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Originally published January 6 2010

When it comes to soy, don't blame the bean; blame the processing

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) One of the strangest behaviors I've ever seen in the natural health crowd is something I call "Soy Rage." It's an angry reaction that wells up in some people every time they hear me recommend natural, non-GMO, home-made soy milk.

People get angry about it. Downright nasty at times. They insist all soy is bad for you and there's no such thing as "healthy soy." To that, I say stop blaming the plant.

Blame the processing. (And the slash-and-burn farming...)

Processed soy is atrociously bad for you

Based on everything I've learned over the last decades or soy, I believe that processed soy products are atrociously bad for you. I wouldn't touch a carton of Silk with a ten-foot straw. Processed tofu is a nutritious joke, and when it comes to soy protein, I've already published numerous articles exposing the toxins found in conventional processed soy protein.

Processed soy, like lots of processed things, is quite bad for your health.

But natural soy, grown organically (and locally, where possible), can actually be quite good for you. Natural soy milk, made right at home, has been part of the healthy traditional Chinese diet for thousands of years. Some of its plant-based nutrients have very powerful anti-cancer elements that can help prevent both prostate and breast cancers. Natural, non-GMO soy has some very positive properties and can play an important role in a healthy disease-preventing diet.

But the Soy Rage people don't see it that way. To them, all soy is bad for you, end of discussion.

It's an ignorant belief. It's like saying "all sugar is bad for you."

Well, not really. When I take a machete and cut some living sugar cane stalks here in Ecuador, and I take them to a sugar cane juicing machine and squeeze out all the green juice, with all its minerals and phytonutrients, and then I enjoy that amazing beverage, it's very good for me! Drinking raw sugar cane juice is a lot like drinking wheat grass juice (sugar cane is actually a grass) except it tastes way better.

Sugar is a lot like soy: When it's unprocessed and natural, it's quite good for you. When it's processed and modified, it's bad!

Lots of things are good for you BEFORE they're processed

Many people in the natural health arena need a better understanding of this: There are lots of things that are quite good for you in their unprocessed form. It's the processing that makes them bad for you.

For example:

Processed sugar cane is bad. Raw sugar cane is good.

Processed salt is bad. Unprocessed, full-spectrum sea salt is good.

Processed cow's milk is bad. Fresh, raw cow's milk is good.

Processed chocolate can be a junk food. Raw, natural cacao is a superfood!

Processed wheat is bad for you. Stone-ground whole wheat can be good for you.

Processed soy milk is bad. Natural, home-made soy milk is good.

Processed cheese is bad. Natural, home-made cheese is far less so.

Processed (canned) fruits are bad. Raw, fresh fruits are good for you.

You see, it's not the food itself that's good or bad -- it's the processing! And sadly, virtually all the foods consumed by most consumers today are highly processed.

What happens when you "process" food

So what's the problem with processing food anyway? When you process food, five very bad things happen:

#1 - Minerals are stripped out, such as 98% of the magnesium being stripped out of wheat when it's milled and bleached into white flour.

#2 - Phytonutrients are destroyed. As much as 90% of the phytonutrient content is lost during processing. (And remember, phytonutrients are the disease-fighting medicines found in foods.)

#3 - The physical properties of foods are artificially altered in a way that makes them dangerous. The homogenization of milk, for example, alters the fat molecules in milk, giving them properties that contribute to heart disease and clogged arteries. Partially-hydrogenated oils are also the result of a physical alteration that makes food dangerous for your health.

#4 - Calories are concentrated. When you process corn into High Fructose Corn Syrup, for example, you are concentrating calories in an unnatural way that then promotes diabetes and obesity.

#5 - Nutrient diversity is destroyed. In nature, every orange has a slightly different spectrum of nutrients, but by the time thousands of oranges are processed into orange juice, that natural variation has been lost. Processed food "standardization" is bad for you health because your body needs nutrient variety, not nutrient conformity.

These five alterations turn a once-healthy food into a disease-promoting food. Once again, it's not the food, it's the processing that determines its health status.

So what about soy?

Getting back to the soy question, if you drink soy milk as it has been traditionally made in Asia for thousands of years, it's good for you in moderation. If you drink processed, pasteurized, standardized garbage soy milk beverages made from pesticide-ridden soybeans (or GM soy), then you're just being duped.

