Can men eat soy? Its effects on male health

In recent years the consumption of soy and derivatives obtained from it has increased significantly in many countries in Europe, especially in our country. The reason must be found, above all, in that its consumption is being promoted in a remarkable and important way from different advertising campaigns, in which -for example- the soy drink it is sold as an adequate alternative to cow's milk; becoming, therefore, an interesting option for people with lactose intolerance.

As you surely know, soy or soy is a legume belonging precisely to the family of legumes (Fabaceae), known scientifically with the name ofGlycine max.

Due to its multiple uses, it is marketed all over the world, thus becoming a popular food well known for centuries in countries such as China, Japan or Korea, and for some decades in the West as a result of the increase of products derived from it. It is, in fact, a food that has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years.

From a nutritional point of view, we are faced with a food with a high amount of vegetable proteins, omega 3 fatty acids, natural antioxidants, fiber, vitamins (especially vitamins B group, highlighting the presence of vitamin B12, and vitamin K) , and minerals (especially iron and magnesium). Moreover, its high content of essential amino acids is surprising.

Its main nutritional advantages are found in the fact of its great protein richness, so that 100 grams of soy contribute around 17 grams of protein. And although its consumption is advisable in many cases, and interesting benefits have been found regarding its consumption, its supposed not so positive effects make it a controversial food.

These supposed effects on health make us face a common as well as normal question: Is soy safe for men? Can they consume it safely? And if so, how much?

What are the effects of soy consumption on men? Controversial results

Sperm reduction and sperm quality

A cross section was carried out by Harvard University, and published in the specialized editionHuman Reproduction, found in the year 2007 that the intake of soy and isoflavones reduced the concentration of sperm in men's sperm.

According to the results obtained in this study, it was found that the inclusion of soy in the male diet affected those men who, prior to this consumption, maintained a normal or high sperm count in their sperm. It could even be confirmed that this effect was greater than the effects that obesity and excess weight had on obese men who also participated in the study.

However, other scientific studies carried out later have had contradictory results regarding soy consumption and sperm production. Moreover, a meta-analysis carried out by Mindy S. Kurzer of the University of Minnesota found that The soy isoflavones in men did not alter the quality of the semen or the levels of hormones in the blood.

Erectile dysfunction

A scientific research published in the editionJournal of Andrology found that a certain type of isoflavone that we found in soybeans, known by the name of daidzein, might negatively affect the erectile functions of the penis.

In this study it was found that the consumption of this isoflavone from youth could adversely affect the functioning of the penis in adulthood.

For example, it was found that rats that consumed this isoflavone had softer erections. However, testosterone was not significantly affected, nor did it affect the size of the penis or its normal growth.

But as the researchers themselves stated in the study's publication, Studies in rats do not necessarily reflect the same results in humans.

It would help prevent prostate cancer

TheInternational Health Council for the prostate has suggested at some point that Soy and its derivatives will help prevent cancer, in countries like Japan, thanks mainly to its content in isoflavones. Thus, researchers from the University Hospital of Bonn (Germany) concluded that the genistein present in soy would be of great help.

Moreover, preliminary research indicates that both soy protein and soy isoflavones would help slow down the growth of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels in men diagnosed with prostate cancer (see Estrogens and Prostatic Disease).

This would be due to the action of isoflavones as competition for estrogen receptors, especially in those mechanisms mainly involved so that prostate cancer does not progress.

Is it true that it reduces testosterone?

This is a very controversial topic, and one that has made soy a food so criticized in terms of the supposed safety of its consumption by men.

On the one hand, we must bear in mind that it is true that some scientific studies have associated the consumption of soy to the decrease in testosterone levels in man. However, many of these studies confirm that a non-excessive consumption of soy in men has virtually no effect on their testosterone.

For example, there is no more to relate soy consumption by Asian countries, large soybean consumers, in which it would be suggested that a high consumption of soy would not affect sex hormones.

In this sense, a meta-analysis made public in 2010 and published inFertility & Sterility found that there was no evidence to indicate that isoflavones or soy proteins increase estrogen or reduce testosterone, after analyzing the effect of consumption of soy products in 51 groups of volunteers (see Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men).

So, is the consumption of soy in men safe?

As many experts say, it is quite likely that most of the negative effects that soy causes on health(not only of the man but also of the woman), be due to the presence of transgenic soybeans in many products derived from it.

In addition, it is always advisable to read the labels of the soy foods that we buy to ensure that it is an optimal source of soy protein, low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sugar.

On the other hand, as with any other food, excessive consumption is harmful to health. But we must also bear in mind that few studies have actually shown that the consumption of high amounts of soy can have side effects in man.

Therefore, the recommendation is clear: always opt for products made from soy beans from organic farming (in this way we make sure that we are not in front of transgenic soybeans), and also not to exceed their consumption. In this sense, between 1 to 2 servings of soy consumption is considered safe. This article is published for informational purposes only. You can not and should not replace the consultation with a Nutritionist. We advise you to consult your trusted Nutritionist. ThemesSoy

Soy: Is It Helpful or Harmful? (May 2023)