The soy controversy
There is quite the debate about soy whether you vegan, vegetarian or not plant based at all.
Let us explore it some more.
What is soy?
Soy can be classified as a legume and vegetable.
Soy comes in a variety of forms. This includes tempeh, tofu, mock meats and much more. It is also often added to our food as hidden ingredients.
It can be also made into dairy form such as soy milk.
What is this controversy really about?
Soy contains a compound called isoflavones which falls under a class of phyto estrogens.
These phytoestrogens mimic hormones in our body that affects estrogen which is vital for functioning, especially for women.
However, phytoestrogens are not only found in soy. They are found in many other plant based foods such as flaxxseed, lentils, yams, sesame seeds, apple, carrots, beer and more.
Benefits of soy?
According to Dr Michael Gregor, soy is a wonderful food for women. It contains isoflovones and so may offer protection against breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma.
It is shown to decrease the effects of menopause and delay premature puberty in female adolescents.
It does not affect male fertility.
Soy has been shown to also help in arthritis, bone health, wrinkles, depression, allergies, asthma and reduce abdominal fat.
Over consumption of soy can lead has negative effects on our health. Soy contains a substance called genistein which is a isoflavone.
Genistein mimics soy's estrogen compounds in the body and some studies have shown that this reduce fertility in women, trigger early puberty and disrupt development in fetus and children. However, this may come about if you do eat too much. That would be more than 5 servings a day which for a balanced diet would be considered too much anyway even without taking the above into account. The key is moderation.
Soy can affect thyroid functioning especially if you not getting enough iodine in your diet.
Soy is an allergen and can cause an allergic reaction. This can sometimes be worked around in through a specialized diet and does not mean staying off soy long term.
Some of the concerns around soy is that it is processed. It it taken in natural form and changed to an extent that is is not as natural, and therefore as wholesome, as it could be. This is especially found in mock meats. In this form, soy can be high in sodium. It is also contains large portion of fat.
Some may contain GMO but not all.
How is soy milk compared to cows milk?
Soy milk is a wonderful alternative to cows milks and can provide all the nutrients you need and more.
Soy contains the same amount of calcium but also has double the amount of antioxidants. It is high in protein. It is fortified with vitamin B12 and vitamin D, two much needed nutrients in our vegan diet.
It is also low in cholesterol, saturated fat and calories which is an added bonus.
Soy is a very healthy addition to a vegan diet. When compared to the risks of eating meat, even the risks of soy far out weight them (unless there is a food intolerance).
My approach to soy is the same as my approach to diet: Keep it in balance. Do not over consume but keep it in moderation. My doing so, you can have a well balanced and healthy diet.