Soybean is an annual, herbaceous plant from the legume order. The peoples of ancient Asia knew and cultivated it 4000 years ago. Modern research highlights its beneficial effect on the body.
Today, there is great interest in soy not only because it can be a substitute for meat, and is incomparably cheaper than it, but also because it is a rich source of protective substances and plant fibers that are lacking in the diet of modern man.
The main characteristic of soybeans and what sets soy apart from other legumes is the high content of wholesome proteins. Soybean is a food of plant origin that contains seven amino acids without which the organism would not be able to survive. Soy proteins are completely equal to proteins of animal origin. As far as fat is concerned, soy far exceeds animal fats.
Per 100 grams, soy contains 7 g of water, a favorable ratio of fatty acids (3 g saturated, 4 g monounsaturated and 12 g polyunsaturated – 11 g linoleic), and cellulose (vegetable) fiber 5 g. Carbohydrates contain polysaccharide dextrin which plays a major role in the diet of diabetics because it does not allow a sudden increase in blood glucose. Soy does not contain cholesterol and almost none of the relatively difficult to digest fatty acids (saturated) found in all animal foods. It is an excellent source of lecithin and vitamin E. These natural antioxidants prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Soy is also rich in magnesium, which plays an important role in the functioning of bones, heart, and arteries.
Positive effects of soy on health
Soy has many positive health effects that stem from the quality of soy protein and isoflavones genistein and daidzein.
Soy improves bone health: soy products, like milk, do not contain much calcium, but soy isoflavones can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Several studies suggest that soy isoflavones may be a factor in helping prevent bone loss. Isoflavone genistein appears to inhibit bone fracture and has an effect similar to the effect of estrogen on bone maintenance.
Soy indirectly improves bone health. A diet rich in animal proteins affects the higher excretion of calcium from the body. If you use soy (and its proteins) instead of animal protein, you will prevent the loss of calcium from the bones.
Soy reduces menopausal symptoms: Epidemiologists have proven that Asian women suffer less from hot flashes and night sweats compared to women from the West. Menopausal symptoms are caused by low estrogen levels. Estrogen plays a significant role in controlling body temperature. Soy isoflavones act like estrogen and thus control these symptoms.
Soy reduces the risk of heart disease: in countries where soy is regularly used in the diet, the incidence of cardiovascular disease is lower. Researchers believe that soy helps prevent heart disease by lowering total cholesterol, preventing the occurrence of clogged blood vessels. These positive effects are also attributed to soy isoflavones. Genistein can also increase blood vessel flexibility.
Soy helps fight some types of cancer: Several studies show that regular consumption of soy can help fight cancers that are related to hormone levels, such as breast, prostate, and colon cancer.
Soy allergy is a response of the immune system to soy, which the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Once the immune system “decides” that a strain is harmful, it forms specific antibodies to it. The next time an allergic person eats a soy product, the immune system releases large amounts of chemicals, including histamine, to protect the body. These chemical processes activate the symptoms typical of allergies, which affect the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system. About 0.5% of people are allergic to soy.
Symptoms of soy allergy: acne, angioedema, rhinitis, anaphylaxis, asthma, atopic dermatitis, bronchospasm, cirrhosis, colitis, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, dyspnea, eczema, enterocolitis, fever, itching, laryngeal edema, coronary edema, lethargy, vomiting. People who are allergic to soy are often allergic to peanuts, peas, wheat, rye, barley.
How to avoid soy allergy? If at all possible, breastfeed your baby for the first six months. Avoid giving wormy food to babies younger than 6 months, or even slightly older. Avoid cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts, fish, during the first year of a child’s life.
Consume soy in moderation
A healthy diet means modesty and balance. Therefore, do not eat soy in unlimited quantities, as you can do more harm than good. Unfermented soybeans (and other legumes) contain phytic acid; excessive consumption of soy can reduce the body’s ability to absorb minerals. In Japan, the average daily portion of soy is 7 g. Occasional consumption (2-3 times a week) of a modest amount of soy of good quality, organic origin, can not cause any problems, moreover, it can only benefit.
Soy and women
Soy is one of the richest sources of substances called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors and thus mimic the effects of real estrogen. Women who suffer from menopausal symptoms may find that an increased amount of soy in their diet can help (up to 7 g per day). There are researchers who believe that consuming soy instead of cow’s milk can reduce the risk of breast cancer. In the book Your Life is in Your Hands, Dr. Jane Plan says that a diet rich in organically grown soy and avoiding milk of animal origin is the basis for preventing the recurrence of malignant cells.
Soy and children
Soy is not an ideal substitute for breast milk. That is why they are not recommended for babies. Recent research has shown that if you feed your baby soy milk, the child has a higher risk of having thyroid problems later.
People who should avoid soy products
People with thyroid problems, digestive problems (stool problems, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome), or signs such as increased mucus secretion, tumors, cysts, should definitely avoid soy or consume only small amounts, occasionally.