Is Too Much Soy Dangerous?
Recent studies published in Scientific American show that large amounts of isoflavones, the estrogen-mimicking plant compound in soy, may reduce fertility in women, trigger premature puberty and disrupt development in children.
Competing against corn as the number 1 agricultural crop in America, soy has become a vastly popular choice in food products in the last decade. 25% of infant formula is made with it and the FDA advocates it for decreasing risk of heart disease. Often touted as a weight loss agent and used in many protein powders and diet milk products, soy food sales skyrocketed from $300 million to over $4 billion between 1992 and 2011. Unfortunately, America's sweetheart may have a flaw. Recent studies shown in Scientific American reveal that eating large amounts of soy could be detrimental to the female reproductive system as well as having negative effects on infants and children.
Soy is naturally found in soybeans and is a good and inexpensive source of protein that is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol. You can get soy from soy milk, soy cheese products, and yes, soy sauce. Soy is very rich in calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, potassium, and B vitamins. It's also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is why it is said to decrease the risk for many diseases. Overall, it has been a great innovation in our nutrition over the years.
Recent studies have shown that isoflavones, the estrogen-mimicking plant compounds found in soy which were originally attributed soy's many health benefits may be dangerous to women and children. These animal studies suggest that these same compounds may reduce fertility in women, trigger premature puberty and disrupt development of fetuses and children.
According to developmental biologist Retha Newbold, from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, large amounts of genistein, the main isoflavone in soy, is dangerous for developing mice and therefore may not be good for a developing child. However, the key words here are "large amounts," which in laboratory speak could mean a substantially higher quantity than any human would ever ingest.
Another potential issue concerning soy is up to 90% of the legume being grown in the U.S. are genetically modified (GM) seeds that are engineered to survive repeated herbicide dousing. While the U.S. government allows sale and consumption of GM foods, many consumers are becoming increasingly wary of eating them - mostly due to abundance of herbicide use.
While no doctor will restrict your diet against soy products, it is important to have this information at hand. Another thing to take into consideration is everything in moderation is not harmful - having some soy in your diet may not be dangerous but basing your entire diet on soy may be.
Different foods effect everyone in different ways, but some benefits aren't worth the risk. Popular items often fly under the radar when it comes to these risks. We encourage you to make your own decisions about what foods you choose and allow your family to eat, as long as those decisions are educated.