Soy is an umbrella term to cover the entire variety of products that can be created from the seeds of the soybean plant. This includes edamame, soy milk, soy vegetable oil, tofu, textured vegetable protein, tempeh, and many more foods and food products.
As a health food, soy has equally enthusiastic proponents and detractors. Some see soy as an excellent natural remedy for everything from cancer to heart health. Others claim that it can have very negative effects on hormonal balance and child development; they may also be concerned about the possible contamination of soy products with GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops. In particular, soybeans contain phytoestrogens, organic compounds that mimic estrogen, a human hormone that can have mixed but powerful effects on the human body.
Many natural healthcare proponents suggest that fermented soy products are significantly safer and perhaps more beneficial than soy in unfermented forms.
Natural Cures: Some scientific studies have been undertaken showing soy products to have positive effects on prostate, colorectal, and breast cancer rates and morbidity. It has also been shown to promote higher brain functions.
|Soy Feedback||5 YEAS|
[SIDE EFFECTS] 11/20/2012: Lisa from Bullhead City, Arizona: "Its been found that soy products cause multiple types of cancer and many other health problems. If you use soy, even in smaller amounts STOP!!! Do not give your babies soy formulas either. Every study done on this has proven to be hazardous to your health. Please heed this warning and dont use soy!!!"
09/27/2012: Mr. Ree from Somewhere, Usa: "I see where Bill from the Phillipines said "NOW" lecithin is GMO... My question is does anybody know where I can find out exactly what lecithins products are and are NOT GMO products? It would help with everybodys health...
I heard 90% of all soy products are GMO and that ALL soy in this country is sprayed with agent orange... This came from a very good source...Thank you"Replies
09/28/2012: Wendy from Columbus, Oh/usa replies: "I did some googling and found this link re the top 10 genetically modified foods ("GMO") to avoid eating :
02/17/2012: Cat from Tauranga, New Zealand: "However, this was not my actual question; which concerns whether soy products are really as healthy as the food industry likes to portray them? The main principle lies in the amount, because too much is unhealthy, as you always say.
Basically soy is a high-quality plant protein in which Isoflavones are also contained in large quantities in the form of phytoestrogens. Nevertheless, the protein and the Isoflavones, as well as other substances of soy, are in no way harmless. In particular with long-term consumption of large quantities, the Isoflavones effect the hormone balance quite critically.
However, all the other soy substances are not harmless either, which is why they should be used as food only with sufficient caution or not at all. In particular no kind of food for children should contain any soy products at all, because with regard to the Isoflavones, especially the health of babies, toddlers and adolescents is impaired by soy products and in other respects health is seriously damaged. Already less than one quarter of a milligram of Isoflavones per one kilogram of body weight per day can cause very bad and irreparable health defects in children of every age, namely in relation to consciousness activity, the brain, the intelligence, the world of thought and feeling, the psyche, the physical body and the behaviour pattern etc.
If pregnant women consume soy products it can lead to heavy and irreparable damages to the foetus' body, limbs, nerves, cerebrum and muscles as well as to body deformations. More than a quarter of a milligram of Isoflavones per kilo of body weight should not be given to babies and toddlers under any circumstances.
Said with easy and generally understandable words and concepts, soy products of all kind, because of their toxic ingredients, in larger quantities are even capable of impairing the health of strong adults and to cause serious damage, which can lead to growth of tumours, respectively cancer and to the fostering of brain-, consciousness and behavioural disorders, personality changes and to infertility.
Especially breast cancer in women and men is often caused by soy products, as well as depression and Parkinson's, namely in particular when a hereditary disposition exists for it. Also Alzheimer's and dementia can be results of an excess of the Isoflavones, as well as an impairment of eyesight, the taste buds, the ability to concentrate, the moral balance and various other important life factors.
