Soy is a controversial food. I’ve had many people ask me lately about various forms of soy and whether it is really healthy or not.
On one side, some experts say it has numerous health benefits for hormones and cholesterol, as well as being a vegan source of protein and fiber.
On the other side, experts say it is an allergenic food that is often genetically modified. It can also cause thyroid problems.
So who’s right?
This post will explore what soy is, the different types of food that soy is in, and how it might affect health.
What Is Soy?
Soy is a legume, in the bean family, and is often used as a plant-based source of protein and fiber. From the raw soybean, numerous products are made. Common soy foods include:
- Soy oil
- Soy meal (for animal feed)
- Soy milk
- Soy flour
- Soy protein
- Soy sauce or tamari
- Edamame (whole soybeans)
Soy is traditionally consumed in some Asian cultures but is also a staple of the U.S. agricultural industry. According to the USDA, 94 percent of soybeans grown in the United States are biotech (genetically modified). Most soy produced in the U.S. is for animal feed, but a high volume—43 million metric tons—is exported to other countries, with China being the biggest consumer.
Soy is also found in many processed foods. Soy is one of the “top eight” food allergens and must be declared on labels if products contain any soy.
Even if you don’t overtly eat soy products, it may be found in foods with the following ingredients listed on labels:
- Soy lecithin
- Soy protein concentrate
- Texturized vegetable protein
- Soy protein isolate
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Vegetable oil
- Any other phrase containing the word soy
Are There Soy Health Benefits?
Soy contains isoflavones, compounds that give soy its assumed benefits. Soy isoflavones are phytochemicals that are associated with positive effects on risk factors of breast cancer, heart disease, prostate cancer, and blood pressure. However, not all research agrees.
One of the reasons that some experts use as proof of soy benefits is how often soy is consumed in traditional Asian cultures. The assumption is that because many Asian cultures have longevity and don’t have the obesity epidemic, as we do in America, that this must be because of soy.
However, soy alone is not responsible for these health differences. Consider, for example, how often traditional Asian cultures also eat higher amounts of seaweed and seafood compared to traditional American diets. These foods also contain significant health benefits and are often eaten in higher quantities than soy foods.
If you read studies and research done on soy, you’ll sometimes find that those showing overtly positive effects have a conflict of interest. This 2016 review in Nutrients, for example, was funded by the European Soy and Plant-Based Foods Manufacturers Association. Of course those who have a financial interest in selling soy are going to say it’s healthy!
Another factor is that a lot of the research done on soy benefits are animal studies, so the benefits are not necessarily transferable to humans. Human benefits from soy consumption are still widely unknown due to animal research and research funding bias. More human studies need to be done, without conflict of interest, to really understand the potential ups and downs of soy intake.
That being said, soy is not all bad. A 2020 review in Antioxidants presents research that notes the potential for good health effects like lowering LDL cholesterol and reducing mortality from cancer, without being funded by the soy food industry.
Still, the question is: do the benefits of soy outweigh the potential risks from eating it?
Dangers of Soy Consumption
While soy may have some health benefits, there are some serious risks to consider.
Antinutrients are compounds found in legumes and grains that change the way that the gut is able to absorb certain nutrients, like minerals. They can also affect the gut lining and inflammation. Antinutrients are found in soy, beans, and other legumes, as well as grains and some nuts.
Eating a high volume of non-fermented soy foods could result in gut problems, irritation, and problems absorbing certain minerals and vitamins.
Soy isn’t the staple food in Asian cultures that some Americans assume. While it is traditionally consumed, it is often used as a condiment in small quantities. When soy is eaten, it is often fermented, which minimizes the anti-nutrients that soy contains.
Soy is often promoted as an alternative food for those who have celiac disease or are intolerant of gluten, but the antinutrients that soy contains—lectins and phytates—can interfere with gut health and still cause issues. Lectins are proteins found in beans and other similar foods, and unlike some antinutrients, cooking or fermenting does not deactivate them. Anyone dealing with inflammation, leaky gut, or intestinal issues may be susceptible to negative effects from lectins.
Another problematic compound, goitrogens are substances that can interfere with thyroid function. They can block the way that the thyroid takes in iodine, resulting in decreased thyroid hormone production and conversion.
Hypothyroidism is one of the most common health conditions, where the thyroid hormone levels are too low. While Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease, is the biggest cause of hypothyroidism in America, inflammation and gut health problems are closely related. The antinutrients found in soy foods can negatively impact the thyroid gland in many ways.
A common alternative formula for babies with allergies is made from soy, but this is problematic for many reasons. A 1990 comparative study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that infants who were fed soy formula had a higher incidence of developing autoimmune thyroid disease. While this research is considered old by today’s standards, newer research from 2004—a Cochrane database systematic review—found that soy formula should not be fed to infants at high risk of food allergy or intolerance.
