Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Are soy and soy-based products safe?

Dear Monique, I have been a vegetarian for 30 years (since I was 15) . I've lived pretty much on pasta, breads, beans, and meatless soy products. (I don't really like vegetables -- I'm more of a carbotarian I guess). As you know soy was heralded as a great food all through the 90's, and many highly respected doctors, institutions and organizations supported it.

Yesterday by chance I came across a site that had a plethora of disturbing articles about soy, also from respected sources. These articles claim soy is actually very harmful and that the muli-billion dollar soy industry has created a propaganda machine to misinform the public. The articles cite studies and an avalanche of information that is pretty convincing to a layperson like me. On the other hand these same people seem to have no alternative for vegetarians and most (I would guess) eat meat... which is another "multi-billion dollar industry with its own agenda". .

Have you read these articles, seen anything about this, or found any substantial counter arguments from other sources? What's your opinion? Thanks, Elias

Answer: Yes, I have read the various anti-soy articles you are referring to, and feel that these reports are very misleading. After reading them, I can see why many people are confused about the safety of soy and soy-based products. However, I believe that these anti-soy claims are largely exaggerated and erroneous. Many claims are based on animal studies that make major leaps in their conclusions.

Soy has been eaten by humans for thousands of years with no ill effect. I urge you to read these 4 well documented articles about the most recent research on soy, soy's safety and the anti-soy campaign. They address the questions and concerns you have mentioned.

The first details what's behind the Soy Disinformation Campaign. It is written by John Robbins (The Food Revolution and EarthSave) who explains in great detail, the truth behind the recent soy controversy.

The second is by Virginia Messina, MPH, RD & Mark Messina, PhD (Vegan Outreach) who are soy and vegetarian nutrition experts, and adjunct professors at Loma Linda University. They explain the facts about scientific research and the claims against soy.

The third is by Jeff Nelson (VegSource.com) who addresses the recent research on soy and how it effects your body and mind.

There are many substantial and accurate studies that show soy to be more beneficial than detrimental to your health. As each day goes by more credible research is coming out that disproves many of the conclusions made by these reports. Such is the case with tofu consumption and brain shrinkage. Recent findings suggest that the way the tofu was processed in Hawaii (with aluminum) is the culprit and not the tofu itself.

Only when the bad outweighs the good should a substance be avoided. I feel that soy and soy-based products are very safe and a wonderful heart-healthy alternative to meat and animal-based protein. So please do not avoid soy foods based on the sensational and misleading scare tactics of these articles.

I do not believe that the soy industry is lying about the positive effects of soy. You need to look at who is pointing the finger at the soy industry, and what interests they have. Especially since the sites that claim that soy is so bad provide no alternatives for vegans and vegetarians!!! Nor do they reveal the adverse health effects of meat and dairy, and the antibiotics and growth hormones they give to animals to fatten them up and keep them producing milk! After reading these 3 articles, I am more convinced than ever that soy is safe!

You may also want to visit the Virtues of Soy website at virtuesofsoy.blogspot.com

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Monique N. Gilbert, BSc. has offered guidance in health, nutrition, fitness and stress management since 1989. Through her writings, Monique motivates and teaches how to improve your well-being, vitality and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress-free living.

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