I get asked this. A LOT.
Males and females alike are concerned, as are people of all ages. Social media and the World Wide Web have quickly touted the dangers of soy, DESPITE the evidence stating otherwise. Study after study shows non-GMO, organic soy is actually beneficial to our health.
Why the misinformation? Like most studies, the first step is to look at who’s backing the study, or the publication of it. Here, we find no study actually saying “soy causes cancers, or prostate disease.” So we’re left with the publication aspect, and who’s starting the rumours. The meat and dairy industry, who directly takes a hit, when you replace their products with soy? Dr’s who are well-intended, but just aren’t nutritional experts? Perhaps neither, or perhaps both.
The point is, the research plainly shows cultures who consume high-quality, non-processed soy foods, have lower risks of cancers, and have better heart health.
So is soy bad?
The short answer is a resounding no. It’s been eaten in Asia for thousands of years, and until the Western world introduced high levels of meat and dairy into their diet, we didn’t see an epidemic of cancer in their culture.
Simply put, the fact that we isolate one compound in a food that causes disease (phytoestrogens in soy), is as nonsensical as isolating a compound to cure a disease (taking lycopene pills, rather than eating the tomato as a whole). Nature is not that simple, and is the very reason those of us pushing for a healthy lifestyle, tout the benefits of a low-fat, plant-based, VARIED diet.
But there’s more to be considered, when it comes to soy consumption. Is it
- Gmo-free or organic?
- How much are you consuming?
- What type are you consuming? (Best to worst in my research– fermented like tempeh, sprouted such as tofu, whole such as soynuts or edamame, soymilk/soy creamer, all the way down to those crappy isolates found in protein powders and highly processed foods, which you definitely don’t want!)
- Do you have a need to watch the amount of estrogen in your diet, per hormone tests? If so, what other foods and essential oils (e.g. lavender oil) are you consuming that contain phytoestrogens ? Are you consuming meat and dairy, which are actually WORSE for our endocrine system?
- Are you consuming veggies that may counteract the estrogenic foods? In eastern cultures, fermented foods and cruciferous veggies are a staple food in the diet. These foods often help cleanse the system of excess estrogen. Who hasn’t seen tofu and broccoli in a Chinese restaurant?
- Are you cooking foods in containers that have BPA? Most cans and plastics contain this harmful chemical, which is a huge non-no for our hormone system.
Soy is a complete protein, for those who are concerned about this. (This is another grossly misunderstood viral theory, which I’ll explain in another post.) Soy is also a low-fat, healthy plant-based food that makes a great snack when it’s baked (aka soynuts).
Phytoestrogens may actually DECREASE the risk of cancers and can actually be beneficial to the endocrine system, when estrogen levels naturally deplete. Yes, I know this is contrary to what bounces all over the internet.
If you are concerned about the amount of estrogen in your system, or would like to incorporate more soy in your diet without fearing excess estrogen, incorporate more of these foods into your diet:
- Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, and Brussels Sprouts. To really boost your digestion, try these foods fermented!
- Citrus fruits
- Tea and coffee also contain flavones that help regulate hormones
- Herbs such as turmeric, passionflower, and fenugreek help reduce excess estrogens by blocking the enzyme aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen in men.
As you now see, there are a multitude of factors that can, and probably have, led to the incorrect reporting of statistics about soy and phytoestrogens. I’ve incorporated it in my diet for over 20 years, and honestly can’t imagine life without it (and my blood tests are just dandy!)
That being said, remember to focus on consuming it as one of the healthy forms listed above, as a part of a varied lifestyle, and is organic/non-gmo only. If you’d like to read more on the subject or the specific studies on the benefits of soy, check out the resources section below.
The China Study: Dr. T. Colin Campbell
Staying Healthy with Nutrition: Dr. Elson Haas
Kris Carr: http://kriscarr.com/blog/are-soy-foods-healthy/,
Dr Josh Axe: https://draxe.com/phytoestrogens/
Dr Mark Rosenberg: http://www.foodtrients.com/news/could-you-be-eating-too-much-estrogen/,