Tofu is a vegetarian hero. The healthcare community has long put it on a pedestal, but increasing evidence is showing that this may be far from the truth. We often hear about all the perks this soy-based food has to offer, but is it too good to be true?
When tofu first entered the American diet over 50 years ago, medical experts were baffled by how much calcium, protein and iron it contained. Not only that, but tofu was also gluten-free, low-calorie and had no cholesterol. It was like the holy grail of plant-based health. So why should we shy away from this soy product?
Soy is one of the most genetically modified foods on earth. In fact, in today’s world, 99% of soy is GMO. And yet, many soy products are labeled “non-GMO” or “organic”. How is this possible?
In 2011, the USDA discovered that many organic certifications may have been falsely distributed in China. This is by no means a rare occurrence. Many of the “organic” soy products available in the USA cannot be proven as such. American companies have also begun to be investigated.
Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Tofu is also wreaking havoc on your health.
1. Tofu Contains Phytic Acid
Phytates are moderately found in natural foods such as seeds and nuts. They’ve also begun to be discovered in highly processed foods, especially cereals and tofu.
Phytic Acid reduces iron levels and inhibits its absoption(1). It also latches on to zinc and decreases its bioavailability. In case you didn’t know, zinc deficiency causes your cells to promote inflammation. It’s also one of the most common nutrients we lack. In truth, phytic acid levels in soy reduce assimilation of various minerals such as calcium, magnesium and copper.
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2. Tofu Is Often Unfermented
Soybeans hold toxic phytochemicals that are awful to the human body. So awful, in fact, that they are considered anti-nutrients. These include: phytates, enzyme inhibitors and goitrogens. These elements combine to form the immune system of the plant, protecting it against fungi, bacteria, viruses and solar radiation. They also help keep herbivores from snacking on their host. The fermentation and soaking processes are important because they defeat soy’s natural bodyguards.
A large majority of soy products in grocery stores are unfermented. This includes soy milk and tofu. This means that the anti-nutrients are active, which can cause a multitude of problems such as:
- Digestive distress
- Immune system breakdown
- Reproductive problems for both men and women
- ADD and ADHD
- Higher risk of heart disease
- Higher risk of cancer
- Loss of libido
3. Tofu Contains Enzyme Inhibitors
Enzymes like amylase lipase and protease help break down food to make its nutrients available to the body. Found in unfermented soy, Trypsin interferes with this process. In doing so, it makes the carbs and proteins found in tofu difficult to digest. Bacteria then swoops in and attempts to do the job, causing discomfort, bloating and flatulence. These enzyme inhibitors are particularly potent for elderly people and anyone with low digest enzyme levels.
If you are set on consuming soy, stay away from highly processed products such as « mock meat » or flavoured tofu. Try buying fermented products such as nato, miso, tempeh and fermented tofu instead. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that these products are organic or non-GMO.