The prevalence of food allergy seems to be on the rise and more and more people are avoiding foods because of a perceived allergy. Any food protein, including soy, can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. But even though soy protein is one of the eight foods responsible for approximately 90 percent of food-induced allergic reactions in the United States, soy allergies remain relatively rare. A nationally representative telephone survey found that only approximately 1 out of 2,500 adults reported having a doctor-diagnosed allergy to soy protein. Allergy to milk was 40 times more common than to soy. Children are more likely to be allergic to soy than adults, which is not surprising since food allergies are less common in adults than children. And by age 10, an estimated 70 percent of children will outgrow their soy allergies….
Ankeny, Iowa, April 19, 2012— Today’s consumers are increasingly interested in broadening their culinary experience with more global ingredients and healthful choices. That goes for school kids, too, who are acquiring more educated palates thanks to school food service programs. Beginning April 24, students in grades K-12 in the Ankeny Community School District will be introduced to Edamame (fresh green soybeans) as a vegetable choice on their school menus. Edamame, steamed in the pod or shelled, are a traditional Japanese snack. The recipe that will be offered to students in the Ankeny Schools is Edamame Succotash, a colorful side dish featuring corn and bell peppers….
Just in time to celebrate National Soy Foods Month in April, the Soy Pals virtual friend game has been released to help kids learn how to make the wise diet and exercise choices to create a healthier lifestyle. The free app, sponsored by The Soyfoods Council and the United Soybean Board, is available for Apple products such as iPad and iPhone as well as Android mobile devices….
April is National Soyfoods Month, the ideal time for getting acquainted with foods such as TSP (texturized soy protein) and tofu. If you’re already enjoying soyfoods like edamame, soymilk, soy nuts and soy yogurt on a regular basis, you’ll be delighted to learn that soyfoods offer a host of health and nutrition benefits.
Mark Messina, PhD., leading soy expert and executive director of the Soy Nutrition Institute, says, “Soyfoods provide ample amounts of protein and are low in saturated fat. There is also research indicating that soyfoods provide health benefits independent of their nutrient content. For example, there is evidence suggesting that soy may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and is protective against breast cancer if consumed during childhood and/or adolescence.”…
While most Americans consider diarrhea to be an occasional discomfort associated with the stomach flu, it’s a widespread disease in developing countries. Nearly five of every 1,000 preschoolers in these countries die from diarrhea, and it’s the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide.
Diarrhea kills through dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Because drugs used to treat diarrhea have potentially serious side effects and can impair the central nervous system, there has been a search for natural compounds for treatment of this disease.
One food that has been used with success is tempeh, a fermented soybean product that is native to Indonesia. Extracts from tempeh may prevent enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), the pathogen most often associated with diarrhea in children, from adhering to intestinal cells. While it’s the fermentation process that has been thought to confer these benefits, new research from the Netherlands has found that nonfermented soyfoods may be beneficial, too.
Dr. Mo and colleagues from Wageningen University in the Netherlands measured the ability of extracts of tempeh and tofu to prevent the adhesion of ETEC to intestinal cells. They found that for both raw and cooked tempeh and tofu, the more they added, the less the ETEC adhered to the intestinal cells. Next, they put tofu and tempeh through a process that mimicked digestion to see whether the harsh pH of the stomach along with pancreatic enzymes would impact the protective properties of these foods. Interestingly, simulated digestion appeared to markedly enhance the anti-adhesive properties of both tempeh and tofu. As a result, the researchers suggested that both tempeh and tofu could be protective against diarrhea.
Mo et al., Lett Appl Microbiol. 2011.
Two new studies add to the existing evidence that eating soyfoods can reduce risk for prostate cancer in men at risk for this disease or aid treatment for prostate cancer patients. The possible protective effects of soy against prostate cancer have been rigorously studied for two decades.
