the ecovangelist

SIMPLE CHANGES FOR A HEALTHIER YOU!

Mmm tastes like chicken…the truth about soy products March 4, 2011

Filed under: In your body — theecovangelist @ 4:18 pm
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When I first became vegetarian, I thought I was entering a healthier more holistic lifestyle.  With an abundance of imitation meats, soy and gluten products, this was going to be easy. Plus soy had so many health benefits….right?

Fake meat made from soy has become a vegetarians safe haven.  For practically any animal derived product, there is a soy substitute: soymilk, soydoggs, meatless meatballs, tofurky, vegenaise….the list goes on.  While some of these items taste more like cardboard then chicken or turkey, there are actually several appetizing products.

However, the more I ate these plant-derived soy products, the more I heard about ingredients called isoflavones that might not be so healthy!

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Conflicting studies

There are conflicting studies, some showing the positive benefits of Soy and others claiming harmful effects when ingested in excess.  It was all rather confusing, so after sifting through several studies, here is what I found.

Soy also contains natural isoflavones, which when ingested are transformed into phyto-estrogens….a weak form of estrogen in the body

In moderate amounts, this can be beneficial to the body, however in excess can cause exceeding amounts of estrogen.

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Positives

  • Protective effect against breast cancer in low doses

  • Decreases risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease

  • Can help prevent osteoporosis

 

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Negatives

  • Might cause potential tumor growth in current or past breast cancer survivors

  • Can increase the risk of breast cancer in high doses

  • Excess estrogen can lead to hormonal imbalance

  • Can cause Eczema in high doses

  • Studies show, that they may cause thyroid, thymic and immune system abnormalities when ingested in excess

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Take home point

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The conundrum is confusing, on one hand soy has several health benefits, however on the other, in excess can be potentially harmful.  Studies are still being conducted, and there is seems to be no conclusive answer yet.

So in the mean time what should you do? Eat soy products, but in moderation.  Scientists say that 25 grams a day is safe. (A 4-ounce serving of tofu has about 10 grams; a cup of soy milk, 6 to 8 grams.) I personally have restricted my soy intake to 3 times a week.

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Supporting Articles both on the positive and negatives of Soy

http://www.ajcn.org/content/68/6/1333S.abstract

http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst?docId=5002345889

http://www.ajcn.org/content/68/6/1375S.abstract

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/soymessina