There have been some publications of research on soy circulating lately which suggests that soy is unhealthy. This has confused many people because for so long we have been informed that soy is a health food!
Soy Healthy or Unhealthy
Some people have reduced and even eliminated soy from their diet because of the fear. This includes some vegetarians and vegans. Although it is not absolutely essential for a vegetarian to eat soy, it does contain a high amount of protein and other nutrients and soy products give you that 'full feeling'. There do seem to be contradictory theories on soy so the best thing to do is to read the research and make up your own mind. Search the internet on soy and health and read both sides of the argument before making a decision. Keep in mind that Asian cultures have eaten whole soy (tofu, miso and tempeh) for centuries with great benefits to their health.
Findings are Contradictory
No one lives on a diet of just soy and yet many of the findings are the result of experiments feeding a diet of soy and often not whole soy but soy isolate and soy proteins to rats and other animals. Yet there are other similar animal experiments that resulted in positive health benefits to animals, proving, yet again, that animal experiments are not only extremely cruel but also useless. Some of the initial findings against soy came from bird breeders whose caged birds were having health problems as a result of eating soy. As a caged bird eating a diet of soy is not a natural or normal diet or life for a bird, is the fact that they had health problems really surprising?
Soy products have been eaten for centuries by the Asian cultures
Up until recently Asian cultures have suffered less from certain diseases than western cultures. Health problems such as obesity, menopause symptoms, osteoporosis and some cancers have been rare in Asia until the recent introduction of more animal food and dairy into their diet. In many areas of Asia, a traditional diet consisted of lots of leafy green vegetables, soy products such as tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, and far less meat than western cultures. Some people think that soy milk is a western invention but it isn't. Along with tofu, Asians have included soy milk in their diets for a very long time.
Whole Soy, Soy Isolate, Soy Protein
However, soy proteins and isolates have now been added to many of the processed packet foods we find on the supermarket shelves, such as some biscuits, cakes, breads, snacks and sweets. This is a newer way of using soy and perhaps not ideal. (Processed or incomplete food is never as healthy as whole food). Some of the mock meats are made from gluten and some from vegetables and nuts, however some are made from soy protein. If you are concerned about this, keep these to a minimum or just stick with plain tofu, tempeh and miso which are made from whole soy beans.
There is of course a small percentage of the population who have a soy allergy or some kind of sensitivity to soy (just as people have allergies or sensitivities to any other foods - peanuts, tomatos, kiwi fruit, strawberries etc) which results in obvious physical symptoms. This is a different issue altogether and these people do need to eliminate soy from their diet.
Best to do your own research on both sides of the argument
If you are a little unsure, the best thing to do is to get informed by doing some research yourself on both sides of the argument and then make your own decision. If you are still unsure after reading the contradictory theories and just want to be on the safe side, you might feel more at ease mainly eating foods made from organic and whole soy beans (like plain tofu, tempeh, miso and some soy milks) and reserving foods made from soy isolates and protein (soy vege meats, some soy milks, soy ice cream and cheeses) as treats rather than every day foods.
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