Cognitive Therapy and Soy

Some recent stories have raised questions about soy’s impact on cognitive function. A University of Hawaii researcher, Dr. Lon White, reviewing previous data collected on food intake from Japanese-American men reported a possible association between high tofu intake and loss of cognitive function. Dr. Lon White’s study was an observation – it does not show cause and effect. Many environmental factors have been related to memory loss, only a few have persisted when tested in clinical trials.

In Dr. White’s epidemiological study, the men consuming large amounts of tofu differed significantly from the other men in the study. The men who consumed more tofu were older by over two years (may account for the differences in the brain size), had suffered more strokes (a condition that directly compromises cognitive function), and had come from poorer families (possibly with compromised nutrition in utero and infancy that would limit brain development.)

Taken alone these findings are troublesome, but let’s take a look at what other scientists are saying:

  • In the June issue of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Nutrition Action Newsletter, a sidebar notes – “Don’t panic over a recent study claiming that eating tofu at least twice a week raises the rate of brain aging. The study had limited data on the participants’ diets and couldn’t rule out other factors that might have made tofu-eaters more vulnerable to mild declines in thinking ability. Even if tofu affects the brain, the study suggests that its impact is small. Age, education, and history of a stroke explained 28 percent of the differences in test scores of thinking ability. The authors estimate that eating tofu might account for less than one percent.”
  • Animal research conducted by Dr. Helen Kim at the University of Alabama at Birmingham suggests that soy, taken in the diet, may actually be protective in the brain. Dr. Kim also noted that there were many differences between the men in Dr. White’s study who were high eaters of tofu versus those that were low eaters that could explain why cognitive function differed.
  • Dr. Bill Thies, vice president of medical and scientific affairs for the National Alzheimer’s Association, considers the findings too preliminary to support any conclusions.
  • Dr. Thomas Badger, a soy researcher with the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition center, notes that common sense argues against such findings. “Millions of people have consumed soy for centuries. In countries where the highest consumption occurs, there is no epidemiological data to support cognitive problems. In fact, these countries actually celebrate aging, and their political and business leaders are in general much older and function at a high level.”

I am very pleased with the machine. It is the first thing I have ever purchased that does exactly what it says it does in the exact manner and time. I have been recommending it to friends and family. No more shop bought soy or rice milk for me. The fresh tofu is too good to be true; it is like chees to chalk compared to store bought. The price in the UK I think is a bit OTT compared to the US price, but the product is worth its weight in gold

P. Fulwood, Manchester England, February 1, 2005

Soy foods such as tofu are a great way to live a healthier lifestyle. It doesn’t actually negatively affect cognitive function, either! Also, tofu is very adaptable to all of your favorite dishes because it absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients.