I'm Not A Doctor, But... A Word About Soy

soy-bean-tofu.jpgKeeping an eye on one's health can get pretty complicated. Are you getting too much Vitamin D or not enough? To vegan or not to vegan? Should you follow an anti-inflammatory lifestyle? Hop on the gluten-free train? One thing is clear - the less saturated fats (meat and cheese) you eat, the better. An excellent protein substitute is soy - a great filler for meals in the form of tofu and tempeh. Trust me - it's no longer the bastion of backwoods hippies and, when prepared properly, it can taste damn good. 

The plus sides of soy are many. It's known as a heart protector (by lowering bad cholesterol), it may provide some relief from menopause and may protect you from certain cancers. The downside? It's also been linked to breast cancer, due to the fact that soy mimics estrogen - which some believe adds more estrogen to a woman's system than it can handle. 

Not all is lost! Despite the initial soy fear and backlash, it seems the possibility of soy consumption being detrimental to your health is negligible. Check this out, from Dr. Weil's blog:

[Breast cancer: Here, the idea is that high levels of isoflavones, active ingredients in soy that behave like estrogen in the body, may increase the risk of breast cancer. While high levels of isolated isoflavones may do so, it appears that the total mix of weak plant estrogens in soy protects the body's estrogen receptors. This protection may reduce the effects of excess estrogen exposure from such external sources as meats and dairy products from hormone-treated cows as well as artificial chemicals and industrial pollutants that act as foreign estrogens. Japanese women whose diets contain a lot of soy foods have only one-fifth the rate of breast cancer that occurs among Western women.]

And this, from Psychology Today:

[No need to panic. The research linking animal fat to heart disease and cancer are far stronger than those connecting soy to any health problems. So, if you are considering substituting soy for meat or milk, the soybean still shines in comparison.]

As with most things in life, moderation is key - especially if you're concerned about the inconclusiveness of some studies. But there's no doubt you'll be doing yourself a favor if you reach for the soy instead of the beef next time you're making a delicious home-cooked meal.

*A quick word about soy milk: It pays to read the labels on everything when you're shopping, especially when it comes to soy milk. Some brands add a ton of extraneous crap into their products. You don't want to think you're doing something healthy by drinking soy milk, only to find you've also been also been ingesting canola oil! The Silk brand has loads of superfluous ingredients, while my fave, West Soy, keeps it clean and simple. 

DisclaimerI'm not a doctor, but certain events in my life have urged me to do extensive research on health-related issues. And by "extensive research" I mean culling the Internet for information while trying not to panic - a situation that has often coincided with meeting actual medical professionals.

However I have gained a fair amount of useful knowledge, which I'd like to share here with you. Obviously consulting your own doctor is the responsible thing to do and I can't be liable for your decisions. But you probably already know that - you are reading a wellness post on an entertainment blog after all!

[Photo Credit: link includes loads more details about the pros and cons of soy.]

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