Soy – Why The Big Debate?

by Jennifer Boudreau on August 15, 2013

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Soy MilkAfter having our daughter almost four years ago, I found myself extremely exhausted….even by “just had a newborn” standards. Several months later, I was frustrated because despite my best efforts, I could not lose the baby weight. I was going crazy!! I was eating healthy, lifting weights and running….a lot of running, but I was still at the same weight as the day I came home from the hospital. Ugh!! One day a red flag went up and I thought “hmmmm…I wonder if something is wrong with my thyroid.” Sure enough, one quick blood test and it was confirmed: I had hypothyroidism. Because of that diagnosis, there is one food I tend to shy away from and that food is soy. Should everyone avoid it? Not necessarily…..

There are some benefits to eating soy, but it’s getting a bad reputation. Why? Well, I want to cover some of the hot and not-so-hot topics surrounding soy.

Organic Soy: Soy is one of the most highly genetically modified crops grown today. Very little research has been done to prove that genetically modified (GMO) foods are safe for consumption. The research proving that they are safe has been done by the exact corporations that created them. In most developed countries, with the exception of the United States, GMO’s are not designated as safe and these countries have significantly restricted their use. With that being said, it is strongly advised that if you’re going to consume soy, look for certified organic. Any food that is certified organic cannot be GMO.

Fermented Soy vs. Unfermented Soy: Fermented soy goes through a process which destroys the anti-nutrients that can be found in unfermented soy. This permits you to enjoy the health benefits of the bean without the anti-nutrients. Examples of some foods made with fermented soy are miso, tempeh, and naturally brewed soy sauce. Fermented soy is the version commonly used in Asian cultures. In addition, soy is still consumed in moderation in these cultures.

Some examples of unfermented soy are tofu, soymilk and soy infant formula. Many suggest avoiding unfermented soy because even if it’s grown organically, it naturally contains the anti-nutrients which I mentioned above. The problem is….most people in the United States that consume soy consume the unfermented variety. In addition to consuming the unfermented version, many soy lovers consume large amounts rather than eating or drinking it in moderation.

Isoflavones: Isoflavones are a form of phytoestrogen, which is similar to the hormone estrogen. Some research has shown that isoflavones can interfere with thyroid function, which is one reason I consume soy in very limited quantities. When my mom was diagnosed with an estrogen driven form of breast cancer, she was told to avoid soy due to the potential hormonal impact. However, the jury is still out as to whether these concerns are worth the worry.Not everyone feels that soy is potentially harmful to our health. According to, “The consumption of soy products has many health benefits, including protection against breast cancer, prostate cancer, menopausal symptoms, heart disease and osteoporosis. .” This is why the soy debate is SO confusing! Fortunately, scientists are continuing to research the health impacts of soy. Until then, I’m choosing to consume it in very limited quantities.

P.S. Do your own research on soy, but if you have concerns, always talk to your doctor. I’m simply a mommy blogger and my ramblings are in no way meant to be substituted for medical advice!

 Please find me on Facebook and tell me, do you eat or drink soy?

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