Then what ought to be the amount of soy that the adult may take? The quantity depends on the concentration of Isoflavones, of which a person should consume no more than half a milligram per kilo of body weight daily if he does not want to be impaired toxically. This means that a person of 70 kilograms of body weight should not consume soy products that exceed 35 milligrams of Isoflavones. However, with soy consumption this amount is reached very quickly.
This is indeed the case, because already a normal soy drink of 2.5 dl in size contains about 30 milligrams of Isoflavones.
And what is the case with drugs made of soy respectively concerning their Isoflavones? Such drugs are in no way recommend, if, on one hand, they are not adjusted for the body weight, and, on the other hand, are taken for too long a time, or if the person is especially susceptible with regard to Isoflavones
I recall reading somewhere that tofu, miso etc (the fermented types of soy) are safe and that's why Asians have no problems with their consumption of soy. It's really only the western world that has decided to include soy in so many products (canned tuna for instance) and this is where the problems lies. Check the labels in your pantry and you'll be amazed at how much soy we're consuming, to our detriment!!!"
08/01/2012: Rob from Manhattan, Ny: "Some good sound advice on Soy from Dr. Weil...
12/29/2011: Debbie from Melbourne, Australia : "I came across this article on the dangers of soy being hidden in our foods. I think everyone should read it. It says that soy is high in antrinutrients and blocks nutrients being digested in the digestive tract. It can affect masculinity and drive down fertility. Women eating large quantities of soy can experience hair thinning amongst other things. Consumption can according to the article lead to thyroid disfunction.
It certainly is getting harder to try to avoid getting very sick these days and it is hidden using various names in most processed foods. Along with MSG and aspartame you wonder what Governments are doing to the worldwide population.
No wonder our kids minds are being turned to mush. I would be interested in others thoughts on this.
06/28/2011: Natalie from Sonoma, Ca: "Just like everything else, moderation is the key. EVERYTHING is bad for you if you take it repeatedly every single day. Most of the problems that arise from soy occur when it's taken with extreme frequency. We rarely see this with other food groups and they would probably have their own health drawbacks. Pure oxygen is actually bad for you, but since we breathe it in a mixture of gases our bodies can take it and it becomes not only extremely beneficial, but vital- moderation.
Another good point is that everyone's body is different. If something is making you sick you should stop having it. Dairy gives me stomach problems but I'm not going to assume suddenly that it's poisonous for everyone. There are so many diet fads and extremist views that people "swear" by with food when the reality is you need to just use common sense and eat intuitively. I personally love soy, I eat tofu or drink a glass of soymilk often and I've never experienced any health problems from it. Also, if we examine diets of other cultures, Japan is known for the longevity of its people (outliving Americans on average by nearly ten years) and they have a diet that's rich in soy. That may not be the reason why they are living so long, but it's clear that soy isn't killing them off.
Clearly, there is conflicting research, but the backlash against soy is sudden and extreme, much like, well, a fad. It's very "in" right now to hate soy, just like back when it became very "in" to love soy when it became popular in America."
