Is soy milk healthy?

For a long time soy has been nominated as a healthy alternative to dairy or meat products, but a case is growing to suggest soy may not be all that good for you.

Because soy beans are most commonly consumed in Asia, researchers have looked at the possibility that consuming soy may help to bring about lower instances of certain cancers in Asian populations.

But it has been pointed out that very large amounts of the right soy products would need to be consumed to have even a mild effect on lowering the risk of cancer. In addition, the genetic makeup of different populations has a say in how soy products are received by the body, and hence the benefits or threats they may offer.

Soy may adversely affect the thyroid function of some people, because soy is a mild goitrogen and this restricts the uptake of iodine, which is needed for thyroid function.

A second possible risk could come from the fact that soy foods contain strong amounts of oxolate, a compound that may increase the risk of kidney stones in people that are susceptible.

The CSIRO, after weighing up the pros and cons of soy, has recommended consuming soy products in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.

It is recommended that people avoid soy supplements, because they contain high levels of isoflavones – compounds that can exert oestrogenic effects on the body’s cells.

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