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Diabetes Health Center

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Soy Benefits Type 2 Diabetes

Soy Supplement Lowers Risk of Common Diabetes Complications

WebMD Health News

Aug. 3, 2004 -- Soy protein is slowly becoming a staple in America's pantries because of its potential health benefits. Now there is surprising evidence of soy's therapeutic power in preventing two of the biggest complications facing people with type 2 diabetes: kidney disease and heart disease.

The findings come from Sandra R. Teixeira of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who pursued the research as part of her doctoral degree.

As a person with diabetes ages, the number of complications is expected to increase. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. The earliest sign of this complication is small amounts of protein in urine.

The study included 14 men, aged 53 to 73 years, with type 2 diabetes, all of whom had a diagnosis of diabetes-related kidney disease. The men received pre-measured amounts of either isolated soy protein or animal meat protein in the form of a light vanilla flavored powder, which was mixed into drinks or foods. This supplement was added to their regular amounts of daily protein.

Those who added the soy protein powder to their diets had a 10% reduction in protein found in urine. Those receiving the animal protein, however, experienced an increase in protein in the urine.

The researchers say they expected the soy supplements to stabilize urine protein levels, but they did not expect the reduction.

In addition to aiding kidney function, the soy protein supplement boosted "good" HDL cholesterol by 4%. Low HDL cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease.

Researchers say it is unclear how soy exerts its effect in this case. More research is needed.

The findings, published in the August 2004 Journal of Nutrition, confirm earlier research done in mice.

SOURCE: Teixeira, S. Journal of Nutrition, August 2004; vol 134: pp 1874-1880. News release, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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