Soybean works wonders to boost gastrointestinal health, a new study has found.

From reducing gut inflammation to protecting against one of the most common forms of cancer – colorectal cancer (CRC), soy foods could promote gastric health in many ways, a research paper published by a team of Australian scientists in the journal Nutrients has revealed.

It suggests consuming soy foods could help improve gastrointestinal health by increasing the number of beneficial microbes, reducing the number of pathogenic microbes and reducing gut inflammation and associated cell damage.

Researchers also found that the use of fermented soymilk in individuals with equol-metabolizing potential gives a protective effect against colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal diseases.

When it gets digested, certain bacteria in the gut change the chemicals found in soy into equol. However, the change occurs only in 20-60% of people and they are called equol producers. Scientists found that equol producers get more health benefits from soy.

"Our review suggests that there are consistent favorable changes in measures of GI health for some soy foods, such as fermented rather than unfermented soy milk, and for those individuals with a microbiome that can metabolize equol. However, as consumption of foods containing soy protein isolates and textured soy proteins increases, further clinical evidence is needed to understand whether these foods elicit similar or additional functional effects on GI health," the researchers wrote.

Soybean is the only plant-based protein that has all nine essential types of amino acid substances in adequate quantity to meet the physiological needs of humans.

Soy proteins contribute around double the amount of protein that is present in other frequently consumed legumes and beans. It also has a greater amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid than other legumes.

The presence of phytoestrogens, isoflavones, oligosaccharides (such as stachyose and raffinose), and proteins in soybeans help in gastrointestinal health. Phytates, phytosterols, protease inhibitors, phenolic acids and saponins in these legumes have anti-carcinogenic properties.

Other health benefits of soybeans

1. Soybean is rich in micronutrients such as zinc, iron and calcium that are usually found in limited quantities in other plant-sourced foods.

2. Since soybean is high in calcium; it can be used as a suitable dairy substitute.

3. Isoflavones in soybean help to reduce menopausal discomforts in women, including sweating, hot flashes and mood swings.

4. Consuming soybean also reduces the risk of osteoporosis in women who have undergone menopause.

5. Soybean is considered an antidiabetic agent and may help in reducing renal disorders.

6. Isoflavone and phytosterols present in soybean help in lowering cholesterol levels and protect against cardiovascular diseases.

7. Since soybean is rich in magnesium, it may help in treating sleeping disorders.

8. Soybeans may improve overall skin health as it increases collagen synthesis, a protein essential for skin elasticity, reducing pigmentation and wrinkles.

Soybean works wonders to boost gastrointestinal health, a new study has found. pixabay