Soy — The confusion bean

If there is one product that seems to confuse me the most it’s soy.  Is it good for me?  Is it bad for me?  Does it prevent cancer or cause cancer?  When we were living in Maine and Buck was a baby, I remember a neighbor coming over to our house very alarmed because he just saw on the news that soy could make you have a small penis.  (What channel he was watching, I’ll never know).  I know people that swear by soy.  I know people that run from it.  So for years now, instead of doing any investigating, I’ve just taken the lazy dietary route and avoided soy.  There’s so much contrary information out there I just couldn’t imagine sorting through all of it to make a personal decision.


Until now.  I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day, (I want to be her), and there was this fabulous person (Josie Maran) on it talking about Barlean’s Essential Woman — an oil she swears by because it makes her hair and skin insanely wonderful.

So I bought it and started taking it you know what?  She was right!  My hair and skin suddenly were fabulous and another bonus that I wasn’t expecting — my mood was better.  Just in general basically happier and more positive.  I attributed this to fatty acids which are really good for your brain.  I started telling friends about this amazing product and when one of my friends examined the bottle, she looked at me gravely and said, “It has soy.”

Soy… my old enemy.

This product contains soy isoflavones and saponins.  Non-GMO.  I really want to continue to take this product, but now there’s a big question mark hanging over the bottle.

Should I?  Shouldn’t I?  What do you know about soy?  I need some opinions!  I need some facts.

I’ll even take rumors.  I’m not proud.


  • Becky says:

    I go by the general rule of thumb that now that I am not actually producing people nor nourishing them from my body, I’m not going to stress out over the completely in a muddle nutritional stuff. When I had tiny genomes being affected by my every decision, I went conservative. Now, I avoid things like arsenic and lead, try to eat local and make an effort to avoid GMOs but I have also been known to still eat at Chik Fil A and down a Sonic Chicago Dog because there is something about a poppyseed bun and a dill pickle spear that make me lose all reason.

    From what I understand, which is basically rumor, heresy, and stuff I heard from Doctor Oz while I was nursing the baby and using the remote was just asking too much, the big issue is that soy can mimic estrogens. This is problematic for people who aren’t supposed to have estrogen (like young children) and can also cause problems with cancers that are encouraged by too much estrogen (like breast?) but it’s helpful for people who could use some extra estrogen (like perimenopausal women). I’m of the opinion that there is an element to cancer that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. I’ve seen too many women who followed every recommendation and still wound up with breast cancer to make a ton of decisions based only on cancer prevention. I wouldn’t give my kids this supplement for a variety of reasons but I suspect that you are solidly in the category where it’s not really the worst thing you can do and it makes you feel pretty and that counts for a lot.

    • Holly Hester says:

      Wow. You just described soy sooooo well. I get it now! That makes total sense. So that’s why you always hear soy and menopause sort of together — and I’ve heard breast cancer and soy together. And it makes sense for kids to avoid it. Thank you! Thank you! And thank you for not picking up that remote! (by the way, when we are on a road trip, I love Chik dil A — those waffle fries!) We don’t have one around here or a sonic…

  • Heidi J says:

    I’d still take it personally. It’s not like you’re consuming that much soy by taking it. Also, from what I’ve read the main concern with soy is that it can be estrogenic, so not so great for men (maybe that’s where the weird news story your neighbor heard came from), but not so big a deal for women.

  • Von says:

    I have read a bit about soy because it is a hot topic in the thyroid community. I don’t like it as tofu so I don’t eat much of it knowingly, but from what I understand it can have mild goitrogenic properties in people who are low in iodine already and who have hormonal problems. That’s quite a specific subset so I wouldn’t think that reason would be a reason to avoid it if you haven’t got hypothyroidism or iodine deficiency. Even if I did like it I’d be wary but that’s because I have hypothyroidism. I’ve been reading up on gluten free stuff and I’m experimenting with that, in the cook book I have soy is recommended as a good source of protein. As a little aside, I didn’t realize how much seratonin is produced in the gut and that going gluten-free improves lots of people’s mood as they have been low on seratonin. Surely with the product you are trying you can’t actually be consuming much, you don’t have to drink lots per day do you?

    • Holly Hester says:

      No, I don’t have drink that much with it. I just heard that most people are iodine deficient. It’s interesting that you mentioned that. Thanks for your input!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Can’t really help you. Soy allergies run in our family, so we avoid it for that reason alone. it has been hard with the growing gluten intolerance as a lot of companies replace gluten with soy.

  • heather says:

    Hey Holly. Dr Fuhrman (nutritarian guy) has some good articles that make sense to me. I’ve always been super confused too!

Comments? Fire away.