What you need to know about soybeans
Soy products are derived from soybeans. The beans originated in China, and are processed into soy protein (powder form) soy milk products, and soy fiber items. Whichever soy product you choose to use, there is no getting away from the fact, that once in the body, they are quickly changed into Phyto-estrogens. Studies have shown that soy also contains isoflavones, which is also changed in the body to Phyto-estrogens.
Phyto-estrogens are plant-based molecules similar in chemical structure to the female hormone, estrogen. In most cases, these plant estrogens can mimic the effects of the estrogen produced naturally in the body. The body cannot tell the difference between its estrogen and that which is from another source.
Therefore, readily absorbing plant estrogens could lead to an estrogen overload in folk that do not need it. For example, a man’s fertility may be compromised. Should he take in too much soy, the extra estrogen can lower testosterone levels and affect sperm production. There are reports that soy is used for symptoms of menopause, premenstrual syndrome, high blood pressure, and heart disease. However, there is no undisputed scientific evidence to support any benefits claimed for most of the conditions, or others which may be included in some reports.
Some positive survey studies
Here are conditions which may be helped by soy products:
- Soy protein taken orally may reduce protein in the urine, and improve the function of kidneys with a chronic condition.
- Soy protein may also improve blood sugar levels in folk who already have diabetes.
- Eating soy protein or using soy fiber products has been reported to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) by a small margin. However, soy supplements do not seem to help at all.
- Some babies have lactose intolerance issues. Feeding a baby soy-based formula can help to reduce lactose discomfort problems.
- Eating plant-based soy protein can help menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and general tiredness. Some women opt for the chemically-manufactured estrogen for help, while others prefer a product which has natural estrogen properties, and no dangerous side effects.
- Taking soy protein may also help weak and brittle bones by increasing the bone mineral density of menopausal women.
Conditions that soy products do not help:
- Enlarged prostate. It seems soy does not improve urination or kidney problems.
- People being treated for breast cancer. Some tumors are estrogen sensitive and although natural, soy can introduce estrogen into the blood stream.
- Taking soy products such as soy fiber does not reduce the risk for colon cancer.
- Erectile dysfunction and low libido
Note that there is a lot of interest in using soy for several purposes, but much more research is still needed. There is still a debate about whether soy products are helpful, or not at all helpful
Side effects of soy products
Soy is mostly consumed in foods as and when desired, so there are no real side effects. Supplements may be safe for up to 6 months. Side effects such as constipation, bloating, nausea, itching, and breathing problems, may occur in some people from the supplements.
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