Can soy and its products promote gut health? expert revealed

As we all grapple with the aftermath of an ending pandemic, the need to maintain good health, alongside other global health concerns and the stresses of everyday life, has become stronger than ever. One of the most important factors that play a central role in controlling one’s well-being is gut health. In addition to acting as the main portal for the absorption and processing of nutrients, the gut also influences the nervous and immune systems and impacts mental health and digestive function. Recent studies show that gut health affects literally everything in the body; Therefore, it is imperative to maintain good gut health – the trillions of bacteria that live in the microbiota – at all times.

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Both good and bad bacteria exist in the microbiota and have a symbiotic relationship with the body for its healthy functioning, in addition to preventing the possibility of metabolic diseases. Therefore, microbiota diversity is important, and diet plays an important role in maintaining this balance.

Recent studies have shown that soy-based foods have a significantly positive effect on gut microbiota. As one of the handful of plant-based foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, soy-based foods are growing in popularity today — not only for their many health benefits, but also for their positive impact on gut health.

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It has been observed that consumption of soy foods can increase levels of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli – a group of probiotic bacteria normally found in the digestive system, thereby altering the ratio between Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes and maintaining the microbial balance. These changes in the microbiota then help reduce pathogenic bacterial populations in the gut, reducing the risk of diseases such as immunodeficiency, allergies, obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

One soy-based food said to be good for gut health is soy milk. Certain gut bacteria have the ability to utilize the nutrients in soy milk and favorably change the composition of the microbiota. For people with high levels of lactose intolerance or inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), soy milk is a good alternative to dairy and may help reduce inflammation and gut irritation.

Tofu, another high-protein soy byproduct, is also known to provide both pre- and probiotics for gut bacteria. While the high protein content in soy serves as a source of energy and nitrogen for gut bacteria, the oligosaccharides and fiber in soy are known to possess prebiotic properties. In addition, a number of fermented soy foods such as soy milk, tofu, soy paste and even soy sauce are known to have health benefits that are enhanced by the fermentation process. Food fermentation uses microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast or both; These not only change the nutritional value of the food and improve its digestibility, but also make it a good source of pre- and probiotics. This, in turn, contributes to the food’s anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties and improves gastrointestinal health and the immune system.

Aside from its holistic effects on overall gut health and its high protein content, soy is an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium – all while being low in saturated fat and carbohydrates. It is also known for its isoflavone content, which can have powerful antioxidant properties.

With its myriad of benefits that directly impact gut health in addition to its high nutrient content, it’s hardly surprising that soy is now considered a superfood. In keeping with Hippocrates’ timeless adage – “Let food be medicine and medicine be food” – you should definitely include soy foods in your diet to maintain a happy gut and a healthy body.

About the author: Dr. Aalika Banerji Shah is a Medical Nutritionist, Aesthetic Doctor and a supporter of the Right To Protein initiative.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. All information is provided “as is”. The information, facts or opinions contained in this article do not represent the views of NDTV and NDTV assumes no responsibility or liability therefor.

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