Natural Healing Using Soybean Foods

Soybean foods are a path to natural healing, including such health benefits as preventing osteoporosis, reducing the risk of heart disease, preventing and reducing cancer risk and reducing perimenopausal symptoms.

| November/December 2001

  • Soybean foods are a way to eat healthy while providing nutritious natural healing for your body.
    Soybean foods are a way to eat healthy while providing nutritious natural healing for your body.
    By The Mother Earth Living staff

  • Soybean foods are a way to eat healthy while providing nutritious natural healing for your body.

Soybean foods are a way to eat healthy while providing nutritious natural healing for your body.

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In the past several years, soy has received significant and seemingly well-deserved scientific and commercial attention. It’s a food that offers many health benefits, including the ability to help prevent osteoporosis, reduce the risk of heart disease in both men and women, prevent and reduce cancer risk, and reduce perimenopausal symptoms. Soybeans also contain antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Increased mainstream interest in soy has prompted the development of soy alternatives to many common foods, including tofu hot dogs, soy cheese, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy bacon, soy sausage links, and soy burgers. The increased consumption of soy health-food products is evidenced by the increase in soy milk sales alone, from $2 million in 1980 to $300 million in 1999.

Soybean Foods and Protective Phytochemicals

The health benefits of soy are primarily attributed to a group of chemical constituents in soybeans known as isoflavones, which in turn belong to a class of chemicals known as phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens. Isoflavones are strikingly similar in structure to the estrogens produced by the body, and they demonstrate a variety of hormonal and nonhormonal actions when ingested. Soybeans are particularly high in these interesting compounds, but phytoestrogens are also found in most legumes and are widely distributed in other foods, especially leafy green vegetables. Most commercial soy foods, made from whole soybeans and isolated or purified soy proteins, contain appreciable and bioactive quantities of isoflavones, with the exception of soy oil and soy lecithin, which do not contain any.

Soybean Foods: Too Many Chemicals for Kids?

There is general consensus that soy-rich diets can be beneficial to adults, but some members of the scientific community speculate that too many isoflavones in the diet can have deleterious effects, particularly on the developing reproductive systems of fetuses and infants. For more than thirty years, soy formula has been given to babies with little concern for adverse effects. However, recent human studies have confirmed that there is a strong correlation between a diet containing soy products and significant changes in the reproductive system. This has led to new concerns about the regular use of soy formula for infants, and perhaps even soy foods for children.

Several scientific studies demonstrate a strong correlation between soy and hormonal activity. It’s known that premenopausal women given a diet high in soy foods experience a lengthening of the menstrual cycle. This is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, a longer menstrual cycle of thirty to thirty-two days is associated with significantly decreased rates of cancer in Asian women. However, scientists are uncertain as to the effects of high doses of isoflavones in babies and children and cite that in other mammalian species (such as sheep), there have been clearly demonstrable harmful effects to the reproductive capacity as a result of grazing on large quantities of isoflavone-rich plants.

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