IS TOO MUCH SOY DANGEROUS?

by Miss Bliss

“You can’t eat any more soy?”

“Nope. My doctor told me to stay away from soy.” Emily is staring down at her menu and I study her chin-length hair and the light shimmer on her eyelids.

“Why not? What’s the problem with soy?” Being a vegetarian for over five years, and off cow milk for four, I have heard stories that soy may not be the health food scientific research claims it to be.

“My breasts were getting huge,” Emily exclaims, lifting her black-lined eyes up to mine. “Enormous! I went up two sizes to a double D and almost an E, and I was already big to begin with!”

“Big? I prefer to call you perfect and gorgeous.”

She laughs sarcastically and then says, “It was painful! I had the worst back pain. You can’t imagine! So I went to the doctor and he told me to get off soy, and you know I love soymilk! But I’m off soy for three months now and I’ve lost weight and my breasts are nearly normal again. Well, normal for me.”

“Perfection, again,” I say flirting, and she looks at me with a wicked smile.

After lunch, I walk away a little down. Giving up cow milk was hard enough; now I have to give up soy, too? Or do I?

IS SOY DANGEROUS?

1. DOES SOY HAVE HEALTH BENEFITS?

YES- Scientific research has proven that soy can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels which decreases the risk of heart disease. Scientists also agree that when soy is used to replace animal protein, less calcium is lost from the body.

NO – Most of the studies demonstrating soy’s positive effects were sponsored by the soy industry, making it difficult to determine whether the positive effects were soy-based, or simply because the study participants were eating less animal products and, therefore, less cholesterol.

THE END RESULT? If you have a history of heart disease in your family, switching to soy from animal products will lower your cholesterol. But then again, switching to a vegetarian diet without soy will do the same!

2. DOES SOY CAUSE BREAST CANCER?

YES - Soy is full of phytoestrogens which many call “plant estrogen”. Some believe phytoestrogens in soybeans can act like human estrogen and cause hot flashes or promote estrogen-sensitive breast cancers.

NO – There is no definitive data to prove that soy contributes to breast cancer. Doctors do, however, stress that non-Asian women should consume less than 25 grams of soy protein per day. This is about one glass of soy milk and one cup of tofu, only! So if you are drinking a soy latte with your cereal and soy milk, then having a soy burger for lunch, soy chicken stir-fry for dinner, and topping it all off with soy ice cream, you may be increasing your risk of breast cancer. If your man is a soy consumer, make sure to let him know he can rest easy: science has shown that soy does not cause vegan men to develop breasts.

THE END RESULT? If you have a family history of breast cancer, it is in your interest to limit your daily intake of soy protein to less than 25 grams per day, or avoid soy altogether.

3. ARE SOME TYPES OF SOY FOODS HEALTHIER THAN OTHERS?

YES – The American Cancer Society approves up to three servings of traditional soy products for breast cancer patients. What are traditional soy products, you ask? Miso, natto and tofu. Now, I don’t even know what “natto” is and I’ve been a vegetarian for over five years. Tofu, as many of you know, is a great form of vegetable protein. Miso is fermented soybean paste and known for its many health benefits, including the reduction of breast cancer cells.

NO - The soy industry argues that any kind of soy protein is equally beneficial.

THE END RESULT? Medical researchers warn consumers that non-traditional soy-based processed foods, (including soy milk, soy ice cream, soy burgers, soy chicken, etc.) are to be treated like all processed foods and are to be eaten in moderation ONLY!

After researching the benefits and potential harm of soy, and thinking about my sweet friend Emily’s story, it seems there is plenty of evidence that soy should be treated like all processed foods and be eaten in moderation. But to live healthy is to live balanced: eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds and the occasional soy treat will not harm you.

REMEMBER, HEALTHY EQUALS HOT!

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO
BLISS WARRIOR

[Many of the facts for this blog come from my new favorite magazine, VegNews, and from the excellently researched article by Ilyse Simon titled, The Great Soy Debate. On newsstands today.]

