Many years ago I stopped consuming cow milk due to lactose intolerance. Because I still regularly enjoyed a bowl of cereal, I had to find an alternative. I began purchasing a lactose free milk product. At first I thought it was kind of watery and I just wasn’t pleased with the taste but I didn’t know what other options I had.
After watching a television show, I decided to give soy milk a try. According to the “health expert”, soy milk would be a great addition to my diet. Unlike cow’s milk, it came from a bean. I thought this in itself was a benefit. Being someone who hasn’t eaten red meat or pork since my sophomore year of college, I thought something from a vegetable should be good for you. Because it is from a bean, soy milk is said to be high in protein and fiber, but the biggest benefit is said to be the “isoflavones”. Simply put, isoflavones are similar to the hormone estrogen and are supposed to be beneficial in preventing some cancers and osteoporosis. If that doesn’t sound like enough, although soy milk is not a good source for calcium, it is high in vitamins B1, B2, B6 and E.
For many years I was convinced that I was doing a good thing for my body in drinking soy milk. That is until a couple of weeks ago when I was watching a health show which focused upon the dangers of soy. Dangers – I thought soy was supposed to be so good for my body!
Thus, the reason for this article. Is soy good for or dangerous to your body? What’s the real truth.
Again, advocates for soy milk are adamant that it is good for you. These supporters say that it has to be better than cow’s milk because first off cow’s milk is for calves, and secondly, cows are pumped with hormones which is believed of course to then be transferred into their milk. Lately the new things seems to be to make your own soy milk because it can be made fresh and contains no additives or preservatives. Thus the promoting of soy milk as a healthy alternative to cow’s milk continues.
Opponents of soy milk as a healthy alternative claim that it contains “phytoestrogens” or chemicals found in plants. This chemical is believed to be the catalyst for the dangers of soy milk because they can affect the body in the same way that the female hormone estrogen does. This is said to negatively affect men who regularly consume soy causing problems with their thyroid and possibly even fertility. Studies also show the possibility of a rise in the risk for endometrial cancers when women consume high levels of phytoestrogens. Wait a minute! These phytoestrogens sound the same as isoflavones. Aren’t the isoflavones said to be one of the benefits of soy milk?
Well here is the breakdown on it. Phytoestrogens are phytochemicals, or natural chemicals found in plants. These phytoestrogens work with and in the body similar to the hormone estrogen. Isoflavones are a type or group of phytoestrogens which are thought to be positive. Again, this group of isoflavones is thought to aid in preventing cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms.
Scientists say that there are also drawbacks to the isoflavones which might be the source for negative reports. Of course there are first off some people who are allergic to soy. There are also warnings for pregnant and nursing women as they are not sure of the long term affects of the soy isoflavones on babies. Men with prostate cancer should avoid soy products, as well as women with certain types of tumors. It is also important to note that soy has been associated with hypothyroidism in some.
Overall, I’ve decided to stick with using soy milk. From my research, I found that many of the negative reports or studies on soy milk were funded by dairy associations. I would hesitate however after reading reports to make soy a major part of my diet I believe that soy definitely has it’s benefits, but as with anything else, it is best consumed in moderation.