Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pass The Tofu? Tofu Myth Debunked

Okay. I'll agree, the title reads like a headline for the newspaper, but I just had to write about it. In the world of healthy eaters there are the vegans, the no gluten peeps, the hell-no tofu-ers, and many more. As I always say on this blog, let your body guide YOU. I can't possibly tell you what is best for your body. I can continue to use my body and life as an experiment and report back. With that said, I made a mission in 2011 to get buff...yes buff...lean and mean and fierce. I also aimed to start off slowly. Because I took most of 2010 "off" from exercise while caring for and recovering Kennedy from brain surgery....getting back on the wheel meant slow and steady CONSISTENT movement.

I've always loved little iron pills...and I want nothing more than for you to bite the iron pill bullet. Go to Target and get some snazzy 8 and 10 lbsers or maybe 5s and 8s to start and let's get to work sculpting the best body ever!---okay Advertisement over ;-)
Anywho, when I had my leanest body ever just two short years ago tofu was a main staple in my diet. I can admit I was eating tofurky jerky (yum), and tofurky slices and lots of soy yogurt. I gave a big X to the soy yogurt, but have found my sites set on tofu. Now...Kennedy is mainly soy free, but I throw tofu in the mix every now and again...ya know...spice it up. I know to some "tofu" is hardly spicing it up, but in this ultra-vegan hippie household--IT IS!
I am a researcher and love to find things out for myself. So I set out on a mission to debunk this "tofu myth". I went to online Harvard (aka Google) and set out on a mission to get the scoop straight from the edamame's mouth: Is tofu good for you or is it bad for you?

To my pleasant (and confused) surprise...tofu rocks! Oh yea oh yea. And even if it fucks over most just LOVES me and my abs and my biceps...and my quads (I digress) ;-)

Yahoo had this as a topic: Is Tofu Bad for You?
I found an amazing article on Is Soy/Tofu Good or Bad for You

You can't change the past, but every day is an opportunity to rewrite your future. ~Tony Hsi
You may not know this, but soy foods are controversial. Some people think tofu is abominable because of the way it tastes, but if you look around on the internet, there are sources that think it is evil and "life-endangering". I had to investigate since I love tofu and don't want to endanger my life. After all, I gave up Cheetos and processed foods (which I love much more than tofu) because they're unhealthy. There's no way I'm going to endanger my life over tofu.
Traditionally, foods made from soybeans - tofu, soy milk, miso, tempeh, etc. - have been considered low-fat, protein-rich health foods. However, if you search the web, you will find several articles that say soy is an unhealthy (if not downright evil) food. What's up with that? Let's look at the evidence on both sides. First, the facts:
Soy foods are considered good protein and calcium sources, so a lot of vegetarians and lactose-intolerant people turn to them for those nutrients. For a 3.5 oz serving (same size as a serving of meat), the organic tofu in my fridge provides 5 gm fat (7.5% DV or daily recommended value on a 2000 calorie diet), 10 gm protein (18.75% DV), 2.5 gm total carbohydrates (1.25% DV), 7.5% DV of calcium, 7.5% of DV iron, and 100 calories.
Why people are proponents of soy as a health
Non-meat protein and calcium source

Lowers LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), 2007 study from National Institute of Health and Nutrition, Tokyo, Japan

Isoflavones (compound in soy), reduces the risk of initial and recurring breast cancer, Wall Street Journal

Why people think soy is unhealthy:
It impairs thyroid function (unlike the others, there is some basis for this one - soy may impact you if you have a thyroid dysfunction - so avoid)

Unfermented soy prevents protein and nutritional absorption due to phytic acid and trypsin inhibitors

It causes mental degradation due to aluminum absorbed in soy

Phytoestrogens add hormones (plant version of the female hormone estrogen)

Weston A. Price and Dr. Mercola are main proponents of the soy is evil thinking. The studies above and Dr. Weil make these people seem wacko.
What to believe? I looked deep inside myself (not usually a source of answers), but I found some in my genetics. I am Taiwanese, and my people have been eating tofu, soy milk, and miso for centuries.
The anti-soy articles (like this one by Nourished Magazine which is particularly nuts) just don't seem to have a grasp on reality. They often state:
Asians eat very little soy products (7 grams a day), and if so, it is always fermented. Have any of these people lived in an Asian home? Do they know any Asians? I happen to know a lot of Asians that I'm related to, but I know even more that that of all types. Soy products are pounded on a regular basis. Bowls of hot soy milk are served for breakfast in Taiwan. Koreans have stews that are tofu stews. No one I know has a tiny 7 grams a sitting. This is bogus.

