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Soy and Soy Products
have recently read articles that said eating soy and soy products were
harmful to your health. What is our perspective on this issue? Soy
products are generally very healthy. However, there are a couple of
issues that merit mentioning.
The main problem that I have run into with soy
products is that in some rare cases thyroid function seems to be
slightly depressed by large amounts of soy in the diet. In these cases
the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) will be slightly elevated but goes
back to normal shortly after cutting back on soy products.
Because thyroid problems are not known to be a big
issue in Asian cultures that use a lot of soy in the form of traditional
soy products (i.e., tofu, miso, tempeh, soy sauce, soy sprouts, etc.), I
suspect that the thyroid connection is primarily with modern soy
products like soy nuts, soy milk, soy protein, textured soy products
(i.e., soy "meat," soy burgers, hot dogs, etc.).
Still, the vast majority of people would benefit
from using some soy in their diet. On the other hand, in
traditional Asian cultures tofu and other soy products were used as
flavorings and as protein extenders. Therefore, the current American
fascination with soy is sometimes taken too far.
The second issue worth mentioning is the difficulty some people have
digesting soy products. Soybeans are legumes (beans) and, as with other
legumes, some people have difficulty digesting them. They may have more
gas or an uncomfortable heavy feeling after a meal with a lot of soy in
it. This seems to be much less of a problem with the traditional soy