Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tishrei 5766 - October 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Health Ministry Recommendations Regarding Soybean Consumption
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

1. The Israeli food industry makes extensive use of soybean products. Consumption statistics are limited and thus there should be encouragement for conducting more surveys and studies on various ethnic groups and age groups in order to study the consumption habits and the extent of use.

2. Although in the US (and New Zealand) soybean products are only given to infants upon a physician's recommendation and with a prescription, the committee did not see a necessity to adopt this practice in Israel, as well. However due to the potentially negative effects of these products, the committee recommends disseminating information about the possible damage to all health workers (family physicians and pediatricians, dietitians and public health practitioners). Due to the widespread use of these products in certain chareidi populations, this information should be disseminated among the rabbonim and community leaders of these groups.

3. Day-care centers make extensive use of these products and therefore the committee recommends limiting their use to one portion per day, and no more than three times per week.

4. Blood thyroxine levels should be monitored among babies and toddlers suffering from hypothyroidism who consume soybean products.

5. Long-term studies are needed to determine whether soybean products are safe for use among babies and children.

6. Due to conflicting reports on the various effects of phytoestrogen on various growths (in humans, animals and cellular models) it is hard to issue practical recommendations at this stage.

Despite data from epidemiological studies indicating the possibility that soybean products may play a role in defending against cancer of the uterus, at this stage practical conclusions cannot be drawn.

Although scientific reports regarding the effects of phytoestrogen in women's cancer are not unequivocal, we recommend that women cancer patients or women at high risk consult with a physician before beginning the use of these products.

7. Studies on humans indicate that diets that include soybean products or isolated soy protein have an effect on the reduction of blood cholesterol levels. The same applies regarding flax seeds. Soy has various factors that can affect heart and circulatory diseases and at present there is no clear proof that isoflavones are the active cause. Because of the lack of clear-cut proofs that at this stage we recommend not altering the Health Ministry's current recommendations on this issue.


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