Turns out, soy proteins affect the gut so much that they can take infants who don’t currently have food allergies and cause inflammatory changes that cause them. While other foods contain goitrogens, like broccoli and cabbage, cooking deactivates them. No amount of cooking or fermentation deactivates goitrogens in soy.
Soy contains phytoestrogens. These compounds mimic the human body’s natural estrogen hormones. Some experts say that these health effects of soy are a good thing, helping women in perimenopause and menopause experience fewer hot flashes as they interact with estrogen receptors.
If you think of the way that soy can have an estrogen-like effect on women, the concern is that it could do the same thing to men or to children. While many studies show that soy is safe and only rarely leads to “feminizing” effects in humans, it is shown more widely to do so in animals. An article from German Medical Science in 2014 noted that animals who are fed soy can experience reduced fertility, stunted sexual development, and behavior changes.
Even if soy is largely safe in humans—and again, many of the studies done have been biased—the fact that the risk exists for testosterone imbalance, infertility, feminization, and sperm changes in men is concerning. Even though some research, as mentioned above, says it can help women with hormone changes, it can also potentially cause problems with ovarian function and even cancer.
Are these risks really worth small potential benefits, when there are so many other whole foods that can lower the risk of health problems?
My take: You don’t need soy to have a nutritious diet.
Soy isn’t great for humans and it’s not good for animals, either. The production of soy is harmful to the environment, too. Most soybeans today—at least 94 percent of them—are genetically modified (GMO) to be resistant to pesticides.
There is not much evidence on glyphosate (the pesticide applied in most conventional farming today) and how it affects human health. This is partly because a lot of money from agricultural food lobbies goes into preventing any type of restrictions on how glyphosate can or can’t be used. That being said, some scientists are concerned about it, although more evidence is needed to present a fully unbiased and evidence-based picture.
Even if you ignore potential specific concerns about glyphosate, the fact that soy products are heavily treated with pesticides is worrying enough for me. That alone means there are concerns for the gut health of both humans and feedlot animals who eat soy-based feed.
Soybean crops are also damaging to soil, as they strip it of nutrients. Foods obtain nutrients from nitrogen-rich soil. When the soil has already been depleted, crops that are grown—even organic ones—are going to be less nutritionally rich.
Should You Avoid Soy Products?
I’m not here to tell you what to do. Everyone needs to make the right decision for their health and their family, but I do not eat soy. I do not feed my children soy. We aren’t allergic, there just doesn’t seem to be any benefits for us. And there is definitely a risk.
If you are going to eat soy products because you’re not allergic or intolerant, or because you follow a vegan diet, make sure you’re only eating fermented soy. Traditionally fermented soy foods, like miso and tempeh, create fewer health challenges. The fermentation process helps to deactivate antinutrients that can cause gut problems—although it does not remove all of them. Soy products should still be eaten in moderation even if they’re organic and fermented.
Soy does not provide a complete form of protein either—containing all essential amino acids. If you are using it as a protein source, consider that you’ll also have to carefully pair it with other vegan sources to ensure you are not missing crucial amino acids.
Ultimately, soy products seem to offer more cause for concern than benefits.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
What are your thoughts? Do you consume soy? Have you in the past? Tell me below!
Discussion (374 Comments)
I have a question about other foods which are supposedly phytoestrinergic and are usually considered OK, like flax and chia seeds. Are they really OK?
I was eating a lot of flaxmeal and had heavy bleeding for 8 weeks in a row. In desparation I turned to the internet and found that flax is sometimes associated with bleeding. When I stopped eating flax, the bleeding stopped. Now I’m eating it in much smaller quantities a few times a week, and no bleeding, but I’m wondering if it is really safe or not?
I don’t see any scientific backup for this story. Can you please cite references that back up these statements about soy products?
I just found your blog, and am thrilled to get some healthy living advice from someone who’s not trying to talk me into a vegan diet! Thank you for the post on soy; I’ve been wondering about that for a while. I think I’ll switch to almond milk on my cereal!
Imilla: Have you tried sunflower butter for your boys?
I have Carla, but it’s been a while. We think he had an allergic reaction to it, so we just stayed away from it. They cannot test for sunflower seed allergies, so we can’t know for sure – I may try again just to see if he still has the same reaction as he did 3 years ago… Thanks for the suggestion! I had forgotten about it…
I was tested for sunflower allergies in 2004…..
I think that, like most things, it’s the excess that is harmful. Soy isn’t as bad as you make it sound, as long as it’s only consumed in moderation–just like red wine, chocolate, meat, and butter.
