The Relationship Between Soy Milk And Estrogen

Soy milk contains a chemical known as a phytoestrogen. Phyto is the Greek word for plant, and estrogen is the hormone that gives fertility to not only women, but to all female animals. It is normally already present in the human body is produced by the endocrine system. Phytoestrogen is supplied to the body when foods containing the chemical are eaten. One of those foods happens to be the soybean.

Estrogen is the hormone we look upon as being the female or feminine hormone. The hormone is found in men as well, but at much lower levels. Contrary to popular belief, it does not play much of a role in the sexual drive in women, at least not nearly as much as the testosterone hormone apparently does in men. It does, however, enable women to conceive and become pregnant; it also plays a role in accelerating the body’s metabolism, helps to maintain the correct levels of cholesterol, regulates fluid levels in the body, and is an essential hormone when it comes to maintaining healthy bones. In other words, the hormone accomplishes quite a bit. It is an essential hormone.


Phytoestrogens play a similar role. Phytoestrogen is not a direct substitute for the estrogen hormone, and is in fact much weaker than estrogen, but it does perform similar functions. Rather than substituting for, or replacing the hormone, phytoestrogen mimics it. In some cases, phytoestrogen even acts as an antagonist, particularly when a person’s estrogen levels happen to be too high.

Foods Rich In Phytoestrogen

Soy is not the plant which happens to be the richest in phytoestrogen, though it is one of the richest. Flax seed is the food that holds down the number one position, followed by tofu, and then the soybean. Other foods rich in phytoestrogens include sesame seeds, rice, alfalfa, barley, beans, and carrots. Coffee, bourbon and beer are also rich sources of the chemical.

What makes soy stand out is it is found in many food products. It is a bit of a wonder food, since it can be eaten in its natural form, but it is also found in a great many processed foods, certainly more so than is the case with flax seeds or sesame seeds. Foods containing soy tend to be much healthier than either coffee or bourbon, though not necessarily always more enjoyable to eat or drink.

Not A Problem For Men

Men quite naturally try to avoid those things, which might cause an unnatural increase of estrogen in their bodies. Studies have shown, however, that the effects of phytoestrogens have no appreciable effects on either the testosterone or estrogen levels in men. In women, it can be a different story.

Helpful For Women

Since phytoestrogen mimics estrogen in a woman’s body, wouldn’t soy milk be beneficial if a woman’s estrogen levels were too low? And, wouldn’t drinking it be detrimental if the levels were too high? The answers are, amazingly, beneficial – yes, detrimental – no. If it’s too low, soy milk can be of significant value. It will not increase the level of estrogen, but in mimicking the hormone, can have the same effect.

On the other hand, if a woman’s estrogen levels are too high, phytoestrogen has the opposite effect. It acts as an antagonist; it fools the body into thinking the estrogen levels are becoming even higher, even though they are not, causing the body to slow its production. Thus the chemical has a very positive and leveling effect on its production. This leveling or balancing effect in estrogen levels is very beneficial in any diet designed for women who are going through menopause, and have suffered a somewhat significant and sudden drop in estrogen production. While it is not a miracle drug, it can and does have a positive effect in helping to prevent some of the problems menopause can bring about.

Other Benefits

Soy milk has other benefits as well. It can promote cardiovascular health in that it tends to reduce levels of both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while at the same time increasing the levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol. Soy products are also said to act as a prostate cancer preventive in men. There are a few cons as well. Some people are allergic to soy products. Some authoritative sources say it can increase the risk of breast cancer, while other authoritative sources say the opposite is true. What is true is that soy products can sometimes interfere with certain medications used to treat breast cancer. The relationship between soy milk and estrogen, however, seems to definitely be on the positive side.