Recently, a Rock Fit personal training member asked me, “What’s so bad about soy?”
What a great question! So, I thought I’d write a blog about it and start a new series of articles called, “To Eat, or Not to Eat”. That is the question.
Quick Disclaimer: I’m not here to demonize foods or make you feel guilty for eating them, much less enjoying them. For the most part, there are no such things as “good” foods or “bad” foods. There are only foods that are better and healthier for us than others. And, it really depends on who you are and how your body functions that determines which foods are truly better for you. That’s the beautiful (and often times frustrating) thing about health. One person’s medicine is another man’s poison. But, I assure you, you can figure things out! The purpose of this article is to help you do your research and encourage you to listen to your body. That way, you can make the best choices when it comes to eat or not to eat certain foods.
My Experience with Soy
My own personal experience with soy dates back to the early/mid-90’s when my mom started drinking soy milk, upon the recommendation of her physician. She had just had a both of her ovaries surgically removed. So, her physician thought it best that she support her endocrine (i.e. hormonal) system, by eating soy.
The ovaries are reproductive organs that produce estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones are key for a woman to have a baby, breast feed, and also influence a woman’s ability to burn fat. More on that later…
As a woman goes through menopause, the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in her body changes. Many women experience symptoms linked to decreased levels of estrogen, such as hot flashes, sleeplessness, redistribution of body fat, and even osteoporosis. And, some of these conditions happen whether you experience a natural menopause or a surgically induced menopause, such as the one my mom experienced in her mid-30s.
Just like my mom, some doctors have recommended that women who are going through menopause eat more soy in order to help them balance out their estrogen levels. Unfortunately, in doing so, it’s created a slew of unhealthy side effects that not only affect those women, but could also affect their babies and children. And, the negative effects of soy could affect you whether you’re going through menopause or not.
Unhealthy Side Effects of Soy
- Thyroid dysfunction (i.e. hypothyroidism)
- Sexual Infertility
- Increased risk of breast cancer
- Decreased mineral absorption
- Decreased ability to digest protein
- Decreased oxygen delivery to cells
But the FDA says Soy is Healthy…
For a number of years, soy has been marketed as a healthy food in the U.S., mostly promoted as such by the federal government.
Now, if you’ve known me for a while, you may have picked up on what my feelings are regarding the U.S. federal government intervening in our private lives to institute change. And, if you don’t, here’s a hint…
Rarely does my sentiment ring more true than when it comes to the federal government’s historically bad advice when it comes to food. Remember the “Basic Four Food Groups” or “Food Guide pyramid”? How about the tip that trans-fat filled margarine is better for you than butter?
Soy (along with corn) was pushed as a healthy food grown on U.S. soil to discourage folks from buying foods such as palm and coconut oil, which are typically grown overseas.
Among the biggest reasons why soy can be unhealthy for you, is the way that it’s raised. Most soy products come from genetically modified soy that has been altered to resist the weed-killers (i.e. herbicides) sprayed on to them.
Studies performed on generations of soy-fed hamsters found that feeding the first generation a soy-based diet led to their offspring having a five-times higher infant mortality rate. The third generation of hamsters were almost entirely infertile and suffered from high infant mortality rates, as well.
Organic Fermented Soy is Better
This is because the fermentation process yields a food that breaks down some of the more harmful elements in soy. And, they haven’t been genetically modified to resist pesticides. They do still, however, pose possible health concerns when it comes to altering your hormones, thyroid gland function, impaired metabolism, digestion, and absorption.
So, is Soy bad for me?
At Rock Fit, there are no foods that are off limits until you identify them. We coach our personal training clients on the differences between healthy foods and fat-loss foods. We also take it one step further by educating women on food sensitivities.
Soy is one of the top three foods that people are sensitive to. This is different than having an allergy to a food, where the symptoms that occur when you eat it come on much faster and are quickly noticeable.
What about when it comes to fat-loss?
The truth is that eating soy may be keeping you fat, or it may not be.
It’s tough to recognize food sensitivities and takes some thought to address them, on your own. But, having the right fitness coach to support you, not only when it comes to fitness, but also when comes to eating, could make all the difference in whether or not you’re able to burn fat and keep the weight off for good.
To see for yourself what it’s like to train with Rock Fit, then join us for an upcoming free personal training session!
Try Rock Fit on Wednesday, July 9th at 6:30pm and Saturday, July 12th at 12pm:
Only four spaces available–so contact us now to reserve your spot.
Serving Vienna, McLean, Falls Church, Tyson’s Corner, Reston, Great Falls, Oakton, and the nearby Washington DC area.
To Learn More about Soy…
Ken Diaz, MS, NSCA-CPT, FMS Founder, Rock Fit