Food Pharmacy

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Serial about soy.

Should you avoid soy? Does it have a negative effect on the hormonal balance? Or quite the opposite? Is fermented soy better than unfermented soy? Do you contribute to the destruction of tropical rainforests by eating soy? And what about GMO and soy? And. So. On. Welcome to part 1 of a serial about… yes, of course: soy. 

When it comes to soy, there are tons of questions, opinions and opinionators. So we asked our intern Sebastian, who studies to become a diet and nutrition advisor, for some help. And true to form, Sebastian (ambitious and eager to learn) dug down deep into this much debated subject. At the top of the list, we have an interview with the nutritionist Anki Sundin. But before we jump start this interview we have to make one thing clear: When they use the word “soy”, they refer to the soybean and other soybean products, such as soy sauce, tofu and soy milk.

When reading about soy, I often come across the word phytoestrogens, and the pros and cons. What are phytoestrogens?

– Phytoestrogens are so called antinutrients, which are substances that aren’t as vital to our health and energy, as for example vitamins and minerals.They have other qualities and can be good, bad or neutral.

Are phytoestrogens hormones?

– Phytoestrogens are hormone-like substances, and they mimic the action of the hormone estrogen.

Phytoestrogens are found in many other foods as well, right?

– Yes, but soy is often mentioned, because it’s a particularly rich source of phytoestrogens.

Do phytoestrogens affect the hormonal balance?

– According to science, it may affect the hormonal balance, but in order for that to happen, a significant amount of soy and soy protein is required. People who do a lot of exercise are often worried about the effects of soy products. They believe that the phytoestrogens will affect their testosterone levels and hamper muscle growth. I tell them not to worry. In order for that to happen, they would have to eat several kilograms of soy per day.

And what about impacts on cardiovascular health? 

– There are indicators that suggest soy foods may have positive impacts on cardiovascular health, especially for women. The studies have been conducted in Asia, and of course the results may vary from one group of people to another. However, we should remember that there are benefits of having phytoestrogens as part of your diet.

I’ve read that soy foods may cut the risk of dying from cancer, is that correct?

– Since I’m not an expert, I’m not going to comment on this. Cancer is such a large group of diseases, and cancer prevention is therefore a difficult topic to talk about. So, out of humbleness, I will pass that question to somebody else.

Thank you Sebastian for the interview. Can’t wait to hear more about this. To be continued.

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