I’d agree that if it is going to be consumed, it should be in moderation… but meat and butter should be more like daily staples than foods to just be consumed in moderation 🙂
I am new to your site and am learning alot. Can you please address the question about whether edamame is healthy for you? I have it in my salads as my protein source – I love it and really don’t want to give it up if it is not harmful to my body. I have done some research and have learned there are several benefits to soy beans. Thank you for answering the questions.
Have you tried chosen seeds instead?
Meat and butter as daily staples? You’re ignorance is shining so bright right now. Carcinogenic meat DEFINITELY causes cancer, look it up. Artery clogging butter, definitely causes myriad of health problems if it’s a “staple” in your home. Seriously girl, you write a blog. Do you research, youre giving very unhealthy advice.
You should probably read this: https://wellnessmama.com/5645/butter-healthy/
Why do you think other articles that you have written are credible sources to back up your claims? I find that so odd. I’ve seen you do that to other people too. Sure, you can get vitamin A from butter, but there are many healthier options than milk fat to get your Vitamin A, c’mon. I’m just really disappointed. I didn’t know you were so surface, I suggest you dig deeper if you’re making it your life goal to offer “healthy” advice to the masses. They need/want so much for the truth, they just want to be healthy, and to keep their families healthy. Really, dig deeper. Do the research yourselves lovelies! You’ll be so glad you did! Not trying to hate on you mama, but I am just very passionate about people knowing the truth behind the foods they’re eating. Everyone deserves that.
Take or leave the Wellness Mama’s advice, but at least respect it. She HAS done her research which you can see if you read what she writes and has chosen to educate others based on the knowledge she had gleaned. You have the freedom to choose not to take her advice, but just know that she isn’t just pulling this stuff out of no where.
I have been avoiding soy for years, since I was diagnosed hypothyroid and have learned of the dangers. Our dc had some soy formula, which I think the docs advised to use when they had diahhrea. We also used to eat several foods with soy before I became aware of hidden ingredients. Anyway, the last few you mentioned, like soy protein isolate, are also forms of msg, so it’s a double whammy. I used to look for mayo, salad dressing, and bread without soy, and now it’s almost impossible to find them without it. When I’m at a covered dish dinner, I generally avoid anything that looks like it may have mayonnaise or other suspect ingredients. Thanks for the encouragement to stay away from this non-health food touted as a health food.
Your take on edamame?
I’m curious about that, too. I had always heard that processed soy, like soy milk and those fake foods, are the problematic ones but that edamame and miso are good.
No it’s fermented. Fermented soy is actually good for your body; miso and others are fermented. Non-fermented soy is bad.
Edamame is raw soy. When I was a child my family knew some farmers. One field was peas, the one next to it was soy. My sister and I were sternly warned NOT to eat the soy as it was grown only for cattle feed and was poisonous to humans. This was known in the ’60s.
Edamame is typically prepared by steaming it. Who is eating raw soybeans?
I’d live to see some references in the blog. Love your work!
All of the hotlinks above link to references 🙂 Thanks for reading
Erm, the hotlinks above are to other articles written by you! Where is the scientific reasearch, references, testing etc???
So thankful my family and I follow a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. No soy in whole foods. Thanks for posting this article. My old chiropractor is going to start promoting a certain diet and they recommend a soy protein drink. So sad that they think soy is healthier.
Paleo is very not-good; Paleo diet the people that lived were not even homo sapiens.
Please do your own research, and listen to your educated chiropractor before buying into any blog you read on the internet.
If you buy meat from cows feed soy products then it will pass through meats to you. I make sure to buy mine from cows grass fed
How do you do that exactly? Are you there watching what “your” cow eats? Not being smart aleck, but “lapels” are just that unless you are personally working with an ” organic farmer” , you can only control the food your family eats. Be assertive portion size and “homemake” as much as you can. Don’t eat out! Resturants are there to make money they don’t care about your family’s health! Teach your kids how to cook! It’s becoming a dying art!
great points. please use common sense and moderation.
cattle eat soy or sorghum in the winter particulary from silage bins. if you grow up around ranches and farms you know what silage smells like 😉 P U! now that’s some fermented soy!
Soybeans are a whole food. What are you talking about?
Eat a balanced diet and quit obsessing over this and that study done mostly by companies with a bias. It’s amazing that people jump on whatever bandwagon seems to be popular.
As for the author of this article. Shame on you. Read.
I can attest to the insidious nature of soy and it’s everywhere. While nursing I needed to go on a milk protein free and soy free diet. It certainly jump started us into a better eating pattern. Since I was doing it for our child I think it was easier as I wasn’t tempted to cheat knowing the significant consequences my child would experience. Either way now I just assume that all food not prepared by me has soy in it!
Yikes! This is super scary. I used to drink soy regularly, but have since changed my ways. I can’t drink dairy, so I now use coconut or almond milk as a replacement. I feel bad for the people who aren’t educated on the effects of soy!
