Published: 08/08/2018 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Isoflavones are secondary vegetable substances with phytoestrogenic elements that act as protectors. They are found primarily in soy.
Isoflavones benefits for health
Isoflavones are hugely beneficial for health:
- They prevent some types of cancer, like prostate, breast, and colon cancers.
- They prevent osteoporosis, helping maintain bone density.
- They reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- They assist during menopause, reducing symptoms and disorders associated with this time in a woman’s life, like feeling suffocated, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, etc.
This has been proven because in areas like Asia, where large amounts of isoflavones are consumed, these conditions are very infrequently experienced.
How do they work?
These secondary vegetable substances act like estrogen (a sexual hormone involved in the development of secondary female sexual characteristics). They can be found in soy, lentils, garbanzos, alfalfa, cabbage, wheat, and linseed, among other foods.
Isoflavones are biologically inactive in their natural form, but as soon as they are ingested, the bacteria in the intestinal flora react, breaking and hydrolyze their molecular structure. When they undergo this transformation, they fixate on hormonal receptors and begin their therapeutic work.
Keep in mind that these substances have an active life from between 7 to 8 hours while in the blood’s plasma. The body then later disposes of them. In order to receive their benefits and use them therapeutically, you should receive daily doses. You should consider that the effects depend on each person’s metabolism and the intestine’s bacterial hydrolysis. Intestinal movement, diet, and the presence (or lack thereof) of intestinal illnesses and the host’s immunity also play roles in this process.
Soy and Isoflavones
There are 1,000 types of isoflavones in vegetables, even though they are found almost exclusively in soy beans. There are 300 mg of isoflavones in each 100 grams of soy, while only 5 mg of this substance are found in most other legumes. The quality and composition of the isoflavones in soy varies according to the product, or it’s derivative. For example, processing a soy bean, either at home or industrialized, improves the bio-availability of isoflavones. Fermented soy isoflavones, like those found in tamari, common soy sauce, or shoyu, miso, or tempeh, are very effective and are more easily absorbed than those obtained by normal soy.
Red clover also contains large amounts of isoflavone compounds, like genistein, which has slight estrogen properties. It produces a very similar effect to that of soy.
Adolescence and isoflavone consumption
It is very beneficial for girls to consume this during puberty, when they are developing their sexual characteristics. For men, it helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Soy consumption also promotes calcium absorption, and improves the immune system by producing heightened white blood cell activity. They also reduce cardiovascular risk and harmful cholesterol levels.
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As always, when a product seems promising, it frequently enters into excessive demand. Isoflavens sold right now in different stores are sold in capsules or tablets. They are said to improve concentration, and to produce immediate effects. However, keep in mind that Mother Nature combines certain elements with other to create a wise balance of nutritional elements offered. When this balance is thrown off, we then are left with something that seems like it should be an advantage, “lots of isoflavones packaged together”, but which could also be dangerous, because you are not consuming a complete food, but rather a portion of a food. These doses could throw the body out of balance.
I continue to uphold the idea of “the fresher, more natural, and most organic, the better”.
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