Eating Soy: Don’t Believe the Hype

Over the last couple of years, soy has gotten a pretty bad rep.

This troubles me on a personal level, because I love my tofu. And my miso. And soy sauce. And edamame.

But if that’s the truth, then I will except it.

If that’s the truth.

And recently, I’ve come to question that truth. Sure, my personal bias is a little bit invested in this, but hear me out, because this post is strictly about the facts.

Soy has a reputation for being estrogenic – that is, it raises estrogen. This is because it contains phytoestrogens.

Phytoestrogens are xenoestrogens derived from plants. Phytoestrogens can only be consumed through phytoestrogenic plants.

Phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors in the body. In this way, it can mimic estrogen. But what it can also do is bind to estrogen receptors and block other more harmful estrogens from getting to the receptor. Long story short and condensed into laymens terms, phytoestrogens can increase or decrease estrogens – so it can be estrogenic, but it can also be an estrogen antagonist.

The results here are a bit wishy-washy, but here it is. Soy could raise your estrogen levels; but it also could not. It is beyond my understanding how this differs person to person, but I think bioindividuality and lifestyle has a lot to do with how any one person is affected.

I know, I know! You aren’t convinced. Because you’ve also heard that soy is one of the highest genetically modified foods – a fact that doesn’t require labeling in North America. It’s true. Some studies link GMOs to cancer and allergies, and most countries outside of North America consider them harmful – at least harmful enough to ensure consumers are aware when they are buying them.

But to be fair, not all soy is created equal. I buy only organic soy products, which are available here at just about any grocery store. Fermented organic soy beans, like miso, is even better, as it also has health benefits for your gut.

There’s a bit more to the story than just “it’s not that bad for you” . In fact, some studies have shown some benefits from consuming soy.

Soy consumption has actually been linked to decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and can reduce symptoms during menopause. Yes, that’s right – it can be protective against breast cancer, not guilty of causing it.

Based on the information available right now, I believe organic soy is completely okay in moderation. Remember: organic only!

Now I can go back to eating my tofu in peace.

Thanks for reading!


More information:

Help us out Dr Axe:

Are gmo’s safe?

Top 10 GMO foods

Zaheer, K., and Humayoun Akhtar, M. An updated review of dietary isoflavones: Nutrition, processing, bioavailability and impacts on human health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2015. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2014.989958.

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