Most of us are familiar with the emerging health benefits of soy, specifically in regard to women's health. But are you aware of the myriad of other health benefits produced by adding isoflavone-rich soy to your diet?
Make sure the soy you eat is not genetically engineered and actually contains the maximum isoflavones. For instance, Interactive Nutrition SoyOne™ uses only Supro® brand Soy Protein Isolate, which is manufactured using a Water Wash Extraction Process. This leaves the isoflavones (including genistein, Daizdein and Glycitein) naturally intact.
Here is just a sample of some of the health concerns that can be alleviated by ungonesoy consumption: cardiovascular disease; osteoporosis; hot flashes; kidney function; cholesterol levels; high blood pressure; free radical damage; increased immune function; weight management; energy levels; increased mental alertness; control of appetite; and blood sugar levels.
So is soy the new panacea for all that ails you? Well, not quite, but it can play a large role in preventing and treating chronic diseases and improving overall health and nutritional needs.
Human clinical studies dating back to 1967 have shown that substituting soy protein had significant cholesterol-lowering effects. Current research has shown that just a one per cent decrease in cholesterol levels can lead to a two to three per cent decrease in heart disease risk.
Soy and the Body
Epidemiological studies, animal models and human tissue clusters have shown that soy protein plays a role in the prevention of breast, prostate and colon cancer. Human research studies are currently underway.
Phytoestogens seem to reduce the risk of cancer, and soy is the best source of phytoestrogens known as isoflavones. Feeding soy to rats reduced their incidence of mammary tumors. However, rats fed soy with the phytoestrogens removed no longer showed suppressed tumor growth. It is thought that phytoestrogens have weak estrogens, similar to that of mammals. Instead of strong estrogens, which usually bind to estrogen receptors and can increase risks of breast and hormone related cancers, phytoestrogens bind to the receptors.
Several recent studies have shown the positive effects of soy protein on reducing the risk of bone loss and increasing bone density. Acidic proteins are strongly linked to osteoporosis, because calcium is leached from the system in an effort to buffer the protein's acidic nature. Soy protein is alkaline and has been shown to reduce the amount of calcium eliminated from the body via urine.
Soy protein contains soy peptides, which are chains of amino acids. These peptides can boost the immune system, helping the body to fight disease. Soy protein is especially high in the amino acid glutamine. Glutamine boosts protein synthesis, helps buffer lactic acid when exercising, helps reduce central nervous system fatigue, and strengthens the immune system.
Soy protein has also been shown to significantly reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness. During menopause, natural estrogen may decrease by up to 70 percent. Adding natural plant estrogens to your diet may reduce many discomforts caused by decreasing estrogen levels.
Soy, Weight Loss and Energy
In our attempt to lose weight, we often inadvertently reduce our protein consumption when we reduce our dietary fat. In turn, we increase calories from carbohydrates, which play havoc with our insulin and are easily stored as body fat. Soy protein is an easy "good" protein to add back to your diet.
Soy protein helps stabilize blood glucose levels. This is important, as insulin plays a major role in the storage of fat. It directs the flow of amino acids, fatty acids and carbohydrates to the tissues; it regulates the liver synthesis of cholesterol; it is involved in appetite control and much more. Include some protein in every meal to help balance blood sugar levels. Soy protein also helps achieve sustained energy. Enzymes that generate energy are protein-dependent. It also increases mental alertness, as the brain is composed of mainly protein.
This is only an introduction to the many benefits of soy. According to the National Cancer Institute, isoflavone-rich diets lead to significantly less cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and menopausal symptoms.
A soy protein can be easily and painlessly incorporated into a daily routine. Add one to three servings of soy protein into your diet as needed. Mornings are a great time, as we rarely consume good protein in the morning. It also starts your day off with energy and mental clarity. After exercising is also a great time to consume a soy protein shake. Just add one scoop of soy protein to a 250 mL glass of fruit juice, soy milk or your favorite beverage, blend and enjoy. Try adding fresh fruit for additional nutrients and flavor.