By | Rebecca Siggers
Many women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are unsure whether Soy benefits them. Some women are even afraid of it.
However, this misunderstanding stems from incorrect nutrition information on the internet about Soy’s health benefits or actions. Consuming small amounts of Soy regularly has improved female fertility and metabolic aspects of PCOS.
What Is PCOS?
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a condition that occurs when female bodies produce more testosterone and androgens than is normal. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that can interfere with ovulation, periods, and fertility. Along with these issues, PCOS is linked to metabolic disorders, which can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance. PCOS symptoms usually appear gradually, including oily skin, weight gain, thinning hair, irregular periods, and even depression.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
- Acne Vulgaris is a type of acne that causes pus cells on the face.
- Unusual Weight gain
- Hair growth that is abnormal and darker on the face, back, belly, and chest
- Menstrual problems or an irregular menstrual cycle Women with PCOS typically have nine periods per year. In addition, heavy bleeding causes menstruation to last longer than usual. Few women may even experience menstruation.
- Androgenetic Alopecia/Male Pattern Hair Loss – permanent hair loss or thinning of hair commonly seen in men due to Androgen overproduction.
- Infertility. The majority of women do not become pregnant or have miscarriages.
What is Soy?
Soy is a plant food that acts as a “phytoestrogen,” which means it can mimic estrogen’s effects in the body.
Soy is derived from a soybean plant, the pods of which produce a type of legume. Soy, like other legumes, is an excellent source of sustainable protein. One cup of shelled edamame (immature soybeans) has 19 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. Soybeans contain essential nutrients for women, such as iron, magnesium, folate, and vitamin K.
Soy and PCOS
Soy protein can be a beneficial nutrient for those suffering from PCOS because it can improve metabolic and cardiovascular health. Ideally, consume 25 grams of soy protein per day. Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, soy butter, and soy milk are all excellent sources of soy protein.
Women with PCOS may benefit from eating Soy in the following ways.
1. Improving Metabolic Health
Women with PCOS are more likely to develop metabolic disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions can aggravate your PCOS symptoms.
Fortunately, studies on Soy and PCOS discovered that soy consumption lowers metabolic markers for these conditions. Soy consumption, for example, may lower both LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Insulin resistance is another distinguishing feature of PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels after meals. Insulin resistance occurs when your cells do not properly respond to insulin signaling, resulting in high insulin and sugar levels in your bloodstream. Soy supplementation may lower free insulin levels and improve cells’ ability to respond to insulin appropriately.
This can help you lose weight, regulate your cycle, and reduce common PCOS symptoms like acne.
2. Soy May Lower Androgen Levels
High levels of androgens, such as testosterone, indicate PCOS. High androgen levels aggravate common PCOS symptoms such as acne, facial hair, and hair loss.
Soy has been shown to significantly lower androgen levels in PCOS women. This could be due to Soy’s beneficial effect on insulin levels, as lowering insulin can lower androgens and associated symptoms.
Furthermore, Soy may benefit your bloodstream by increasing sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels. SHBG is a protein that tightly binds to hormones such as testosterone. SHBG reduces the effects of free testosterone in women with PCOS by binding to it, which reduces unwanted symptoms such as acne and facial hair.
3. Improving fertility
Improving metabolic health and insulin sensitivity and lowering high androgen levels can help with ovulation and fertility.
It has also been discovered that eating more plant proteins, such as edamame or tofu, reduces the risk of infertility caused by ovulatory disorders, such as PCOS. By increasing implantation and live birth rates, soy consumption may also benefit women undergoing assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF.
4. Soy and your cholesterol levels
We know that women with PCOS have higher cholesterol levels due to the syndrome. As a result, researchers investigated Soy’s effect on PCOS women’s cholesterol levels. They discovered that eating Soy reduced levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). This is referred to as “bad” cholesterol. There were no improvements in any other PCOS metabolic markers, so very few symptoms that bother PCOS patients were improved.
5. Reduces Insulin Resistance
Soy has a high fiber content and a low glycemic index. It takes longer for the body to break it down, causing blood sugar levels to rise steadily rather than quickly. The most common underlying cause of PCOS is insulin resistance. On the other hand, researchers have shown Soy to improve insulin resistance in women with PCOS.
A 12-week study was included in one study that looked at Soy’s effect on PCOS. The researchers divided the 70 PCOS women into two groups at random. One group received 50 mg/d soy isoflavones (a compound found in soybeans), while the other received a placebo. The results showed that the soy isoflavone group had lower insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity. Soy helps cells absorb the sugar in their blood more effectively.
6. Lowers Oxidative Stress
Women who have PCOS have higher levels of oxidative stress. That is, there is an imbalance between free radicals (which cause harm to the body) and antioxidants (which protect the body). Many dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors (for example, pollution) can all contribute to oxidative stress.
Soy can boost antioxidant levels while decreasing harmful free radicals. Soy, by increasing antioxidant levels, may protect you from oxidative stress.
Tips for Incorporating Soy into Your Diet
Keep the following in mind when incorporating Soy into your diet:
Choose whole food sources such as soybeans or edamame for the most benefit. Avoid processed soy products such as soy protein isolate and soybean oil.
To significantly reduce glyphosate residue, choose organically grown, non-GMO Soy.
Avoid eating Soy daily. It’s always recommended to eat a varied diet with a variety of foods! Include at most 2-3 servings of Soy per week in your diet.
Soy-based foods play an essential and beneficial role in the dietary management of PCOS. Indeed, the evidence I’ve seen suggests that incorporating soy-based foods and compounds into women’s nutritional patterns with PCOS has a net positive, rather than a net negative, impact. It would be a shame to avoid Soy out of fear because incorporating Soy appears to be one of many dietary strategies that a woman with PCOS may employ to improve her health.