There’s been a lot of debate over the benefits of eating soy. Some think it’s a heart-healthy source of protein while others worry it may increase cancer risk. A new study shows that those who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome could find relief from eating soy.

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Researchers at Penn State University performed the study on mice, who were made to have a condition similar to ulcerative colitis. They discovered that issues like weight loss and swelling of the spleen were reduced when soy protein concentrate was substituted for about 12 percent of other protein sources.

“We didn’t want to get carried away with using doses that were really high and would crowd out all the other protein that was there,” said Zachary Bitzer, a former graduate student in the food science program and study co-author, in a statement. “Instead, we wanted to find a scenario that was going to fit into a more human-relevant situation.”

While the study was only done in mice, the team believes this could be easily translatable to adults as soy protein concentrate is a very common ingredient. However, they are not yet sure whether it’s the actual soy protein that appears to reduce IBS symptoms as the concentrate also includes soybean fiber. The scientists will soon start a new study to determine which component accounts for the changes.

Soy has often gotten a bad reputation for increasing cancer risk in women. Its natural isoflavones act similarly to estrogen, which some worry  could increase the risk of breast cancer. The MD Anderson Cancer Center says that soy products can be consumed safely.

“The current research does not support avoiding whole soy foods, even for cancer patients or survivors,” said Clare McKindley, clinical dietitian in MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center, in a blog post.

“Soy contains all the essential amino acids that play a role in supporting the body’s vital functions,” said McKindley. “It can be an easy way for people on a vegan or vegetarian diet and those with food allergies to get those required amino acids. But, as with any food, eating in moderation is recommended.”

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Previous research shows that isoflavones might actually be good for you. They’ve been linked to reducing heart diseases, osteoporosis, and cognitive decline associated with aging, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Like anything, soy can be a part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. Just be sure to opt for minimally processed foods to maximize its health benefits and lower any associated risks.

Source: Zachary T. Bitzer, Amy L. Wopperer, Benjamin J. Chrisfield, Ling Tao, Timothy K. Cooper, Jairam Vanamala, Ryan J. Elias, John E. Hayes, Joshua D. Lambert. Soy protein concentrate mitigates markers of colonic inflammation and loss of gut barrier function in vitro and in vivo. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, February 2017.

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