WHAT IS SOY?
The unique characteristics of soy have wonderful health benefits. Soy is valuable for practically all people and seemingly has a positive effect on all conditions of health.
How can the lowly soybean have such a profound effect on health? What is in soy that can cause all these amazing health benefits?
We have summarised some of the components found in soy to answer some of these questions.
Soy is a good source of the nutrients called soy oligosaccharides – this is especially good for the colon. When oligosaccharides are consumed, the undigested portion serves as food-“friendly” bacteria, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species.
“Clinical studies have shown that administering GOS (Galacto-oligosaccharides) can increase the number of these friendly bacteria in the colon while simultaneously reducing the population of harmful bacteria. Experimental studies suggest a possible benefit in lowering blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and in reducing elevated blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.”
Galacto-oligasaccharides is naturally found in soy beans.
Saponins are a wide variety of phytochemicals that are naturally present in plant foods. These components, many sweet-tasting and some health promoting, are under close scrutiny by nutrition researchers on how they prevent and treat disease.
Saponins are found in grains, many vegetables and legumes (including soy beans). Many of these compounds serve as “natural antibiotics” for the plant, but now scientists are looking at how they can help humans to fight fungal infections, combat microbes and viruses, boost the effectiveness of certain vaccines and knock out some kinds of tumour cells, particularly lung and blood cancers. They can also lower blood cholesterol and as such reduce heart disease.
Plant sterols and stanols are collectively known as phytosterols. Plant sterols are plant compounds with chemical structures similar to that of cholesterol, they, therefore, have the ability to block dietary cholesterol absorption and help lower your cholesterol levels.
Phytosterols may help to:
Prevent heart disease
Studies have shown that daily phytosterols can lower total and LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 10% to 14%.
Ease enlarged prostate
“For the last 20 years, a herbal preparation containing phytosterols has been available in Germany for treatment of benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH). More recently, two 6 month studies on 350 men, with BPH, that was given phytosterol betasitosterol, and showed an increase in their urinary flow rate and a decrease in pain and burning.”
Calm inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Most traditional treatments for RA involve drugs that suppress the body’s immune response, this can often cause troubling side effects. A mixture of the phytosterols, beta-sitosterols and betasistosterolin has shown promise in helping to decrease inflammation and calm the overactive immune response that characterizes RA and other auto-immune diseases.
Control blood sugar in diabetics
“Some phytosterols stimulate insulin secretion and may contribute to better blood sugar control, a problem in people with diabetes. More research is being conducted on this matter.
A great deal of research has been done on isoflavones, especially for possible cancer and heart disease preventative properties. Isoflavones are found in chick peas and other legumes, but the soy bean has the most concentrated amounts of isoflavones. Isoflavones are extremely important for bone health, lowers cholesterol, ease the discomfort of menopause and act as an anabolic stimulator.
5SOME OTHER BENEFITS OF SOY
Lung cancer – studies have linked soy consumption to lower rates of lung cancer.
Hip fractures – calcium rich soy may help retain bones.
Kidney disease – soy can help prevent kidney damage, because it is easy on the kidneys.
Immunity – the peptides inside the soy helps to boost the immune system and fight off disease.
For those new to soy, we recommend to add it slowly to your diet, until you develop a taste for it. Use the soymilk to cream soups, make smoothies, make white sauces, use on cereals and remember to continue to eat healthy foods.
So, experiment and have fun trying out new ways to enjoy your soy!
Information supplied by Techno Alimenti is for general information purposes only – statements about the products and health claims are made based on information and personal feedback gathered. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
- Molisc, Flourie B, Ouarnef, et al. Digestion, excretion, and energy value of fructooligosaccharides in healthy humans. AM JC LIN NUTR 1996;64:324-8
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