The forms of soy foods that are to be avoided are the processed and packaged. More oft than not, soy is added unprejudicedly to almost every type of food found wrapped up or contained. Lecithin, soy protein and soy as a filler (burgers, bars and other snack foods and drinks) can be found in most lengthy ingredient listings. The better choice in soy products are those that have been fermented, cooked thoroughly, soaked (dried soy beans), and eaten moderately rather than daily. Miso, tofu (it can be soaked, fermented and made at home!), and tempeh are the finer choices. Edamame is a delicious treat when steamed very well. The benefits of soy are its offering of complete protein, versatile taste and its phytoestrogens also known as isoflavones: genistein (so called -when liberated and genistin -when locked) and daidzein.
For those who choose soy products over that of meat (higher consumption of meat is respectively linked to an increased risk of breast cancer) will often also choose greater amounts and variety of vegetables eaten regularly. The link of lowered breast cancer incidents and soy consumption is inconclusive because other factors including vegetable intake, exercise, sleep, lifestyle and hydration all play a role. Various studies show conflicting results and without comprehending and accounting for all the variables, a definite label of good or bad cannot be given. For example, the phyto-estrogenic compounds in soy have, in studies, increased the proliferation of cancerous cells, whereas others have shown the diminishing of of blood vessels that feed cancerous masses.
Gut flora plays a role as well in the conversion of isoflavones into equol. Having a healthy gut flora rich in diverse strains and strengths supports the immune system. Additionally, for those confused about the controversy regarding soy foods (plus the issues surrounding GMO and non-organic soy sources), this confusion can lead to stress in decision making. Stress plays an integral part in hormonal balance. Sex hormones are easily imbalanced by excess production of cortisol, and estrogen-sensitive cancer cells are put to the test by fluctuation of blood sugar levels, fat storage, and low levels of progesterone. You can easily have your hormone levels checked by appointment! Fat cells -not fart cells as I keep mistyping – are producers of an enzyme called aromatase which increases estrogen in the body. Soya has been shown to act as an inhibitor of aromatase, thus a benefit in the list of pros and cons.
The role that genetics plays in breast health is important to look at -however, the effects of epigenetics, can make the biggest difference over the course of a lifetime. Plenty of variety and quantity of vegetables, exercise, creative fun, sun, water, rest and relaxation are all beneficial in health on a cellular level. If asked to refrain from soy foods due to a diagnosis of breast cancer, then being mindful of the soy based products fits with that request. Also, it is worth mentioning that soy ranks high on the creation of IgG anti-bodies for those with a sensitivity to soy and can be behind many food-related ailments. Having a blood spot allergy test will indicate whether or not the anti-bodies are produced with consumption.
All that said, eating organic soy foods on occasion can, indeed, be a healthy choice.