02/19/2011: Tybrid from San Jose, Ca: "Hello Ted and all. Although I really appreciate you Ted and the Earthclinic site for all of the invaluable information that has helped me and countless others in our quest for excellent health and well being, I have to strongly disagree with you on your stance on soy and that soy is overall good for you and safe. I am of the belief that for the most part, soy is not good for us, in its natural state (very toxic and has to be highly processed for people to consume). Isoflvones have been shown to be estrogenic. It is not just the dairy companies that slam soy as their ulterior motive is obvious. There are so many natural, holistic, naturopaths, sports nutritionists, alternative scientist and others who are saying the same negative things about soy and some of them have the actual clinical studies to support this. But my own personal negative experience with soy, which was validated in such a way by a well known chiropractor/naturopath whose main supplement he sales is a soy formula. Some background. I used to be a personal trainer and a natural, drug free bodybuilder(before the show, you are put under a polygragh and urine is tested for steroids and performance enhancing drugs) , fitness model, etc. Well at one point, I remember hearing from my TCM (Traditional Chinese herbalist) to eat more tofu and soy as well from this well known natural chiropractor to reduce amount of animal protein and eat more soy. Well, I did this, I switcehd to a soy based protein meal replacement... About 4 days in using this, I felt like crap and my drive (all of my drives) drive for life, energy, libido, all of that was gone as if never existed. This was shocking as I have a natural strong drive and a go-getter. I was doing some research and stumbled upon many articles on how soy mimics estrogen and negatively effects testosterone in the body. I immediately stopped taking soy and went back to egg protein, grassfed beef with the fat and noticed almost overnight how my testosterone levels and drive went back to normal. Going back to this well know chiro, who promoted an anti-cancer/disease program and whose main supplements was soy protein. I was one of the biggest seller of his products, books etc in the country but after my experience with soy and all the research I did, I questioned him about this and his response or lack of response was even more proof to me, that soy is not as good for us as we have been led to believe... I had dinner with this natural doctor and he was willfuilly answering all of my questions until, I asked him about soy and the negative effects on testosterone and increased estrogen and why as a man, I would want to take anything that would increase estrogen in my body. He simply stopped chewing his food, put his fork down and paused as he was thinking on how to respond. He then replied, "No comment" and kept eating as if the question was never asked. I took this as a yes, there is validity to the negative effects of soy (fermented soy like soy sauce, etc is not as toxic but in excess still negatively effects the hormones) as well as years of my own research especially with athletes and sports doctors, etc.
Go to www.mercola.com or drwongradio. com (Naturopathic doctor who has podcasts about alternative health much about dangers of soy and estrogen excess); Dianne Gregs site: http://hiddensoy.com/ etc., Ori Hoffmekler author of the Warrior Diet and The Anti-Estrogen Diet. They all can't be wrong coming from the alternative and holistic community but I encourage anyone curious about soy on whether or not it is right for them, to do their "due diligence" and research both the pros and cons and then make an educated decison...
so, thanks again Ted for keeping us informed and I appreciate this site in where we can freely agreed to disagree...
02/21/2011: Ted from Bangkok, Thailand replies: "Some people are allergic to soy and soy is not good in that instances. But whether it is dangerous for all human consumption is another matter. I am aware of Mercola and most of the points he raised is not substantiated in pubmed.org. I don't have time at the moment to go point by point. I do use soy in many serious medical conditions such as cancer and osteoporosis, so it helps if you just do a point by point search in medical journals at pubmed. All clients here in Bangkok are pro soy since there were greatly helped. In any case what works for you doesn't work for someone else. My time right now is greatly limited to very grave disease and should you have time to visit me in Bangkok I can go point by point very easily.
02/21/2011: Lanos from Socalifornia, Usa replies: "Tybrid is absolutely correct, stay away from soy products. My experience with it was very regretful. Never give soy products to infants or children. Thyroid and other problems with the glandular system can occur."
02/21/2011: Annon from Anywhere, Usa replies: "Lanos wrote: 02/21/2011: Lanos from Socalifornia, Usa writes: "Tybrid is absolutely correct, stay away from soy products. My experience with it was very regretful.
Hey, Lanos - Maybe you should just pray to God over it, and then take it anyway. Refering to your other post, and your condescending attitude.
[NAY] 02/22/2011: Kay from Atlanta, Georgia replies: "I was an avid soy/tofu/tempeh eater & soy-milk drinker, however that changed completely in 2006. I began having extremely heavy menstrual cycles, cramping and headaches during every cycle which went from 6 days to 10 days.
The final threat was an incident at work while on my cycle, I got up to walk to a colleauges office and as I stoood approximately 2 to 3 cups of blood poured out of my body. I now know that to be "flooding".
My GYN doctor immediately put me on Progesterone hormone therapy, which worked temporarily. The progesterone was to aid in balancing my hormone levels of estrogen & progesterone.
