Soy and Hashimoto’s

Soy is extracted from soybean. In its entire form, it is commonly known as edamame. Unfortunately, even in its entirety, it can be problematic for people, even those without thyroid problems! 

Soy is available in so many different forms, making it easy to add to virtually any product on the market, from our whole and processed foods to cosmetics and clothing.

soy

Common symptoms of soy sensitivity may include respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose or difficulty breathing, bowel symptoms such as abdominal pain or loose stools, brain fog and restlessness, and anxiety and palpitations. 

That said, even if you're not sensitive to soy, have Hashimoto's disease, or have low thyroid function, you can still benefit from avoiding it as it can affect your thyroid health.

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Reasons for Soy being problematic for Hashimoto's

So what makes soy problematic for people with Hashimoto's? 

Xenoestrogen

First, soy is a xenoestrogen, which means it can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors and can begin to affect the endocrine system in the uterus during development and their effects can be permanent. 

To date, there have not been enough studies to determine the risks of xenoestrogens, but it is best to stay away from them as much as possible, as they can lead to excessive hormones and aggravated symptoms in people with Hashimoto.

Goitre

Another reason soy can be problematic for people with Hashimoto's is that it's a goitre. Goitrogens are substances that suppress the thyroid gland by interfering with the production of thyroid hormones. As a compensatory mechanism, the thyroid gland is enlarged to counter reduced hormone production. This enlargement is also known as goitre.

goitre

You may have heard that you should avoid goitrogenic foods if you have thyroid disease. This is only partially true, as not all goitrogens are created equal. Different goitrogenic substances are found in different foods. Soy, in particular, has been linked to the development of autoimmune thyroiditis. Other goitrogenic foods, such as cruciferous vegetables, are generally not a problem for people with Hashimoto's.

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Myth - Soy is organic, so healthy

Some people believe that soy is healthy as long as it is organic. However, this is just a myth. Besides not having genetically modified (GM) properties, organic soy is still a goitrogen and it still works the same way as GM soy on the thyroid.

Fermented soy is advertised as healthier than unfermented soy, but a study linked fermented soy to a higher incidence of stomach cancer. Also, while it may be easier to digest and potentially aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, magnesium and zinc, consuming fermented foods that don't contain soy provides us with the same benefits.

Sources of Soy

Some obvious sources of soy include:

  • Soy lecithin
  • Bean curd
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Soy milk
  • Soy sauce
  • Soybeans

soymilk

There are also some not-so-obvious sources of soy which includes many vegan and vegetarian meat alternatives (burgers, ground meat, chops, etc.) These may also contain soy in addition to certain additives. 

Unless the product packaging says "soy-free," it's best to do some research before consuming the product by researching it online or calling the company that makes the product. 

Additives to consider in vegan meat substitutes and other pre-packaged foods include vitamin E/tocopherol, glycerin, bulking agents, thickeners, hydrolyzed vegetable/vegetable protein, and guar gum.

 

Skip all food sources of soy to support your thyroid. Better yet, eliminate all processed foods, as soy is often a hidden ingredient in these products as well. Of course, cooking from scratch is the best choice to avoid soy (as well as gluten and dairy). 

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Culinary approach

When we eat healthy, fresh, and organic foods, we know exactly what we are putting into our bodies. This is called a "culinary approach" to your diet. Incidentally, not relying on prepackaged, prepared and processed foods will also help you reach your other nutritional goals and you may feel healthier.

coconutyogurt

Some of the prepackaged products to make food preparation a little easier are:

  • Coconut yogurt
  • Epic bars
  • Hemp heart bars
  • Paleo wraps
  • Paleovalley snacks

 

Some prepackaged foods that you think are healthy generally contain many unhealthy ingredients, including soy. A point of particular attention is the salad dressing. Take a look at the back of a bottle of salad dressing - you'll see soybean oil in most cases. As a substitute, you can add freshly squeezed 100% orange juice to the mix for a fruity kick.

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Veg protein powders with soy

Many vegetarian protein powders contain soy isolate, and while convenient and inexpensive, there are many other protein powders that do not contain soy.

  1. Organic Vanilla Pea Protein - This organic and natural pea protein isolate is suitable for vegans and vegetarians and has excellent digestibility.
  2. AI Paleo Protein - This is a great dairy-free protein powder, providing 26g of protein per serving. Contains hydroBEEF a highly concentrated pure beef protein, produced through a unique patented process that allows the protein to be hydrolyzed into multiple peptides, resulting in easier absorption and assimilation.
  3. Paleo Vanilla Protein - This protein powder provides 21g of protein per serving and contains natural vanilla flavor. Like AI Paleo Protein, it contains HydroBEEF and is dairy-free.

 

Some products that you believe are not marketed with soy may still contain soy, and these products go beyond just food. This includes cosmetics, soaps, lotions, and other personal care products. Avoid skincare that has soy as its ingredient.

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Supplements with soy

Many supplements also contain soy, which makes it very important to read the labels on supplement bottles carefully. 

One particular supplement, which is beneficial for Hashimoto, is also one of the hardest supplements to find without soy. That supplement is vitamin E. It works synergistically with selenium as an antioxidant, protecting normal cell function and improving the function of some energy-producing cells. 

vitamin e

Unfortunately, many vitamin E supplements contain soy lecithin.

Keep in mind that Vitamin E isn't the only supplement to worry about. It is important to check the labels on all supplement bottles to make sure they are free from soy, gluten, dairy, and other fillers.

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Steps to quit soy

Now that you have all the tools you need to quit soy consumption and intake, you should be able to:

Identify what soy is - Soy is a goitrogenic and xenoestrogenic legume that can interfere with thyroid hormone absorption and contribute to excess estrogen in the body.

Avoid soy - Read labels, prepare foods from scratch, and research supplements and beauty products.

Busting the Myths - Soy isn't the best alternative for boosting hormones, replacing non-dairy protein, or serving as a bulking agent in supplements.

Be Aware of Soy Sensitivity Symptoms – Many people experience unexplained symptoms related to soy sensitivity, such as Bowel problems, mood swings, and anxiety when soy is consumed. 

Soy is everywhere, but you can avoid it and find soy-free alternatives. If you prepare your own meals and research your labels before consuming products, avoiding soy may be possible!

 

 

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