After writing about the benefits of soy coffee as a replacement to caffeine, one reader wrote:
”Soy coffee now? YIKES! Gary, I thought you were much more aware of health than to promote soy! You go back to the actual studies which show soybeans do one heck of a lot of damage to the body. Thyroid gets wiped out. Soy blocks the uptake of essential minerals (magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, ec.) and also pollutes the body
with excessive amounts of magnesium (linked to Alzheimer's) as well as manganese.
“I suggest you go read a good overview of the subject that touches on many of the relevant points: www.thedoctorwithin.com (chapter 24 – “The Magic Bean? Soy-tainly Not!”
I have agreed to disagree with this reader and to be skeptical with the anti soy research, but always want to let you see both sides of a story.
However this reader's concerns can teach us much more.
As mentioned, I have read and heard negatives about soy. So the question rises, what does one do when presented with so many pros and cons? Typically a person buries their head in the sand or decides that one side or the other is correct and then gets into a defensive mode that rejects anything other than their decision.
There is more we can do. When this happens to me the first thing I do is to look at my personal experiences. In the case of soy, I began with my memories of living in Asia for six years. We and the locals there ate tons of soy. In fact instead of drinking Coke or Pepsi or some other soft drink, we used to drink bottled Vitasoy, a drink very similar to the soy drink that is now sold in milk cartons. Plus we used to eat dry roasted soy nuts instead of peanuts or other such snacks. I never suffered any of the problems mentioned above. Nor did I see the locals suffering from this either. Since that time I have always eaten soy and my personal experience has been very positive.
The next step is to take the pros and cons into perspective. The message about soy coffee at https://www.garyascott.com/archives/2003/10/29/931/index.html is as much or about a way to reduce the risks of caffeine, more than about the benefits of soy (there are benefits from soy by the way). If you are like me have become addicted from time to time to coffee, you will know that this is an insidious habit to break. Part of my problem with coffee is one that many of us have, the routine of a cup in the morning. So if soy coffee works as a substitute for caffeine, an important question is, “what’s better, coffee or soy?” Compared to the alternatives.
Third, recognize differences. There are enormous differences between individuals. Perhaps soy creates some harmful effects for some while benefiting others (just as caffeine may). There are also enormous differences in soy. Soy, like peanuts are hard to digest. Eating raw or barely processed soy is very different than drinking soy coffee that has been prepared from soy that has been boiled ground and roasted. I had avoided eating peanuts for many years because ayurved teaches us that they are hard to digest and consequently create health problems. Then while living with a shaman in the Andes, I noted that they lived on sauces made from peanuts. I questioned this and learned that they always boil peanuts before eating and never ate roasted peanuts (high in uric acid they claimed). What a shame it would be to ignore a great substitute for caffeine if this were the case.
Fourth, take everything we read and write with a grain of salt, surveys, research and studies. Let’s say the soy research (I have no idea if this is the case, but am just making an example) which suggests it has problems was conducted by a firm called the Nutritional Research Council. How would we feel about this if we learned that this council was owned by the cattle growers association? As we saw above soy is hard to digest. What if the studies that suggest soy has bad qualities used only uncooked soy? Perhaps any hard to digest food wipes out the thyroid, blocks the uptake of essential minerals (magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, etc.) and pollutes the body with excessive amounts of magnesium as well as manganese.
The reality is more likely that some forms of soy, eaten to excess by some people at certain times may create some of the problems above under certain conditions and circumstances, but that soy overall is a time honored food that is consumed en masse daily by billons of people. Also, of course we must watch for genetically altered soy….which is becoming more and more common.
Fifth, never stop thinking or observing what is going on as you try things. The question of genetically altered soy is still out and note that the recipe given in my article is for organic soy. As your diet and circumstances change so too may your nutritional requirements. Always keep in mind the golden rules of all things, “medicine is dose.” Finally never stop observing how you feel and trying to understand why. Remember that conclusions are just spots where we become too tired to keep thinking and feeling.
I have now shared my experiences with soy coffee and passed on the concerns of others so you see both sides of a possible picture. I hope that this sharing will help you as you keep your mind open and experiment to find what makes you feel best. May I recommend my course on Sharing Power? Through this course, we can become free and learn how to test ourselves on any influence. Details are at https://www.garyascott.com/catalog/sharingpower.html
Until next message, may everything you try bring greater joy and life to you.