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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

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3 Comments | Leave a comment

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Hey, I was really hoping to get a hold of you after watching one of your speeches. I really like what you're doing, but I wanted to discourage you from a couple arguably-fallacious arguments that you made, in order to make your message more powerful among skeptics. Since I can't email you, I'll post your errors (as I see them) in this comment. I don't care if you delete this comment -- feel free to respond to me via email if you have contradictory thoughts from which I might benefit at lucasjmcdonald@gmail.com.

Anyway, your first (and more debatable) mistake was in claiming so confidently that it's ridiculous that cave people might have stolen food from lions -- actually, people in Africa still do this, to this day. All you need is a spear, which is about as primitive as a weapon gets -- I could imagine fallen branches as being secondary only to the timeless big-ass rock, in the utility belts of our ancestors. I'm not saying they definitely would have had the psychological capacity to intimidate a small pack of lions, but they MIGHT have, and that makes your dismissive tone on the matter weaken the surrounding arguments in the mind of a skeptic. You might at least consider mentioning that we used to be about 4 feet tall, because then your argument will sound a lot stronger to the naive listener, who might be thinking more along the lines of a 5-foot-tall almost-human.

The second (more definite) mistake is your whole argument about how every species eats the same food. There are species where different groups eat differently, and the most obvious example is humans -- which greatly weakens this argument, to the point that it is arguably worse to say it than to keep it to yourself. Even more harmful to your overall message is the fact that most living humans eat meat -- therefore, to the merciless carnivore who is looking for excuses, your argument says, "Ha, she's admitting how absurdly unnatural it is for a human to live on vegetables -- it is as absurd as it would be for a rabbit to live on meat! Rabbits just don't do that -- and humans just don't do that -- unless they're very abnormal." Granted, the people who would make such an argument MIGHT not make it that far into your speech -- but if they do, you're giving them something very easy to attack. If you had said, "Every individual within any given species is good at digesting pretty much the same things," your argument would be much heavier -- much more difficult to shrug off. But when you say, "Every individual within any given species EATS pretty much the same things..." your point runs the risk of being more-or-less intentionally evaded in a semi-legitimate way (and many people don't need anything more than semi-legitimacy in their excuses).

I hope you see my points -- I'm not trying to be belligerent. I'm only trying to help you close as many holes in the logic of your message as is possible. I just want to see your supremely-important messages delivered as powerfully as possible -- this is part of how I try to help the movement. I'm a bit more concerned about animal rights than human health, and I have all-too-much experience with the ways that people are able to "cleverly" rationalize away the good advice of others -- and I have hence realized that the way to most-effectively communicate with such people is to minimize their ability to do pounce on ambiguity or bad logic (because those are their primary means of successful self-distraction from new knowledge).

Thanks for what you do, and good luck.

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Finally, I have found some really reliable article about Soy. I agree that the Health benefits of Soy are real. I write it in my works when I do my hw for money. However, I still have some doubts about it.

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