Is soy or soya bean bad for male fertility?

Historians have traced the origin of Soybean to the North China. At present it is one of the main plant food used by Chinese people along with Barley, millet, rice and wheat. According to Principles Traditional Chinese Medicine raw soybean, a legume is unfit for human consumption. They prefer fermented form of soy to raw form.

Soybean has nowhere been mentioned in texts of ayurveda. When we analyse soybean on principles of ayurveda we find it is very heavy to digest and pacifies vata. But it can cause indigestion in many and may lead to formation of “ama” a sticky toxin which clogs micro channels of our body. The reasons for this are many. Soybean contains many anti-nutrients which inhibit the digestion and absorption of its nutrients. These beans also contain other chemical compounds which mimic our body hormones and cause hormonal imbalance. Here is a list of anti nutrients present in soybean which do not get destroyed even after processes like soaking and boiling

Isoflavones : Soy contains isoflavones which is a phytoestrogen.  Phytoestrogens mimic human estrogen and affect the production of other hormones which are estrogen dependent. Men differently respond to phytoestrogens. Their testosterone level decreases and sperm count plummets.  Reduced testosterone level also causes erectile dysfunction. The use of soy was popular in Chinese monasteries as it reduces testosterone and kills sex drive. Monks used these beans to promote abstinence from sexual activities. A research conducted by swiss health services say that 100 grams of soy protein contains estrogenic like substance equivalent to a birth controlling pill. Isoflavons are also known to interfere with liver function.

Phytates: Phytates are usually present in all legumes. These compounds bind minerals like zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper etc and make them unavailable for absorption. But these compounds can be eliminated by few processing techniques like soaking, boiling, sprouting etc. But phytates present in soybean do not get eliminated easily with these processes. Hence consumption of soybean can cause deficiency of minerals like zinc, iron and calcium which are needed for healthy sperm production.

Goitrogens : Soybean contains another anti nutrient Goitrogen. This inhibits thyroid function and may cause goiter. Many researches have proved that continuous consumption of soy can increase the level of thyroid hormone. Disturbance in thyroid function can cause infertility in men and women.

Ayurveda acharyas strongly recommend not to eat foods, which cause indigestion. Indigestion leads to improper formation of rasa dhatu (nutrient filled liquid which nourishes the body tissues).  Rasa dhatu which is poor in quality fails to nourish successive dhatus like Rakta dhatu (blood), mamsa dhatu (muscles), medha dhatu (body fat),asthi dhatu (bones), majja dhatu (bone marrow) and shukra dhatu (semen). Lack of nutrients leads to impotence, low sperm count, weak muscles and bones. It is always a wise man’s choice to eat what suits him.