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IF YOU ENJOYED THIS BLOG, YOU MAY LIKE READING:
MILK MADE ME A COW
SWEETER THAN SUGAR AND SO MUCH SEXIER
SHE SIPS SAKE
***************************************************************************************
MISSED THE SAN DIEGO BRUNCH LAST WEEKEND?
11 BI-GIRLS MET IN SAN DIEGO FOR BRUNCH & CONVERSATION
AND HAD A FANTASTIC TIME! DON’T MISS THE NEXT EVENT IN SAN DIEGO!
CLICK HERE to join the San Diego bi women myspace group and never miss an event again.
Not on myspace? CLICK HERE to join San Diego bi women on google groups or email them at san-diego-bi-women@googlegroups.com for more information
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BLISS IS BRUNCHING IN SOUTH BEACH MIAMI THIS SATURDAY, JANUARY 19th at 11AM.
WE ALREADY HAVE FOUR AMAZING, SMART, GORGEOUS GIRLS COMING
AND WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOU JOIN US!
EMAIL ME AT BLISS@BLISSWARRIOR.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy January 14, 2008 at 1:56 pm

I am a big fan of almond milk. It’s great for cereal, and for drinking on its own. You can make it yourself with just water and almonds, or buy it packaged.

Reply

Lady Savant January 14, 2008 at 1:58 pm

Thank you for another great post. I was thinking about this just last week too. Very timely on your part. ;)

Reply

mrs. creepz January 14, 2008 at 2:46 pm

well i combine cow milk, soy milk, chocolate milk, and daily walks in my diet and everything is peachy keen ! and i dont know how i would feel about eliminating meat altogether from my diet, but i can definitely see myself not eating any red meat at all..
love the blogs… i think i need a second serving of ms. bliss blogs per day.. i need my juicy calorie intake..

Reply

othelo January 14, 2008 at 5:38 pm

There is a big ongoing debate in bodybuilding circles about the benefits/detriments of soy protein. Evidence does point to safe use in men as protein supplementation but not as part of an exclusive diet.

The problem with soy is that when you go vegetarian, or more specifically vegan its one of the cheapest most bio-available forms of protein. As such it tends to become a sole source, it avoids the muscle wasting that lack of protein causes, but it does throw off the estrogen/testosterone balance.

Plant estrogen does convert to human estrogen (how, I’m honestly not sure) but in such minute quantities that a little soy isn’t bad at all, actually it is a healthy alternative for those who are lactose intolerant. But yes, too much soy isn’t good for anyone.

Hopefully the FDA will get past both the soy and the supplement lobby(s) and force some long term independent studies on the subject. They have already implemented a program that forces supplement manufacturers to accurately measure the amounts of the substances they claim to be in their products. It proves nothing about the effectiveness of said products but it is a step in the right direction.

Reply

TJ Seitz January 14, 2008 at 6:42 pm

My Grandfather used to think people were crazy to eat the stuff…farmers don’t feed raw soybeans to livestock because it can/will kill them so why would it be any differant for a human…

Reply

thel1lyone January 15, 2008 at 6:49 pm

Great article! to add a little… people did the same thing with soy that they did with kombi, a seaweed used primarily to make MSG, a natural preservative. In small / moderate amounts, MSG is not bad for you; it’s that we put SO MUCH of it in EVERYTHING. People assumed that because it was natural, it wasn’t that big of a deal – until they started eating it in huge amounts. You can say the same thing about gluten – if it wasn’t in everything, people wouldn’t develop such strong allergies to it.

Along dietary lines, I’ve just written a post discussing meat-eating, ethical and health issues surrounding it, and I’ve tried to offer some perspective as an omnivore-in-decline-towards-vegetariani sm. Would you please check it out? I’d love to get a little more variation in my reader base. Thanks!

CLICK HERE TO READ “REFLECTIONS ON MEAT EATING”

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Do It In The Dirt January 15, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Hi Bliss,

I know that Rice Milk doesn’t pack the protein punch of soy or almond milk, but how does it fare nutritionally? Better or worse than soy?

Thanks for the very informational blog! :o )

Reply

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