Soya's a Has Bean!
When we got wind that Beyoncé dropped her 57lb of Blue Ivy baby weight by munching on soya beans (edamame to you and I) we thought all of our dreams had come true. They’re tasty and come covered in salt – what’s not to love? Lots, if you listen to Tinseltown’s top trainers and a growing number of health experts who believe that these little beans could be doing us some serious damage. So what’s the scoop?
Back in the Day…
We might all be used to tolerating tasteless tofu, slurping soya lattes and enthusiastically inhaling edamame with our sashimi in the name of nutrition, yet, once upon a time, the soya protein that makes up the vast majority of 2013’s soya products – from veggie sausages to soya milk, cheese and yoghurts – was little more than a by-product in the production of soya oil. Until the marketing men got involved.
As the hype surrounding the new wonder product grew, soya fast became the health food of the moment, but all was not as it seemed. “They claimed eating soya could give you stronger bones, control symptoms of the menopause (hot flushes and night sweats) and make you less likely to develop breast, colon and [for men] prostate cancer. But these claims were largely based on research sponsored by the soya companies and on epidemiological studies that show associations between things” reported the Daily Mail in a recent story.
And that’s not all. So-called experts also cited research into the lower rates of heart disease in Asian countries and argued that this was down to the amount of soya Asian people ate, meaning we Westerners could transform our own waistlines and future health by adopting our Asian counterparts’ magical diet. But as far back as 2006 researchers, unlike us, weren’t buying it.
In 2006 an American Heart Association review of a decade-long study of soya’s supposed benefits cast doubt on the claims, and concluded that soya did not reduce menopausal hot flushes in women or help prevent cancer. And that’s not all. “A study at Massachusetts General Hospital’s infertility clinic in 2008, where men were asked to consume various soya products, including tofu, veggie burgers, soya milk and protein shakes, found higher intake of soya foods is associated with lower sperm concentration”. Scary stuff.
So we did a bit more research online, to find out more about our beloved beans, and it’s equally terrifying. Dr Mike Fitzpatrick started investigating the dangers of soya products back in 1991 and spoke to The Guardian in 2006. “We discovered quite quickly that soya contains toxins and plant oestrogens powerful enough to disrupt women’s menstrual cycles in experiments. It also appeared to be damaging to the thyroid.” OMG! The paper added, “The American soya industry spends about US$80m every year to research and promote the consumption of soya around the world,” which leads us to believe that we have been Jedi mind-tricked into eating some kind of Frankenbean. But we’re not alone, the stars are all at it too, as Queen Bey’s baby-weight confession so aptly illustrates.
Luckily, there are a growing number of Hollywood nutritional heavyweights leading the fight back and encouraging their clients, and us, to start to questioning the supposed “health” foods that we’re putting into our bodies.
Celebrity trainer Terri Walsh is one of them. She agrees that soya products are bad news and encourages the high-end clients who train at her gym in New York to avoid them as much as possible. “I advise everyone to try, as much as possible, to stay within the range of natural food,” explains Terri, who gets celebrities and fancy folks in shape for red carpets and special occasions. “The nourishment we derive from them works well with our bodies. Soya is genetically modified, and presents a whole range of inadequately researched consequences. Because of how the beans have been ‘engineered’ our bodies are incapable of assimilating them properly. I’m not saying this makes them in any way inherently dangerous, but what I am saying is, why bother ingesting unnatural products when good, healthy food is available?”
So what do you do if you want to lose some pounds and get healthy and you can’t afford a pricey nutritionist? It’s all about going back to basics in 2013. Forget the gym, just get up and move more; and for food, think about lean meats, fish, nuts and lots of fruit and veggies. If you can’t bear to dodge dairy, which many experts believe you really should, make sure you go for the good quality, full fat stuff and keep the quantities small. If you need a tipple, go for red vino not spirits or pints, and if you can’t do without chocolate, stick to a little bit of the dark stuff. Job done.