If you’re a meat-eater, you may have never tasted tofu. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, however, tofu might be a regular part of your diet. But do you know what tofu is? If you’ve ever wondered, what is tofu, you’re not alone. Also called bean curd, tofu is made by curdling soy milk. Then, the end result is pressed into soft, white blocks. Some people say tofu is a health food. However, while tofu contains nutrients, the truth is that tofu isn’t as healthy as you might think.. In fact, despite the healthy components tofu contains, the negative effects far outweigh the good.
You may now have more of an understanding to the question, “what is tofu.” Now let’s look at some of the ways in which tofu can compromise your health.
This Is How Tofu Damages Your Body:
1. It Contains GMO’s
At least 90% of all soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. The majority of soy products are made from Monsanto Roundup Ready soybeans, which are genetically engineered. GMO foods are linked to numerous health problems. GMO’s kill off the good bacteria in your gut, damaging your digestive system.
2. It Contains Phytoestrogens
To further answer the question “what is tofu,” it also can potentially cause breast cancer. This is because soy contains plant-based estrogens that block normal estrogen production in the body. These compounds have been linked to several health issues, including breast cancer. Some studies suggest that soy feeds certain breast cancers due to its ability to behave like estrogen.
3. It Disrupts The Thyroid
Soy contains goitrogenic compounds. These compounds block thyroid hormones and can interfere with thyroid hormone production, leading to hypothyroidism. Studies suggest that the intake of soy products can negatively affect the body, starting at a very early age. A 2004 study showed that infants who were fed soy formula had a prolonged increase of thyroid stimulating hormone, compared to infants fed non-soy formula. (1)
4. It Can Cause Cognitive Problems
Soy tofu has been linked with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A study published in Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders found that eating high amounts of tofu was linked to a worse memory. (2) Another study found a significant relationship between two or more servings of tofu per week and “accelerated brain aging.” (3)
5. It Can Cause Digestive Difficulty
Soy products that are not fermented contain strong enzyme inhibitors. These block the action of the pancreatic enzyme trypsin, along with other proteolytic enzymes that the body needs for protein digestion. Enzyme inhibitors disrupt a healthy digestive process and can cause problems with the pancreas.
6. It May Contribute To Heart Issues
Researches looked into the effect of a soy-rich diet on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. This condition makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. While tofu is often marketed as a heart-healthy food, this study showed the opposite results. Researchers found that a soy-rich diet worsened HCM, This suggests that it may instead have profound negative effects on the heart. (4)
Tofu contains phytate, which is what gives tofu its firm texture. (9) Phytate is problemlatic because it’s an antinutrient, which interferes with how your body absorbs nutrients and causes a mess of symptoms. And phytate isn’t the only antinutrient in soy.
Here is a list of harmful antinutrients soy products contain:
- Lectins and saponins — these can cause leaky gut syndrome and other gastrointestinal and immune issues
- Oligosaccharides — these cause gas, and is why soy is often called the “king of musical fruits.”
- Oxalates — these can promote kidney stones and vulvodynia.
- Protease inhibitors — these keep you from digesting protein properly. Furthermore, they can cause i malnutrition, poor growth, digestive distress and pancreatitis
- Phytates — as mentioned above. These block mineral absorption, and as such, can lead to zinc, iron and calcium deficiencies.
And you should probably know that cooking does not reduce these effects. Fermentation, however, can reduce soy’s antinutrients.
8. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D Deficiencies
Soy contains compounds that resemble vitamin B12. However, your body can’t use them in the same way it would use real vitamin B12. As such, those who eat tofu for vitamin B12 will find themselves coming up short. If you do not eat animal protein, be sure to get your vitamin B12 elsewhere.
Furthermore, soy foods that are not fermented can contribute to an already widespread vitamin D deficiency! Soy products like tofu can actually increase your body’s need for vitamin D, making you more susceptible for a deficiency.
Now that you know the answer to the question “what is tofu,” and you know how horrible it is for your health, you may be wondering what else you can eat. If you’re in search of a healthier meatless option, there are a couple of good alternatives you can try.
You might try natto, which is a fermented soy food that has several health benefits. For example, studies show it can lower blood pressure. (15) Furthermore, natto is an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Natto also creates an enzyme called nattokinase, which produces vitamin K2.
You might also try tempeh, which is also made from fermented soybeans. It uses the whole soybean, which gives it a higher protein content. Tempeh can also reduce cholesterol, increase bone density, reduce symptoms of menopause and promote muscle recovery. Moreover, tempeh has the same protein quality as meat. It also has high levels of vitamins B5, B6, B3, and B2.
While both of these alternatives are made from soy, the key difference is that they are fermented, making it healthier for consumption. If you encounter a recipe that calls for tofu, simply substitute with either of these alternatives. And the next time someone asks “what is tofu?”, you will be able to confidently tell them what it is and why they should avoid it!
Watch the video below for more information about the dangers of soy: