Saturday, September 19, 2009

Have you explored the health benefits of soy?

I've recently been doing a fair bit of reading about the health benefits of soy products. Keep in mind, since I'm Korean and my wife is from Taiwan, we naturally eat a high volume of soy products in our regular diet. Tofu is cooked in many different ways and we may have some of it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You'll also see that we have soy milk in our fridge and there are various soy-based desserts that we often eat as well (not daily, but occasionally). If you find us in a Japanese restaurant, you'll see us munching on some edamame.

So when it comes to soy and health, what does the evidence reveal? One of the difficulties of interpreting the evidence is that some of the studies simply aren't robust like pharmaceutical clinical trials. It's often difficult to quantify soy consumption when you're evaluating it in someone's regular diet. When someone says that they eat 2-3 pieces of tofu each day, what exactly does that mean? What if they're taking some form of soy supplement? Since these supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, it's often very difficult to know how much people are taking. Make sure that your healthcare provider knows about any supplements you may be taking.

I believe that natural soy as part of a regular diet has significant health benefits. I also think that high-dose soy supplements can lead to adverse effects (that's what the evidence reveals). So, you won't find me taking any pills as supplements, but I'll continue with my Asian diet at home.

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