Surprising Side Effects Of Eating Too Much Soy

Now more than ever before, more people are being diagnosed with food allergies and sensitivities. Although the BBC entertains various explanations for the rise in food allergies, the reason for the alarming uptick continues to be unknown. For some, these allergies are serious enough to cause alternate food options to be explored, with the hope of finding comparable substitutes for staples like milk and peanut butter. 

Soy happens to be a popular option, particularly due to its high protein content and versatility. According to Healthline, soybeans can be eaten alone or used to create foods like tofu, tempeh, plant-based meat, and soy milk. Soy is also used as an alternative ingredient for baby formula and in many plant-based protein powders. There are studies that suggest there are health benefits to eating soy, including reducing the risk of heart disease and assisting with weight loss, but there is also a buzz surrounding the possible side effects of eating too much soy.

Eating too much soy might negatively impact your health

Eating soy may affect the body's ability to absorb minerals, as the protein contains phytates, or antinutrients, which minimize the amounts of essential nutrients absorbed like zinc and iron (via Healthline). One study published in the scientific journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition reported a decrease in iron and zinc absorption with an increase of ingested soy protein, with the phytic acid and trypsin inhibitors found in soy suggested to be the negating factor.

There is also some focus on soy's potential disruption of natural hormones. Because the phytoestrogens found in soy can impact the body in similar ways as estrogen can, there is concern that eating too much soy can have a negative impact on hormone balance and thyroid function. However, experts at Healthline report that there is not enough evidence to support these theories. 

Moreover, high levels of cadmium have been found, specifically in tofu, and according to a study published in Science of the Total Environment, even exposure to low levels of cadmium can increase the risk for kidney disease. Mayo Clinic Laboratories also reports that chronic exposure to cadmium can cause accumulated renal damage. More research is still needed to determine if soybeans contain enough cadmium to be directly related to kidney disease.