Soy foods, including tofu have been in traditional Chinese diet over thousands of year, according to Chinese literature. The reduced risk of chronic disease, including metabolic syndrome such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes and lesser menopause symptoms in advanced age of Japanese population, may be aided by eating a lot of soy food accompanied with large portion of vegetables and fruits. Indeed, according to the study, only 10% of women in the East are experience symptoms of menopause in advanced age compared to over 70% of their Western counterparts.
According to Dr. Mark Messina, Ph.D., Soy foods contributed from 6.5%8 to 12.8%7 of total protein intake in older adult in Japan.(b)
The approval of cardiovascular benefit of soy by FDA in 1999 accompanied with the discovery of health benefits in clinical studies over past decade, prompted the promotion and advertisement of soy's health benefits in every aspect in Western society. Evidences could be seen by walking through the supermarkets and drug stores. Soy supplements and products such as tofu, soy milk, soy-based infant formula, and meatless “texturized vegetable protein” burgers were widely available. According to the United Soybean Board’s 2004–2005, 25% of Americans consume soy foods or beverages at least once per week, and 74% view soy products as healthy.
Today, the promotion of soy are no longer existed, it may be results of discovery of adverse effect in single ingredient and animal studies, as intake of soy is associated to induce risk certain mammary cancers and infertility. The publication of the result have drawn many criticisms. According to Thomas Badger, director and senior investigator at the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center in Little Rock, these effects are seen only under certain experimental conditions that are not likely to occur in humans—and therein lies the crux of the debate(a). Equol (4',7-isoflavandiol), an isoflavandiol metabolized from daidzein may be the causes, as 90% of Eastern population are equol producers but only 30% in the West.
The explanation of the positive effect of soy isoflavones in reduced risk of mammary cancers by University of Goettingen may be interesting, as researchers said" Most importantly, there is dispute as to whether isoflavones derived from soy or red clover have negative, positive or any effect at all on the mammary gland or endometrium. It is beyond any doubt that soy products may have cancer preventing properties in a variety of organs including the mammary gland. However, these properties may only be exerted if the developing organ was under the influence of isoflavones during childhood and puberty.
Soybean is the genus Glycine, belonging to the family Fabaceae, one of the legumes that contains twice as much protein per acre as any other major vegetable or grain crop, native to Southeast Asia. Now, it is grown worldwide with suitable climate for commercial profits.
2. Dietary fiber
5. Essential amino acid
6. Vitamin A
7. Vitamin B6
8. Vitamin B12
9. Vitamin C
10. Vitamin K
I. Soy in Eastern population
A. The Japanese population
Japan, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south(1). According to Moriyama, Japanese women and men live longer and healthier than everyone else on Earth, it may be result of healthier Japanese diet and lifestyle. According to the World Health Organization, the Japanese have an average of 75 years healthy living with disability-free, it may be due to average soy intake 10 to 70 times higher than in Western people(1a)(1b).
A4. Soy and Obesity in Japanese
Soy foods intake is well known for it estrogenic effects because it binds the estrogen receptor with relatively high affinity, but effects induced risk of obesity are inconclusive in the West(1)(2)(3).
It may be results of most Westerner are non equol producers(4)(5). Some researchers suggested that the prevalence of obesity in the West may be result of typical American diet with high in saturated and trans-fat and less in fruits and vegetables. Other blamed the epidemic obesity is a result of economic environment which make healthy foods more expensive than junks and suggested of taxes on foods with low nutritional value could nudge behavior toward healthier diets, as could subsidies/discounts for healthier(8). According to a report on NBC by Melissa Dhal, just 10.8 percent of Asians in America are considered obese, a slim percentage when compared with the 33 percent of whites, 42 percent of Hispanics and 48 percent of blacks with a BMI of 30 or higher(7).
In fact, the traditional Japanese diet with high amount of soy products are associated to a lower BMI in adulthood(9).
According to the Dr. Ma J and the research team, the early exposure to a high-fat diet diminished the abundance of non-pathogenic Campylobacter in the juvenile gut of that may enhance the risk of obesity(10). In fact, DR. Sakata T. said that a very-low-calorie conventional Japanese diet of 370 kcal/day has been shown to be useful for weight reduction and its long-term maintenance(11). and dietary content and food patterns used in management among Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes are quite close to those reported as suitable for prevention of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and total mortality in Europe and America, according to the study of 1,516 patients with type 2 diabetes aged 40-70 years from outpatient clinics in 59 university and general hospitals(12). Regarded to diet habit of the West and Japanese working women, the proportion of eating problems is low in comparison with Western adult populations(15).
Study of Occupational Class Differences in Body Mass Index and Weight Gain in Japan and Finland may provide us with interesting result "BMI was higher at baseline and BMI gain was more rapid in Finland than in Japan, it may be results of clear socioeconomic gradients in obesity in Finland compared to Japanese environment is less obesogenic than the Finnish environment, or factors such as easy access to fast-food restaurants and limited possibilities for physical exercise are suggested characteristics of an obesogenic environment or due to the Japanese diet has traditionally been very healthy, with high consumption of vegetables, soy protein, and fish, with the general nutritional status of the Japanese population is still healthier than that in many Western countries" (13).
Unfortunately, due to influence of the West, many Japanese have abandoned the traditional Japanese diet but opted for quick, high fat diet with a lots of junk foods. According to the Kagawa Nutrition University, Japanese traditional and Western, were all independently and significantly related to the risk of obesity even among a relatively lean young Japanese female population(14).
Other study suggested that adapting maternal Western-style diet consumption may lead to increased susceptibility to type 2 diabetes in the offspring(16), and Western diet increased risk for atherosclerosis and promoted the progression of preclinical atherosclerosis, in correspondence with the extent of westernization(17). As undergoing rapid "Westernization," , change in Japanese dietary patterns continued, with high intake of butter & margarine, cheese, bread and ham & sausage, etc.(18), the Westernized chronic illness may rise to a level currently found in the "Western" countries in the coming few decades, including diverticular disease, mammary cancers(19)(20).
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(1) Genistein exposure during the early postnatal period favors the development of obesity in female, but not male rats by Strakovsky RS1, Lezmi S, Flaws JA, Schantz SL, Pan YX, Helferich WG.(PubMed)
(2) Arginine, soy isoflavone and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose have protective effects against obesity in broiler breeder hens fed on high-energy diets by Khalaji S1, Zaghari M, Ganjkhanloo M, Ghaziani F.(PubMed)
(3) Effects of voluntary running and soy supplementation on diet-induced metabolic disturbance and inflammation in mice by Yan L1, Graef GL, Claycombe KJ, Johnson LK.(PubMed)
(4) Effects of natural S-equol supplements on overweight or obesity and metabolic syndrome in the Japanese, based on sex and equol status by Usui T1, Tochiya M, Sasaki Y, Muranaka K, Yamakage H, Himeno A, Shimatsu A, Inaguma A, Ueno T, Uchiyama S, Satoh-Asahara N.(PubMed)
(5) Obesity prevalence in relation to gut microbial environments capable of producing equol or O-desmethylangolensin from the isoflavone daidzein by Frankenfeld CL1, Atkinson C2, Wähälä K3, Lampe JW4.(PubMed)
(6) Family-focused physical activity, diet and obesity interventions in African-American girls: a systematic review by Barr-Anderson DJ1, Adams-Wynn AW, DiSantis KI, Kumanyika S.(PubMed)
(7). What's actually behind the low Asian-American obesity rate? by Melissa Dahl
(8) Obesity and economic environments by Sturm R1, An R.(PubMed)
(9) Soy intake is related to a lower body mass index in adult women by Maskarinec G1, Aylward AG, Erber E, Takata Y, Kolonel LN.(PubMed)
(10) High-fat maternal diet during pregnancy persistently alters the offspring microbiome in a primate model by Ma J1, Prince AL2, Bader D3, Hu M4, Ganu R4, Baquero K5, Blundell P5, Alan Harris R6, Frias AE5, Grove KL5, Aagaard KM(PubMed)
(11) A very-low-calorie conventional Japanese diet: its implications for prevention of obesity by Sakata T.(PubMed)
(12) Dietary intake in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes: Analysis from Japan Diabetes Complications Study by Horikawa C1, Yoshimura Y2, Kamada C2, Tanaka S3, Tanaka S4, Takahashi A5, Hanyu O6, Araki A7, Ito H7, Tanaka A8, Ohashi Y5, Akanuma Y9, Yamada N10, Sone H6.(PubMed)
(13) ccupational Class Differences in Body Mass Index and Weight Gain in Japan and Finland
(17) Influence of the extent of westernization of lifestyle on the progression of preclinical atherosclerosis in Japanese subjects by Egusa G1, Watanabe H, Ohshita K, Fujikawa R, Yamane K, Okubo M, Kohno N.(PubMed)
(18) Dietary factors related to higher plasma fibrinogen levels of Japanese-americans in hawaii compared with Japanese in Japan by Miura K1, Nakagawa H, Ueshima H, Okayama A, Saitoh S, Curb JD, Rodriguez BL, Sakata K, Okuda N, Yoshita K, Stamler J; INTERMAP Research Group; INTERLIPID Research Group.(PubMed)
(19) Changes in dietary fiber intake among Japanese in the 20th century: a relationship to the prevalence of diverticular disease by Ohi G, Minowa K, Oyama T, Nagahashi M, Yamazaki N, Yamamoto S, Nagasako K, Hayakawa K, Kimura K, Mori B.(PubMed).
(20) Relationship between westernization of dietary habits and mortality from breast and ovarian cancers in Japan. Kato I, Tominaga S, Kuroishi T.(PubMed)