The Debate on Soy

Soy was initially the trendy health food. Yet, within a few short years, we began to question if it could live up to its promising expectation. Is it possible it’s doing more harm than good? There’s a compelling debate on both sides that continues, so it’s time to weigh out the options and consider what it means for those of us with endometriosis.

Soy around the world

Soy has been touted by the Asian culture for decades. They eat moderate amounts of whole forms of soy and have experienced health benefits from it.

When soy entered the United States food market, however, we began consuming large quantities of processed soy. Soy-based products were cropping up everywhere and hopeful health-enthusiasts were stocking their kitchens.

The difference in both quantity and quality seem to make the difference. The concerns are still relatively new, especially to consider long-term effects, but it’s questionable enough, in my opinion, to reduce (if not fully eliminate it!) from the diet.

Let’s take a look.

Reasons to avoid soy

More than 90% of soy produced in the United States is genetically modified (GM).

GM crops are known to disrupt your gut/microbiome, hormones, and insulin.

  • Gut health is essential when it comes to managing your overall health. It’s what enables you to breakdown and absorb the nutrients from the food you eat.
  • Hormone levels should be of obvious importance in the context of endometriosis.
  • Insulin levels are crucial for weight management which also can influence endometriosis.

Beyond being genetically modified, soybeans contain compounds called isoflavones or phytoestrogen. The plant estrogen is recognized in the body as the female reproductive hormone, and therefore mimic our estrogen levels.

But not all phytoestrogens are the same. Some stimulate estrogen receptors. Others block estrogen receptors. So, it can be helpful in some causes and concerning in others. For women, this has the potential to create estrogen dominance which can be problematic.

If you so(y) dare

Generally speaking, in the context of endometriosis, it’s beneficial to avoid soy. We don’t want anything messing with our hormone levels.

That said, if you’re vegan or vegetarian or straight up adamant about consuming your soy, here are some guidelines on the optimal way to incorporate it in your diet.

Choose organic

Select the highest quality of soy. Organic soy has much higher standards and far fewer chemicals that could negatively impact your health.

Eat whole soy

Avoid the many processed forms of soy filling the grocery aisles. These include the countless “meatless” faux burgers, sausage, and chicken nuggets; as well as the soy-based protein powders.

Stick with straight up soybeans and edamame. They’re high in protein and because they’re minimally processed, they’re a more nutrient-dense option for your diet.

Choose fermented soy

Fermented foods are the natural forms of probiotic which can be easier to digest and absorb and support a healthy gut overall.

Fermented forms of soy include tempeh, natto, and miso. These do not have the same damaging effects on the body as its unfermented counterparts such as soymilk, soy ice cream, and tofu.

And, as with any food, it’s helpful to explore how it responds in your body.

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