What is the Truth Regarding Soy?

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Karen M.
Joined: 1/24/2013

There is so much conflicting information even within the natural/organic community regarding the dangers or benefits of soy.  The mainstream community doesn't seem to see any problems with it -- even the genetically modified soy -- and the natural/organic community is divided over whether non-fermented soy is carcinogenic or not, and that fermented soy is safe.  I've chosen to forego ingesting it since there is so much contradicting information.  Any thoughts on this issue?

I hear you Kat. It is so frustrating :( And honestly I WISH I knew the right answer to help you figure it all out. You are pretty much up to speed with where we are with the research and that is NOWHERE. I am not a soy expert, but I have various resources to stay on top of recent research and it seems that it is all over the board. Researchers are testing the phytoestrogens, soy extracts, and whole soy, but findings - like you noted - are inconsistent. We do know isolated and concentrated soy proteins found in some veggie burgers or "mock meats" are not healthy...but what about whole soy foods like edamame, tofu, tempeh, etc.? Personally... I have gone back and forth. As a vegan, I once used soy as my main protein source. While living in Bali, Indonesia, I ate soy all the time. They made fresh tofu and tempeh (much different than what we have in our stores here) that were amazingly delicious - you could taste the difference. It made me realize that the soy foods we have in America are highly processed and most likely from genetically modified sources. Which makes me think the less processed forms are fine - edamame and miso don't have the bad reputation like tofu and soymilk do. Upon moving back to the US, I was confused and knew I could get my protein from other sources that may not affect my hormones or body the way some think soy might so I decided to forgo soy at that time. I know that some research shows soy beneficial for cancer prevention, hormone balance, etc. and know that in some countries such as Asia, they consume it on a daily basis. However, their version is not like our soy in the US as I found this to be in Bali...and there, it is not found in so many of the prepackaged foods (think: soybean oil, soy lecithin, isolated soy protein, etc.) I think it isn't for everyone, but it may benefit some. I'm excited to see the advancement of the "nutrigenomics" field where we will see what foods benefit or harm us on a genetic level. But until then, I err on the side of caution and have decided to omit soy foods from my diet for the time-being until I know where my soy comes from and how it will affect me both short and long term. These are just my thoughts from a more personal level. If I find new research from experts in that field, I will most certainly pass it along.
I stay away from soy as much as possible...Even if it is organic and non-gmo. @Krista - great explanation! Thanks for sharing your opinion!