The debate about soy…where do you stand?

Hello my dear readers,

I hope you are all enjoying the summer weather and not only making better eating choices but also staying active. I know I’m trying to keep myself motivated but hey, I am human and sometimes I just want a lazy day at the beach.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately as well as critical or even interesting remarks regarding soy. I feel people either LOVE soy products or blatantly hate them. I love soy products especially tofu but with the new information out there regarding the “health risks” of soy I often get the raised eyebrow and criticism.

One of the main comments I have come across is, “soy has estrogen in it and makes you fat and you can get cancer.” I believe that consuming anything in excess can make you sick. I don’t agree with eating soy products multiple times in one week and I ALWAYS opt for organic tofu (at least you know it hasn’t been tampered with).

I immediately start thinking about Asian countries who consume soy regularly (who are not fat by the way) and think on Dr. Andrew Weil who said the following:

Just because soy contains stimulating phytoestrogens does not mean that the effect of whole soy foods is stimulating to estrogen-sensitive cells. In fact, the epidemiological evidence – that is, the evidence of incidence of diseases in different populations – strongly suggests that soy protects women from estrogen-dependent problems.

Actually, soy’s estrogenic effect is weak compared to the natural estrogen in women’s bodies, only 1/100th to 1/1000th that of estradiol. Some research suggests that isoflavones may act in the body by blocking the more powerful effect of a woman’s own estrogen. If true, this may explain why Japanese women who eat a lot of soy-based foods have only one-fifth the rate of breast cancer that occurs among Western women. Asian women consume 20-80 mg of isoflavones daily compared to less than 5 mg per day for American women.

An interesting study in Japan looked at whether diets high in soy foods increased the rate of hysterectomies among premenopausal women. At the outset, none of the women had uterine fibroids or endometriosis, both of which are leading indications for hysterectomy and both of which are promoted by estrogen. The researchers found that of the 1172 women participating in the six year study, the hysterectomy rate was lowest among those whose diets contained the most soy foods suggesting that soy foods seem to reduce the risk of fibroids and endometriosis.

I believe that soy foods such as edamame, tofu, tempeh and soy milk are much more likely to help you than hurt you. Therefore, I recommend one to two servings per day, even to women with breast cancer. That amount will provide about 40 mg of isoflavones, enough to give you the benefits of soy without the theoretical risks. However, I do not recommend soy supplements because of their high isoflavone content and lack of evidence demonstrating their long-term safety. Nor do I recommend eating “designer foods” spiked with soy isoflavones.

If you are considering a vegetarian lifestyle and are worried that your primary source of protein will be soy, think again! There are plenty of protein rich leafy green veggies, lentils, quinoa, legumes, nuts, etc. Consume soy products every ONCE in a while and don’t make that your sole basis for protein. Sure, tofu is great and dandy but please make sure you opt for organic.

That’s all for now my beautiful readers!

Peace, love and tofu (er…no beef lol)!



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