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Soy is bad for you

So sayeth these researchers.


That's it. I'm going back to bacon and whiskey.

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  1. this debate has been raging for a long time...and while i'm personally anti-soy, and have been for years, i think the jury's still out.

    1. I am staying on my current regime of bacon and wine. If it kills me it kills me. Fat and happy. And tipsy. hic.

      1. Funny that this study would be British. Like their national diet is ultra-healthful. Bangers and mash, lotsa red meat, and boiled veggies.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Akitist

          Still beat Americans out in longevity stats (by an admittedly very small margin), despite diet, heavier drinking, and dare I mention it higher smoking rates? You gonna go sometime, might as well enjoy it while you're here.

        2. It seems like everything that's good for you at one point is suddenly bad for you the next minute. I think i'll keep enjoying my tofu and smart bacon.

          1. Haven't bothered reading the article, but I wouldn't expect to learn anything new from it. However.... How long have the Japanese been eating soy? Hasn't killed them off. But there is something bad about soy... Edamame! Four to six bucks to sit in some restaurant and "shell your own peas" after they've been cooked in the pod? I don't think so!

            4 Replies
            1. re: Caroline1

              Soy consumption isn't killing them, but it is seriously screwing with their hormones. More and more Japanese women cannot get pregnant without some sort of external medical assistance these days because soy is in everything. It's added to all sorts of processed foods. My guess is that eating it as it was eaten traditionally wasn't enough to cause issues, but these days, it's used to add moisture and longevity to products.

              1. re: Caroline1

                The Japanese don't eat soy in huge amounts. And a lot of soy they eat has been fermented, which changes the properties of it. I find a lot of Americans will tackle tofu like they will a huge steak -- they'll eat up to a pound of it in a sitting. And I knew somebody who just ate soy purely for "health" properties. He just read all the news out there and thought it would be good for him to eat tons of soy even though I told him it's not the best idea.

                The Traditional Chinese Medical view of soy (and I'm talking about things like boiled soy beans or tofu as opposed to soy sauce or miso, which has been fermented) is that it contributes to "dampness" which causes a lot of disease -- ie. cancer, hypothyroidism, etc. You eat a little -- it's OK. But their view of soy is similar to their view of meat -- it should be more of an accent as opposed to the main thing you're eating.

                And Caroline, I definitely agree with you about the ridiculousness of paying $4-$6 to shell your own peas. : )

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Just a correction, soy is a coolant food not damp (damp foods are watermelon, mangos, etc.).. Too much is not good and agreed it should be an accent. Its a lower calorie food then meat, and I don't believe it disrupts weight loss as the article said because I lost 30lbs on a diet with tofu and other low calorie foods. Excessive soy consumption is not good especially for the elderly.

                  Are you sure about it causing cancer?

                  1. re: designerboy01

                    Eating an excess of cooling foods causes dampness according to Traditional Chinese Medicine principles. And there's really no simple cause and effect relationship between eating different foods (or other things for that matter) and cancer. You have some 2-pack-a-day smokers who never come down with cancer and you have some people who've never smoked a day in their life being diagnosed with lung cancer in their 30s. Genes, diet, environment (including mentality), etc. all play a role in cancer and many other illnesses.

                    I'm of the mindset that excess consumption of soy is not the healthiest thing out there. I'm sure there are other people who think otherwise. I know practitioners who recommend tofu for cancer patients (I, for one, am not one of them). Perhaps they are recommending tofu so the patient doesn't eat as much meat. You're always going to find many different opinions regarding food and health.

                    Congratulations on losing your weight eating tofu! But I'm sure you weren't scarfing away pounds of tofu in one sitting. : )

              2. As is true in so many things in life ... moderation, moderation, moderation.

                13 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  exactly! balance your intake of all things (OK NOT chocolate, haha) and you should be fine.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    It's pretty hard to consume soy in "moderation" if someone has begun using soy beverages as a substitute for several glasses of dairy milk each day. That's a LOT of soy to begin with and then this article points out the increasing use of soy as a "hidden" additive in "60% of processed foods, adding bulk, flavor and texture..."
                    Holy Cow! Or maybe, Holy Soybean!
                    That's a lot more than the moderate amounts traditionally eaten by Asian populations from which the original health statistics were gathered.

                    Have you ever noticed that the ads about the "health values" of soy are all paid for by the Soybean Growers Association?

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Who else would pay for ads touting soy? The Dairy Council?

