Soy for Aging Well

Ponce de León first introduced the contagious concept of the “fountain of youth” to North America back in 1513. Unfortunately for the explorer and for those looking for a quick-fix, there is no solution to aging. However, science has shown that soyfoods can help you age gracefully. Soyfoods will in no way turn back the hands of time, but research does indicate that soyfoods have many positive effects on a variety of health concerns that develop as we age.

Soyfoods are a part of an overall healthy diet as one ages. As a complete protein, soy helps build, maintain, and repair different muscles and other tissues. Low in calories, saturated fat, and with no cholesterol, soyfoods have numerous health benefits. In addition, new research suggests that soyfoods play an important role in several health conditions that can arise with aging—specifically heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly one in three American adults has hypertension, or high blood pressure. As you age, it is important to take steps to maintain a low blood pressure in order to prevent the development of heart disease. The FDA recommends including 25 grams of soy protein a day as part of a heart healthy diet in order to lower your risk of heart disease. A  study by Dr. Francine K. Welty, a professor at Harvard University, confirmed the heart healthy qualities of soyfoods. The study focused on the effects salt-free soy nuts could have on blood pressure in postmenopausal women. Hypertensive women who ate a heart-healthy diet that included half a cup of soy nuts daily experienced a decrease in blood pressure.

More than 15 million Americans and up to 150 million people globally are affected by Type 2 diabetes, which is characterized by an abnormal rise in blood sugar right after a meal. Although Type 2 diabetes can effect all ages, the American Diabetes Association warns that older people are at a greater risk for this disease. Scientists are optimistic about the role soyfoods may have on Type 2 diabetes. A study in the Journal of Food Biochemistryfound that soy yogurt with added fruit was found to help regulate enzymes that affect blood sugar levels, thus reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

According to the 2004 Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis, every year 1.5 million older Americans suffer fractures because their bones have become weak from osteoporosis. To combat this “silent killer,” Americans should include a wide variety of calcium and vitamin D-rich foods in their diets. Soybeans, tofu, and fortified soymilk provide calcium and vitamin D as well as high quality protein without cholesterol and little saturated fat. In addition, a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found thatsoy protein, when consumed with calcium, enhances bone formation in postmenopausal women by 69 percent. These findings indicate soyfoods may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

An overall healthy lifestyle is the modern-day “fountain of youth.” By balancing a nutritious diet with an active lifestyle, you can influence how your body ages. A wide variety of naturally nutritious, soyfoods help you age.