Most of us regularly consume soy: whether it be through soy milk, vegetarian products, tofu, or protein shakes.
With so many different uses, soy has been a longtime popular meat product replacement for many vegetarians. Soy has also been known for its high protein content and wide array of health benefits such as controlling cholesterol and managing diseases like type 2 diabetes, thyroid cancer, and prostate cancer.
However, too much soy is potentially damaging to your system.
Here is why: soybeans and their derivatives contain an active ingredient called isoflavones. These little biological compounds fall into a category called phytoestrogens, which are very chemically similar to the hormone estrogen.
This can cause a number of concerning health issues, including an increased risk of breast cancer. However, for the same reasons, soy intake has shown to also be cancer preventative as well. How is this so? Well, since isoflavones mimic estrogen, large amounts of it in ones system can increase the risk of breast cancer, which has been known to be associated with high estrogen levels. At the same time, isoflavones contain regenerative properties which stimulate cell growth that can protect against cancer.
To make things a little more complex, soy has also shown to have negative effects on men’s fertility.
A study revealed that men with higher soy intake also had a statistically lower sperm count. Although extensive research on the topic is still in progress, it still alarming that there appears to be a pretty direct correlation between the two.
The topic whether soy is inherently bad or not is still being fiercely debated. With so many positive health benefits associated with soy, it is difficult to write it off completely without substantial evidence. But, with the powerful effects of the isoflavones, there are certain individuals that should avoid soy: people with reproductive issues, those diagnosed with hypo/hyperthyroidism, or osteoporosis.
All in all, soy in small doses hasn’t proven to be harmful on a large scale. So, don’t feel guilty about enjoying your delicious tofu from time to time.