Soy: Don’t Believe the Hype

by Chris on May 22, 2010

I’m sure we can all remember when soy was considered a nutritional miracle. Soy was everywhere because we were told that it was so good for us. To a lesser extent (thankfully I suppose) that idea still remains. Soy has since fallen from nutritional grace and everyday more evidence comes out suggesting that it is not the wonder that people once thought.

I suppose the best place to begin is how soy get to us. Most soy is highly processed before it reaches your kitchen. Often the processing includes acid baths, neutralization stations and aluminum tanks (which leach aluminum into the product). Nearly all soy is also genetically modified. I’m not going to get into reasons for why you should avoid genetically modified (or GMO) foods, but suffice it to say you’re better off avoiding them. Soy also has one of the highest pesticide contamination levels of any crop. Need more reasons not to eat it? Ok, fine.

There have been several studies indicating that the substances in soy called isoflavones, which mimic estrogen in the body, contribute to the growth of tumors in the breasts, endometrium and uterus.

Soy also contains goitrogens. Goitrogens are substances that inhibit normal thyroid function in the body. Soy is also high in phytic acid, which inhibits the body’s ability to absorb minerals. In the interest of fairness it should be noted that soy is not the only food known to contain these compounds. Grains are known to contain phytates as well, and cruciferous vegetables, corn and lima beans have been known to have goitrogenic effects. Still, it seems that soy is far from the nutritional powerhouse that we have been led to believe it is.

Soy is also commonly recommended as a way to help alleviate symptoms of menopause. However, in a study from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine researchers looked at the effects of soy on women age 45-55 with menopause symptoms. The women who took the soy reported a 50% decrease in severity of hot flash symptoms; however, the placebo group also reported a 35% decrease in severity. The study also failed to show a reduction in frequency of hot flashes. In other words, the women were having just as many occurrences of hot flashes regardless of soy supplementation.

So there you have it. Obviously, it’s up to you what you eat. Feel free to do some research yourself and see. I leave you now with a video from Dr. Joseph Mercola, and some links where you can check out the evidence for yourself.

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