Soy and Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, “Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.”

“Diabetes now affects nearly 24 million people in the United States,” according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study. “This means that nearly one in twelve individuals in the U.S. has diabetes.” Diabetes is also a major risk factor of heart and kidney disease.

Soyfoods Are Part of Diabetes Treatment

Physicians recommend several ways to treat the symptoms of diabetes and help decrease your chances of developing diabetes. Proper exercise, weight loss, and a diabetes diet can help manage your diabetes. Soyfoods can help!

Healthy Weight Loss with Soy

Soyfoods contain soy protein, a complete source of protein with all the essential amino acids of animal protein, but with less fat, saturated fat, and no cholesterol. An evidence based review shows that soy protein is equal to other lean proteins in aiding weight loss and maintaining lean body mass. Cholesterol-free soyfoods are also a heart healthy choice!

Diabetes Diet with Soy

The Diabetes Food Pyramid recommends 2 to 3 servings a day of low-fat milk. For those who avoid dairy, soymilk is an excellent option for people with diabetes that need a lower calorie source of calcium and other important nutrients. The Diabetes Food Pyramid also recommends 4 to 6 oz. of meat or meat substitutes throughout the day. Tofu and soy meat alternatives are low-calorie tasty options for this group. Diabetes recipes can use a variety of soyfoods — including tofu, soy burgers, soy dairy-free alternatives, edamame, and soy nut butter — to help maintain a nutritious diet and decrease diabetes complications.

Kidney and Heart Disease

People with type 2 diabetes often also suffer from kidney and heart disease. Diabetes patients often have albuminuria. This occurs when the body releases more than normal amounts of a protein called albumin in the urine. Isolated soy protein reduced albumin in the urine more than casein (dairy protein) in a Journal of Nutrition study. Isolated soy protein also helped increase HDL (“good” cholesterol). With the ability of soy protein to lower “bad” cholesterol and albumin, soyfoods make a great choice to help prevent kidney and heart disease in diabetes patients.

Another study, available in Diabetes Care, looked at the impact of soy protein consumption on cardiovascular and kidney disease risk in diabetics with nephropathy, or damage to the nerves that run throughout the body, connecting the spinal cord to muscles, skin, blood vessels, and other organs. Over 4 years, the patients with type 2 diabetes and nephropathy who ate a diet that contained 8 grams of soy protein in addition to animal and vegetable proteins reduced their high cholesterols and glucose levels as well as protein urea and other symptoms of kidney disease, compared to a control group that consumed only animal and vegetable proteins with no added soy.

Eating soyfoods can help you manage your diabetes, gain health and lose weight!