By Julio P. Yap Jr.

A new study conducted by researchers from McGill University in Canada showed that soya milk is the best plant-based alternative to cow’s milk, particularly for the lactose intolerant.

Soybeans.

The study was done using the four most commonly consumed types of milk beverages from different plant sources around the world: almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, and coconut milk. The researchers compared their nutritional values with those of the cow’s milk, and they found that after cow’s milk—which they said remains to be the most nutritious—soya milk comes out as a clear winner.

This is welcome news for the local producers of soya milk in the country, particularly the husband-and-wife team of Mer and Mary Ann Layson, who have been processing soya milk for the past several years. The Laysons can produce soya milk steadily because they have a source of their own raw materials: their own farm—located at Sitio Minangan, Barangay San Patricio in Mexico, Pampanga—which they call Layson Farms.

From their 2-hectare farm, they can organically produce about 120 sacks of soybeans per cropping—enough to supply the needs of the couple’s KKK (the name is derived from the initials of their children) venture. While their business got off to a rough start in Manila, they say that the timely assistance of PhilMech helped them acquire the equipment they needed to produce their major products: soya milk, soya coffee, and soya ice candy.

Mer Layson particularly expresses gratitude to Dr. Gary Sy for the latter’s invaluable information about the benefits of soya:

• It can be used as a meat protein, and is a good substitute for animal products;
• Soy protein can help balance the effects of bad cholesterol levels without impacting the levels of “good” or HDL cholesterol;
• Soy protein will not only help reduce levels of bad cholesterol over time, but will also help maintain healthy veins, and improve blood flow to the heart;
• As an energy booster, soy protein contains amino acids that can be used effectively by the body after these are converted into energy;
• It can also reduce other health risks because soy protein can apparently help prevent the development of colon and prostate cancer;
• It is useful in controlling hyperglycemia and for weight loss because the inclusion of soy protein in the diet can help balance sugar levels in the body;
• For menopausal symptoms, phytoestrogen (plant-based estrogen) acts as a synthetic estrogen that protects women from severe bone mass loss by helping keep bones strong, increasing calcium absorption by the body, and maintaining calcium balance in postmenopausal women, and helps in maintaining a healthy heart;
• It can help prevent osteoporosis as the phytoestrogen content of soy can and can help in the prevention of bone mass loss;
• It can encourage cell growth and regeneration because soy protein can actually ‘nestle’ inside your cellular structure and help in stimulating the synthesis of collagen and elastin with other proteins—these properties are vital for cell growth and for reversing the formation of abnormal cells; and
• It can help maintain healthy bones and prevent mineral loss—even men can suffer from weak bones and can benefit greatly from the consumption of soy, as soy protein can help relieve symptoms of arthritis in some cases.

On the other hand, researchers from the McGill University say that soya milk can have the most balanced nutritional profile.

The Laysons only use organically-produced fertilizers and fungicide to protect their soya plantation; from the couple’s 2-hectare farm, they can organically produce about 120 sacks of soybeans per cropping.

Soya milk is now widely consumed for its health benefits, linked to the anti-carcinogenic properties of phytonutrients present in the milk known as isoflavones, and has been as an accepted substitute for cow’s milk for about four decades.

Mer Layson added that soybeans can be used in other dairy product substitutes like soya milk, margarine, and soya ice cream. He says that roasted and ground soya beans can be used as a caffeine-free substitute for coffee. When roasted and ground, it can be used in powder form, similar to that of instant coffee, with its unique aroma and flavor.

Aside from the success attained by the couple, the KKK venture generated employment opportunities for several workers, and provided opportunities for enterprising individuals who sold KKK’s soya products in their respective areas. Layson also continuously conducts free livelihood opportunity seminars where entrepreneurship and development programs are shared and discussed.

For those who would like to participate in the seminars, you may get in touch with Mer Layson through the mobile phone number 0917.867.5197.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s April 2018 issue.