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Soya and male fertility

Soya and male fertility has had it’s share of negative media headlines in the past so it’s little wonder that your concern for your Son has been raised. It’s important to note that these media stories have been based on the results of animal studies and data from animal studies can never be directly translated into public health messages for humans.

No data from research involving humans have indicated a negative effect of soya on fertility.
Some reports suggest that compounds called isoflavones found in soya cause infertility in some animal species but, many of the animals used in these kinds of studies have very different ways of processing isoflavones than humans. Studies using rats, which use isoflavones in a similar way to humans have shown no adverse effects on fertility. Furthermore, in a human study which looked at young adults who had received soya formula in infancy, no statistical difference was noted for any comparitive markers of fertility between the group fed soya formula and those fed cow’s milk formula. No difference was seen in pregnancy outcomes either.
This study is seen as being very important by nutrition experts in reassuring the safety of soya in infant formula and many other trials carried out on children, show completely normal growth and development.

Male fertility is affected by the supply of vitamins and minerals in the diet. Sperm activity and viability seem to be directly related to the available amounts of vitamins C and E as well as minerals selenium and zinc. It’s therefore important that men choose as wide a range of foods as possible including vegetarian protein sources including pulses, nuts and soya, wholegrain cereals and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
• Other lifestyle factors which can have a negative effect on male fertility include smoking
• alcohol consumption above recommended safe intakes
• being overweight
• stress

The facts about soya and family health
At a recent conference looking specifically at soya consumption and health several pieces of new evidence confirmed positive roles for soya in a healthy balanced diet for the whole family.
• Including soy foods at breakfast and lunch such as soy milk, soy yoghurts and desserts, soy mince, tofu, etc. can produce improvements in satiety (fullness) resulting in a reduction in daily calorie intake and thus could have a beneficial role in weight control
• Women who consume soy foods more than five times a week have a 36% lower risk of stroke and a 45% lower risk of heart attack compared to women consuming soy foods less than two times a week
• Soy foods have an excellent nutritional profile which may account for their beneficial heart health properties
• Soy protein has been shown to be effective in reducing total cholesterol, on average, by 4% and LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5%
• 25g of soy protein a day has a significant cholesterol lowering effect
• 25g of soy protein can be achieved by consuming three to four servings of soy
• foods a day
• Consuming soy foods is safe and beneficial for breast cancer patients at intakes of around 15g a day. Fifteen grams of soy protein can be achieved by consuming approximately two servings of soy foods a day.

This article first appeared in Cook Vegetarian Magazine

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