What is the scoop on soy?

Written by: Rebecca Baird, August 11, 2010
Soy has been viewed by many health professionals and registered dietitians as the ultimate protein source for nutritional health, but new research is showing that this assumption may be far from the truth. According to the American Heart Association, supplementing the diet with soy protein has no significant benefit. According to the American Cancer Society “soy protein could increase cancer risk in ways that are not yet understood. Phytochemicals, naturally occurring plant chemicals (isoflavones) that are present in soy, may affect the way cancer cells grow. ..Soy might act in the same way as estrogens to increase the growth of estrogen-responsive cancers, such as breast or endometrial cancer.”

The results of studies concerning the link between soy consumption and male infertility have been interesting and revealing as well. A study done in 2005 by Dr. Lynn Fraser and her team of UK scientists revealed that isoflavones (genistein) could damage human sperm. At a conference in Copenhagen Dr. Fraser pointed out that, “she had carried out previous research on mouse sperm that suggested similar findings, and that tests on human sperm had proved it was 10 to 100 times more sensitive to (isflavones) genistein. ‘Human sperm are responding to very low concentrations – well within the amounts that have been measured in people’s blood’, she said. The findings might suggest that women who eat soya-based products and legumes should change their diet… prior to conception.” Soy beans contain pytoestrogens which is a natural defense mechanism for the plant. Pytoestrogens when consumed by predators, limit a herbivores reproduction. Thus, the predator’s population decreases and more plants prosper. So it makes sense that human sperm (and the reproductive system) would be adversely affected by the consumption of soy products. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives states that, “diverse animals such as cattle, mice, and quail have been shown to suffer reproductive failure due to dietary phytoestrogens.”

Some studies show that fermented soy foods are the only foods which will not contribute to health problems but will in fact promote health. In Asia, the traditional fermented soy foods are considered to have more health promoting benefits when consumed in moderate amounts than the super-processed soy products that are consumed in the West. For example, a study (1) of the culturing method involved in the production of the Japanese traditional food miso, came to the conclusion that the culturing process itself led to a “lower number of cancers per animal” and a “lower growth rate of cancer compared to controls.” The researchers also indicated that it was not the presence of any specific nutrient that was cultured along with the soyabean paste but rather the cultured soy medium itself that was responsible for the health benefits associated with miso consumption.

(1) Baggott JE, Ha T, Vaughn WH et al. Effect of miso and NaCl on DMBA-induced rat mammary tumors. Nutr Cancer 1990; 14(2): 103-9.

5 thoughts on “What is the scoop on soy?

  1. Every time I see a really great post I go ahead and do a few things:1.Forward it to my relevant contacts.2.keep it in some of the popular sharing websites.3.Be sure to return to the same site where I read the article.After reading this article I am really concidering going ahead and doing all three…

    • I am really glad you enjoyed it. The research on soy is something we all need to be aware of. I could not believe how many products are hiding a derivative of soy. Practically every product you buy has some kind of soy in it. It is truly amazing. I have to read labels very carefully and educate myself and others about the dangers of soy.

      Thanks again!
      Rebecca

  2. Hi Deb,
    The most recent information on soy, for us with menopausal symptoms, is to stay away from it. In some studies soy has been found to cause breast cancer and endometrial cancer. The best substitute for real milk is organic almond milk. I use organic cream in my coffee because I find that almond milk doesn’t give that same creamy consistency that I have come to love. Menopausal symptoms can be alleviated by taking supplements like St. Johns Wort and Wild Yam. I have found that St. Johns Wort is very effective in handling hot flashes and other physiological effects of menopause. Wild Yam is good for many of the same symptoms of menopause and some studies say that it naturally lowers cholesterol. I take the St. Johns Wort several times a day along with the Wild Yam and am feeling 100% better. One great way to lower your cholesterol, besides supplementing with Wild Yam, is to incorporate more vegetables and fruit (organic if you can find them) into your diet. Even though I have nothing against milk consumption, and recent studies show that consuming organic milk products does not increase cholesterol in the blood, I choose not to drink cow’s milk because I believe there are better ways to get the calcium and vitamin D which my body needs. The best bet is to eat vegetables, cottage cheese, and fruit. Some good (organic) foods to increase calcium naturally are:
    Rhubarb, dried apricots, figs, raisins, prunes, dried pears, dried peaches, oranges, dried currants, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, kale, parsley, peas, pumpkin, turnip, dandelion and asparagus.
    You can get your daily need for vitamin D from going out and taking a nice walk in the sunshine.
    I hope these suggestions have helped. Let me know how I can be of further assistance.
    Thanks!
    Rebecca

  3. Hi Rebecca, I’m very interested in more info you may have on soy products. I drink alot of soy milk. I’ve been hearing more and more about soy not being as good for you, as originally thought. How about soy milk versus cow’s milk for someone with high cholesterol,and menopausal symtoms? Thanks, Deb

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