                      1. re: Humbucker

                        No, but they're generically touting the consumption of a commodity, rather than a specific product, based on a supposed health claim.
                        These ads started after the initial studies were published that touted soy as beneficial for certain groups such as menopausal women.
                        Now they simply say that soy is good for you, an idea that has gained general acceptance by the public, but recent studies might call that into question, especially in the volume that many people consume soy products.

                        The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 lists eight major allergens: milk, eggs, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans), peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.
                        These account for over 90 percent of all documented food allergies in the U.S. and represent the foods most likely to result in severe or life-threatening reactions.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          Why is the food allergy listing relevant? So some people are allergic to wheat- does that mean we should eliminate it from most foods?

                          1. re: Humbucker

                            There is a presumption that soy is a "health food" and many have tried to add it to their diets because of this. It has even been recommended that people do so in some cases.
                            The advertising campaign by the Soybean industry promotes this idea.

                            People are now becoming aware that sensitivities to products like wheat, etc. can produce problems, even if they don't experience classic allergic reactions.
                            Many may not recognize soy as a potential allergen or a product which could cause problems. It bears noting.

                            1. re: Humbucker

                              Humbucker you are truly making sense.

                              1. re: Humbucker

                                as one who has food allergies, I just want to know what's in something so that I can avoid it. That's all we ask. :)

                                1. re: Humbucker

                                  I think the relevance is that soy is being added to a lot of foods that didn't have soy before, because it's cheap and highly commoditized, and because they can use "it's healthy" to justify adding it (and charging more). If many people are allergic, that just makes it harder for them to avoid products with soy.

                            2. re: MakingSense

                              it's very true that soy is in everything. My best friend's husband is allergic to soy. combined with my dairy allergy, it makes group dinners a challenge. As long as we review ingredients lists carefully we are fine. The unfortunate thing is that ingredients that SEEM ok can actually contain soy - artificial flavorings is one I believe.

                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                I was surprised to see soy on that list. Call me clueless, but I think people should be aware that soy allergies and sensitivities are possible.

                                Many people now are looking to diet-based reasons for health problems. Witness the number of folks considering wheat sensitivities that don't rise to the level of full-blown allergic reactions but they've had good results from limiting their intake of wheat products.

                                Soy was not a common food additive only a few years ago. Now it's in 60% of processed foods according to one poster above.
                                If an adult has added a substantial amount of soy to their diet - say, several glasses of soy beverage each day - on top of foods with hidden soy, it could explain health problems.
                                This would be a somewhat sudden "change in diet" that they wouldn't necessarily recognize as such since soy is considered a beneficial product. After all, those healthy, long-lived Asians consume soy and it helps prevent cancer, etc.

                                There is nothing wrong with soy per se, but perhaps it is something that some should consider since it is a very common allergen.

                              2. re: MakingSense

                                But there is a real difference between it being an additive in '60% of processed foods' and it making up 60% of anyone's diet. If one's problem with soy is an allergy, a small proportion in many foods is a problem. But you are concerned with soy effect on your testosterone levels, then the total intake is more important than how it is distributed among the foods you eat.

                                The 'additive' use could include the use of soybean oil. I rather suspect the oil's effect on hormones and iodine intake is far different than the effect of TVP or tofu. Enumerating the ways we might be consuming soy derivatives is not the same as realistically measuring the total intake of various soy compounds.

                                A while back, the same sort of commentators who were worried about the color of one of the Teletubbies were also the ones worrying about the effect of soy on the dating preferences of of boys.

                              3. re: ipsedixit


                                An older female relative went on an insane soy kick several years ago for some purported miracle properties. Long story short: She ended up severely altering her hormonal cycles, and needed almost two years to recuperate. She was eating something like six to eight servings' worth a day. And yes, she's prone to manias of many sorts.

                                I love the occasional edamame, crispy tofu, or even a faux-corndog. But I make sure not to ingest a main-dish quantity more than a time or two a week. It's where it's ending up as fillers that I worry about it most.

                              4. It seems the real conclusion is not that soy is bad for you, but that processed foods are bad for you. Soy is "...found in 60% of processed foods, adding bulk, flavor and texture. ... It appears on food labels as 'soya flour', 'hydrolysed vegetable protein', 'soy protein isolate', 'protein concentrate', 'textured vegetable protein', 'vegetable oil', 'plant sterols', or the emulsifier 'lecithin'."

                                Just another reason--how many more do we need?-- to avoid processed foods whenever possible and stick with the fresh stuff.

