With so many foods controversies going on right now perhaps Soy is the longest withstanding argument.  It seems like at least for me it has been a circular argument never having been resolved.  Well I ignored the topic a little while longer and now have re-evaluated it hoping that the break would clear my mind.  It appears so since I now have a definitive view on Soy consumption.  I am beginning to think of it more as an herb per say, something that is very potent and has the ability to cause substantial changes in the body instead of an appropriate food or condiment choice.

     Companies that thrive off of Soy sales such as Silk have entire websites dedicated towards rebutting myths and clearing the name of Soy.  After looking at their “evidence” and doing a little of your own research it is clear that for every article that says it is beneficial for your health there is another that says to run away.  Personally I have a few Soy anecdotes that show that at least for myself it has a big impact.  About 5 years ago I found some Soy Isoflavone supplements in my mothers pantry and thought I would try them.  Not even a few hours later the texture of my skin had changes, breakouts had started to reside and I felt great.  I was on cloud 9 for the next few days until I woke up with huge painful cystic breakout on my neck that continued to get worse until I stopped taking the pills a few days later.

    If Soy could have that big of an impact on myself I am sure it can on others too regardless of if you have a strong reaction.  Now some people avoid Soy simply because it is a legume, which is another post topic together (along with grains).   I believe that it SHOULD BE AVOIDED because of its high phytoestrogen content.   A phytoestrogen is just what the name imply, a plant version of estrogen that although it can’t function the same as estrogen in the body does, it can cling to estrogen receptors tricking the body into it thinking that is is real estrogen.   This can reak all kinds o havoc in the body through disrupting the delicate hormonal balance.  There are many types of phytoestrogens within three main groups: Isoflavones. Lignans, and Coumestan.  Soy is contains predominately Isoflavones.

     Now while all of the Soy haters are out there hating on Soy they neglect to look at other foods which have high phytoestrogen as well.  Granted, Soy overall is the highest by far, however in some forms it is actually quite low.  For example Soy Sauce and Soy Sprouts do not provide high amounts.  Also  Flax-seed comes in second highest to Soy in content and many people use Flax-seed Oil everyday and do not even realize that.  Some other surprising foods are: Black Bean Sauce, Hummus, Mung Bean, Sesame Seeds, Alfalfa Sprouts, Garlic, Dried Apricots and Dates, and Black Licorice.  Now some of these may not be that high depending on your serving.  For that reason I have included this link.

     In the end, I have decided to try and avoid anything that has a high phytoestrogen load.  I am working so hard to heal my body so it can balance my hormones that I do not what to confuse it by adding phytoestrogens in there to throw it off balance.  Of course there are always exceptions for example I love Garlic and it is so good for you, plus the amount of Garlic that I would eat does not have a phytoestrogen load I am worried about.  Also my husband and I love Thai and Sushi and because Soy Sauce does not have a high phytoestrogen load we are not going to deprive ourselves of that enjoyment occasionally.  Overall do some research,  and decide what’s best for you!


4 Replies to “Soy”

  1. Fermented soy is different and very beneficial. So tempeh in particular, and tofu also. The topic is quite complicated as you point out. But phytoestrogens can be beneficial too, and as the Asian population have always eaten soy & had low rates of certain cancers, I’m of the opinion that soy is ok for most people, particularly fermented. We are prone to isolating nutrients in food, and as we don’t eat them this way, thinking about the food as a whole would benefit us. It is similar, to me, to the debate about phytates found in grains & nuts. Phytic acid is perceived by some as an ‘anti-nutrient’ but it is also an antioxidant and as such has many positive benefits. It also happens that the foods that tend to be high in it, are also valuable sources of the minerals that phytic acid may slightly reduce. I’m getting slightly off-topic! But I hope you get my meaning. Picking apart food & concentrating on one thing, in my mind, is missing the point. Some people may need to avoid soy, but for the most part I believe it’s ok ( soy isolate is different & I don’t recommend it at all ).

    1. Thank you for commenting April! And thank you for also getting on a tangent about phytic acid! Unfortunately, I know many people who won’t eat raw spinach or avoid all legumes because of it but they do not fully understand how it breaks down in the body and that it can be beneficial. But that will be for another post! Even since I have written about soy I have seen conflicting studies emerge, some stating the protective benefits of phytoestrogens and others finding that its consumption may be linked to cancer development. Yes Asians do consume moderate amounts of soy, however their genetics may have adapted to that. It seems that peoples individual biochemistry and genetics may play a large role as to whether it is protective or harmful. Until more information is known I choose to avoid it, and would encourage anyone to do the same who is already dealing with hormonal issues, or if hormonal cancers run in their family. If soy is to be eaten I agree that Fermented is the way to go! Once again thanks for stopping by!

  2. Claire, thank you for your response. Yes everyone has unique body chemistry that reacts in different ways. I shared my own story but I am very sensitive to such things and many others are not. I however would definitely not recommend it to someone who had an estrogen sensitive cancer, or to a child who has yet to go through puberty for example. I am happy you are taking the time to do your own research and that you enjoyed my perspective. Thank you!

  3. I love the topic of soy for your blog. I have found the debate on soy to be an interesting one that I have continued to follow through reading various research reports. I think you have a very good point about phytoestrogen, I’m familiar with this because my sister has to completely stay away from products that contain it. However from a marketing and PR stand point for companies that market pro-soy or soy-free I honestly just think people need to know their bodies and understand that different foods effect people in different ways. I agree that for some it should be avoided, but not for everyone. I have been using soy products my entire life, in moderation of course, and I have never experienced a problem. Thanks for the interesting read, loved your thoughts!

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