Does Eating Soy Reduce Testosterone in Men?

Pod of Soybeans

Soybean-based food products have been a staple in many Asian diets for centuries. Tofu and tempeh are popular cheese-like foods made from coagulated soy milk. In other parts of the world, each have long been valued for their versatility as a meat-substitute. Both proteins also have become popular with many vegetarians as well as other health-conscious consumers throughout the Western world. However, some men stopped eating soy-based foods when reports surfaced that isoflavones (genistein, daidzein and glycitein) found in soy protein resembled the female sex hormone estrogen causing fears about lower testosterone production.

In the body, isoflavones act like phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), which have similar effects to estrogen. Although estrogen is primarily thought of as a female hormone, it does play a significant role in men's health as too little estrogen can cause an increased risk of chronic diseases like osteoporosis. Clinical studies also have shown that consumption of soy proteins may reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease by lowering blood LDL cholesterol as well as prevent some hormone-related cancers. Since eating soy-based products has been linked to adverse conditions in men, such as swollen breast, it is suspected that some individuals may struggle to process isoflavones.  

Humans have been eating soy beans for almost 5000 years and hundreds of food products today already contain soy in some form (read your food labels). In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says people who are not allergic to soy do not have to worry about serious side effects* from eating soy-based foods. Mild side effects may include diarrhea, stomach aches or constipation. However, with higher levels of estrogen often being associated with lowered testosterone levels, the consumption of soy products will likely remain a hotly debated topic for decades to come. To learn more about hormonal balance and your body, contact Metabolic Research Center for a free consultation.

*NOTE: The FDA does warn persons with gout that they should not eat soy products as soybeans contain purine.


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