Some of you (you know who you are) can’t conceive of starting the day until after your first cup of coffee. I’m all-too-well acquainted with the allure of a cup of well-made coffee, and I honor the ritual involved.
But if any of you are interested in an alternative, might I suggest a cup or a bowl of hot miso soup? True, miso soup contains no caffeine, but there’s something about it which is both soothing and mildly stimulative at the same time. Compared to coffee, miso soup is a nutritional powerhouse, containing as it does fiber, protein, zinc, vitamin K and omega 3 fatty acids.
I used to drink coffee in the morning; loved my cup of java to jump start the day. Then not too long ago, I got an intestinal disturbance which kept me from having that, or much of anything else for several days. When the bout was over, I found I couldn’t easily tolerate coffee anymore. So, I switched to tea. Except for being a warm liquid, it just wasn’t the same for jump starting. So I looked elsewhere. Miso soup popped into mind. It’s warm, soothing, and healthful. Why not a cup of that to kick off the day?
Miso has been eaten in Japan and China for many centuries and has been attracting the attention of many of us because of its health and anti-aging benefits. It’s also quite delicious. When you aren’t feeling well a bowl of miso soup can be especially soothing.
Traced from ancient China, where it was known as hisio, a seasoning prized by aristocrats, miso was perfected in Japan from the 7th century to today.
Making miso is an art form in Japan. It is made of soybeans and koji, a culture starter made from beneficial molds, yeast and lactic acid bacteria. As long as you choose unpasteruized miso, you will be getting the benefits of live friendly microflora for the health of your inner ecosystem.
There are many types of miso, some made with just soy beans and soy koji (called Hatcho miso, a favorite in Japan) and others made with barley and rice.
No matter which type you choose, this fermented superfood has many health benefits.
Many studies have been done on miso, some on humans and some on animals. These studies are showing the following benefits of miso:
Reduces risks of cancer including breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer.
Protection from radiation
Antiviral — miso is very alkalizing and strengthening to the immune system helping to combat a viral infection.
Prevents aging – high in antioxidants, miso protects from free radicals that cause signs of aging.
Helps maintain nutritional balance – full of nutrients, beneficial bacteria and enzymes, miso provides: protein, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin E, vitamin K, tryptophan, choline, dietary fiber, linoleic acid and lecithin.
Helps preserve beautiful skin – miso contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that helps your skin stay soft and free of pigments.
Helps reduce menopausal complaints – the isoflavones in miso have been shown to reduce hot flashes.
LENGTH OF FERMENTATION MATTERS
Soy protein is hard to digest and takes a long, slow process of fermentation to break it down. Bacteria that can digest soy are much more hardy than the more fragile bacteria used to ferment vegetables, young coconut water and milk products (so while you may love our line of Starters, they won’t help you make homemade miso – but they WILL help you make a variety of other probiotic-rich fermented foods and drinks.
With miso, length of fermentation matters. Hiro Watanabe, PhD, an expert in developmental biology and cancer prevention in Japan, conducted several animal and human studies using freeze dried rice miso to better understand how miso protects against cancer, radiation and other diseases.
Dr. Watanabe’s studies showed that when it comes to healing illnesses like breast and prostate cancer, the ideal length of fermentation was between 180 days (6 months) and 2 years.
Dr Watanabe also found that miso fermented for 180 days is typically a rich color and has plenty of healthy microflora. After 2 years of fermentation, the amount of friendly bacteria has begun to disappear. And while the miso would still a fermented food and is not “spoiled” there is a risk that other pathogens can grow in the miso.
SIPPING MISO SOUP FOR YOUR HEALTH
According to Dr. Watanabe’s studies, the sodium in miso did not show adverse affects for people with salt sensitivity and hypertension. Here are the amounts of miso soup he recommended for different health conditions:
Cancer – 3 or more cups per day
High blood pressure – 2 cups per day
Menopause – 1 – 3 cups per day
Here at Body Ecology we recommend eating less miso in the summer months because our body needs much less salt in the hot months. Donna often recommends adding it to salads, cultured veggies or salad dressings during the summertime. However, right now it is winter and much of the country is having extremely cold weather. Miso is a great food to eat every day.
For health maintenance, follow your intuition when it comes to how much miso soup you enjoy. This delicious, healing food is a great way to nourish yourself to great health!
When it comes to DIY miso soup, the sky’s the limit—it’s all about what tastes good to you and fills you up. Here are some combinations to get you started.
Sliced scallion + grated carrot + thinly chopped turnip
Silken tofu + soft-boiled egg + togarashi
Leftover shredded chicken + brown rice
Shredded Swiss chard + sliced daikon radish + sesame seeds