Almost everybody these days has an opinion about soy. One person touts soy’s incredible health properties and phytonutrients, while another indicates that soy is harmful to your health. What’s a person to believe? When it comes to soy, I think it’s important to weigh several factors before deciding if soy is right or wrong for your body, particularly since the issues may be different for different people’s bodies.
Soybeans have been eaten as part of Asian diets for thousands of years. However, most writers overstate the role of soy in the Asian diet, claiming that Asians eat far more soy products than they actually do.
In more recent years, large corporations began growing and harvesting soybean crops for large-scale food manufacturing. In doing so, many companies have adopted unsustainable practices such as using genetically modified soybeans, spraying plants with harmful pesticides, and even chopping down precious forest areas to maximize their profits. These types of practices not only cause widespread planetary destruction, they pose a threat to the health of people as well.
The use of toxic pesticides, many of which are known neurotoxins—they damage the brain and nervous system—is a dangerous practice no matter the food crop being sprayed. As for genetically modified (GM) foods, research is increasingly linking their consumption to serious health concerns—again, whether the crop is soy, wheat, corn, canola, or any other type.
Additionally, inadequate long-term research has been conducted on the effects of consuming GM foods; however, since 75 percent of foods found in your grocery store have been genetically modified, I truly believe that we are participating in a wide-scale uncontrolled experiment. And the effects may be seen in the skyrocketing incidence of disease. While there are certainly other factors at play with the disease statistics we are experiencing at this time in our history, over time I am confident that genetically modified foods, including GM soy and soy products, are at least playing a role in our rapidly increasing rates of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer, as well as many other illnesses. But, many of these issues are industrial farming practices and government policy issues rather than the fault of the humble bean.
Another part of the love-hate relationship with soy is its high phytoestrogen content. Phytoestrogens are natural plant hormones that mimic estrogen in our bodies. For some people these estrogens may help balance their hormones, particularly during the menopausal years for women who may be deficient in estrogens. However, these estrogens may throw off the hormonal balance for other people.
Keep reading to learn how soy may actually protect your body against harmful pollutants…