I used to drink almond milk, too…but I’ve recently been enjoying hemp milk. It has more protein than almond and it tastes better. PLUS Hemp has really helped improve my memory!!
Wow I feel bad. When my son was born we tried all different kinds of formula and they didn’t work so his doctor told me to put him on the soy formula and I did. Later on when he was older I gave him the organic soy milk. I wish I knew this back then. I just hope and pray it didn’t do any damage to him I can’t tell any damage cause he’s only 4. I will never do that again
I did the same for the same reasons. My 6 foot tall healthy good looking 35yr. old son has 3 kids, hardly ever gets sick, excelled in school and now builds large ferry boats overseas. He had colic and milk allergies from birth, but soy milk helped him grow strong. I make my own soy milk now for the past 3 years and my health and blood pressure have improved. We all do our best at the time.
l am glad that you put this on as l have just read the above and it is not good l like your self can not have any thing with cow milk so l started to drink soya milk some years ago l also asked my doctor about it at the time as some one said that it is not healthy so l will be going to ether coconut or almond milk
doctor? You have a medical/industry doctor who would tell the truth about something like soy?
Most doctors are not aware of the soy-thyroid connection.
Are you try to drink goat milk? This is excellent substitute for dairy
Goat milk is dairy…. If it comes from an animal, it’s dairy.
There are lots of conflicting articles about Soy…don’t just take one persons opinion about it. Read for your self and than decide. There are medical reports on why Phytoestrogen(phyto=plant) is NOT the same as a Body Estrogen.
Eat everything in moderation, and balance. Cook soy product with ginger and garlic is good for the health. Remember , cook it with ginger, garlic or chilli. Don’t cook it by itself. plus, it depends on your body PH level. Some food could be healing food for you, and some food may not be good for you, depending on your body type. Soy products is very anti-inflammatory, good for people with high blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure, simply eat in moderation with right amount of ginger, garlic, chilli to balance it, and neutralize it.
@ Nicole: You nor “wellness mama” are educated in soy, I guess..? I may be wrong.
Anyways, in Europe, most soy is (yet) not GMO and is therefore safer to eat than the American soy, which is almost always GMO. That’s why I understand Americans’ concern about consuming soy products, fermented or not. But fact is that non-GMO soy is good for you
Here are some links to scientific articles on soy:
Ugh. This makes me so sad. My 6 yo has allergies to all nuts – so to make it easier on me, I started making pb&j with soynut butter for both of my boys. I’m so upset at myself – for what I’ve been feeding the boys for all these years. I’ll be switching my non-allergic son back to a nut butter, and giving my 6 yo turkey and cheese – which he actually likes better!
What about sunbutter as an alternative? I’ve never had it, so I don’t know if it’s good – but it might be worth a try. 🙂
We tried that a while ago, Melissa… We think he had an allergic reaction to it, so we just stayed away from it. They cannot test for sunflower seed allergies, so we can’t know for sure – I may try again just to see if he still has the same reaction as he did 3 years ago… Thanks for the suggestion! I had forgotten about it… It’s pretty good, but the soynut butter actually takes the most like peanut butter.
Truthfully it’s more about me being lazy and wanting the convenience of pb&j for my kids’ lunch. 😉
My sisters always loved cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. It wasn’t for me but that might be a non-nut alternative maybe.
I had my allergies tested and I came up allergic to sunflower seeds. Maybe it’s a new test?
Yes, seen like this information is valalid…when giving soy milk to my toddler, it seen to make her a but .sluggish acting and incoherent. I stop giving her soy , she seems fine. So I believe its truth to this info. Thank you.
try coconut spread?
A friend of mine is allergic to all nuts, which includes coconut, so this might not be a good idea. Just a thought.
Edame is the healthiest,hay not?
I used to love sunbutter but an ALCAT food sensitivity test reveal sunflower as one of my reactive foods. I love almond or walnut or macadamia nut butter !!!
Oooo what if you make pumpkin seedbutter. I know you can buy unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds without the shelling at whole foods stores in the bulk aisle. Maybe that might work as a great alternative to PB.
applebees cooks everything in soy and hydrogenated soy.
all the dressings are soy based. every dressing i find in the store, including mayonnaise, has soybean. oh and don’t forget the TBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane 🙂 i’ll let you decide for yourself what you think about that. but that is A LOT of soy to be eating in 1 meal and not even be aware of it.
I’ve recently found out I am allergic to soy, and there ARE some good store bought mayos that are soy free now 🙂 Hellman’s Canola is soy free and so is “Just Mayo”, a new brand I found at Wal-mart. It’s free of all the major allergens. 🙂 I know this is an old post, but just in case someone is reading this like I am. lol
you know what else is soy free? homemade mayo 🙂 5-6 ingredients and a few minutes of your time and it will be the best mayo you’ve ever had
I must have done something wrong. I tried – it was a disaster.
Thanks for the info.! It’s never too late to pass on the news.
To Casey, one of my attempts did not work, either. Let all your ingredients come to room temp, about 2 hours or so, and try again…this works perfect for me every time!
Canola oil is almost always hydrogenated. And it’s not always listed on the label. Anything that is hydrogenated is very bad for you. Avoid it.
what were your symptoms when you ate food with soy in it
Unfortunately, bloody stool is my main (and alarming) symptom. It has progressed over the years from “simple” digestive changes to what it is now. Plus, it takes several WEEKS to overcome the damage it causes my digestive/intestinal system. Soy oil, soy lecithin and soy flour are used ubiquitously in processed foods – and, subsequently, in food preparation by even the best restaurants. Thus, I have to be hyper vigilant when grocery shopping and when dining out. In fact, I cook almost 100% from scratch at home. I feel better knowing exactly what I’m putting in my body – and in the bodies of my family members. I’m much healthier now.
Related note: There are other légumes with proteins that mimic soy, like chick pea/garbanzo beans! It took me awhile to figure it out, but I have the same reaction to eating them. No delicious hummus for me. Just an FYI.
I’m allergic to soy too! I couldn’t believe just how MUCH of it is in the world. Bonus though, I’ve never had better control of my weight. I’m convinced soy is making north americans fatter.
This is just more anti soy propaganda..
Been a soy consumer for 63 yrs..
So that should tell you something.
Most anti soy types are sponsored by the USDA.
By the way… I don’t have weight issues, cancer nor have I changed my sexual orientation
Plus I don’t suffer arteriosclerosis.
Listen to experience… not sponsorship.
Katie - Wellness Mama
I can absolutely promise you that I am in no way sponsored by or affiliated with the USDA and they also would not have any incentive to tell people to avoid soy. the USDA is the Department of Agriculture and they are largely responsible for the recommendations to eat MORE wheat, corn and soybeans.
I never realized the tuna I eat has soy in it!! I am fighting estrogen dominance and wondering why I’m seeing such slow progress in getting my hormones back in balance. I’m such a label reader, too. It usually takes me over an hour to shop because I’m forever reading labels. Thanks for this information! Glad I stumbled on this site.
I hope you don’t mind my reacting to your post. Just throwing out what might be helpful to someone reading this. But the fresher the foods you eat the less labels you will have and the absolute fresh items in the grocery will not have any label at all. It will be a what you see is what you get such as the produce department and the meat and seafood department. I rarely venture into the rest of the store because I only need those isle, pantry items about once a month, such as oil and seasonings. I hope you are doing well!!
I can assure you that countless generations of asian families do, in fact, eat a lot of soy based food products like tofu (I hate the taste of it myself). It is not just used as a condiment. Where did you get that information?
So would you recommend eating pork, chicken and beef over soy based meats as a healthier substitute? Your article could really use reputable references to back up the claims you’re making.
Spot on, sir!! 🙂
Voice of sanity.. Thank you! All this anti-soy propaganda is really disturbing. Everyone all of a sudden is an expert in molecular biology. I live in Japan and the people here consider soy the healthiest thing they eat – and for good reason. There have been some very convincing longitudinal and cross sectional studies done here in Japan to suggest that populations who eat the most soy are healthiest and live longer. The Japanese are a LOT healthier and slimmer than Americans and they do NOT only eat it fermented or only as a condiment. What I will say though is that they don’t have a tofu steak for dinner every night. That is an American invention. In fact this whole soy thing is just another great example of how Americans have no idea how to cultivate a healthy relationship with any food, even the healthiest on the planet.
By the way, do you know that kale is a cruciferous vegetable? Bet you eat that raw, don’t you? Why not hop on a high horse about that one? Because the food police haven’t brainwashed you into doing do yet. Good grief, wake up people. Conduct your own experiments. If by removing soy you really do experience some health improvements then by all means eliminate it from your diet. If it makes no noticeable difference, chances is it’s probably good for you, in sensible moderation.
When I eat soy it feels like a hole is burning in my stomach. It took me a LONG time to figure out what it was. Soy and Wheat which are both in everything, I cannot eat anymore and when i do, I get sick.
The comment about you working for the USDA is complete bull. You are the TRUTH, they are the ones spraying all of our food and genetically modifying everything! It’s only when the voices of the people get loud enough (and stop buying their crap) will things change.
You could have cohn disease (if i recall correctly), which is your body’s inability to process gluten. This causes the villi on your small intestines to be damaged, which can cause malnutrition, and couple other things that i forgot.
