Sunday, October 04, 2009

Is Soy the Ticket to Good Health or Infertility? Here's the Scoop

By Sarah Irani, EcoSalon. Posted October 3, 2009.

Some tout soy products as a panacea for health and wellness, while others swear that soy is a sure ticket to infertility and "man boobs." What are the facts?

In Special Coverage

At the Values Voter Summit, Wing-Nut Christian Right Plots Its Comeback
Rob Boston

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace:
Here's the Skinny on Why Wal-Mart Is So Evil (and Has Made Such a Killing)
David Moberg

'Prince of Pot' Marc Emery Jailed in Canada Pending Extradition to US
Phillip S. Smith

What If Being Fat Is Not Your Fault? America's Obesity Epidemic May Be Fueled by Chemicals in Everyday Products
Tara Lohan

Health and Wellness:
Is Soy the Ticket to Good Health or Infertility? Here's the Scoop
Sarah Irani

Bait and Switch: ICE Says Program Targets "Dangerous Criminals" but Casts Wide Net
Michele Waslin

Media and Technology:
Fox TV's Bizarre New Cartoon Comedy Is a Minstrel Show, Pure and Simple
Jasmyne Cannick

Movie Mix:
Barack Obama Must See Michael Moore's New Movie (and So Must You)!
Arianna Huffington

Tea Party Movement Returns Christian Right to Its Racist Past
Michelle Goldberg

Reproductive Justice and Gender:
A Day in the Life of an Abortion Clinic Escort

Rights and Liberties:
Do You Want the Right to Kill Yourself? Renegade Doctor Offers Controversial 'Death Kit'
Liliana Segura

Sex and Relationships:
What Is an Orgasm, Anyway?

Take Action:
G-20 Meetings: Nothing Much Happened in the Suites, and There Was Too Much Punch in the Streets
Laura Flanders

Our Love Affair With Our Lawns Is Hurling the U.S. Toward Water Crisis
Dara Colwell

What's Really Behind Conservative Pundit George Will's Call for Total Withdrawal From Afghanistan?
Byard Duncan

More stories by Sarah Irani

The topic of soy can create a big debate among healthy folks, and the viewpoints can be extreme. Who knew a humble green bean could be so controversial? Some tout soy products as a panacea for health and wellness, while others swear that soy is a sure ticket to infertility and "man boobs". What are the facts?

Aren't Asian cultures particularly healthy because of consumption of soy?

Asians don't actually eat as much soy as we think -- only about 10-36 grams per day. In contrast, a cup of tofu or soy milk contains over 200 grams of soy. Besides, the most common soy foods in Asia are fermented products such as tempeh, miso and shoyu (soy sauce), while most Westerners eat unfermented, highly processed versions of soy. Unfermented soy contains enzyme inhibitors that block protein digestion (among other things we'll get to below).

Isn't soy healthy because it's a natural plant product?

Most soy foods are highly processed and bear very little resemblance to the natural soybean (think soy hotdogs or TVP -- textured vegetable protein). Just because something is touted as a "health" food, doesn't really make it healthy. Whole foods are always the best way to get your food nutrition -- the more processed a food is, the less natural and ultimately less healthy it is.

What's so wrong with soy hotdogs and TVP anyway? Aren't they good, protein-rich, meat substitutes?

Soy is more filler than food. For many years, the protein left over from the extraction of soy oil was sold to farms as animal feed. After some time, the food industry figured out how to make this highly processed soy protein palatable to the human tongue and began to aggressively market it in foods like soy dogs, soy meat substitutes and the like. Sure, there's protein, but it also takes quite a bit of sugar, salt or MSG to make soy protein actually taste good. The healthiest foods are whole foods, not processed ones.

How will a diet heavy in soy impact my health?

Unfermented soy can inhibit protein absorption, cause flatulence and increase the chance of developing kidney stones. The processing of soy may remove some of these problems. Soy also inhibits growth. Even within the animal feed industry, the amount of soy protein that can be fed to animals has to be limited or the animals themselves will suffer problems with growth and fertility.

What's up with genetically modified soy?

Most soy grown in the world is genetically modified (GM) -- with 87% of American soy being GM. And what's the big deal about that? Not a lot of research has been done on the effects of GM foods, but one particular study on rats showed that unborn babies and young infants were particularly harmed by the effects of genetically modified soy.

Digg! Share on facebook submit to reddit Bookmark on Delicious Stumble This TweetThis

See more stories tagged with: health, food, soy

No comments: