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Be Careful about Soy when TTC


a blog by Cindy Bailey of the Fertile Kitchen™, November 23, 2010

If you’re giving up dairy as part of your fertility diet, you might be inclined to load up on soy-based alternatives, such as soy milk, soy yogurt, tofu, tempeh, soy burgers, soy chips and on and on.

Be Careful about Soy

Research points to concerns about eating soy in large or concentrated amounts, especially when trying to conceive.

Here’s the story: On the one hand, soy can be great for the health. Soybeans are the only vegetables to contain a complete set of amino acids, so they make a great source of protein, equivalent to meat and eggs. They’re also a good source of magnesium, iron, omega 3 fatty acids and more, and have been touted for a number of health benefits, from lowering cholesterol to decreasing risks for certain kinds of cancers.

However, soybeans contain isoflavones which mimic estrogen (phytoestrogens). Consumed in large or concentrated amounts, this can have a serious negative impact on fertility. Also, processed soy (that’s the soy cheeses, chips, burgers and so on) has been connected to impaired mineral absorption and thyroid dysfunction.

Recommendations on Eating Soy while TTC

If you eat soy, do so only occasionally. Limit consumption to no more than three servings per week and choose whole soy foods, such as tofu, soy milk and edamame over other forms for greater nutritional value.

Even better, avoid processed soy (and all over-processed foods, for that matter!), and opt instead for the fermented variety, such as miso, tofu and soy sauce.

According to a write-up on soybeans on the website for Whole Foods Market, “research shows that traditional preparation methods, including the use of traditionally fermented soy products like fermented tofu, fermented miso, and fermented soy sauce, are best when it comes to our health.”

So go forth and enjoy the simpler versions of soy, just don’t eat too much of it.

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Comments (2)

I would still limit soy during pregnancy. The effect on your hormones can affect your growing baby too. (It's controversial, but there is some research that links women who consumed a lot of soy during pregnancy with minor birth defects in their offspring, particularly male offspring. So I would continue to limit soy just to be safe.)

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