Although prostate cancer is the sixth most common cause of male cancer deaths worldwide, it ranks second among cancer deaths in American men. Because risk increases among men who move from low-risk to high-risk countries, it appears that differences in prostate cancer rates are linked to lifestyle rather than genetics. Regular consumption of soyfoods like tofu, soymilk, and miso could be one of the reasons why men in Japan are less likely to get prostate cancer compared to westerners.
Researchers in Japan tested that theory in 158 men, ages 50 to 75, who had elevated PSA levels. PSA, or prostate specific antigen, is linked to prostate cancer risk (1). An increase in the level of this protein can be associated with tumor growth. Half of the men took a supplement containing 60 milligrams of isoflavones, which are compounds found in soybeans. The amount of isoflavones they consumed was the equivalent of about 2 ½ servings of traditional soyfoods, such as a cup of soymilk, 3 ounces of tofu or 1 ounce of soynuts. The other men were given a placebo.
At the end of the 12-month study period, there was no difference in PSA levels between the two groups. However, while 34 percent of the men in the placebo group developed prostate cancer, only 21 percent of those taking isoflavones developed this disease. The difference was much greater among men over the age of 65. In this group, 57 percent of those taking a placebo had prostate cancer compared to 28 percent of men consuming isoflavone supplements. Since isoflavones didn’t affect levels of testosterone, the reason for their protective effect in this study isn’t known.
In another study, this one conducted at Pennsylvania State University, 10 men with prostate cancer who had not responded to conventional treatment were asked to consume three servings of soyfoods per day for two years (2). All of the men had been treated with radiation and surgery, and three of them had also received hormonal treatment to suppress levels of testosterone, since this hormone can stimulate tumor growth. These treatments were known to be ineffective because the subjects’ PSA levels continued to rise. It is not clear how best to further treat patients in this situation.
Nine of the men chose to drink three glasses of soymilk each day, and one used a combination of soy snacks. Among the seven participants who had not received hormonal therapy, soy consumption was associated with beneficial changes in PSA levels (which stayed the same or declined) in four of them. PSA levels were favorably affected in one of the three men who had had hormonal treatment. Overall, half of the men benefited from daily consumption of soyfoods. The researchers concluded that “soy supplementation using commercially available soy products can have durable beneficial effects on PSA levels … in some men with prostate cancer.”
1. Miyanaga N, Akaza H, Hinotsu S, Fujioka T, Naito S, Namiki M, Takahashi S, Hirao Y, Horie S, et al. A prostate cancer chemoprevention study: An investigative randomized control study using purified isoflavones in men with rising PSA. Cancer Sci. 2011.
2. Joshi M, Agostino NM, Gingrich R, Drabick JJ. Effects of commercially available soy products on PSA in androgen-deprivation-naive and castration-resistant prostate cancer. South Med J. 2011; 104: 736-40.
Over the past few years, several studies have hinted at the possibility that soy is good for the skin but this research has been limited in scope. However, two new studies present the strongest evidence to date that soy reduces wrinkles in menopausal women. In one study, which was published in the journal Menopause, 101 postmenopausal Japanese women took either a placebo or a dietary supplement rich in equol for 12 weeks. Equol is made by intestinal bacteria from the soybean isoflavone daidzein, which is plentiful in soybeans. At study termination, there was a significant reduction in wrinkle depth in the equol group. In the second study, which has not been published but has been presented at several scientific meetings, postmenopausal women took either a mixture containing soy isoflavones or a placebo for 14 weeks. As in the Japanese study, there was a decrease in wrinkles in the soy group. Furthermore, women with the most wrinkles at baseline experienced the most benefit. An additional benefit seen in the study was an increase in collagen synthesis in the women consuming isoflavones. While the results should be considered preliminary, they are not surprising. Estrogen receptors are located throughout the skin and soy phytoestrogens share some of the same properties as estrogen, which is also thought to promote skin health.
Oyama A, Ueno T, Uchiyama S, Aihara T, Miyake A, Kondo S, Matsunaga K. The effects of natural S-equol supplementation on skin aging in postmenopausal women: a pilot randomized placebo-controlled trial. Menopause. 2011.