Wellness Mama, I share your passion for health, but your statements about soy are not supported by the evidence.
“Soy may not be a super-food (such as broccoli) but the preponderance of evidence does not suggest that eating moderate amounts of unprocessed (edamame or soy beans) or lightly processed (tofu or soy milk) soy creates hypothyroidism or causes cancer.”
~ Dr. Joel Fuhrman
Certainly all non-organic soy should be avoid as it is GMO Round Up Ready. Like all heavily processed foods, processed soy, e.g. soy protein isolate, soy oil, etc. should be avoided due to low nutrient to calorie density. However, moderate amounts organic soy beans, edamame, tofu, tempeh, and miso have been used in traditional Asian diets that have low rates of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine has recommended natural soy as a dietary treatment of menopausal symptoms for a millennia. Perhaps they researchers and traditional cultures know something you don’t?
Thank You for the counter perspective, I really appreciate hearing both sides. It would seem to me though, that using soy as a natural supplement for menapausal women validates the statement that soy mimics estrogen in the body. Menapausal women need more estrogen. But, everyone else Doesn’t.
broccoli is a man made food its original for has a bad bitter taste the
at is not appealing. i may only be 15 but i’m pretty sure i know what i’m talking about
Wonderful to see young people aware of good food choices. I, too, was blown away by the soybean information. Plus, most soybeans are GMO and I try to avoid those!
In the interest of transparency would you please disclose all your sponsors and sources of funding?
Who/what are your sources?
What medical research are you citing?
Anybody can write anything on the internet. However nobody is allowed to publish articles in medical/nutrition journals without consensus from other experts in the field.
I do not know the answer to whether soy is safe or not, but I do know that a good paper allows readers to confirm your claims via full bibliography. Please provide.
The Canadian and American heart association actually recommend soya milk and tofu for heart health. You are not a doctor and are miss informed about soya
Once you start to notice anti-soy sponsorship, you see that it is rampant. It is not just the usda. There are other private organizations funding this kind of misleading and misinformation such as the Weston A price Foundation that is funded by the meat and dairy industry.
Been a soy drinker all my life (22y) as well. I drink fortified soy, which has helped me with iron and B12 deficiency. I drink 2-3 cups a day! My parents ware both soy drinkers and had 2 kids. My grandparents were all soy drinkers and they are all alive and well today, with no sign of any illnesses related to hormones.
As for the anti-soy stuff, everyone is entitled to their opinions. I personally believe that the isoflavone tests are still too preliminary. Have you actually read the scientific papers? Many (not all) of them actually say they do not affect men’s reproductive system AND decreases the chance of breast cancer in women. Until the scientific community can actually agree on the topic, I am going to continue consuming soy milk.
Yep. In Japan soy is actually eaten to PREVENT breast cancer. Go do a check on breast cancer rates in Japan and compare them to America and a clear picture emerges. It’s the Americans with the problem, not Asia. And even more interesting – breast cancer hardly even existed in Japan until Western diets started polluting traditional eating problems when bingo – all of a sudden there’s this new illness called breast cancer and it becomes a ‘thing’. Breast cancer rate incidence is strongly positively correlated to the introduction of Western foods into Japan. So it’s probably meat or dairy or both at play. But Western A Price won’t tell you that because that industry is their key source of funding. Seriously people – do you own research.
What evidence do you have that the Weston Price Foundation is funded by the meat and dairy industry? That’s a (hilariously) ridiculous assertion.
63 years of living is supposed to evoke an awed reaction? Not trying to discredit those years, and I see the point you were trying to make, but check back in for a reply when you are 90+ if you’d like to be convincing. By the way, I am neither an advocate nor a protestor of soy.
Well said Ira!! I have been drinking soy milk and eating tofu and soy beans for 10 years…. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been!!
Amen Ira and Tracy! And according to the writer, we should avoid broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage as well because they have the same effect. As long as the soy is certified GMO free, it’s fine. We’ve been using soy long term with no bad results, years of experience of it here.
Yeah I agree. Most importantly are the various studies done independently around the world. No scientific data exists to make the claim that soy is unhealthy. In fact, studies show a link between the consumption of soy and good health. Areas where soy is consumed the most have lower cases of breast cancer, lower heart disease and better blood pressure. I would recommend picking up a scientific journal first.
hey i am reading all this…i am vegetarian always have been…eat veggie brand foods..was told soy is bad for me…..how do i know if it is or not? worried
Katie - Wellness Mama
I appreciate you writing this article, but I have to disagree with your statement regarding the consumption of soy foods in Asian countries. Being from and traveling back and forth to Asia (I am from Bangladesh), I have definitely seen otherwise. There are plenty of Asian main dishes which are solely soy – ma po tofu for example. The following article goes into a bit more detail: https://www.theveganrd.com/2011/03/soyfoods-in-asia-how-much-do-people-really-eat
Yes Ira, I agree, just another person that has believed the silliness against soy. Nothing is perfect and one can find issues with anything and everything if they look for it. Soy is a good product and nobody should ever avoid it due to another provoking fear. Read all the info, both sides and the neutral parties, and then decide for yourself whether or not to consume it.
