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Concerns with Soy and Soy Products

We have recently read articles that said eating soy and soy products were harmful to your health. What is our perspective on this issue? Soy products are generally very healthy. However, there are a couple of issues that merit mentioning. 

The main problem that I have run into with soy products is that in some rare cases thyroid function seems to be slightly depressed by large amounts of soy in the diet. In these cases the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) will be slightly elevated but goes back to normal shortly after cutting back on soy products.

Because thyroid problems are not known to be a big issue in Asian cultures that use a lot of soy in the form of traditional soy products (i.e., tofu, miso, tempeh, soy sauce, soy sprouts, etc.), I suspect that the thyroid connection is primarily with modern soy products like soy based supplements, soy nuts, soy milk, soy protein, textured soy products (i.e., soy "meat," soy burgers, hot dogs, etc.).

Still, the vast majority of people would benefit from using some soy in their diet. On the other hand, in traditional Asian cultures tofu and other soy products were used as flavorings and as protein extenders. Therefore, the current American fascination with soy is sometimes taken too far.

The second issue worth mentioning is the difficulty some people have digesting soy products. Soybeans are legumes (beans) and, as with other legumes, some people have difficulty digesting them. They may have more gas or an uncomfortable heavy feeling after a meal with a lot of soy in it. This seems to be much less of a problem with the traditional soy products. 

 

Copyright 2017 R. S. Bradley, N.D. All rights reserved. 

Heartland Naturopathic Clinic
5003 Burt Street
Omaha, NE 68132
(402) 391-6714