To help you separate fact from fiction, here are some of the popular soy myths debunked:
1. All soy in the US is genetically modified (GMO)
While the majority of soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified (93%), there is a small percentage that is non-GMO, such as the soy in Almased. Genetic engineering helps to introduce new characteristics to crops so that those crops become more resistant to herbicides, therefore making it easier for farmers to control weeds. If you would like to avoid GMO soy products, look for the terms “non-GMO” or “organic” on the label. Certified organic products are not allowed to use genetically modified ingredients (excluding water and salt).
2. Soy causes breast cancer
Soy is the richest source of isoflavones which are phytoestrogens, capable of having estrogen-like effects. Breast cancer is one of the main concerns when it comes to soy and its hormonal impact on the body. However, according to current research, the consumption of soy doesn’t show a link to breast cancer but actually shows a protective association. Researchers state that it is OK to eat moderate amounts of soy. Isoflavones also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which benefit your overall health. There is still more research needed to be more explicit about the safety on soy for breast cancer survivors.
3. Soy inhibits thyroid function
Research found that neither soy foods nor isoflavones affect thyroid function in healthy men or women. For people with hypothyroidism, soy – like many other herbs, drugs, fiber & calcium supplements – may increase the amount of thyroid medication because it may interfere with the absorption of the medication. However, it is not necessary for thyroid patients (except of infants with congenital hypothyroidism) to forego soy products. It is recommended to take medication on an empty stomach and wait about 30-60 min with food consumption after taking the medication.
4. Unfermented soy is bad for you
For a lot of people, fermented soy is an acceptable form of soy to consume and considered to be the healthier option. Traditional Asian cultures are often referred to in order to support this statement. However, Asian countries consume mostly unfermented soy, e.g. tofu and soy milk. While fermentation may improve mineral absorption and may create other potentially beneficial compounds, there is little evidence that these foods are superior to unfermented ones.
5. Soy causes feminizing effects in men
While individual cases of changes in sex hormones in men consuming soy have been reported, these men consumed extremely high doses of soy (3 quarts of soymilk per day, e.g.), and the effects were reversed when the soy intake was discontinued. In reality, clinical studies in men show that isoflavones don’t affect testosterone levels or circulating estrogen levels. Even at isoflavone levels significantly higher than those of a typical Asian male consuming a soy rich diet, isoflavones have not been found to have feminizing effects.
Read more on the The Truth About Soy.