Thank you because I been drinking Silk Soy Milk for years & I don’t want to stop.
Thank you! My daughter is very healthy and has been on organic soy her whole life! Soybeans are made by God. They get a bad wrap because soy is in so many processed foods! For people with allergies, pls don’t tell them not to eat soy. Life is hard enough with a limited diet
Research dairy and allergies. Humans shouldn’t be drinking breast milk from a different species. Pretty sure human breast milk is for babies anyway? Definitely more harmful than soy. Especially giving it to kids still developing their bodies. Should be child abuse.
No, you’re pretty wrong here. When it comes to infants, soy based formula is further removed from breastmilk than another specie’s breastmilk. Yes, human breastmilk is healthiest, but some women are unable to breastfeed (at least 5%, that’s 1 out of every 20 women) and some women will have their milk fail in the first 6 months (30-40%.) Milk sharing is unsafe in it’s own right, from the fact you don’t know what’s in the woman’s milk, to processing, shipping, and contamination, and should only happen in situations where you can trust the other person. It’s pretty expensive too, and not feasible.
In looking for an alternative, your choices for safe alternatives are to strap women up to a milking machine and force them to be milked for those who cannot give enough as well as control their diet and environment, or try to make another species’ milk as close to human milk as possible, while making it cheap enough that you don’t have people watering it down. Saying no alternative is necessary is naive and would lead to a large number of babies dying.
Where dairy is an allergy, there is protein-based formula, which is probably the closest to human milk, but is the most expensive. Where dairy is an allergy, soy is probably also an allergy and should be a last resort. Soy formula is so overprocessed and so far removed from milk that it should be seen as a pretty unnatural source of nutrition and a last resort. Note, these aren’t MY recommendations, but health organizations concerned with formula quality. While we’re not sure about the phytoestrogens being processed the same as birth control pills, there’s plenty of other reasons to avoid soy formula.
Jean Van Wyk
Interestingly enough, some Cows have undergone trans-genesis, and biologists have inserted the gene for producing human breast milk into the cow genome. So, cows are now able to be milked for human breast milk, which is pretty awesome.
Sounds absolutely ridiculous, and unsafe. Horrible.
Cows producing human milk! That’s absurd and so far from natural. I get the point that it could help people in need. But scientist need to stop playing god they often don’t know the full repercussions of doing such things. That is so wrong definitely not awesome in my book!
Jean Van Wyk
James Faris, I would like to address each of your points.
It is not ridiculous. The science behind it is quite extraordinary, and it is the safest way of mass producing breast milk in a healthy way. The way they do it is by taking a cell sample (could be some saliva) from the donor species, and then separate the entirety of the genome from the nucleus. They then purify the DNA, and then proceeding to extract desirable genes. Then once again, they do the same process, except they do not cut out the gene for the cow milk, and replace it with the breast milk genes. This genome is then implanted into a neutral cell, and placed into a surrogate mother. Then the calf will grow into a cow which can produce human breast milk. It is not unsafe because the animals do not get hurt in the process, and they are creating the exact kind of milk that humans do. Also, dairy farmers are obliged to keep their cows healthy. This is not cruel towards them. And, again, this is not horrible, as the host species (in this case, the cow) is not harmed in this process. The process is heavily regulated, so it is in fact a lot less horrible than a lot of things done to animals. It could be argued that this transgenesis could somehow have an adaptive advantage someday for both human and cows. However, I can understand that whether or not something is ‘horrible’ could be based off moral view-points and cultural influence. But I thought this was simply an interesting point to share.
Jean Van Wyk
Tiffany, what exact repercussions would there be for this particular transgenesis? Also, I hope you have read my previous reply, which states that the entire process is heavily regulated. This is not a simple school project, and is taken extremely seriously.
That is amazing, I didn’t know that could even be done, and is is cost efficient?
Bravo Chris! You couldn’t be more right. Dairy causes far more concerns than soy ever could!
That is true. They are both bad for health anyway.
Actually I believe the point was to steam or cook the cruciferous vegetables, not to avoid them. Well said. Soy formula should be banned.
Cruciferous vegetables are best eaten only *lightly* cooked. Steaming or stir frying for a few minutes. Over-cooking largely reduces glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, the anti-cancer compounds.