Phytoestrogens will lower sperm count and feminize boys. And 100 gms of soy protein have the equivalent of one contraceptive pill. Last time I checked, Asia was being accused of overpopulation - China even enacted a one child rule. There doesn't seem to be any low sperm count there. I don't think a feminized male could have kids. And I dare you to use soy protein as a contraceptive (not really, that would just be stupid). If soy was superfeminizing, you would think that the average Asian women would have the figure of Pamela Anderson Lee (post-surgery). Riiiight. There are more real hormones fed to industrial cattle than the tiny amount of plant hormones in soy.

Soy causes Alzheimers and dementia, and causes you to die earlier. After centuries of eating lots of soy, there is no evidence of any of those things in Asia, and the population with the highest longevity is the Japanese.

So, after filtering the evidence through common sense and empirical evidence, MindfulEats will confidently say soy (fermented or not) is good for you as long as you're not allergic to it or have a thyroid disorder.
What to do - Eat Soy in Moderation

Some people should avoid soy. If you have a soy allergy, a thyroid disorder, iodine deficiency (very rare) or hate the taste, then avoid it. If your body doesn't react well to it, avoid it. In terms of taste, I love tofu and can't abide the taste of soy milk. My brother likes soy milk but can't stand tofu.

Buy only organic and non-genetically modified (GMO) soy products. Actually, a food that is certified organic is not supposed to be GMO so you're getting both. Soy is a large industrial crop that is heavily treated, which is why you want organic.

Soy products (except for edamame) are processed foods. So you may want to go light on them. The anti-soy contingent is generally ok with fermented soy foods like tempeh and miso, but they're wacky.

Use soy as a protein source, but like everything else, make sure you not eating it to the exclusion of other foods. Eat a WIDE variety of whole foods to get a full range of nutrition.

Pro-soy Contingent: Dr. Weil, clinical research above
Anti-soy Contingent:Weston A. Price, Dr. Mercol

I believe in you. I believe in me. I believe that 2011 can be the best best best possible year yet. You can cross that thin silver line that lies between who you are and who you know your truest self to be. It all begins and ends with what you put into your mouth. Yes it does! Do I eat cake? Hell yea? Do I eat coolies? Absolutely. I'm eating two right now. But I am now in a much better spiritual place where I am careful about what I put into my God Pod because I deserve to be healthy. My body is NOT  garbage site! I shouldn't just drop shit in there that has a shelf life longer than Gulf War. (Trust me this took me years and years and years to grasp), but through journaling, painting, dancing, writing and crying I realized that it all fundamentally boiled down to what I thought I was worth. GASP.!!!!! Who wants to admit that? Well, I didn't, but the second that I did...I started making oatmeal raising cookies from scratch (add agave SANS sugar) and strawberry shortcake with FRESH strawberries and I literally had my cake and ate it too.

I want this for you. I want that deeply rooted, glorious sense of purpose and self-worth that sees junk food as exactly what it called = junk aka shit aka fat-inducing-artery-clogging-shit that will stick to your ass and in your colon for long after you finish chewing. You are worth it. You are worth so much more than any momentary satisfaction you think is being provided by that 15 minute "binge" with crappy food. Plan for your treats. Make them or get them from the best sources. Spend a little cash and order a box of vegan or raw vegan treats and gobble away! Because you're worth it! No I didn't steal that from the Revlon commercial!

In spirit of what I wrote today (and my lack of funds to buy a gift) I am going to give away TWO small boxes of treats. All vegan, some raw! Leave a comment below and you'll be in the drawing! Tell me your favorite "clean treat".

I love you guys. Really I do "because you love you".



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