By Dr. (Shihan) Bolz
Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Master Martial Arts Instructor, 6th Degree Black Belt
Let’s take a look at a very valuable foodstuff for the human race. Of recent times, the lowly soybean has been taking much flack from the Western dietetics community, allopathic medicine community and the proponents of what is called in recent times, the “Paleo Diet.”
Soybeans were first cultivated in China, where, according to one theory, they have been employed as food for humans for more than five thousand years. This could very well be true. The soybean, in one of its fermented forms is one of the herbal substances in a Traditional Chinese Medicine Pharmacy, called “dan dou chi” in Mandarin. It is most often used as one of the herbs in a well-balanced herbal formula for conditions known as “wind heat diseases” in Traditional Chinese Medicine (referred to as TCM for future reference). These include the infectious diseases such as flu, sore throat, respiratory infections, etc., used at the beginning stage of these diseases before they have reached an advanced stage. It is thought that TCM had its beginnings as much as five thousand years ago, also. We do know of very certain, that TCM was an organized medicinal science 2,500 years ago, because this is when the doctors started recording in writing in books, the functions and properties of myriad of herbs in a systematic manner and how to diagnose diseases and use them. Before that time, they caved many formulas in Chinese characters on bone.
The Chinese have developed a wide variety of processed soybean foods that continue to play a part in their diet today. These foods may be broadly divided into two classes: those originating with soy milk and employing no microorganisms (tofu and processed versions of it); and those that employ microorganisms (miso, soy sauce, and fermented tofu).
In Japan, in addition to these traditional Chinese ways of preparing them, soybeans are used in “kinako” (roasted soy flour), dried-frozen tofu (koya-tofu), and “natto, all of which are distinctively Japanese products. The cultivation of soybean sprouts was brought in from China, to Japan, as was the method for pressing soybeans to extract oil.
Since before World War II, however, the petroleum-solvent method has been employed to extract soy oil for use in cooking and in the preparation of soy margarine and shortenings. This should send a red flag waving in front of your eyes. In the past, in Japan and China, defatted soybeans remaining after oil extraction were used as fertilizer and animal feed and are still used today, as well as in the United States, to make concentrated feed for pigs and chickens. You probably can also find it in your pet’s food! Dogs and cats are more carnivores and should not be fed these products.