A new study suggests that soy protein and isoflavones from soya bean can help older women prevent osteoporosis. This breakthrough that was presented in Edinburg during the Annual Conference of the Society for Endocrinology offers new alternatives to osteoporosis drugs and bone supplements.
Soy bean is a legume which is popular to vegetarians in various cultures for its high protein content. It comes as tofu, beans and soymilk and it used as an ingredient in many dishes. 100 grams of soybean provides around 70% of a person’s daily protein requirement. It is also rich in potassium and magnesium which are good for the heart and other vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium.
There are over 10 million recorded cases of osteoporosis in the United States. The disorder usually affects adults that are fifty years old and above. Osteoporosis also accounts for more or less nine million new cases of fractures around the world each year.
Bone is a tissue that constantly breaks down and replaces itself with new ones. Osteoporosis develops when old bones are not promptly replaced by new ones.
A person with osteoporosis complains of back pain and frequent fractures because of damaged bones. While there are typically no symptoms during the early stage of osteoporosis, people suffering from this condition may notice their stooped posture and gradual decrease in height. Osteoporosis can lead to severe hip fractures that often require immediate medical attention.
There are factors that increase the person’s risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is more likely to occur in women than men. Having parents who have osteoporosis, especially those who developed hip fracture also increases your chances of weak and brittle bones. People with small body frame have lesser bone mass; therefore they are more prone to osteoporosis than those with large frames.
Age is also a factor because as you age your sex hormones decrease and it increases your risk for bone loss. As the levels of sex hormones lowers, the bones also weaken. In women, bones start to get brittle and weak right after menopause because their bodies no longer produce the usual amount of estrogen-a natural protector against bone loss. People who smoke, drink alcohol on a daily basis and live a sedentary lifestyle have higher risks of developing osteoporosis than active, non-alcoholic and non-smoking individuals.
Overactive parathyroid, thyroid, and adrenal glands can also cause bone loss.
Breakthrough in Osteoporosis Prevention
This study conducted by Dr. Thozhukat Sathyapalan and his team of researchers at the University of Hull, England, shows that women who consume soy has lower risk of osteoporosis compared to those who don’t. Researchers claimed that isoflavones from soy replicates the effects of estrogen in protecting against bone deterioration.
To determine the efficacy of isoflavones from soy-rich foods in averting bone loss, the researchers asked 200 women in menopause to consume soy-rich foods within two years. The women complied by consuming either an ounce of protein with isoflavones (66 mg) or soy protein (30 grams) every day within six-months. The researchers measured βCTX and P1NP-the proteins in the blood which reveal the levels of the women’s bone activity. Having high levels of βCTX means that bone loss is increasing, while low levels of this protein indicate that the rate of bone loss is slowing down.
Upon investigation, the researchers found out that the levels of βCTX in women who took isoflavones supplement along with their soy diet is lower than those women on soy diet alone. The results mean that soy diet and isoflavones reduces the speed of bone deterioration and lowers the risk of osteoporosis on menopausal women.
Dr. Thozhukat Sathyapalan says that taking isoflavones supplements can result to massive decrease of osteoporosis cases in older women. He also claims that unlike some osteoporosis drugs with certain side effects, isoflavones and soy protein are safe options for improving the women’s bone health during the menopausal period. Dr. Sathyapalan added that taking isoflavones can save a lot of women avoid having osteoporosis.
How is this possible? The study reveals that soy acts in the same way as the ordinary osteoporosis drugs when it comes to bone protection.
Is Soy Treatment only Beneficial for Women on Menopause?
Soy protein and isoflavones help strengthen the bones and prevent bone loss, both in men and women. Soy contains calcium which increases bone density, reduces the risk of fractures and prevents early bone damage. Isoflavones and soy protein can be very beneficial for people suffering from anorexia. Anorexics tend to have lower calcium and protein intake because of starvation. Their menstruation also stops, making them prone to osteoporosis. Isoflavones and the vitamins and minerals from soya beans can restore the anorexic’s menstrual cycle, strengthen the bones and nourish their bodies.
Can men prevent Osteoporosis by Taking Soy Protein?
As men age, their testosterone levels also decrease. When this happens, the bones also become brittle and weak, making them prone to osteoporosis.
The researchers who conducted this study are planning to further investigate the long-term benefits of taking isoflavones supplements and soy protein. This time, the study would not be limited to slowing down bone loss and preventing osteoporosis but other health issues as well.