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Should we eat less soy?


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As a vegetarian soy makes up a huge part of my diet, particularly as I'm trying to consume a reasonable amount of protein. It's usually in the form of tofu, quorn (or similar meat replacements) and soy beans. 


I've heard a lot of kinda non-specific criticism of soy without anyone ever giving me a compelling reason to give it up (at least none that would outweigh the resulting protein deficit). Having said that, I've got no great love for fake meat and tofu doesn't do much for me when I cook it myself, so I could give it up if it came to it.


Does anyone here avoid soy? Why? I'd love to get some better insight into this.

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It's not the soy itself, but the processing it goes through and the high probability that it is sourced from GMO soy crops. Raw soy, fermented soy, they are fine- it's when human (and agribusiness) starts playing around with it that it gets dicey. There's also the phytoestrogens contained in soy- our world is oestrogenic enough with all the plastic packaging that our food comes in, I don't think mammary glands would do anything for my physique =P

Good read from MDA: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/soy-scrutiny/#axzz3BYdOj2wq

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Phytoestrogens are in most green vegetables.  Their effects on humans is minimal, and mostly (if not completely) offset by resistance training and other influences.

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I've read up on this before and did read the links.  Personally, I think you're fine.  That said, let me run down the main concerns.


- Is a GMO.


I don't want to start a war, but this doesn't even register for me.  If you are uncomfortable with the idea, then that's a choice to be made by everyone on their own and to their own concerns.  We live in a part of the world and in an age where we do have the choice of what we eat, for whatever reasons. Though asking for stricter controls on what enters the market for consumption is also a reasonable enough stance, I think.


That said, I have never had the discussion where it didn't come back to "This one time, this guy fed potatoes to rats and they got sick." I've since looked, and it was raw potatoes (which are bad for rats on their own) from a strain not meant for human consumption.  They were engineered to produce something else (lectin, which can be toxic) to be extracted. 


As an analogy: Someone puts a high dose of concentrated fertilizer into a jar of milk to see if it will grow better bacteria, and then leaves it on a shelf, unrefrigerated, for a month. Someone else comes by at the end of the month and drinks it.  He gets sick and everyone is surprised, so they demand that all the dairy cows in Oregon get put down since that milk was found to have been produced there and this event proves that all Oregon milk is toxic. 


Again, your call and your choice, but I resoundingly don't care about this one. 



- Issues with processing and packaging.


This is a utility concern and not a core concern. I'll admit that I'm seldom that worried.  If you are, well, I know for a fact that I can get Kopi Luwac in an unroasted, still-as-poop format. I'm pretty sure you can get soy unprocessed. 



- Mineral binding, less absorption


Grains do the same thing. If you're worried about it and you take supplements, take them well away from mealtime if you're going to have soy or grain.



- Hormones


The development of the male breast is a known phenomenon. That said, not counting one case of intentional hormone supplements, I have never once seen it.  Realistically speaking, have you? There's a resounding 'if' here, but if there is an increased risk of it associated with soy, I've never actually seen a number.  In my experience, articles not giving those numbers and their sources are generally trying to get shock value.  As a rule, until I see two unrelated studies and their actual numbers (not percent increases without base values, which happens a lot), I assume extremely small.


I wouldn't worry about it.


Soy's also listed as maybe or maybe not lowering sperm count, maybe. If you read the abstracts referenced in the article you'll find that the one listing soy as lowering sperm count was taken among a sampling of men who were at infertility clinics and that the reduction happened not among those who ate soy, but those who ate a LOT of soy and moreso those who were already overweight.  Only those with the highest drop were listed and I couldn't find the study itself to get actual numbers.  Granted, I didn't look that hard.


In short: are you actively trying to have a child? If no, I wouldn't worry about it. 



- Inflammation/allergy, omega-6 or other reasons


Is this a concern for you? Do you suffer from discomfort or inflammation after eating soy or soy products.


If Yes: I recommend not eating them.


If no: This isn't a problem for you and, so, not a concern.



- Several reasons not to feed soy to infants or very young children.


This goes back to the hormone thing, but it's hardly the only thing with a warning like this.  It's generally not advised to give honey to infants either.  As an in-general, it's certainly something to look into. 


Are you an infant? No.


Don't worry about it.



- Cancer


Soy's potentially linked to increased risk of cancers of the breast and uterus.  Is this a concern, at least to be investigated to be sure?  Absolutely, yes. 


Is this a problem for YOU? Not so much, no. 



Once again, though, all this said: If you're worried about soy, then don't eat it.  That's your call and yours alone.


Me? Meh.

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The only studies I've seen where people had issues with high soy consumption were one where some guy was drinking 4 L of soy milk a day (which is more than 16 servings of soy per day) and another where someone was eating a diet that was exclusively fast food and any soy was the sort of incidental "soy is cheaper than meat, so junk food manufacturers add it to stuff". These were also case studies of particular individuals rather than studies of large groups as well, so it's possible that these two people were weird. 


If you're eating a balanced diet which includes some soy, you're probably okay. If soy is all you're eating, then you should aim for a bit more variety, not necessarily because soy is terrible, but because you can't get everything your body needs from soy alone and tossing in some lentils or whatever never hurts. 

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If you're eating a balanced diet which includes some soy, you're probably okay. If soy is all you're eating, then you should aim for a bit more variety, not necessarily because soy is terrible, but because you can't get everything your body needs from soy alone and tossing in some lentils or whatever never hurts. 


This is basically where I fall on the subject also.  Leaning on any one food is problematic.  If soy is just one part of diverse diet, and the soy that you eat is minimally processed, then you're good to go.  


I found this article on soy very balanced and very informative...it's also pretty brief, which is nice, too.

Ranger,  Level 3, 2014-09-152014-07-282014-06-09

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Everything anno said is spot on. I would like to add this bit about the horomones though:

Animal products are chock full of horomones. I would think soy has far less than one would consume in meat, dairy, and eggs.

Also, veggies often have fair amounts of protien on their own (though not complete ones) if you eat a variety, you should be able to fulfill your protein needs.

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Sure GMOs are dangerous, but in the same sense that other advances in technology are dangerous. Fire, electricity, and automobiles can all cause great destruction and death if not used responsibly. Even when they are used responsibly, they are still dangerous.

There is nothing inherently evil about GMOs. The automatic demonization of GMO crops is as silly as when AC electricity was demonized before it became mainstream.

The evilness of GMO companies is another story, however.

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 I reckon eating too much of anything will give you problems. Soy is fine to eat if you don't overdo it, ie litres of soya milk or kilos of tofu. In fact, it's pretty nutritious. I know a lot of people who eat soy and there is no common complaint. I love tofu and drink soya milk several times a week. I do buy the organic variety when I can but not always.

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