The reason for writing this blog about soy is because on occasions I have come across people who have told me I shouldn't eat soy products, I should be careful of soy products or will just explain to me all of the bad things about soy. Please note that the title suggests that soy is not dangerous, however if you are allergic to Soy then you should not consume it, more info below :)
When I first became a vegetarian over two years ago I rarely ate soy products and didn't start eating Tofu until after my first year as a vegetarian. The reason was because I knew there were conflicting reports with the health benefits (or negatives) of eating Soy, I didn't nessasarally believe that it was bad, I just didn't know so I wanted to wait and do some proper research into it before considering it to be a part of my diet.
What I found over the year was a lot of misinformation! There were a lot of blogs written by random people writing about how bad soy was for you, sometimes they would reference studies but when I looked into the studies I found all over them were quite old and most refuted. For whatever reason some people seemed to grasp to the idea that soy was bad for you and would quickly copy and paste any old study just to back up their claims without doing any more research into it. I also found that big milk companies would also post how bad soy was for you with the same old studies, I assume that this was so people would avoid soy milk and drink their cows milk (I'm sure they won't be posting that they majority of the population can't actually properly digest cows milk).
I don't want to jump to the conclusion that soy is 100% safe and go on and on about how you should eat it and I don't want to be completely bias towards it. I just want to present the facts, good and bad so you can come to your own informed decision.
Below I have written some of the Pros and cons of eating soy. There is a lot more positive information for eating soy not listed, the reason I haven't listed them is because further studies need to be done to confirm these findings and I don't want to give out information they may lead to not being true. I have also included the common myths about how bad soy is for you with studies to refute these baseless claims.
Several large population studies have shown, that consumption of soy foods is associated with a reduction in prostate cancer risk in men. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/soy
Soy is significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence of breast cancer among women. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874068/
Recent studies have shown improvement in cognitive function, particularly verbal memory, and in frontal lobe function with the use of soy supplements.
There are of course people that should avoid soy, the obvious people are those that are allergic to it and should stay away from it.
One study has shown that Soy (or some types of Soya beans) can be harmful to the brain in the elderly yet beneficial to the brain in the young, no definite evidence is known yet to why this may happen and more studies need to be done.
The U.S National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that gout sufferers limit consumption of soy products (although also suggesting that soy may have health benefits by reducing the risk for heart disease). However, other researchers have found little or no association between consumption of purine-rich vegetables (including beans) and gout. I would suggest again that if you suffer from gout to avoid Soy until further studies are completed.
Soybean ingestion may influence testosterone levels in men. False - a 2010 meta-analysis of 15 placebo controlled studies showed that neither soy foods nor isoflavone supplements alter measures of bioavailable testosterone or estrogen concentrations in men.
Soy isoflavones may increase development of prostate cancer. False - No significant associations were observed for the soy isoflavones. Furthermore, soy consumption has been shown to have no effect on the levels and quality of sperm. A 2009 meta-analysis of the research on the association between soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men concluded that "consumption of soy foods is associated with a reduction in prostate cancer risk in men." http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/4/1155.long
I will be constantly adding and updating this post (I understand that it is not complete) and would love to have feedback. We should all strive to be good researchers and look at both sides of the fence, the positives and the negatives. Whenever somebody tells me something about a food (or anything for that matter) whether it be good or bad I will always take that at face value and will come to my own conclusion by looking at the most recent and advanced studies and facts available by reputable sources.
Some people will never change their mind even when presented with the facts, they don't like to be told that they are wrong or change their train of thought when new information becomes available and refutes old claims. I am always trying to learn new things and will always be open to new studies and ideas, this is how everyone should be.