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Shocking! Does Soy Really Disrupt Hormones?

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Shocking! Does Soy Really Disrupt Hormones?

We’ve heard a lot about the health benefits of soy milk and soy beans, but some people also say that they’re bad for your reproductive system? Then, what should you do?

First let’s briefly look at the benefits of soy.

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Health Benefits of Soy

Soy is high in protein content, which is why many vegetarians refer to it as “meat food”.[1] Furthermore, because it is a plant protein and not animal protein, it is processed differently and may actually reduce your cholesterol levels. It is also known for it’s high fiber content, which makes it very suitable for those suffering from high cholesterol and diabetes as well as frequent bouts of constipation.[2]

Soy in the form of fermented soya bean paste (miso) is rich in several minerals. It is often used as flavouring in Asian cuisine. Soya cake, or tempeh as the Indonesians call it, is especially rich in B vitamins. It is made by cooking and dehulling soya beans to form a textured, solid cake and also contains many vitamins and minerals. Soy in the form of tofu is a valuable source of iron and calcium. It is a type of curd made by coagulating soy milk with magnesium and calcium salts.

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Harmful Effects of Soy

Soy has its share of bad side effects too.[3] It can cause infertility and plays a role in decreasing fertility in both men and women.[4] It can cause premature menstruation. It may cause girls to hit puberty early, like say at the age of 10 instead of the usual 12 or 13.

Given the fact that soy helps in the production of the estrogen hormone[5], it may be a factor in breast cancer. Soy can also cause male gynecomastia, which is the enlargement or over-development of glands in the breasts. Soy can also kill libido with large quantities causing men to feel a certain lack of sexual desire.

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Scientific Research Says: The Conclusion Is Inconclusive

Research points both ways. Certain studies indicate that soy is connected to breast cancer. Some studies blame constant sexual arousal[6] on soy consumption. Meanwhile, the benefits of soy as meat and tofu has been extolled in various health magazines, leaving people in a fix. Another study has claimed that soy can prevent decline in memory,[7] while another study contradicted it.[8]

Thus, it is impossible to say whether soy is “purely good” or “purely bad.” Like all other foods, soy has its share of health benefits and side effects, therefore it is always better to consume such items cautiously and in moderation.

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What Should You Do

It is always better to include a variety of foods in your diet instead of relying on just one. However, pay attention to how your body reacts to soy. Keep a food log or journal to keep track of your different reactions and responses. If all is well, continue including it in your diet. If it isn’t, consult your physician and try to find something else to provide you with the necessary nutrients.

Reference

[1] Ingredient focus – Soya, BBC Good Food
[2] Soybeans, The World’s Healthiest Food
[3] 5 Ways Soy Upsets Hormone Balance, Global Healing Center
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18650557
[5] The role of estrogen in the initiation of breast cancer, NCBI
[6] 4 Health Consequences of Soy for Women, Global Healing Center
[7] Isoflavones and cognitive function in older women: the SOy and Postmenopausal Health In Aging, NCBI
[8] Effect of soy protein, NCBI

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