This week’s recipe is a delicious and simple Tofu Fried Rice Recipe. This recipe contains controversial food: soy. Soy has been vilified as an evil food in autoimmune and functional medicine communities. While it is not for everyone, and it is a common allergen, for people that do not have a sensitivity to it, it has many benefits that are overlooked, and it is good to be smart about how to use it to rip the benefits while avoiding soy’s detriments. Tofu should also be tolerated during SIBO, but do not go overboard. Most importantly, first, make sure you are not allergic to it. I hope this article will shed some light on the soy controversy. This recipe should be really simple and enjoyable for those that are ok with occasional tofu like I am.
Soy is not Soy is not Soy
Here are the most relevant things about soy I want you to know:
- Soy is highly allergenic, most likely because of how we have overused it in the US, especially in the last 20 years- it has been added to so many food products and has been used as soy oil in so many restaurants; also we have been exposed to genetically modified soy for about that long, most of the time not knowing it because it is so insidious in the food chain (even farmed animals are fed GMO soy now, and you eat their meat). Claims in research are emerging that soy and gluten sensitivities (as well as food sensitivities in general) have skyrocketed along with the consumption of GMO foods including soy, especially due to BT toxin in GMO corn and glyphosate in GMO soy. I agree based on the research I have seen, especially with the rapid increase in gluten sensitivity. Also, keep in mind, that you may be especially sensitive to soy if you were on soy formula as an infant. If that happened, the soy used in that formula most likely was from GMO soy, unless it was more than 20 years ago.
- Processed Soy: stay away. I want you to stay away from highly processed products that are soy-derived. Soy milk, infant soy formulas, soy protein powders, soy concentrates, soy oil, and soy isolates often contain denatured proteins and/or isolated proteins without the necessary nutrient cofactors of digestion and metabolism; thus, they generally do not promote enduring health. Soy oil is high in inflammatory Omega 6 and is refined, which means it is treated with hexane, a neurotoxin. We are not meant to eat any of that. This is good for someone’s business but not for human health.
- Only buy organic or at least GMO-free soy; this is really the only way to avoid GMO soy and pesticides at the same time. You can also find GMO-free certified soy that is not organic, but it will still not be pesticide-free. If you eat out and want to avoid meat or seafood in an Asian restaurant, the tofu or miso maybe your choice, but these will most likely not be organic or GMO-free. You want to ask the owner or the manager if they use GMO-free soy. I have been pleasantly surprised on occasion by the manager bringing me a box of tofu with the non-GMO label on it.
- Fermented soy is preferred soy. Consume soy in the form we can assimilate. Even cooking does not prevent soybeans from inhibiting the digestive enzyme trypsin, making them difficult to digest. Fermentation is what eliminates the beans’ trypsin-inhibiting effect. Fermented soy: miso soup, miso paste added to recipes, tamari soy sauce, or tempeh. Annato is fermented soy, but that is a very acquired taste and not something readily available in the US. Fermented form is how soy had been consumed traditionally for hundreds of years in Asia, until we have decided in this country to adulterate it and run half of the farming industry on it and put it in any possible foods. Tofu is not exactly fermented, but it is well tolerated by those that are ok with soy, so it is ok once in a while. I have seen organic tofu made from sprouted soy, so try that! Miso and tempeh will be the most beneficial and nourishing sources, again if you are not allergic to soy. Tempeh is a fermented cake of soy mixed with grain, most often rice, but it can also be barley, which contains gluten, so check ingredients before you buy it if you have to avoid gluten.
Soy Benefits for Women
Soy phytoestrogens, which include isoflavone genistein, daidzein, and glycitein, are well studied to be highly beneficial for women. These phytoestrogens bind to estradiol receptors, which can be found in the uterus, breast, brain, bone and arteries. They are known to mimic estrogens in certain tissues; they are also known to block the effect of estrogens. This slight effect is protective and very different from pseudo-estrogenic effect of chemicals. According to recent studies its phytoestrogens may protect against atherosclerosis, PMS, bone loss and menopausal difficulties.
Soy phytoestrogens play a beneficial role in women. It has been noted by physicians that women who consumed soy protein daily for one year reported reduction in breast tenderness and FBD (forearm bone density) by using breast-enhanced scintigraphy test imaging. Soy can also help with reduction in hot flashes and/or night sweats.
While there were older studies suggesting that soy may increase risk of cancer, this is not consistent with current research. On the contrary, soy isoflavones have a beneficial anti-cancer modulation, and even lower PSA levels.
Asian diet contains frequent soy in small amounts, and that includes 2 teaspoons, 8 grams, or up to one ounce of soy a day – 30-80 mg of soy isoflavones daily (or 1 to 3 servings daily). The amount of isoflavones included in this diet is enough to help stabilize bone density, decrease total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, homocysteine and blood pressure.
Other Benefits of Traditional Fermented and non-GMO Soy
Soy helps strengthens the spleen-pancreas and help restore pancreatic function and promotes clear vision; it is diuretic, lowers fever, is highly alkalizing, and helps eliminate toxins from the body. It is also beneficial for nursing mothers and helps boost milk secretion. It has been used as a remedy for dizziness, childhood malnourishment (especially in the form of tempeh and soy milk), skin eruptions, constipation, edema, excessive fluid retention and toxemia during pregnancy and food poisoning. Soybeans are a natural source of lecithin- also known as a brain food.
Last but not least, soybean is also known as the “beef” of China due to its extensive use and high protein content (38%) and the fact that it is a complete protein like meat. It contains more protein than milk without the saturated fat or cholesterol. It contains essential fatty acids (including omega-3).
Enjoy this easy Tofu Fried Rice dish! Looking for more recipes with functional nutrition benefits? We have many more on the recipe blog here!
**To learn how to get rid of arsenic in rice, read more here.
Now to our recipe!
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