There’s some good news on the diabetes front—there’s a specific ingredient in soy that could help combat insulin resistance. Soy, of course, has long been touted as a healing food that has cancer-fighting properties. Now recent research pointing to soy having a role to play in the fight against diabetes.
It all has to do with a substance called “genistein.” Genistein is a naturally occurring soy isoflavone. A research team from Virginia Tech University studied genistein’s anti-diabetic mechanisms and found that the isoflavone has direct effects on beta cell proliferation and insulin secretion. Beta cells are found in the pancreas, and their primary purpose is to store and release insulin. Beta cells are unique in that they can respond quickly to spikes in blood glucose concentrations. They do this by secreting insulin that they have stored, while at the same time producing more insulin to replenish supplies.
The study indicated that genistein works closely with beta cells. Because Type 2 diabetes is the result of chronic insulin resistance and loss of functional beta cell mass, anything that can boost beta cell production is helpful in staving off the disease. Genistein helps to prevent beta cell death, while at the same time boosting beta cell proliferation.
According to the researchers, this relationship between genistein and beta cells isn’t something that’s necessarily mirrored in other flavonoids—it may be unique to genistein.
If you’re having trouble controlling your blood sugar, get some soy into your diet—it could help to stabilize your situation.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
The Role Soy Can Play in Staving off Diabetes
Gilbert, E.R., et al., “Anti-diabetic functions of soy isoflavone genistein: mechanisms underlying its effects on pancreatic β-cell function,” Food Funct. November 19, 2012. [Epub ahead of print.]