December 17, 2017

In Defense of God and Soy

Joy Kauffman, MPH

Soy just got real personal for me. For years I've been telling people the fact that more than one-cup of soymilk each day can reduce men's chances of prostate cancer by 70%.[1]  Just last week my dad, who's taken most my health advice but has never been a fan of soy, was diagnosed with prostate cancer, an aggressive kind.  Fears of soy lead many men, 88% in the same study, to reject it outright.

Soy is also personal for me because I work on behalf of the malnourished in Uganda where soy is the only affordable source of high-quality protein for the poor. No other plant-based food contains all nine essential amino acids required for human nutrition.   Lack of knowledge about soy’s value causes many families who grow it not to give it to their own children, 35% of whom are chronically malnourished. 

You can hardly say the word soy these days without starting a debate. Many Americans, are wondering if soybeans are even a positive factor in the diet. We should know better.  National Geographic research identified Loma Linda as a Blue Zone, a hotspot of health and longevity.  Researcher Dan Buettner found that for the Seventh-day Adventists who live there, soybeans are one of their superfoods.[2]  Longevity of the Blue Zone residents in Okinawa Japan was attributed to the soybean as well.  Buettner says the simple act of eating beans can add 4 years of life. So something about the bean is incredible.


Soy is proven to help prevent many forms of cancers[3] and even bone loss leading to osteoporosis[4], yet many of us are passing the soymilk and choosing other non-dairy alternatives.  Has anyone noticed that there are zero grams of protein in all the other “milks” including almond, flax, coconut, and cashew? For vegetarian, and especially vegans, the high-quality protein in soymilk, 8 grams per cup, should not be passed by. 


I’ll hand it to the critics, most of the soy consumed in this country is both genetically modified and highly processed. Neither of which, I would argue, are appropriate for this seed that is a brilliant gift from God.  Soy is also criticized for containing anti-nutritional factors, like phytic acid, that inhibit the absorption of the nutrients. When I asked God “why?” I believe He revealed truth that is now benefiting thousands in Uganda.  I hope it will benefit your family as well.


When soybeans, and other seeds, dry in advance of harvest, their nutrients become less and less bioavailable. This is a blessing because, without that fact, the seeds would spoil rather than store over the winter. Human survival beyond tropical latitudes would be impossible without the seed’s ability to lock its nutrients up tight.  Think of Jacob storing seeds in Egypt for seven years!


But just as a farmer in the spring plants the seeds in wet soil warmed by the sun we too can increase the bioavailability of the nutrients through soaking and heating the seeds.  While all grains and legumes benefit from a soak, soy needs 10-12 hours to activate the enzymes that make its nutrients available.  A twenty-minute boil and you have a superfood!  From those beans you can make your own milk, tofu, or just keep boiling to eat them like any other bean. Their yellow color gives it the image of being a pot of gold and it is, packed with fiber, minerals, and amino acids, this treasure is unique.

So enjoy the soy, there is power in the pulse!

[1] Jacobsen B, Knutsen S, Fraser G “Does high soy milk intake reduce prostate cancer incidence? The Adventist Health Study (United States)” Cancer Causes and Control, 1998, 9, 553-557.

[2] Dan Buettner, Blue Zones; The science of living longer. National Geographic, Washington DC, 2016. P 35 &23.

[3] Messina, M, Messina, V, Detchell, K.  The Simple Soybean and Your Health, Avery Publishing Group, New York, 1994.

[4] Vichuda LousuebsakulMatthewsabSynnove F.KnutsenaW. LawrenceBeesonaGary E.Frasera “Soy milk and dairy consumption is independently associated with ultrasound attenuation of the heel bone among postmenopausal women: the Adventist Health Study–2” Nutrition Research Volume 31, Issue 10, October 2011, Pages 766-775

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Joy Kauffman, MPH
Joy is the passionate founder of FARM STEW.