Posted on May 25, 2023, 3 p.m.
Soy (Glycine max) has been known by many people as a food chameleon–coming in various forms and tastes to fit in our nutrition. It can be used as a beverage, a plant-based source of milk, and lots of sumptuous dishes like tofu, soy sauce(tamari, shoyu, teriyaki), tempeh, and many more. This has made soy a great option for people who want to reduce their intake of animal-based products, and for those who don't use them such as vegans. Soy products can be eaten as a replacement for animal protein and for some people, this can be beneficial for gut health.
While most people do not particularly give it the thought or the weight it deserves, gut health is very important for your overall health and well-being. The gut is important for major functions, including being the major portal for absorbing and processing food nutrients into the bloodstream. Gut health influences the nervous system, the body's immune system, mental health, and overall digestive function.
Here are the five ways in which soy might be helpful for your gut health:
1. Promotes Healthy Gut Microbiota
The gut microbiome, popularly known as gut microbiota, refers to the microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and includes bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The gut microbiota has maintained a symbiotic relationship with humans; it flourishes on the nutrients found in the foods we consume and, in exchange, shields us against diseases and helps us reap important nutrients from our food intake. The beneficial gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria specialize in converting carbohydrates in the food we eat into energy which our body utilizes for various metabolic functions.
Some studies have linked soy foods to a healthy gut microbiome. Bacteria found in fermented soy foods, such as miso, help promote a healthy gut by providing food to the beneficial gut bacteria, which perform their protective functions in return. The chances of better gut health could be increased by utilizing high-quality soy like the U.S. Soy latest in your soy foods. Soy foods also contain prebiotics—foods essential for thriving your gut microbiome and enhancing the growth of beneficial bacteria—such as oligosaccharides and soy protein.
2. Enhances Ease of Digestion and Bowel Movement
You may not think about digestion and bowel movement while adding soy food to your diet. But it is a plant-based protein that provides all the nine essential amino acids typically found in animal-based foods. While soy offers all the rich plant proteins you already know about, there is more that you may not know about—the fiber content.
Soybean is rich in fiber, standing at about 10 grams of fiber per cup. While this may not appear to be much, it is higher than what is typically found in animal-based proteins. The higher fiber content helps to lower the cholesterol you accumulate from other foods and balances the fats in the gut. Furthermore, the fiber aids in bowel movements and enhances ease of egestion.
3. Reduces the Risk of Colorectal Cancer (CRC)
Colorectal Cancer, known medically by the abbreviation CRC, is one of the most common cancers worldwide. It affects the colon and the rectum, crucial parts of the gut. The risk of CRC is closely related to our diet. Most experts encourage the consumption of whole grains, dairy products, and dietary choices containing dietary fiber to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. While the role of other nutritional components in dealing with CRC remains less consistent, the World Cancer Research Fund encourages the inclusion of soy foods in our diets to reduce CRC risk.
Three meta-analyses meant to determine the relationship between significant nutrient components of soy, such as isoflavones or phytoestrogens, and CRC risk have provided a more convincing basis for medical conclusions. They found that soy isoflavone consumption was associated with a low risk of CRC risk across all groups, with the Asian populations (traditional consumers of soy foods) demonstrating more compelling shreds of evidence.
4. Bile ACID Metabolism
Bile acid is a fundamental component of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that connects the gut microbiome to hepatic and intestinal metabolism, thus influencing GI motility, intestines' permeability, and carcinogenesis.
The gut microbiota regulates the secretion of bile juice by signaling the receptors. Studies like the one by Wantabe et al. give compelling evidence that soy protein consumption attunes bile acid metabolism in the ileum and colon. Understanding the importance of bile acid to the functions of the gut and its relationship with soy protein is a good argument for soy foods.
5. It Might Help With Gut Inflammation and Lactose Intolerance
Many people experience common gut problems such as lactose intolerance (inability to digest sugar optimally) and inflammation. Feeding a soy-based formula to lactose-intolerant infants might help lower symptoms, but feeding soy formula comes with a few risks and may not be a safe option for all babies. Some adults who experience lactose intolerance may not be able to substitute their dairy milk with lactose-free soy milk as surprisingly it may still upset their stomach. Additionally, with age, most people experience a reduced ability to digest lactose, but most people might be able to comfortably supplement their milk requirements using soy milk.
Soy might also help with gut inflammation. Studies in rat models on inflammatory bowel disease suggested that soy milk can improve a spectrum of intestinal cell damage and inflammation measures.
Soy foods are a good source of plant-based proteins, remarkable for promoting better gut health. Soy foods might also help with lactose intolerance among children and adults. Soy contains fiber which could help with digestion, and help to keep you feeling full for longer. Soy foods help to promote healthy gut microbiota, which benefits many metabolic functions and the body's immune responses. This article explains five ways in which soy could be beneficial for gut health.
This article was written for WHN by Jessica Smith, who is a content creator, blogger and health advocate.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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