The topic of soy consumption and its potential health effects has been a point of contention for many years. Soy, derived from the soybean plant, is found in numerous foods, products and oils, from tofu to soy milk, soybean oil and even in some supplements. 

One of the most discussed concerns about soy is its estrogenic effect due to the presence of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring compounds found in plants. In soy, these are mainly in the form of isoflavones and can bind to estrogen receptors in the body, leading to significant hormonal imbalances.

For Men: The fear for men is that soy consumption can lead to decreased testosterone levels, reduced muscle mass, gynecomastia (male breast enlargement), declined sperm count and motility and other feminizing effects. 

For Women: For women, many of the concerns revolve around the potential of soy to influence breast cancer risk due to its estrogenic effects, increased PMS symptoms, dysmenorrhea, hormonal fluctuations, fibroids and endometriosis and more. 

Soy, like oats, contains phytic acid, which can reduce the absorption of minerals like calcium, zinc, and iron, and many of the soybeans produced today are genetically modified (GMO) to resist certain pests or herbicides, such as RoundUp. 

Additionally, soy can cause some mild stomach and intestinal side effects such as constipation, bloating, and nausea. It can also cause allergic reactions involving rash, itching, and breathing problems in some people.

It’s important to note that people may genuinely think that they are avoiding soy because they are not consuming tofu, soy milk, tempeh, edamame, etc, however it is sadly commonplace for big food companies to sneak soybean oil into consumer packaged goods such as crackers, chips, other non-dairy milks, bbq sauces, protein powders, salad dressings, and more. 

It is crucial to always check your labels in order to avoid soy products and do your best to not be a victim of marketing the way I was! If you are having trouble making grocery choices, you can check out my grocery guide here