This article is incorrect. Yes, soy contains phytoestrogens – aka isoflavones – which act as police, to ensure your body is producing the right amount of estrogens. For example, if there is too much estrogen in the body, the isoflavones will block it from affecting cells by attaching to the same spot on cells that estrogen normally would.
Soy is also supported by Richard Beliveau, in his book “Foods to Fight Cancer”. He recommends whole soy like soybeans, miso and tofu, in 2 ounces (50 grams) per day.
Asian cultures have been eating whole soy for years, and Asian diets have been shown (with Indian and Mediterranean) to be far superior to Western Diets in terms of health and disease prevention.
Totally agree. Plus why would we take this information as credible? Especially when she mentions about the so called ‘harmful’ health implications of eating soy, yet continues to consume cancer causing meats? In addition, she then states the damage caused by livestock being fed soya….but continues to advocate the consumption of meat..which, given any sense of logic, would defeat the point of her argument?! Am I going crazy? Please someone else see this contradiction l..
Meat does not cause cancer. The recent research findings (that newer research is now suggesting may be severely overblown) indicates that processed meats like spam and hot dogs may cause cancer. Honestly I have been avoiding stuff like that for years anyway… because I know it’s not healthy. As I explain in my articles on why good meats are healthy (https://wellnessmama.com/1015/healthy-protein-sources/), my family eats non-processed meat from local (when possible), grass-fed, pastured sources, not meat raised on soy-based feed from feedlots. So I am not sure I understand your confusion. I don’t see a contradiction here if you are familiar with my work… although obviously not everyone is an expert on everything I write 😉
Kristina Coffeen Parry
Mark did you read the article or just jump in to troll on the comments? Katie explained how livestock eating GM soybeans that have also been heavily sprayed showed harm. SHE DOES NOT EAT THAT MEAT, nor does she advocate eating conventional meat. But only grassfed organic meats. In case you don’t know what that means, that means livestock that hasn’t consumed soy. Troll somewhere else next time or put your logic hat on.
Mix coconut oil with cocoa and honey or sugar. It’s not peanut butter, that’s for sure, but tastes amazing! 🙂
What a great idea! Coconut cream would also be good with honey and cocoa, and maybe a smiggen of vanilla.
Forgive yourself and let this go.
You were doing the best at the time. It is not like you were
giving them vaccines. You are doing your best, just remember to teach them
that the TV teaches them to desire things they don’t need. It is fake, not real life.
Just for fun.
I am allergic to peanut butter. I use Biscoff spread instead. It can be found in the same aisle as all of the alternatives. It’s absolutely delicious.
This soy talk isn’t accurate – talk to your pediatrician before you stop with soy.
Kristina Coffeen Parry
Most pediatrician’s are NOT up to date on research. Parents who simply take one man or woman’s word for something regarding their child’s health are not doing their job as a parent. These days we must research, know how to separate good studies from bad.
Simply ask your pediatrician about what the FDA has admitted publicly about asymptomatic infection of pertussis from recently those vaccinated with the acellular form of the DTAP spreading the disease unknowingly and watch the blank face appear xx
Sunbutter is much more healthier for you!
Great blog! But unfortunately, the scientific evidence shows the exact opposite of this article to be true. Organic, non-gmo, whole soy foods (tofu, edamame, tempeh, miso, natto) are actually very good for you.
Here is a link to current scientific research on soy https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/soy-and-health
Have you thought about buying organic chicken breast, and bake them with garlic and maybe a tiny bit of soy sauce? You can also buy the gmo free bread with flex seeds, omega 3, and omega 6 added. This way your kids can have fresh, healthy, and delicious food every day.
Note* soy sauce is filled with sodium, a teaspoon or less can have as much as 600mg of sodium.
And i do agree that too much of anything can be harmful, but one can also gain a lot of benefits from food in moderation. Instead of cutting out some specific food because of a couple negatives, intake in moderation. Like another article i read tonight, “five reasons to stop consuming salmon”. The article provides evidences that salmon is bad for you, farm raised, mercury, and such. The article is written by an author that is for vegetaruanism, of cause he is going to provides most of the negatives about consuming salmon. Best thing to do to sustain a healthy style is to intaking foods that is: adequate, in moderation, balance in nutrients, and have variety.
My son was alergic to dairy when he was a baby (and refused to nurse) so I gave him soy formula. Is there any way to undo the damage?
Please don’t believe this anti-soy rhetoric coming from the Weston Price Foundation! Do you really think Asian men suffer from low sperm count? They eat soy every day! The phytoestrogens in soy actually have an anti cancer effect. This is why breast and prostate cancer levels are so much lower in Asia than they are here. The Weston Price Foundation is anti soy because it’s the biggest competitor to meat and dairy.
Milk from an entirely different species of animal and from a female has more TONS MORE phytoesteogens