                                1. When I went veg in my early teens I introduced some soy products but I remember my mother reading up on the risks of it, so we kind of avoided it at some point, then I decided to just take it in moderation, now I think I'll be a little more careful.

                                  1. All things in moderation. Even the article states that one portion a day is fine. Since tofu is so inherently tasteless, limiting intake should not be a stretch.

                                    1. These mass media articles are generally frustrating for researchers because they seem to take a tagline from the abstract and turn it into a sensationalized article. There's lots of good research on soy, but much of it (as is pointed out in the very end of this Daily Mail article) is based on modified or processed soy products, or very large quantities of soy. But because people tend not to read the entire newspaper article (let alone the actual scientific paper on which the article was based), they come away with the idea that All Soy is Bad!!

                                      I'm glad to see other posters note that soy - like just about every food - is fine in moderation. And avoiding the highly processed forms of soy (particularly the ones treated with nitrates) is best...sound like any other foods we know??

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: RosemaryHoney

                                        But how many people also think that "if a little is good, more must be better!!!"?

                                        There are more than a few postings on CH that have said "I'm trying to get more soy into my diet" or "help me like tofu" or "soy milk."
                                        Food as medicine isn't a good idea. Moderation and a balanced diet of healthy, delicious food is the way to a long and good life.
                                        You shouldn't have to force yourself to like something.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          There ya go! The occasional handful of edamame, a serving or two of those delicious crisp-crusted fried tofu cubes at Har Lam Kee, a dollop of some kind of soy sauce in my gyoza-dipping sauce - all fun and fairly harmless. And frankly, at 68 I'm a lot more worried about the sodium than I am about hormones!

                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                            I completely agree with you, and certainly there are people out there who seem to believe that "if a little is good, A LOT must be better". But as for you point about CHers who are asking about getting more soy in the diet or liking tofu, I've noticed that many of these people are trying to make a switch from eating meat 10 times a week, or eating fewer deep fried foods.

                                            And that's where I think the mainstream media makes things challenging. Let's say you have high cholesterol and some other negative health outcomes, so you try to switch from eating red meat as the centerpoint of your dinners to eating tofu or perhaps a "soy crumbles" chili 2 times a week. Then, some scientific articles come out that have examined highly processed soy additives/products and their negative effects on hormonal levels when eaten in large quantities (and in these articles, these terms "highly processed", "negative", and "large" are all defined). But the media picks it up and runs an article for the general public titled: "Why soya may not be a superfood after all", and someone posts on chow with the headline: "Soy is Bad For You". So now what do you do? Do you abandon your soy ventures altogether? From the mass media headline, you may think that's the way to go. Reading the entire article might make you think twice - after all, the article does point out that these studies were pretty specific and probably do not represent the way you are actually consuming soy. But if you were to go back to the original research, you'd find that most of this doesn't necessarily apply to you. Especially because if you actually stop to think about it, the negative consquences of eating mass quantites of soy are arguably similar than the negative consequences of eating mass quantities of many things.

                                            So I guess I'm just saying that before we all rush out to drop soy from our diets, or argue that these studies prove "Eating soy is a bad thing", we should consider how much soy we're eating and what we're using soy to replace.

                                            1. re: RosemaryHoney

                                              It really doesn't help much if someone is trying to get away from eating meat 10 times a week, if they simply switch to eating tofu or cheese or eggs 10 times a week.
                                              You can get just as many calories and fat from that stuff. Some of the recipes use even more fat and have more calories than if you grilled the same amount of lean meat.
                                              Chili is chili whether it is made with lean ground turkey or "soy crumbles," depending on the recipe. It may not have a big difference in calories or health outcome. Why bother putting soy into it at all? We make veggie "chili" with barley and garbanzos that even carnivores like.

                                              Soy is not a Magic Food. Going vegetarian is not a Magic Bullet. A sensible approach may be simply to use meat as a seasoning or condiment rather than the centerpiece. It's still satisfying and pretty easy to step down from 10 servings to very little that way. You barely miss it.

                                          2. re: RosemaryHoney

                                            Good point. I have huge problems with soy sauce- namely that it gives me a migraine within 30 minutes. Other types of soy like edamame do not give me migraines. However, I do try to avoid it because I'm not really interested in testing my limits and giving myself a migraine.

                                            1. re: queencru

                                              The migraines probably have more to do with the sodium rather than the soy itself.

                                          3. The Daily Mail should be taken with a hearty grain of salt. It's not a well-respected publication in the UK, something along the lines of a tabloid rag.