What you need to know about soybeans

Soy products are derived from soybeans. The beans originated in China but are now grown and processed in many parts of the world into products including soy protein in powder form, soymilk products, and soy fiber items.

Countries well known for growing soybeans include the US, South Africa, Canada, India, and some South American countries such as Brazil and Paraguay Research tells us that there are about 20 amino acids, but only 9 of them are necessary to make up a complete protein for human nutrition. Soy is the only vegetable food that has all 9 amino acids to make up a complete protein. Soy protein is also used as a soy supplement, and the powder is often mixed with ingredients in the manufacture of vitamins and minerals and certain foods. Studies have shown that soybean products may have undeniable health benefits such as lowering the levels of “bad” cholesterol levels, weight loss, boosting energy, and building muscle – and may also help to lower blood sugar in people who have diabetes.

There may be a dark side to soy products to be aware of

In any soy product you choose, ongoing research has proved that once in the body, they are changed into Phyto-estrogens. Soy protein 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 Estrogen can mimic the effects of the natural Estrogen in the body. The body cannot tell the difference between its own Estrogen, and that which is from another source. 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.

A further complication is that women being treated for breast cancer may be at risk for cancer spreading. Some tumours are Estrogen sensitive, and soy can introduce Estrogen into the bloodstream, which the body cannot differentiate from that which the body makes, and that which is not made in the body, and the phyto-estrogens are therefore readily accepted by the body. This could cause the tumour to grow. Studies have also revealed that children who have been eating soy products for long periods may tend to mature at least 3 years earlier than normal, which includes menstruation and female development characteristics.

Some medical scientists agree that this may account for children as young as 10 years of age, falling pregnant.

Some positives of soy intake:

  • Taken orally, may reduce protein in the urine, and improve kidney function.
  • Eating plant-based soy products may help menopausal women with hot flashes and tiredness.

Note that soy has no effect on erectile dysfunction, taking soy fibre does not lower the risk for colon cancer. Soy is promoted for bone health, improving memory, high blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol levels.

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