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Soy no more (for 7 days)

Soy milk is delicious. Derived from soy; a plant food which is also a complete protein, meaning that it has all required amino acids.

More on the science below and also the WHY that led me to this experiment last week.

Day 1

My lovely barista and good friend Chloe had prepared for this week with me and had in fact purchased almond milk on my behalf the day prior (not offered on her coffee menu). We both took 1 sip of the almond latte on Day 1 and any chances of this experiment being an almond challenge were shot to hell immediately. Rancid was the word of choice. So take 2 and the large full cream milk latte was proffered. Now I of course have had full cream milk before in my life AND in my coffee from time to time; anytime that I spend overseas ensures consistent consumption of full cream milk coffee however… I simply love soy milk. I ADORE it in my coffee; despite the protests of my aforementioned barista and friend as it is most certainly NOT the done thing in coffee drinking.

So of course before work on Monday morning I drank the coffee and my overwhelming feeling was one of emptiness. I missed the party in my mouth.

Coffee calories: 169

Day 2

After assessing the HUGE number of calories present in the coffee from Day 1 – 15% increase from my regular large soy latte order – I amended my order for the second day.  Full Cream double shot latte. Strong. Enjoyed tasting the wonderful coffee and less milk in the morning; although different; had its benefits.

For anyone who is unsure, a regular latte has 1 shot of coffee with 235ml of milk and a large has 2 shots of coffee with 355ml of milk.

Luckily for a long Tuesday the 2 shots of coffee were still present though with less calories than the previous day and less “fullness” attributed to a hell of a lot of full cream milk.

Coffee calories: 112

Day 3

A day not working in the “traditional sense” meant that I was fortunate enough to join in one of my favourite pastimes for Day 3 – café culture. Sitting at my local, The Penny Royal Café in Mosman and enjoying the morning sun is one of life’s simple pleasures for me. People watching, working, chatting with friends, drinking coffee… This also means I could extend the experiment somewhat further with some time up my sleeve + coffee tastes that much better out of glass and when you are seated! I commenced with a single shot full cream ¾ latte and chased it with 2 full cream piccolo lattes; which although potentially wanky; is simply perfect for providing another coffee sans all the milk!! Certainly the most enjoyment thus far or perhaps I am getting used to this….

Coffee calories: 196 (and boy did I enjoy them!!!)

Day 4

First things first.

Yesterday’s 3 shots were very well chosen as my Wednesday’s are long days with a French class until late at night. I was firing on all cylinders in that class!

Today saw quite a shift in my regular schedule so this also saw my coffee order change. Double shot latte in the morning and another shot in my piccolo latte a few hours later for another long day ahead. Still not “enjoying” my coffee experience and feeling much more like I NEED the coffee as opposed to enjoying the drink and the experience of drinking. As someone who lives to enjoy, this is not ideal.

I have also furthered my soy research today and included discussions with lactose-intolerant friends who drink soy and those that simply enjoy regular cow’s milk.

This experiment has interested many people that I have spoken with and it has provided a great number of conversations this week.

It should be said at this point that the reason for drinking regular cow’s milk; as opposed to skim milk for instance; is in line with my food philosophy in general. I feel strongly that all food should be consumed in its most natural state. Unprocessed, clean, raw, real.

We live for another day…

Coffee calories: 168

Day 5

More of the same today in that I was seeking the coffee for the coffee alone; not the drink, nor the experience. Interested to see if there is a difference in weight tomorrow as I do not feel any changes from no soy this week.

Coffee calories: 168

Day 6

Cut back to 1 large coffee in the morning and found myself wishing Monday (and soy milk) to come; so not like me to wish time away. Scales showed no difference FYI.

Coffee calories: 169

Day 7

A delicious breakfast out today was complemented by 2 x lattes served in glass – always makes the coffee sing in my opinion! However even in discussing this with my breakfast company; it was clear where my heart lay.

Coffee calories: 224

Wrap-up

There is extremely mixed research regarding the reality of soy. Some say that a chemical component within it; phytoestrogens; have a similar structure to the hormone estrogen.

In a nutshell many would say these chemicals alter how estrogen works in the body.  These theorists then will claim that high consumption of soy and soy products could lead to your body slowing down its own production of estrogen.

NOTE – what is “high consumption” regarded as?

Other research however strongly states that soy’s effects are weak when compared to estrogen and the minimal amounts that humans ingest (as compared to the above studies on animals) will cause no negative effects.

What there is NOT a lot of research on however is the effect of soy on those with PCOS. Following on from the above however; it seems rational to most experts that those with PCOS who ingest soy products will experience an increase in many of their symptoms. PCOS has a scarily long list of symptoms and associated issues however as a long term, and self-educated “sufferer” I know well my own personal issues with PCOS as much as I can.

As PCOS is so very common – 12-18% of females of reproductive age – and a complex condition; I don’t want to use this space to sprout prophecies and tell you what you feel (as chances are many of our readers also have PCOS).

What I can share with you are my main concerns in this field:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Cystic acne
  • Irregular and painful menstrual cycles

These 3 areas lead to other lists of issues also and the more “known” concerns for PCOS.

So did NOT having soy milk (or any soy products) for 7 days make any difference to me?

No.

Not that I observed/tracked/researched – within those 7 days.

Is 7 days enough of a measure?

Perhaps not.

HOWEVER……

Day 2 back ON soy saw only moderately painful menstrual symptoms and this is an enormous change. Usually the pain has me doubled over in agony for days. Not ideal. However when this occurred, I had been back on soy for 1-2 days so are they even linked?

As you can see above from the week that was no-soy; I was not finding the enjoyment in my coffee drinking. No matter what I do in life; I make sure to enjoy it. So for now “the joy of soy” continues.

However due to the potentially significant improvement in menstrual symptoms; attention must be paid. I have decided the only way to better assess whether the effect on menstrual symptoms is linked to soy or not (for me) is to drink soy through this cycle and to the next. Compare notes between each. Change course if clear. A balance can be found if need be.

In the meantime though, “can I please order a soy latte?”

Nadia xxx

Soy Joy

Soy Joy

References:

http://www.managingpcos.org.au/health-professionals/hp-about-pcos/prevalence

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Polycystic_ovarian_syndrome

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nicole #

    Hi Nadia,
    I found this post an incredibly interesting read! As someone who has steered clear from soy purely for the fact that it seemed a “fad” I was quite happy to be proven wrong. I would really love to hear more about the results you received once tested through the menstrual cycle and how the symptoms changed, perhaps soy might solve that same problem for me.
    Great read! “Soy” informative 🙂

    Kind regards,
    Nicole

    March 1, 2013
  2. Alex #

    Hey Nards,

    On my experience with soy: I’m asthmatic and have arthritis (and PCOS). So it’s fair to say my system is skewed towards excessive inflammation. (Asthma and arthritis both being inflammatory responses by the body). I have a soy allergy that is most noticeable with consumption of non-fermented soy products like soy milk and tofu. I found out this allergy when I was 18, went full lactard and switched out my milk for soy each day. A month later I was in the emergency room with a massive asthma attack.

    On top of the estrogen problem, non-fermented soy has an imbalance in omega 3 vs 6. It can trigger excess inflammation – which is why it was a big problem for me with my existing conditions. I’ve not done as much research into PCOS, but I’m pretty sure period pain is related to that inflammatory cycle the body throws down whenever it feels it’s necessary. Silly body, why you screw us up?!

    Yours in soy-related info-mode,
    Al

    March 17, 2013
    • Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with me and us Alex!

      We can continue to research and share together xxx

      March 17, 2013

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