She advised that the fibroids had grown very large (the size of a 6 week pregnancy) in my uterine walls.
I learned that Soy has high traces of estrogen and this is what aided to the growth of fibroids.
Sadly, I had to have surgery in 2008. It was very traumatic and I even ended up with a large keloid scar.
After the surgery, I limited soy and replaced soy-milk with almond milk.
In December 2010, I decided to become vegan and again increased my soy/tofu/tempeh, again, my fibroids are back and my doctor has advised that I will need to have surgery again.
I am convinced that the soy products added extra dosages of estrogen which contributed to the growth and regrowth of my fibroids.
It's obvious that all people do not react the same to foods and/or drugs. But, similiar to medications and the listed possible side effects, the same should always be stated with any reference or suggestion to natural remedies or supplements.
[NAY] 07/21/2010: Janna from London, Uk : "I just wanted to comment on the dangers of soya milk for the infants. I didn't read closely about the dangers of soya milk products because as a family we do not really consume them. However, my son who is now 7 years old and who had been on soya formula since the age of 4.5 month till perhaps 22 month. At about two years of age he started drinking cow's milk with no problems. Before had terrible intolerance to it and this soya formula was the only way for me to get him fed. Well, I did listen to the doctors (sadly) and had no idea that goat milk could be a substitute. In my family we are usually all healthy with good genes. In my husband's more or less also. With this in mind, I was taken aback when my son got pneumonia at 2 y.o. Then a few month later it reoccurred. Second time he needed oxygen mask as well. And this condition reoccurred again soon after. I became desperate. In the end we got it under control with salbutamol. The diagnosis wasn't asthma. But some kind of bronkho. . . Spasms. We had been using salbutamol constantly till he was 4 y.o. Then all of a sudden this breathing problem of his was gone. But soon came a new one - heavy allergy to mold that resulted in him no longer being able to properly breath through the nose. It also made him so susceptible to developing severe cough as soon as got a cold. He is otherwise fine - intelligent, very fit and tall. But he does have very strange behavior sometimes. I even thought of taking him to see a psychologist. He likes to annoy every one in the house, cannot find occupation for himself on his own - he craves attention all the time! I've got another boy, 2y.o. who I breast-fed till he was 15 month. Of course, I compare the two often. The younger one is much healthier - no pneumonia, allergies, coughs or bronkho spasms. No attention cravings! And is just as fit, tall and strong and a clever one too. God, if I had only known then what kind of long-term harm I would cause my child with this soya formula!"Replies
07/28/2010: Francisca from Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France replies: "I am also a mother of two children who were fed with soy formula because they were lactose intolerant. I had no idea of the risks or else I wouldn't have done it. The oldest who had lactose free formula had no problems, the two youngest, fed with soy formula had a lot of eczema, the youngest had severe respiratory infections during the first year of her life and now has asthma. I have no idea whether this all comes from the soy formula but I have read that they can have hormonal problems through their lives. I really feel bad about this as I have always tried to give my daughters a lot of love and the best of care! They were also given fluoride tablets by the doctor and used them for a number of years when they were small! This is not done anymore though...But that doesn't help my daughters. I have heard that soy formula is nowadays only prescribed under doctor's supervision (maybe they should ban it alltogether...)"
07/29/2010: Elsaeasterly from Elsewhere, Ca, Usa replies: "Francisca,
I was fed soy formula as an infant, and I do not know of any health problems that I have ( I don't have many) that are connected to soy. That being said, knowing what I know now, I certainly would not give a soy formula to an infant, but I wouldn't worry about the past too much. By the way, you have said that you grew up in Portugal and now live in France (correct?), but your English seems flawless. What's your secret?"
