The Connection Between Soy Products and Thyroid

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Tess Thompson

One of the most widely held myths about natural foods is that they are always safe in any quantity and in all conditions. This is however not true. Some natural products can be harmful under certain conditions.

Soy and soy products like soy oil, tofu, and soy milk have become very popular based on the positive support provided by health magazines. Soy is touted as a substitute for estrogen for women, as an inhibitor of breast cancer and as a healthier choice. It is also a source of low-fat protein as compared to meats and poultry. It is yet to be known whether all this information is based on scientific analysis or if it is a marketing gimmick to promote business.

Soy has possibly the most protein of all the vegetable crops, but it can prove to be detrimental to thyroid functioning. The thyroid is a small, pear-shaped gland at the base of the neck that secretes crucial hormones that are responsible for maintaining the rate of many body functions like body temperature and heart rate. It also helps in keeping the calcium levels in blood plasma in check and maintaining a healthy level of energy.

An enzyme known as thyroid peroxidase is responsible for adding iodine to thyroid hormones. This enzyme catalyzes the oxidation of a compound. Isoflavones, found in soy is a potent substance that has the potential of acting as a substitute for natural hormones. Excess consumption of soy products inhibits activity of the enzyme and ultimately effects normal thyroid hormone production. This may lead to a condition called hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid). Given the general nature of the symptoms that this condition has, it can go undetected for many years.

It is however unfair to project soy as a villainous product. Tolerance to soy products varies from person to person. Soy is concealed in so many products these days that it becomes difficult to assess how much soy is being ingested as part of your daily meals. If you have already been diagnosed for hypothyroidism or have a family history of thyroid disease, it is better that you minimize your soy intake. However, if you are careful in selecting your diet and consume small quantities of soy products, the need for thyroid treatment should not arise.

Conventional thyroid medications, that are used to inhibit functions of an overactive thyroid and other remedies like hormone replacement, have their own side effects. Alternative thyroid treatments that involve natural thyroid medication are safer. They are more effective to use before the actual problem arises and reaches limits beyond control.


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