Spill The Beans: Is Soy Good For You Or Not?
There hasn’t been a more controversial food product than the soybean. You either hear people singing it praises or vehemently opposing it. Then there are people who have no idea which side is right. You definitely want to put beneficial, nutritious food into your body, but on the other hand, you don’t want to consume anything that could be a detriment to your health. With all the back-and-forth chatter, it can be hard to discern fact from fiction. Although research is still ongoing, read on to discover the good, the bad, and the downright confusing aspects of soy.
Soy definitely has its upsides. For one thing, soybeans are rich in nutrients, including:
This food is a good source of plant protein as well for individuals who abstain from animal protein (or anyone really). Studies have also shown that soy aids in prostate cancer remission and decreases the rate of colon cancer due to some products’ high amount of fiber. Fiber is known to decrease bad cholesterol levels and increase the levels of good cholesterol, aiding in good heart health. This food has also been shown to aid women who are trying to become pregnant after being exposed to bisphenol A (BPA), a harmful chemical found in many plastic items.
Due to soy’s isoflavones (estrogen-like substances), many of the fertility issues prompted by BPA’s effects to the endocrine system are neutralized. These isoflavones are also predicted to promote nitric oxide production in your body (which opens up blood vessels and decreases blood pressure), diminishing the heart problems that many of our youth suffer from.
However, the body healing benefits this food brings can only be yours if you eat the right kind of soy product. To put it simply: the less processed, the better. This includes edamame, tofu, tempeh, natto, and miso. Fermented soy is recommended most of all since these food substances can be high in Vitamin K2, which helps promote bone and heart health. Also, due to the fermentation process, soy makes it easier for your body to absorb nutrients and provides probiotics your stomach will be grateful for. Also, as with anything, eat in moderation to reap the most of what this food has to offer.
It’s not all good in the land of soy. Even though soy is linked to improved fertility, if you consume too much, it can actually have the opposite effect and lead to a decrease in ovarian activity. Also, because this food is saturated with phytates, many of the nutrients mentioned before cannot be absorbed by our bodies.
This is because phytates latch onto these minerals and make them unusable to us. It’s for this reason it is advised to abstain from soy if you have thyroid issues that require medication since it can affect how your body absorbs the medicine. Soy contains lectins as well, a type of protein that makes you think you’re hungry when you’re not and can even lead to insulin resistance. It is also advised to never feed an infant soy formula. Research has come out that individuals who were fed soy formula as a baby not only went through puberty at a younger age and had more breast tissue than the average person, but they also had a higher rate of neurological issues due to the milk’s high level of manganese.
It has even been shown that cultivating soy is unhealthy for the environment as well since this crop steals many of the soil’s nutrients, leaving it infertile for growing future crops. Lastly, soybeans are poisonous when raw, so always cook beforehand if you decide to indulge.
Scientists seem to be just as confused as we are. As time has passed, contradictory studies have been published that still do not give us a clear answer. An example of this is soy’s link to breast cancer. Some studies astutely say soy has no effect on breast cancer whatsoever, others claim that this food actually prolongs the lives of people suffering from this disease.
However, other research states soy does cause breast cancer by encouraging the growth of certain cells that usually become malignant. Thyroid function is another hotly disputed subject. Some studies speculate that soy causes hypothyroidism, but research also shows this food having zero or little effect on thyroid function. There’s contradicting theories as well on the effects soy has on brain function. While some say it promotes healthy brain activity due to some product’s high levels of B12 and omega 3s, tests have shown that eating soy could actually quicken the aging process of brain cells too.
In the end, it’s all about moderation. Many of the negative side effects associated with soy are due to eating too much of it as well as the kind you’re consuming. Fermented soy products have shown to offer the most health benefits without causing serious harm to your body. In the end, it’s ultimately up to you whether or not you want to include soy in your next meal. As one contradicting study surfaces after another, it can be hard to take a firm stance on the subject. However, you are the foremost expert on your body. If you notice you don’t feel right when eating soy, then don’t eat it, but if consuming soy makes you feel great, then keep calm and eat on!
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