More and more people use soy products as substitute for meat and diary. It has been found that soy - far from having the magical, health-giving properties that the alternative medicine brigade endlessly bangs on about - can actually be bad for you.

Traditionally fermented soy products make a delicious, natural seasoning that may supply important nutritional factors in the Asian diet.

But except in times of famine, Asians consume soy products only in small amounts, as condiments, and not as a replacement for animal foods - with one exception.

Celibate monks living in monasteries and leading a vegetarian lifestyle find soy foods quite helpful because they dampen libido.


Soy contains high quantities of various toxic chemicals, which cannot be fully destroyed even by the long cooking process.

These are: phytates, which block the body's uptake of minerals; enzyme inhibitors, which hinder protein digestion; and haemagluttin, which causes red blood cells to clump together and inhibits oxygen take-up and growth.

Most controversially of all, soy contains high levels of the phytoestrogens (also known as isoflavones) genistein and daidzein, which mimic and sometimes block the hormone oestrogen.

Jane Phillimore addresses some of the concerns raised by new research