New study links consumption of soy to decreased risk of osteoporosis

By Nita Wong ‘21

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Figure 1. A diet high in soy protein may decrease risk of osteoporosis in women.

Previous research has demonstrated a direct relationship between the lack of estrogen during menopause and postmenopause and the development of osteoporosis, a bone disease that results from an imbalance between the formation of new bone and the resorption of old bone. A recent study conducted at the University of Missouri suggests that an increased dietary intake of soy may be capable of countering menopausal effects on bone and metabolic health and also increase bone strength in women who have yet to reach menopause.

Under the direction of Pamela Hinton and Victoria Viera-Potter, two professors of nutrition and exercise physiology, the team of researchers compared the effects of soy- and corn-based diets on the bone strength in and the metabolic function of laboratory rats. To mimic the effects of menopause in women, the researchers worked with rats that had been selectively bred to have low fitness levels and were separated into two groups – those with and without ovaries. Upon analysis, their results showed that the tibia bones of the rats placed on the soy-based diet were stronger than those of rats placed on the corn-based diet and that rats who consumed high levels of soy showed improved metabolic function. Both of these trends were observed in rats both with and without ovaries.

Based on their findings, Hinton and Viera-Potter concluded that there is high potential for correlation between the intake of soy products and strengthened bones (and thereby decreased risk of osteoporosis). They encourage women of all ages to include some soy-based whole foods – tofu and soy milk, for example – in their diets.

 

References

  1. P. Hinton, et. al., Soy protein improves tibial whole-bone and tissue-level biomechanical properties in ovariectomized and ovary-intact, low-fit female rats. ScienceDirect 8, 244-254 (2018). doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bonr.2018.05.002.  
  2. Image retrieved from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/soya-beans-and-milk-1136758/
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