Soy is something that is an excellent alternative to dairy for those that are either lactose intolerant, those who do not like dairy. Similarly for vegans, soy is a valuable source of protein.
However, when you talk about soy as a way to combat menstrual pain and discomfort there happens to be conflicting views about this: while there is one view that swears by soy as a way to resolve the problem of painful periods, the contrary view states that soy may actually exacerbate the symptoms.
Soy contains Phytoestrogens, which occur naturally in several plants and which mimic estrogen in a woman’s body.
While there is one view that says the phytoestrogens are weak estrogens that do not contribute to menstrual cramps, there is another contrary view that says that phytoestrogens actually worsen cramps and contribute to hormone imbalances in women as well as men. To be sure, there have been studies to bear out both points of view.
Anecdotal evidence is also available, from women, some of whom report a relief in their symptoms of painful periods and others who experience a worsening.
The reasons offered from soy being able to aid in relieving period cramps is that it contains magnesium, which is known to be a muscle relaxant and an effective aid for blood circulation. Soy is also thought to be a good source of dietary fiber which helps in easing the digestive process and reduce bloating and constipation.
Consequently, the symptoms of painful periods may be soothed. Another reason why soy could be said to be good for menstrual pain is that it contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which are natural anti inflammatory agents for the body and which can therefore ease menstrual cramping.
Of course, soy is not the only significant source of magnesium, dietary fiber or Omega 3 and these nutrients can be derived from a lot of other produce.
A problem with soy and soy products according to the nay-sayers is that the soy beans that are used to make soy products such as soy milk and tofu are made from genetically modified produce, so that their much touted health benefits are questionable.
Further, the manufacturing processes used and the additives and preservatives added in that process do render some of those health benefits negligible.
So based on the evidence available, we can conclude that if we choose good quality soy products that are responsibly produced, then we can only benefit from them, and that they are not likely (except for a small minority) to actually cause any adverse effects.