Soy - Part Three: Phytoestrogens

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Did you read my previous post about the Dangers of Unfermented Soy?

This post about phytoestrogens could have been lumped into the same post, but I felt that it deserved its own space. Mostly because, for me personally, this is the greatest concern with the consumption of soy products.

Hormones play such a vital role in the proper functioning of our bodies... I don't think we should mess with that area of our health!

What are phytoestrogens?

Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens that mimic the estrogens in our own bodies. Soy is higher in phytoestrogens than most other foods.

Phytoestrogens for menopausal women

One of the media's greatest arguments for the use of soy is that the phytoestrogens in soy are of benefit to menopausal women. This perceived benefit is not entirely false, since the reason for menopausal symptoms is the decrease in estrogen levels.

However, there are a couple false assumptions here: one is that all soy products are equally beneficial and the other is that more is better. Commercial soy products contain such high levels of genistein (the specific phytoestrogen claimed to alleviate menopausal symptoms) that it may actually cause memory loss and dementia.

Here are five more points to consider:

1. Phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function, making them anti-fertility agents that may prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. This disruption may also increase the likelihood of getting breast cancer.

"Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women."

2. Phytoestrogens reduce thyroid function and may cause hypothyroidism. Even more serious, these agents may cause thyroid cancer.

"Soy phytoestrogens are potent anti-thyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer."

3. Phytoestrogens can cause changes in a woman's menstrual cycle and worsen PMS symptoms.

"These phytoestrogens have been found to have adverse effects on various human tissues, and drinking only two glasses of soy milk daily for one month has enough of the chemical to alter a woman's menstrual cycle."

4. Phytoestrogens cause the entire body to become sluggish. By slowing the transport of glucose and oxygen to the cells and inhibiting crucial enzymes, the cells are no longer able to adequately divide, repair and maintain themselves.

"A transport protein called GLUT1 is shut down by genistein. This protein sends glucose into the cells where it is used to generate energy. Slowing the transport of glucose means less energy production not only of thyroid hormone, but of every other action in the body."

5. Phytoestrogens are detrimental to a growing fetus.

"Intake of phytoestrogens even at moderate levels during pregnancy can have adverse affects on the developing fetus and the timing of puberty later in life."

I will be elaborating on the negative estrogenic effects on children in Part Six of this series.

Soy - Part Three Phytoestrogens 2

Read the whole "Truth About Soy" Series:

Part One - Introduction

Part Two - The Dangers of Unfermented Soy

Part Three - Phytoestrogens

Part Four - GMOs and Soy Production

Part Five - Should Kids Eat Soy?

Part Six - The Benefits of Fermented Soy

Part Seven - Conclusion