5 Side-Effects of Soy You Should Know About
Is soy good or bad? When it comes to soy, some say it’s a healthy food while others claim it does more harm than good. Who do we trust? “Soybeans provide a plant-based protein source; a slew of vitamins and minerals crucial for reducing the risk of chronic disease; and fiber that helps you fill up and feel satisfied,” says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN. Undoubtedly, soy does have its health benefits such as reducing the risk of cancer, obesity, and heart disease but it has also been linked to infertility, thyroid issues and inflammation.
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While nothing we hear or read about today can be taken at face value, here are a few side effects of soy consumption you should know about, according to health specialists.
Soy may lower testosterone levels
While calling someone a “soy boy” is definitely not ok, researchers found there might actually be a connection between the lack of masculine characteristics and the consumption of soy. According to various studies, soy-based foods and drinks might have adverse effects on the hormone levels in men due to their estrogen-like chemicals.
Although it is not yet clear what is the soy quantity that affects the testosterone levels, blood levels of testosterone concentration were considerably lower with increased soy product intake.
Soy can be highly allergenic
Generally, children are the ones with soy allergies, given that there are many soy-milk based baby formulas. If you consume soy and experience hives and itching in and around the mouth, it might be a sign of soy allergy. More serious symptoms include rashes, swelling, breathing difficulties, stomach pains, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Generally, allergic reactions to soy are not fatal but in very rare cases, it could cause severe breathing difficulties and anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening if immediate action is not taken.
The main issue with soy allergies is that they might be hard to tackle, not because of their severity but because it’s difficult to avoid soy altogether when so many food products like cereals, baked goods, or chocolate contain a certain amount.
Soy may cause fertility issues
When it comes to the effects that soy might have on fertility, there are mixed opinions and information. Some studies suggest that soy can affect the future mother, others that it’s the fathers that might experience certain symptoms, that both can be affected or neither. In the study Soy Food Intake Related to Sperm Concentration Among Men from an Infertility Clinic, it was discovered that soy-based foods do have something to do with the reduction of sperm concentration, especially in the case of overweight men.
Other studies revealed there’s a connection between soy products and lower levels of reproductive hormones, poorly-functioning ovaries, and reduced rates of pregnancy in humans. If consumed in larger quantities, soy may impact the adult male reproductive parameters, but more research is necessary in this respect.
Soy may affect your digestion
Soy-based foods aren’t exactly known for being easily digested. In fact, according to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, soy contains anti-nutrients, compounds which can mess up the balance of intestinal flora and interfere with the digestion and absorption of vitamins, and minerals.
More than that, soybeans are packed with trypsin inhibitors, another type of “anti-nutritional” compounds that prevent the proper break-down and digestion of proteins. This is quite a paradox because soy is an excellent source of high quality, plant-based protein but won’t allow your body to absorb it properly.
Soy may cause bloating and flatulence
If you’re thinking of giving up meat and going for a plant-based diet, soy might be among the first things vegans and vegetarians will recommend. They do have their reasons but if you’re new to the soy-based food game, you should know soy is known to cause flatulence and bloating. The main culprits for these unpleasant side effects are the fiber and oligosaccharides, prebiotics that although improve general health, they also produce excessive intestinal gas.
The Journal of the American Oil Chemist’s Society also confirms that the “elimination of flatulence is a challenging practical problem associated with the consumption of soybeans.” Unfortunately, there’s nothing science can do to make things better for you. On that note, Did You Know These 7 Foods Can Give You Gas?