The recent history of soy in the Western diet has been a turbulent one, from its status as a non-food item in the early 20th century through its transition to a health food in the last few decades of that century to current concerns over its high content of natural estrogen mimics.
What many debates over the nature of soy fail to take into account is that soy-based foods are neither healthy nor unhealthy; it all depends on the processing.
The soy bean itself is highly unhealthy for human consumption. In addition to potentially dangerous levels of phytoestrogens, it contains exceptionally high levels of chemicals that bind to the nutrients in the bean, preventing their absorption. Soy derivatives such as soy protein are even worse, as they are isolated from the rest of the nutrients in the bean and have usually been extracted with toxic chemicals.
Traditional cultures developed two major ways to bypass this problem: fermentation and curdling. Both are ancient techniques for changing the fundamental nutritional makeup of foods. These processes are what transform soy (the dangerous food) into the healthful products of tofu, tempeh, miso and soy sauce that have played a major role in the diets of many Asian cultures for hundreds of years.
Author: David Gutierrez