Is It Safe to Eat Soy During Pregnancy?
Soy is a highly recommended food to promote women’s health. It contains a series of compounds known as isoflavones, which can optimize hormone production and reduce the symptoms associated with menopause. Now, we’re going to tell you if it’s safe to eat soy during pregnancy or if it should be restricted at this stage.
The first thing to keep in mind is that, at present, many products are made from soy. Especially, those with high protein content and made for the vegan public. This is due to the concentration of nutrients in this vegetable, although the protein quality isn’t as high as in animal-based foods. Soy is even deficient in several essential amino acids.
Soy is a food with some “anti-nutrients” inside
One of the reasons against the consumption of soy during pregnancy has to do with the presence of “anti-nutrients” in the food. That is, a series of elements that reduce the bioavailability of certain essential minerals, such as calcium, iron, or zinc. A deficit of these nutrients could negatively affect the fetus, as stated in a study published in Nutrients.
Moreover, many soybean crops are grown extensively and use pesticides to reduce the risk of pests. These substances are very fat-soluble (they adhere to fats) and can reach the fetus through the placenta. Therefore, when the origin of soybeans is unknown, it’s best to avoid them. But when it comes from organic plantations, it will be free of these toxins.
So, is it safe to consume soy during pregnancy?
Despite the above, there’s no solid evidence to indicate that soy intake can be harmful to the health of pregnant women and the fetus. This is as long as it’s included in the diet in a reasonable way, without altering the variety or balance at the energy level.
Some old trials can be found that suggest the possibility of developing reproductive problems from an extremely high intake of soy in the diet, but their evidence isn’t very solid.
It should be noted that there were and are many myths about soy throughout history. For example, that it could cause a reduction in the production of testosterone in men, but this hypothesis hasn’t been proven conclusively.
And what about processed soy products?
With processed soy products one must be careful, as many of them are of poor quality and contain additives, simple sugars, and trans fats. It’s not that they’ll have a direct harmful effect on the fetus or on women’s health, but the less they appear in the diet, the better.
In the long run, they can have a negative impact on the functioning of the metabolism and on inflammatory markers in the body, which translates into an increased risk of disease. Therefore, this type of food should be reduced in the diet of pregnant women as well as in the general population.
A diet should always be based on fresh and nutrient-dense foods. Otherwise, deficits and inefficiencies in the functioning of the body could be produced over the years.
Soy can be consumed during pregnancy
As we’ve said, it’s possible to consume soy during pregnancy, although it’s best not to abuse this food. The key to a good diet is variety and energy balance, so including products that concentrate a large amount of anti-nutrients could have the opposite effect. During pregnancy, avoiding deficits is key to maintaining the good health of the mother and the future baby.
Finally, keep in mind that if you have doubts about the foods that can be included or not in the diets of pregnant women, the best option is always to go to a specialist. The professional will be able to solve all your doubts and, in addition, will be able to establish an optimal food plan to achieve a good maternal body composition and a healthy development of the fetus.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Clínica Mayo (2023). Nutrición en el embarazo: alimentos que debes evitar durante el embarazo. Consultado el 8 de junio de 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20043844
- Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de Estados Unidos. (2020). Personas en riesgo: embarazadas. Food Safety Gov. Consultado el 8 de junio de 2023. https://espanol.foodsafety.gov/personas-en-riesgo-mg5v/embarazadas
- Gaffer, G. G., Elgawish, R. A., Abdelrazek, H. M. A., Ebaid, H. M., & Tag, H. M. (2018). Dietary soy isoflavones during pregnancy suppressed the immune function in male offspring albino rats. Toxicology Reports. 5: 296-301. https://europepmc.org/article/pmc/5978017
- Harvard T. H. Chan. Harvard School of Public Health (Enero 2022). Are anti nutrients harmful? Consultado el 8 de junio de 2023. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/
- Jefferson, W. N., Patisaul, H. B., & Williams, C. J. (2012). Reproductive consequences of developmental phytoestrogen exposure. Reproduction. 143 (3): 247-260. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3443604/
- Rizzo, G., Feraco, A., Storz, M., & Lombardo, M. (2022). The role of soy and soy isoflavones on women’s fertility and related outcomes: an update. Journal of Nutritional Science. 11 (E17). https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-nutritional-science/article/role-of-soy-and-soy-isoflavones-on-womens-fertility-and-related-outcomes-an-update/29483840F197DC57A2BD0DCEE2A3543F
- U. S. Department of Agriculture. (2019). Soybeans, mature seeds, raw. Food Data Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174270/nutrients
- U. S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021). Consejos dietéticos para futuras mamás. https://www.fda.gov/food/people-risk-foodborne-illness/consejos-dieteticos-para-futuras-mamas
- U. S. Food and Drug Administration. (2022). GMO crops, animal food and beyond. https://www.fda.gov/food/agricultural-biotechnology/gmo-crops-animal-food-and-beyond
- Wang, Y., Luo, B., & Xiang, J. (2021). The association between soy intake and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: a prospective cohort study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 21 (695). https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-021-04175-9