A grande, extra hot, no foam soy latte. Sound familiar? 31% of people consume a soy beverage once a week or more and over the last fifteen years, sales of soy products have grown by more than $1B (1), with soy milk being the most frequently consumed soy product (2).
At first thought, the switch to soy milk is well justified, with nearly three quarters of the world being lactose intolerant. Rather than ordering a cow’s milk latte, that might result in an upset stomach, people have been switching at a rapid pace to non-dairy milks, with soy being the most popular. While the immediate effects might not seem as bad, when drinking it multiple times a week, or even daily, it’s certainly not a healthier option and here’s why:
That grande soy latte has on average 17g of sugar. For a reference point, that is more than 2/3 the sugar of a Mars bar. By now, we know that sugar is bad, but it’s easy to forget some of the other foods it can be lurking in.
More than 90% of the soybeans grown in the United States are ‘Roundup ready’, meaning they have been bred to be resistant to the spray, Roundup. Studies have shown that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, could be linked to Parkinson’s, infertility and certain forms of cancer.
It’s slightly ironic that this is a better option for digestion than cow’s milk dairy, because soybeans actually contain trypsin inhibitors, which can upset the proper protein digestion process. They also contain something called phytates, that can cause digestive problems as they bind to important minerals, affecting digestive enzymes.
Lastly, it is highly debated in the nutrition world as to whether soy’s isoflavones effects are beneficial or detrimental to one’s hormones. One study here showed a proliferation of breast cancer cells after consuming high amounts of soy, while another one here shows the opposite.
In personal experience with my clients, I have seen hormone disruptions from overconsumption of soy and would not recommend eating soy foods in large quantities.
There are a few options. You can drink your coffee black, you can switch to tea, or you can make your own non-dairy milk at home in a high speed blender, with almonds or coconuts.
No. Lots of soy is actually beneficial, but it should be consumed in a fermented form, like miso or tempeh and should be in small amounts. This is thought to be why the soy consumption in Asian countries is not correlated with disease like hormone related cancers. The average soy consumption in Asian countries is only 9g a day, whereas a soy protein drink can contain up to 20g (3).