Soy - Are you Confused

I always find it interesting how soy continues to be tossed around with scrupulous reserve, if not complete negativity. 

Soy, including tofu, tempeh, miso, edamame’, and natto have been consumed for generations.  Some of the healthiest, longest living people in the world, including 7th Day Adventist and Okinawans consume soy on a regular basis.   Soy isoflavones, found in first generation soy, show many health benefits, including bone, mood, brain and cardiovascular benefit.  Countries that that are frequent consumers of first generation soy have a lower incidence of breast cancer and other endocrine cancers.  

Most of the negative press on soy is related to soy isolates, not first generation soy. Soy isolates are added to fake meat foods, protein bars and several supplements. Soy isolates have been stripped of the isoflavones and processed with a variety of chemicals and additives. Soy oils are added to many processed convenience foods that  have little nutrient value and contain unhealthy additives. These are not a healthy way to obtain the benefits of soy.

Soy need not be restricted in thyroid disease. Soy can block iodine uptake by the thyroid in individuals that have marginal iodine stores.  This can easily be corrected by increasing iodine in the diet or with iodine supplementation. Just like magnesium and calcium supplements   should not be consumed within 4 hours of thyroid medication, so soy products should not as well. All of these nutrients, although beneficial to health, decrease absorption of thyroid medication.    Soy need not be avoided if you are a breast cancer survivor.  A recent longitudinal study of women in China and the United states over a 9-year period of time showed no increase in cancer and a slight decrease in reoccurrence in those using soy vs. those that didn’t use soy products. 

When looking at the risk of diet and disease, it is animal proteins that are related to diseases such as kidney cancer, kidney stones, colon cancer, cardiac disease, and Type II Diabetes.  Plant based eating with inclusion of some first generation soy provides overall health benefit.