Janice Stanger, PhD

Janice Stanger, PhD

Posted May 10, 2015

Published in Health

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Soy: The News Is Good

Read More: phytoestrogens, soy

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The Health Benefits of Soy Are Real, While the Ideas of Danger Are Fantasies

Remember the school lesson about how, in fifteenth century Europe, influential thinkers said it was impossible to sail across the Atlantic Ocean? The governing idea was that the earth was flat, and anyone venturing too far west by boat would fall off the end of the world. Well, experience proved that popular opinion wrong, and we can smile at it today.

Yet in the twenty-first century, many are frightened by an equally silly idea - that soy is an unhealthy, even a dangerous, edamame in bowl.jpgfood. The truth is the opposite; moderate amounts of whole soy foods are beneficial. How do we know this? Just as in the case of sailing, we look at experience - in this case, what actually happens to people who consume soy.

Let's take a look at valid studies. Many scary soy myths are based on bad science or profit-driven desire to promote animal foods instead. Researchers may inject large amounts of isolated soy extracts into rats, for example. The effect of a concentrated soy extract injected into a rat has nothing to do with the effect of a human eating a whole, natural soy foods in amounts that consumers would actually enjoy at a typical meal.

What Really Happens When People Eat Whole Soy Foods?

Many of the false alarms surrounding soy are concerned with phytoestrogens, which are a variety of substances found in many plants. Phytoestrogens may, under some circumstances, have feeble estrogenic effects (that is, have an effect similar to estrogen, but significantly weaker). Phytoestrogens may also have anti-estrogenic effects (that is, counter the effects of estrogen in people). Soy phytoestrogens, called isoflavones, are alleged by certain myth-makers to raise the risk of breast cancer and other hormone-related issues.

Credible published research on this question compares groups of people who routinely eat whole soy foods with those who seldom do. Mark Messina, PhD, published an excellent analysis in 2010 in Journal of Nutrition. He reviewed, in depth, twenty years of soy research in people.

Click here to discover what Dr Messina and other scientists have learned about soy foods