Soy and Thyroid, Heart and Bone Health, Risks and Benefits During Perimenopause and Menopause

Soy is the original hippie food that gave birth to the words Natural and Organic. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the AHA (American Heart Association) for more then twenty years have questioned the risks and benefits of soy. In the meantime, soy has become an extensively overused ingredient. So while Americans consume soy either by choice or for lack of reading a label, it's uncertain whether soy has a negative effect on the thyroid and does soy in fact, offer any health benefits at all.

Tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, soy flour, soy chicken, soy tuna, soy protein, soy in condiments and per-prepared foods, burgers, sausage, and hot dogs, soy supplements and soy in menopause wellness formulas, soy in breads and pastas, soy in lotions, potions and hair dye, soy oil, soy cheese, soy in lipsticks, cosmetics, candles, shampoos and household cleaning products, soap, crayons, paper, and clothing. Even if you are a soy devotee, the ingredient has morphed from fermented bean curd into everything else.

Soy and the Thyroid

During perimenopause and menopause it is not unusual for women to develop thyroid problems. Since 1970, the number of thyroid incidences has more than doubled and approximately80% of thyroid disease is experienced by females.

Soy is a food that is categorized as a goitrogen. These are foods that promote the formation of goiter, a swelling in the thyroid gland, which can lead to a swelling of the neck or larynx. Soy is capable of interfering with the thyroid's normal function causing thyroid disease such as Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone or Graves' an autoimmune disease that can cause over activity of the thyroid -- a condition known as Hyperthyroidism.

During perimenopause and menopause many women develop digestive problems that can easily interfere with daily life. Because we think we are doing all the right things to manage menopause naturally, we simply may not be connecting the dots.

Soy is it a common allergen, so even if it is not affecting your thyroid function specifically, it may be triggering symptoms of an allergic response, which include gastric upset, indigestion, gas, bloating constipation, acne, nausea, a stuffy nose, diarrhea, stomach pains, cramps, headaches, heart palpitations, skin rashes, hives, swelling in the throat, brain fog and fatigue. Also, if you take a thyroid medication for any reason soy can interfere with its proper absorption.

Christiane Northrup, MD, the author of The Wisdom of Menopause, has been a frequent guess on the Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about menopause. As an advocate of soy, Dr. Northrup suggests that women incorporate soy into their diets. Today, both Dr. Northrup and Oprah are hypothyroid. Coincidence or not, we will never know.

Thanks to Oprah she has graciously once again shared from her own unfortunate thyroid story and has created awareness for many women about soy, hormones and thyroid health.

Some women might believe that bioidentical hormones are the right treatment for thyroid problems - and they're not.Some women might think that bioidentical hormones such as estradiol or progesterone are risk-free - and they're not.Some women might believe that soy milk and other soy foods are beneficial for thyroid function - when they can actually harm the thyroid.

Does Soy Have Heart or Bone Health Benefits?

After 19 clinical studies on soy the National Institute of Health (NIH) states "there are no significant effects on HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoprotein, or blood pressure. Among the 19 studies of soy isoflavones, the average effect on LDL cholesterol and other lipid risk factors was nil.

Soy protein and isoflavones have not shown to lessen vasomotor symptoms of menopause, and results are mixed with regard to soy's ability to slow postmenopausal bone loss. The efficacy and safety of soy isoflavones for preventing or treating cancer of the breast, endometrium, and prostate are not established; evidence from clinical trials is meager and cautionary with regard to a possible adverse effect. For this reason, use of isoflavone supplements in food or pills is not recommended."

The American Heart Association has also declared that soy has little or no effect on cholesterol and is unlikely to prevent heart disease.

If you eat, drink or take soy in a supplement and are concerned about your thyroid, speak with your doctor and get tested. Until there is a clear answer to soy's toxicity and risks, please use your good sense and not marketing mania as your purchasing guide.

Sabina E. Fasano is the founder of Solutions for Women, the developer of Femmerol®, a patented, clinically tested micronized herbal formulation for addressing hormonal imbalance due to menopause, perimenopause, and monthly hormonal fluctuations. Femmerol is manufactured by the Capsugel Division of Warner-Lambert. To learn more about Femmerol visit or call 1 + (800) 846-0866

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