Real soy milk, by the way, only lasts a couple of days in the refrigerator. It goes bad very quickly because it's real food. But processed soy milk lasts a long, long, long time without going sour. That makes me suspicious: Why won't bacteria eat this stuff?

And one of the best bits of food advice I can give you is simple this: If bacteria won't eat it, you probably shouldn't either.

Anything that has a long shelf life, in other words, is probably laced with toxic chemicals or completely devoid of nutrients. So don't eat it or drink it. That goes for margarine, processed cheese "food" (a hilarious misnomer if I've ever heard one) and processed soy milk.

The GOOD soy milk

One brand of soy milk I do trust is Eden Soy. ( Their soy products have been through all kinds of scrutiny and passed with flying colors. They even received high scores from the Cornucopia Institute's Behind the Bean report:

Here's the soy scorecard you'll want to see:

Notice which brands have all the crap ratings? They're the most popular brands: Gardenburger (yuck!), Silk (are you kidding me?), Westsoy (ugh), Boca Burgers (choke!), and O Organics (do they think we're stupid?).

The best brands were Eden Soy, Vermont Soy, Unisoya and many others that you can see for yourself on the scorecard.

So please help me get the word out to those who suffer from Soy Rage -- it's not the plant, it's the processing! Soy can be really good, or soy can be really bad. It all depends on how you grow it and process it.

It's really the same story with almost every food. Corn can be wholesome and healthy, or it can be made into liquid junk foods (HFCS). Same story with sugar, too. In fact, it's pretty darned ignorant to run around making blanket statements like, "All ___ is bad" (fill in the blank with whatever natural plant you wish).

I trust and believe that NaturalNews readers are the discerning type of people who recognize that the processing makes all the difference.

Don't believe food company health claims

Of course, processed food companies exploit the confusion to try to position their highly processed junk foods as healthy foods. They proclaim, "Made with soy!" Or "Made with omega-3s!" Yeah, but they're probably all oxidized and nutritionally worthless by the time you open the box that's been on the shelf for four months.

My advice? Stop believing anything the food companies say and simply think for yourself. If it's processed, packaged and made with a long list of un-pronouncable ingredients, it's almost certainly really, really bad for you. Avoid anything that's pasteurized, homogenized, hydrogenated or autolyzed and you'll live a whole lot longer.

And don't be afraid of good soy products. They can actually be quite healthy for you when consumed in moderation. I don't recommend drinking soy all day long every day, of course. There's a sensible limit on everything. But drinking some organic, trusted soy milk as part of your breakfast is perfectly healthy. In fact, it has some health benefits that are very clearly noted in the scientific literature.

Soy farming

The real downside to soy isn't the plant itself, but rather the slash-and-burn farming practices surrounding soy. In order to grow soy, farmers in Brazil and other South American countries are destroying the Amazon rainforest.

Here's a good article by Lester Brown that summarizes the scope of the destruction:

Some of this blame, of course, rests with U.S. soy product companies that have stopped buying soybeans from American farmers and resorted to cheaper, imported soybeans grown in areas that used to be pristine rainforest. That's why the Behind the Bean report mentioned above is so valuable: It helps clue us in on the origins of the soybeans used in various soy products.

The biggest consumer of soy, however, is indirectly the meat industry. That's because most of the soy grown in the world ends up used in animal feed. So the single biggest step that consumers can take right now to save the Amazon rainforest is to stop eating meat that's raised on soybeans. That alone would curb soy production and put a halt to the destruction of the Amazon.

For those who choose to eat soy, it's important to know where your soy comes from. If possible, buy soy products made from soybeans grown within your own country. The products may be more expensive than ones made from cheap slash-and-burn agricultural practices in the Amazon, but they make a lot more economic sense when you consider the bigger picture.

The Amazon rainforest, of course, offers huge economic benefits when it is left intact and living. But those economic benefits don't appear on any accounting tables or GDP figures, so they are largely ignored. But the simple truth is that we're all better off with the Amazon rainforest alive than dead.

Want to save the Amazon? Eat less meat (raised on soybeans). And when you consume soy products, don't buy products made from soy grown in what used to be the Amazon rainforest.

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