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Soy: An Overview
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What You Need To Know

As soy has made its way into Western diets, consumers have become interested in the many claimed health benefits. Soy products are often marketed specifically to women in part because of scientific evidence gathered over fifteen years suggesting that soy may be helpful for conditions and diseases associated with menopause, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, and mood swings. In addition, numerous medical journal reports have documented the positive affects of soy’s estrogenic properties on the brain, heart, bones, breasts, and uterus, as well as the skin, hair, and nails.1

Every day I receive letters from individuals who have heard that soy is dangerous. These accusations have been made for over a decade now, though they seem to have increased recently probably because soy is becoming so popular. Despite the mounting evidence for the health benefits of soy, some researchers are concerned that the estrogen-like properties of isoflavones might increase a woman’s risk for breast and other female cancers. However, increasingly the available evidence suggests that neither soy nor isoflavones are a concern. In fact, more and more evidence shows soy’s many benefits when used as part of a healthy diet.

The bottom line is this: After weighing the data for yourself, follow your gut instinct—your inner wisdom! If you’re afraid to eat soy, your fear will be likely to affect the way it is digested.

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When it comes to your brain, bones, and heart, just about anyone can easily take advantage of soy’s protective powers. Although you may be able to protect these body systems (and others) with less, I recommend 100–160 mg of soy isoflavones per day. Typically, a serving of soy contains 35–50 mg of soy isoflavones and 8 gm of soy protein. Some examples are 1 cup of soymilk, 1/2 cup of tofu, or three handfuls of roasted soy nuts.

Soy is a regular part of my daily diet. If eating soy isn’t currently a part of your daily ritual, I encourage you to incorporate it into your diet. You’ll be adding a superior form of protein. Soybeans are the only plant food that has all of the essential amino acids our bodies require. In addition, soy foods do not contain any cholesterol and are high in fiber. Soy also contains many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemical compounds (such as isoflavones). So, by adding soy to your diet you may be providing terrific protection against oxidative stress, balancing your hormones, protecting your bones, strengthening brain function, lowering your cholesterol, and so much more!

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References
    • Anderson, J.J., et. al., 1999. Health potential of soy isoflavones for menopausal women, Public Health Nutr, Dec;2(4):489-504.
    • Celec, P., 2005. Endocrine and cognitive effects of short-time soybean consumption in women, Gynecol Obstet Invest, 59(2):62-6, Epub 2004 Nov 3.
    • File, S. E., et. al., 2005. Cognitive improvement after 6 weeks of soy supplements in postmenopausal women is limited to frontal lobe function, Menopause, Mar;12(2)193-201.
    • Jenkins, D.J, et. al., 2002. Effects of high- and low-isoflavone soyfoods on blood lipids, oxidized LDL, homocysteine, and blood pressure in hyperlipidemic men and women. Am J Clin Nutr, Aug;76(2):365-72.
    • Kritz-Silverstein, D., et. al., 2003. Isoflavones and cognitive function in older women: the Soy and Postmenopausal Health in Aging Study, Menopause, May-Jun;10(3):196-202.
    • Lee, Y.B., Lee, H.J., Sohn, H.S., 2005. Soy isoflavones and cognitive function. J Nutr Biochem, Nov;16(11):641-9. Epub 2005 Aug 10.
    • Lydeking-Olsen, E., et. al., 2004. Soymilk or progesterone for prevention of bone loss—a 2-year randomized, placebo-controlled trial, Eur J Nutr, Aug;43(4):246-57. Epub 2004 Apr 14.
    • Omoni, A.O., Aluko, R.E., 2005. Soybean foods and their benefits: potential mechanisms of action. Nutr Rev, Aug;63(8):272-83.
    • Sonee, M., et. al., 2004. The soy isoflavone, genistein, protects human cortical neuronal cells from oxidative stress, Neurotoxicology, Sept;25(5):885-91.
    • Zhang, X., et. al. 2005, Prospective cohort study of soy food consumption and risk of bone fracture among postmenopausal women, Arch Intern Med., Sep 12;165(16):1890-5.
Last updated: September 4, 2012