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Uncovering the Myths and Real Benefits of Soy for Gut Health and Overall Wellness

What to Expect in this Article

  • Understanding the truth about soy myths

  • Gut health benefits of soy

  • Cancer prevention and soy

  • Thyroid health and soy

  • Ways you can easily eat high quality soy

  • Our favorite high protein, good gut recipe

 

Soy, Soy Beans, Organic Soy, US Soy

Fear Soy? Oh Boy! Let’s Talk 

We’ve all heard the myths that soy is “bad” because it can give you cancer, allergies, man-boobs, thyroid disease, and many other conditions it’s never been proven to cause. 

As integrative Registered Dietitians, do we fear soy? Nope! What about Dahlia, living with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism for 15+ years & very strong family history of hormone-receptor positive breast cancer?


Still no. We read the evidence-based, peer-reviewed research & confidently include moderate amounts (usually 1-3 servings/day) of organic, minimally processed soy in our diets. 


According to several comprehensive analysis on soy, comprising dozens of peer-reviewed articles:


  • A 2023 review on soy and gastrointestinal health  with 20 reviews and meta-analyses and 33 other publications deemed relevant for full-text review and data extraction “reported that soy isoflavone consumption was associated with a reduced risk of CRC risk across all groups” and that “fermented soy products also contain microbes which could act as a probiotic if these microbes escape digestion in the upper gut, such as tofu, which commonly contains Bacillus, Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria”


  • Women averaging 1 cup of soy milk or about 1/2 cup of tofu daily have about 30% less risk of developing breast cancer, compared with women who have little or no soy products in their diets.


  • Clinical studies show that soy products do not cause hypothyroidism. **However, soy isoflavones may take up some of the iodine that the body would normally use to make thyroid hormones. It is recommended to eat soy at least 30 minutes away from taking thyroid medication.


In a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who consumed at least one-fourth cup of tofu per day averaged a 30 percent reduction in fracture risk.


Let’s break down why that research makes sense: 


The claims that soy is harmful are confusing Phytoestrogens that come from plants with Human (mammalian) estrogens because they share the word estrogen. When people hear about the dangers of excessive estrogens. What they do not realize is the huge difference between these plant estrogens and those we have the affinity to use as humans. 



How do we Include Soy in our Meals?


Tofu, Plant Based, Gluten Free, Organic,

Soft- can be added to creamy sauces, dressings, puddings, or other creamy dishes.

Medium-firm- can be added in soups or mashed in tofu salad.

Firm- mashed in scramble, sautéed, or breaded.

Extra-firm/ high protein- baked, roasted, or air fried to be added to soups, salads, & stir-frys.

Tempeh- baked, roasted, or air fried in sandwiches, scrambles, or buddha bowls. Tempeh has double the amount of protein than medium-firm tofu & retains more calcium, iron, & other nutrients.

Natto- Fermented soy beans which are the highest dietary source of Vitamin K to strengthen bones and support blood flow as well as adding great strains of bacteria to your gut! 

Soy Milk- Great as-is, in cereal, smoothies, or recipes to add extra protein and creaminess. 



Now that you know the benefits of soy, here’s one of the easiest recipes we love to make it!


Toastfu (Tofu Toast) is not just a high protein, low-FODMAP, and super nutritious recipe, it is one of our patients favorite because of how easy and customizable it is. 



Toastfu, Tofu Toast, Tofu, Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, low FODMAP, Plant Based, Organic

Makes 4 servings 

Prep Time: 30 minutes 


Ingredients 

  • 1 block high protein or super extra firm tofu

  • 3 Tbsp Liquid Aminos

  • 1 Tbsp  Coconut Aminos

  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder (or asafoetida powder if you are FODMAP sensitive) 

  • A 2 second spray of olive oil on each side of each slice 

  • 1 medium, ripe avocado

  • 1 Tbsp Everything But The Bagel Seasoning (EBTB) 

  • 1 cup microgreen sprouts 

  • Spritz of Lemon or Lime


Directions:

  1. Drain tofu. Option also to press it to further remove excess moisture. The more water removed, the crispier the texture of the Toastfu. 

  2. Cut the entire block down the middle, length-wise, then cut again into 4 equal “toast” sized pieces. 

  3. Spray each side of the tofu with olive oil for 2 seconds. 

  4. In a medium bowl, toss tofu with seasoning. 

  5. Air fry on 375 F for 18 minutes, or until crispy to your liking. 

  6. Mash the avocado 

  7. Remove the Toastfu from the air fryer and top with your avocado, seasoning, and sprouts (Lemon or Lime optional)

  8. We also like adding hummus, dairy free cream cheese, and other veggies like shredded beets or radishes. 

  9. Enjoy your Toastfu (Tofu toast)!







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Sources:

  1. Belobrajdic DP, James-Martin G, Jones D, Tran CD. Soy and Gastrointestinal Health: A Review. Nutrients. 2023 Apr 19;15(8):1959. doi: 10.3390/nu15081959. PMID: 37111176; PMCID: PMC10144768. 

  2. Yan L, Spitznagel EL. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1155-1163.

  3. Wu AH, Yu MC, Tseng CC, Pike MC. Epidemiology of soy exposures and breast cancer risk. Br J Cancer. 2008;98:9-14.

  4. Messina M, Redmond G. Thyroid. 2006;16:249-258.

  5. Koh WP, Wu AH, Wang R, et al.  Am J Epidemiol. 2009;170:901-909.

  6. Divi RL, Chang HC, Doerge DR.  Biochem Pharmacol. 1997;54:1087-1096.

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