Members of this community must have a soft spot for white colored beverages. Just likecoconut milk, we have received many requests to officially tackle soy milk. Well today is the lucky day, as we delve into what soy is, what it isn’t, and of course is it paleo?
The soy debate seems to date back as far as the Paleolithic era itself. The Paleo diet technically excludes dairy of any kind since commercial dairy was not available to the primal hunter and gatherer. Enter soy, which has been around in various forms for thousands of years. It has the legacy, but does it have the proper contents?
What Is Soy Milk?
Soy has been touted as a healthier alternative (there’s that word again) to meat and dairy products due to its lack of saturated fat and lower calorie count. But as most Paleo followers know, it’s not all about fat and calories. This crucial point is what keeps soy swinging between different sides of the same health debate. The point of Paleo is to eliminate modern man’s processed and altered goods and consume real, whole foods that don’t contain harmful chemicals, pesticides, GMOs, and additives.
Soy milk is generally pretty easy on the digestive tract, and when grown without GMOs and properly fermented, soy can be an excellent alternative to those simply avoiding dairy. Even though most brands of soy milk avoid GMO soy, soy beans are still legumes that contain many compounds that are hard on the stomach and harmful to our natural hormone balance. At the end of it all, soy remains a legume no matter what form it is in.
Is Soy Paleo?
No, soy milk is not Paleo. Mark’s Daily Apple shows that it’s potentially pretty bad for you unless you are getting whole, minimally prepared soy. If you need to get your milk fix on the Paleo diet, look to either homemade almond milk or pure coconut milk instead. They are great substitutes both in flavor and texture, and work well in most recipes.
Bonus Round: Soy Caution
If you do eat soy, what should you know and why should you avoid processed soy at all costs?
- Phytic Acid – soy is high in phytic acid, which blocks mineral absorption (calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron).
- GMO – Nearly all soy is genetically modified, and it ranks highest among pesticide contamination of any crop.
- Processing – soy needs preparation/processing before it’s ready to eat. Think high temperature heating, acid washing, metal-leaching tanks.
- Cancer – Primarily breast cancer due to phytoestrogens (soy isoflavones) that can contribute to the growth of tumors in the breast and uterus. Would primarily worry about GMO soy in this category, as studies are focused on isolated isflavones instead of whole soy.
Mark Sisson states that whole forms of soy, particularly tempeh and miso, could have a place in a well-rounded diet, but cautions you to be mindful of the common soy concerns listed above.