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Soy Choices

The humble soybean, a staple of

Asian cuisine for centuries, has made

significant inroads among health conscious

consumers in the West.

Soy food products also form the

nutritional foundation for many

vegetarians who have ethical

qualms about eating flesh or who

simply wish to spiritualize the body.

Soy is a nutrient-rich food that contains all of the essential

amino acids required by our bodies, making it a complete

protein. Soy foods are high in fiber with no cholesterol.

In addition to the many vitamins and minerals, soy foods also

contain phytochemical compounds (such as isoflavones) that

have been linked to numerous health benefits.

Notably, the isoflavones in soy lower LDL (bad) cholesterol

and decrease blood clotting which decreases the risk of

heart attack and stroke. Research at the University of Illinois

suggests that soy consumption can help prevent two of the

biggest complications facing people with type 2 diabetes (kidney

disease and heart disease). Soy foods are thought to

enhance the body’s ability to retain and absorb calcium in the

bones, helping to prevent osteoporosis.

One of the popular uses for soy foods and supplements in

recent years is the alleviation of menopausal symptoms. The

isoflavones in soy may help regulate estrogen when this hormone

is fluctuating and declining. There are reports that soy

may also decrease PMS symptoms.

Soy-based foods have been extremely

helpful for persons with lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance results from

the inability of the body to digest a sugar

called lactose that is present in milk and

dairy products. The American Dietetic

Association estimates that between thirty

and fifty million Americans are lactose

intolerant. Symptoms of this common

malady include abdominal gas, bloating,

stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Since soy

does not contain lactose, soy-based dairy

substitutes prevent these annoying digestive

problems.

Soy Questions

The soy-foods’ bandwagon has hit a

couple of road bumps lately. Research

at the University of Illinois suggests that

the well-documented health benefits of

soy consumption in Asian cultures may

be largely lost by processing techniques

used in the West.

In particular, the cancer-fighting qualities

of soy may not only be absent in

Western soy-based foods and supplements,

but the highly processed soy products may actually stimulate the growth

of preexisting estrogen-dependent breast

tumors. The troubling research was performed

on mice and is therefore inconclusive

with regard to humans.

Previous research by a team of Dutch

scientists also highlighted the differences

between highly processed soy foods and

more natural dietary soy foods that are

traditionally consumed in Asia. The

Dutch study did not go as far as suggesting

that processed soy products could be

a risk factor for tumor growth.

Edgar Cayce on Soy

Edgar Cayce discussed soy-based

foods in fifteen readings given for individuals

of all ages. The readings affirm

that soy is the best substitute for meat

(257-252).

One of the prominent themes in this

group of readings is the importance of

each individual’s response to soy. For

example, when asked whether a thirteen year-

old girl should drink soy milk and

not cow’s milk, Cayce stated that this

should be governed by the child’s own

appetite. He noted that at times soy milk

“does not work well with other influences.”

He went on to say that if there

was a desire for soy milk in preference

to cow’s milk, the system would balance

itself out (1206-9).

A nine-year-old girl was told that soy

milk was not preferable to cow’s milk.

Follow-up readings one and two years

later were more favorable toward soy

milk, eventually stating that drinking soy

milk “part of the time as we find is excellent.”

(1179-7) Perhaps the girl’s digestive

system had changed during that

span so as to better assimilate the soy

milk. The theme of individuality was

also present in readings for an eight-year old

boy who was told that, “For this

body, it would be very well” to substitute

soy milk for cow’s milk (1188-7, italics

added). Two other readings for children

(2153-2 and 1206-11) recommended

soy milk.

A couple of curious readings for adults

suggest another peculiar aspect of soy

food digestion related to lifestyle. A

forty-eight-year-old woman struggling with menopause asked if she should drink

soy milk. Cayce responded, “This will

depend much upon the activities of the

body. If there is sufficient of the energies

used for physical activities to make

same more easily assimilated, it is well.

If these energies are used for activities

which are more mental than physical, it

would not be so well.” (1158-18) Clearly,

this reading may be relevant to women

considering soy products for relief of

menopausal symptoms.

A similar sentiment was present in

reading 340-31 given for a forty-seven year-

old woman who asked whether she

should alternate soy bean bread with

whole wheat. Cayce replied, “Soy Bean

bread is wholesome for certain characters

and conditions; provided the body is

to be out in the open, very active, fiery

or dictatorial, then eat Soy Bean bread!

But if it is to remain indoors, with more

of the normal temperamental reactions,

leave it off!” This woman had a longstanding

problem with “spastic colitis”

which we now call irritable bowel syndrome.

These two latter examples suggest that

being physically active may be essential

for the proper assimilation of soy foods

for some individuals.

If including soy foods in your diet

makes sense to you, here are some soy

choices that you can consider:

  • Choose natural soy products that
    are processed as little as possible.
  • Pay attention to your body’s individual
    response to soy foods.
  • Include soy as part of a broadly
    balanced diet with emphasis on fruits and
    vegetables.
  • Make outdoor exercise a part of
    your lifestyle as much as reasonably possible.

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