Tim McComsey, RD, CPT at TRYM Fitness
Opinions are at the extremes on the topic of soy, so it may be hard to know what you should do. Tim McComsey gives his thoughts.
“Should I or should I not be eating soy? I hear it can cause cancer, but it is in so many plant-based ‘health’ products—so it has to be good for me, right?” I have clients coming in all the time with questions like these. The fact is, a lot of the dairy-free protein options use soy or soy isolate as a main ingredient. So you have the food industry experts that create the products telling you (without telling you) that soy is a beneficial ingredient and protein source, while the medical experts that tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat say it’s a death trap waiting to happen! So who are you to believe? Here are my thoughts on how soy products should show up in your diet.
Soy can work with or against your body just like dairy and fibrous vegetables.
Every body is unique and requires a delicate approach to figure out what works best. Take this into consideration: just over 3% of people in America are vegans and 65% of adults are lactose or dairy intolerant. Many of this population of people switch to a plant-based option to get their protein in—an option which is often of soy origin. However, it is important to be aware that 35% of people are also potentially allergic or intolerant to soy. It is necessary, therefore, to understand any sensitivity you may have on an individual basis and find alternative plant-based protein sources based on your personal beliefs, dietary needs, and food allergies or intolerances.
Don’t over-stress about the phytoestrogens in soy.
Phytoestrogens are natural compounds found in soy that have been thought to resemble estrogen. While there is extensive research on the positive and negative effects of phytoestrogens, there has been no conclusive evidence in either direction. If you are someone who is sensitive to estrogen, take its presence in soy into consideration without losing your head over it. Just as if you were considering any food item that may or may not have potential health concerns, consider the alternative and make a decision based on your personal needs and health goals.
Soy is best in its most natural form.
When you introduce highly processed forms of soy or genetically modified soy products into your diet, you bring along with it the risk of any other synthetic or processed food item. Mother Nature has provided one option, and man has misconstrued and morphed it into another. Just as you should take into consideration the ingredients list on any boxed or bagged food item, the same applies (almost more-so) to soy products. When you’re aware that you’re consuming the purest form of anything, you can bet that your body will be able to more easily digest and use the nutrients within.
The fact of the matter is this: there will always be some food item in the spotlight as the best or the worst food for you to eat. As long as you’re approaching the entirety of your diet from a holistic, natural standpoint, the amount of soy you consume, if in moderation, will probably not have a dramatic effect on your overall health.
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