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Soy: Transgender Effects

Annabel A.

Soy (or soya) has become increasingly popular as a nutritional supplement, used especially by vegetarians or vegans for the high soy protein content and to replace animal protein. Soybeans are a type of legume indigenous to East Asia. These edible beans grow in pods and are used for many different foods and animal feed. For example, soy-based formula is often given to infants who are dairy-sensitive.

Regular soy consumption has many health benefits, and there is a myriad of soy-based foods and soy products to choose from. However, it is also claimed that soybeans have Estrogenic properties.

Soy contains soy Isoflavones, which is a phytoestrogen (plant estrogen). While soy phytoestrogens are similar in function to the estrogen found in the human body, the effects of soy isoflavones are not nearly as strong.

Soy Foods

Soy is a highly versatile food source and can be used in many different dishes. It is high in protein and contains all the essential amino acids your body needs.

Immature soybeans can be used similarly to any other bean or legume in dishes such as soup or casseroles and are called green soybeans or edamame. In addition, mature soybeans can be roasted and eaten as soy nuts.

However, soy is also used to produce other foods.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is a wonderful dairy-free, vegan-friendly alternative to cow’s milk.

Traditionally, soybeans are soaked in water overnight and then ground to produce a slurry to make soy milk. This slurry is then boiled to improve the flavor and nutritional value of the milk. As with any other milk, the heating process also increases the shelf-life of soy milk. Once heated, the slurry can be sifted through a cloth to remove excess fiber.

Soy milk is used in the same way as cow’s milk and is sometimes given to babies in the form of soy formula.

Tofu

Tofu is often referred to as bean curd. When soy milk is made and separated from the remaining

, it leaves behind a thick curd or paste. This paste is pressed together until it forms solid blocks with a gelatinous texture. Depending on the consumer’s needs, it can also be made to varying degrees of firmness.

Tofu is often used as a meat replacement and can be cooked in many different ways. It has a very mild taste and tends to soak up whatever flavors it is cooked in. It can also be deep-fried.

In some Asian cultures, tofu is also fermented to produce what is often referred to as bean cheese and used similarly to dairy-rich cheeses.

Soy Meat

When soybean oil is extracted, it creates defatted soy flour, which can then be used to make soy meat. This vegetarian/ vegan meat replacement is similar in texture but does not contain animal protein.

It does contain a comparable amount of plant-based protein but cooks much faster than animal meat and can be used in the same dishes.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is one of the oldest condiments to exist and originated in China. It is also made using the fermentation process. However, in this case, it is fermented soy paste and wheat that eventually results in this salty sauce. Traditionally, the fermentation process can take several months before producing the final result.

Soy Health Benefits

Muscle + Bone

Soybean proteins are one of the few plant-based proteins to contain all nine of the essential amino acids needed for healthy bone and muscle growth.

According to some research, soy food is especially good for post-menopausal women who have lost bone mass as part of their menopausal symptoms.

Saturated Fat

Soybeans only contain ten to fifteen percent of saturated fats, making them better for the heart. That means that it poses a lower risk of things such as coronary heart disease.

Because of the low amount of saturated fats, most of the fats in soy are polyunsaturated. These include essential fats such as omega-6 and omega-3. In other words, soy supplementation may improve cardiovascular health.

Cholesterol

One of the common cardiovascular risk markers is high cholesterol.

As with other vegetables and grains, soy is naturally free of cholesterol. Some studies show that eating soy can help reduce a person’s ‘bad’ cholesterol by four to six percent and may be a valuable addition to other healthy habits incorporated in daily life.

Soybeans are high in fiber compared to animal proteins, which can have positive health effects on cholesterol. Additionally, adequate fiber intake is vital to a healthy metabolism.

Potassium

A cup of soybeans contains double the amount of potassium found in a regular-sized banana. Potassium is crucial to almost every function in the body, making it vital to general human health. Among other things, Potassium aids in nerve function, muscle contraction, and heartbeat regularity.

Blood Pressure

Dietary soy protein as a regular part of a person’s diet could aid in avoiding hypertension. Food like soy that contains a lot of protein but fewer carbs has been thought to lower blood pressure, reducing the chances of having a stroke.

In addition, soy contains a lot of iron, which is needed for blood to deliver oxygen to the organs.

Breast Cancer/ Prostate Cancer

Research shows that regular soy intake, especially during childhood and adolescence, could reduce cancer risk. For example, Asian women who grew up with a steady food supply rich in soy are likely to have a lower risk of breast cancer than healthy women who grew up with a western diet low in soya.

Ironically, it was once thought by the National Cancer Institute that the more soy consumed, the higher a person’s risk of breast cancer. However, food science and soy research by the American Cancer Society has since helped to debunk this health claim and instead found that breast density plays a more significant role in a woman’s breast cancer risk.

Some studies have shown that soy intake may even reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in breast cancer survivors.

Similarly, many studies have shown that the isoflavone genistein found in soybeans can reduce a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer, as it can slow or prevent the growth of tumors in the prostate.

Soy And Estrogen

Soy contains estrogen-like compounds called phytoestrogens (or plant-based estrogen). These soy compounds mimic estrogen in the body. However, as they are weaker than human estrogen but have similar properties, they are compatible with and able to bind themselves to estrogen receptors. This creates anti-estrogenic effects. In more general terms, they block the effects of the stronger estrogen compounds.

Transgender Effects of Soy

Over the years, there has been some speculation that a soy-rich diet could have feminizing effects due to the similarities between phytoestrogen and the female sex hormone. However, this is not the case.

In fact, many of the health benefits related to soy-rich diets are based on the anti-estrogenic effects of soy.

What this means for transgender women is that soy-rich diets, or even soy supplements, are unlikely to have any effect on the desirable effects that come from heightened estrogen levels, such as breast growth and fat redistribution. This is especially true when considering the high levels of human estrogen many transgender women take as part of their hormone replacement therapy.

Soy FAQs

Who should avoid soy foods?

Unfortunately, there are also some adverse health effects associated with high soy consumption, including adverse effects on thyroid function.

People with clinical hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid function are often advised to monitor and limit their soy intake, as soy can worsen the condition. However, consuming soy products does not increase the risk for people with healthy thyroid status.

What is the correlation between soy and cancer risk?

Contrary to what was believed in the past, more recent studies have found that soy protein reduces risk of cancer in the human body.

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