Health risks of Soya bean and Soy products

December 8, 2020

Soya bean has, for long, been heralded as a valuable source of complete nutrition, so much so that not only the bean but the use of its derivatives is also soaring. To date, the popular soy products/derivatives in the market are:

Whole Soya bean, Soya Chunks, Soya milk, Soya sauce, Tofu, Edamame, Miso, Tempeh, Soya nuts, etc. Soy is now being used as a key product in the plant based meat. Textured soy protein acts as a meat extender and hence, is extensively used for the production of meat alternatives.

But are the beneficial health claims for this so-called ‘protein-rich, cholesterol-lowering, heart disease and breast cancer-preventing, superfood’ true? Well, not all.

Although it is packed with nutrients, these are of little use for your body because of the presence of ‘antinutrients’. These are plant compounds that reduce the body's ability to absorb essential nutrients. Soya bean is one such food commodity that contains almost all the antinutrients there are. From oxalates, phytates, lectins, protease inhibitors, saponins, glyphosates to the deadly mold toxins, each of them have been found to be present in soy.

These antinutrient compounds are linked with a number of negative health impacts, viz.,

  • Affecting the availability of nutrients (Iron, zinc, calcium, copper)
  • Causing gastrointestinal disturbances (food poisoning, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, etc)
  • Bringing about undesirable organoleptic properties
  • Creating hormonal imbalances in both men and women

Apart from the high antinutrient content, soy is also considered to be a potent allergen, meaning it is capable of causing allergies. 

Phytoestrogen, a compound naturally present in plant based foods and abundantly in soy, is known to have feminizing effects on men. For instance, in a case report on gynecomastia (enlargement of breast in men) associated with soy consumption by a man, it was noted that after the patient stopped consuming soy products, ‘his breast tenderness had resolved.

Last but definitely the most important concerns of all is the processing involved in the production of soy products. Some of the soy varieties in the market are highly GMOed, further questioning their use.

In our opinion, soy is a ‘genetically-modified, testosterone-lowering, man-boob-producing health risk that should never ever be part of any human’s diet. 

Reach out to us if you want to learn more about what food works best for human health!  


Ria Jain
Functional Nutritionist

Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at iThrive (Previously ThriveFNC) updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on iThrive's blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.

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