly the key to understanding and making changes in our system. I will disagree with your assessment of the Weston A Price Foundation though as they too only recommend grass-fed, pasture raised meats without the use of GMO feed. “The main sources of support for WAPF are the dues and contributions of its members. The Foundation does not receive funding from the government or the food processing and agribusiness industries. It does accept sponsorships, exhibitors and advertising from small companies by invitation, whose products are in line with WAPF principles.[39], [40]. Sponsors include grass-fed meat and wild fish producers, as well as health product companies” Look here for the information. That’s not “big finanical supporters all throughout the meat industry”. Again, good information is the key.

  11. TyRAN* says

    Just a tiny non-soy-related note, if anyone’s interested in learning about English at the same time as nutrition: the contraction of “it is” is spelled “it’s” with an apostrophe. The possessive pronoun of “it” is spelled “its” with no apostrophe. Not that the commenters really need to watch their spelling, but little mistakes like this in an author’s writing diminishes the credibility, which would be a shame considering all the research done… Sorry to come off as a snoot. Just trying to make the world a better place, one apostrophe (or omission thereof) at a time. :D

    • says

      It’s true. I just recently learned that I had no auto-correct or spell-correct going on my computer. Since I write as I think and I don’t always reread the entries – who knows how many errors are out there over the past year! Never considered a snoot when you’re pointing out an obvious error. Truthfully, I used to be so A-type in these areas that I was almost paralyzed to get the information out there. Now, I prioritize the information and hope for the best when it comes to grammar and spelling. I know, not always the best choice but there’s only 24 hours in a day and I have to choose where my time is best spent. Feel free to correct me whenever you notice an issue. I need all the help I can get!

  12. jorie says

    i’m on a weight loss program just wondering what is the right amout of tofu that i can eat? usually im buying the chinese tofus (the firm ones) they are square shaped about 1inch thick

    • says

      Hi Jorie,
      I would recommend minimizing soybean products in general. If you want to have them as part of your diet – choose only organic, non-GMO, properly prepared options such as tempeh, miso, and natto. If your recipes call for tofu, I would substitute organic tempeh.

  13. Bridgette says

    I wanted to thank you for your article, I noticed quite a few people were straight on your back but I think like anything there are two sides to a story. You can only relay what information you have discovered while researching. I swapped meat for tofu but find swollen breasts, bloated stomach and gas an issue now which has come down to consuming the product. I didn’t think this “health” food would need to be checked for GMO’s or anything of the sort, I just assumed it was healthy because that’s what the nutritionists say. It’s amazing in these countries of abundant food just how terrible and processed it all is, I hope to find my way to healthy, natural foods when I work out exactly what that is since all our fruits and veggies have been modified and pumped full of toxins.

    • says

      Hi Bridgette,
      It is definitely a struggle and requires a lot of research to find the best path for each person. As you noted many people assume a food is healthy because someone of authority or good marketing has told them so. Unfortunately this may or may not be the case. I have no gain from promoting or discouraging consuming a product. I try to provide an unbiased opinion based on the research I can find. If someone disagrees, I wish them the best on their health journey – that’s all I can do. Thank you for taking a moment to connect with me. Good luck in your research endeavors and ultimately your health.

  14. Rekha says

    Hi, your article was a pretty interesting read. I’m just wondering what you would consider to be an appropriate amount of organic tofu/tempeh during the week? I.e. how many servings a week? I’m asking as a vegetarian who needs protein. Cheers.

    • says

      I would only recommend organic tempeh. I would limit it to 4 oz. 3-4 times a week to avoid inflammatory issues with over consuming the same foods. To help with protein you might consider a good smoothie/shake, and sprouted beans. Obviously my preference is high quality pastured animal meat which is good for the human, animal, and earth when properly raised and killed. But, you have to honor your personal choices which can make getting enough high quality protein difficult so plan your meals and track your foods so you know you are properly nourishing your body. Best of luck.

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