07/30/2010: Francisca from Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France replies: "Hi Elsaeasterly, thanks for your kind words about my use of the English language! Funny enough I only lived in England for a few months when I was 18 (now 53) but my husband is British and we have been together for almost 5 years. Still, when I went to live in England at 18 they considered my English so good that although there was no place for me to study English in Harrow College they were prepared to let me do the course. Being 18 I decided that I didn't feel like it (very silly, I know... ). I started learning English at school when I was 12 and read mostly in English from then on, many, many books. One of my daughters started speaking English fluently at the age of 7 (in Holland) and even translated for the teachers at school when a Canadian girl moved there. She had never had a lesson. Thanks again for your words.... I surely do my best..."
[NAY] 05/30/2010: Billie from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: "i became a vegetarian and started drinking soy milk at the age of 16..i started using it in everything...i got up to the point of drinking about 1 ltr every day 1.5 days...i loved it!! i was addicted to drinking tea with creamy original soy...i had it on everything...
At the age of 25 my period started slowing down in frequency, between the age of 25-30 i was only having about 3-6 "clotty" 2day periods a year and i developed a big thick chunk in the middle of my neck "swollen thyroid", i had ultra sounds on it apparently it was "normal" "its just more visible due to your slim neck"...i saw many doctors and had tests but they all told me i was fine and to just go on the pill if i wanted to regulate my period...this was not an option for me...i started worrying about my fertility, would i ever be able to get pregnant.
Then at the age of 30.5 my mum read an article about the bad side of soy milk and she told me to get off it quickly....
So i switched to rice milk and 28 days later i got a 5 day period and 2yrs on i have been getting them every 28days..my swollen thyroid has even slimed down :-)....oh and within 5 months of stopping soy milk i got pregnant.
For me this is proof enough...the oestrogen in the soy was messing up my natural cycle...
well thats my story."
06/02/2010: Francisca from Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France replies: "I have been reading a lot about unfermented soy products lately and all the problems they create. My children were born in Holland. They all three had lactose intolerance. The oldest was given formula without lactose but at the time the youngest two were born soy was already in fashion and they were prescribed soy formula by the doctor. Back then one didn't think twice about what the doctor prescribed so we had no problem with it. As I understand now it can cause them problems for the rest of their lives. Soy formula is now only prescribed in cases the baby is watched closely by the doctor. But I ask myself... why still prescribe it at all? They say that it is the same as giving a new born one to two anticonception pills....... Who on earth would do that? I don't know whether to tell the news to my daughters but I think that I ought too. Their doctor should know because in case they indeed have a problem it might be easier to solve if the doctor knows they have had this terrible formula when they were babies."
06/02/2010: Billie from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia replies: "yes i think you should definitely tell your daughters...im so glad my mum told me about what she had read about soy milk...i saw alot of doctors and none of them seemed too interested in my lack of periods...i kept hearing "just go on the pill to regulate"
One man even sat back in his chair and put his hands behind his head and told me that..."can i ask you how much you weigh" when i told him i have always been a petite 45kgs no matter how much i eat and my parents and friends aren't concerned about my weight because they know my eating habbits, he then said in a patronising way..."well you do relies your the weight of alot of anorexic girls and when you starve you body you most likely stop menstruating" i couldn't believe it....that was the last time i saw him...it was probably easier for him to put me in a box with his conclusion.
i feel that alot of western trained doctors really don't want to believe there is any relation between herbal/natural remedies and health...its too easy to just prescribe a pill.
My youngest brother was bought up on soy milk as he was severely allergic to dairy...he had lots of issues with his health in his early years....he is now 18yrs and as my mum tells me he has confided in her that he has a very small "little friend" (& he just ended up in hospital with enlarged cysts on his testicles) he also has a strange voice which sounds high and blocked...too much oestrogen? i have 2 other brothers that were fine with dairy that have no problems like he has...a coincidence or fluke?
i still eat tofu and temphe as im sure these are good for you...
since i stopped soy milk everything is back to normal im happy to say.."
