Factors that affect the developing fetus may affect risk of cancer, heart disease and other conditions later in life. More than 30 years ago, it was proposed that the origins of many chronic diseases could be traced to exposures in utero or during early infancy. Following up on this hypothesis, Dutch researchers recently looked at the effects of antioxidants on the offspring of pregnant mice….
Results from a recently conducted Italian study confirm the effectiveness of soy isoflavones for alleviating menopausal symptoms. One hundred and thirty healthy postmenopausal women who were experiencing menopausal symptoms were assigned to two groups. Half of the women received a supplement containing an amount of soy isoflavones equal to what would be provided by about two to two-and-one-half servings of traditional soyfoods per day. The other women were given a placebo consisting of calcium and vitamin D….
Soyfoods are known for being uniquely rich dietary sources of isoflavones, often referred to as phytoestrogens. Now, a two year clinical trial involving approximately 300 postmenopausal Canadian women found that daily supplementation with soy isoflavones is safe and can lead to a number of benefits. For example, isoflavones significantly decreased LDL-cholesterol by about 6 percent. Taking isoflavones also improved leg strength as measured by one particular type of squatting exercise. In addition, exercise and isoflavones individually maintained bone mineral density at the hip when compared to a placebo. Unexpectedly, however, this benefit was lost when exercise was combined with isoflavones. A previous study found the combination was actually quite beneficial….
Nearly 20 years ago, the low incidence of hot flashes among Japanese women prompted clinical research into the effects of soyfoods on the alleviation of menopausal symptoms. Earlier this year, the results of the most extensive and sophisticated analysis of the intervention studies to date, which was published in the journal Menopause, showed very clearly that soybean phytoestrogens (isoflavones) cut hot flash frequency and severity by more than half (1). Unfortunately, recent media coverage of a study from the University of California may have unintentionally misled thousands of women into believing that soy may not help alleviate menopausal symptoms….
Omega-3 fatty acids are frequently in the news for their proposed myriad health benefits—everything from reducing risk of heart disease and cancer to alleviating symptoms of arthritis. The two omega-3 fatty acids most often mentioned are EPA and DHA, which are found in certain types of fatty fish. A third omega-3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), makes the news much less frequently, but is, in fact, the omega-3 fatty acid that is actually an essential nutrient. That is, it’s the only one of the omega-3 fats that is required in the diet. EPA and DHA are not considered essential since humans can make them from ALA. Soybean oil is the major source of ALA in American diets….
According to the British Thyroid Association (BTA), there is no evidence that people who have hypothyroidism need to completely avoid soyfoods. They do recommend waiting four hours after taking thyroid medication before consuming soy products, however. This is because soy protein can interfere with the absorption of the medication. The BTA also noted that the recommendation for soy is the same as it is for high-fiber foods, iron and calcium supplements, as well as antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium. All of these products also impair the body’s ability to absorb thyroid medication. Many drugs and herbs have similar effects. Thyroid medication is meant to be taken in the morning and on an empty stomach.
Following an extensive review of the scientific literature, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), concluded that breast cancer survivors can safely consume soyfoods. The AICR position concurs with that of another leading cancer organization, the American Cancer Society (ACS), which issued their position statement earlier this year….