[YEA] 05/09/2010: Steve from Atlanta, Georgia: "Ted is correct in distinguishing between fermented and non-fermented soy. 93% of soy in the USA is non-organic, hence the natural confusion for consumers who don't know the difference. In fact, there are 10,000 species of soy which adds to the challenge to evaluate it properly.
The National Cancer Insitute spent $20 million and concluded that soy when fermented had the most anti-carcinagenic properties.
When processed at a low temperature and hydrolyzed and nitrogenated into a beverage it has been a very effective alternative for treating advanced cancer patients as well as Crohn's disease, and other auto-immune illnesses.
It is a powerful immune booster and harnesses the body's natural healing powers more than most realize.
03/07/2010: Claudia from Hoor, Skane, Sweden: "Ted, hi and thanx for your always amazing bank of knowledge. I personally love soy products, from the taste to the known benefits. My mom is now suffering from severe osteoporois; it's awful and sad to watch her suffer. On a personal note, I used to eat a lot of soy for the obvious reasons - found I could not digest it. My Naturopath told me I was allergic (due to the symptoms I was having) - he also mentioned that so much of the soy we now have is GMO so the that in itself kind of negates the benefits. Am wondering :
A. Do you know of a way to ensure one is not getting GMO product?
B. What can someone like myself do who has allergic reactions to soy (gastric distress, etc).
Thanx so much for all your help!
03/07/2010: Robt from Manhattan, New York replies: "Hi Claudia, (in addition to Ted's advice)
you may want to consider adding Natto to your diet. Especially for your Mom. There are studies linking it's use to increased bone density. http://www.isoflavones.info/isoflavones-abstracts.php?article=menaquinone
I buy mine from a local Japanese store and purchase organic which hopefully ensures non GMO.
(there are videos on youtube showing is preparation)"
02/22/2010: Bogazot from Cedar Knolls, Nj: "Why do you recommend soy as it is very clear in literature that soy is not a healthy food source."
EC: That's Ted's (a frequent contributor) opinion on soy, not Earth Clinic's...
02/22/2010: Mom In Calif from Santa Barbara, Calif, Usa replies: "There are a lot of ways to process soy. Traditional fermented soy foods are healthy - miso, tofu, shoyu, etc. I think the more modern uses of soy, such as meat substitutes, isolated or hydrolized soy protein, etc. are more problematic.
Also, remember that in the USA at least, a huge proportion of (non-organic) soy products are made with genetically-modified soy, which is very allergenic and messes with the immune system."
02/12/2010: Erynn from New Haven, Ct: "While I agree that the commercial industry of food is trying to force us to think that soy is bad, I do have to disagree on one part. I do think Soy effects estrogen, but may not necessarily be in a bad way. Women who are diagnosed with infertility are constantly using soy (in replacement of infertility drugs, like Clomid) to build their uterine lining and ovulate. Estrogen is the KEY horomone in Clomid, related with soy? I think the success of Soy proves this."
[YEA] 09/26/2009: Meddy from Springfield, Oh, USA: "For the past year, I have been a wreck! I am post-menopausal and the hot flashes and emotional ups and downs were making me feel like I was losing it. I wanted to edure this and go all natural, figuring this was a natural part of my body's process...I could not take this one more second. I went to see my Dr. and begged her for HRT's...anything to give me relief. She is a huge pill pusher so I was rather shocked when she told me to dring soy milk. I asked her about bioidentical therapy and her reply was, "drinking soy milk is bioidentical"... I know there will be those who disagree, I can only speak for myself. I started drinking about 8 oz of soy milk right away. For me, it has been nothing short of a miracle. I feel like a human being againl. The depression is gone and so are the hot flashes. If I do feel one coming on, I run and get about 4 oz in me and they immediately subside. I cannot tell you what a blessing this has been. I have not experienced one negative side effect. If this helps just one person who is suffering like I was, please give it a try."
07/22/2009: Catherine from Kaneohe, Hawaii: "http://www.mercola.com/article/soy/avoid_soy.htm
Make up your own mind and please do pass along information to others."