Soy Intake In Diabetes Prevention & Management

As a registered dietitian and former employee of Diabetes Canada, the management and prevention of Diabetes will always be a topic near and dear to my heart.

Given November is Diabetes Month and today is #MeatlessMonday  it only makes sense to explore a plant-themed topic in the world of type 2 diabetes prevention and management.

Today’s article explores the role of soy intake in the both the prevention and management of T2DM and builds upon the comprehensive piece on lowering your A1C as well as thethe vast array of previous articles that I’ve written on soy.

Let’s get right to it!

Soy Intake & Diabetes Prevention

A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis out of the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal found that consumption of soy foods across a number of observational studies was associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Similar results were found in a US-specific cohort published in the European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition in 2016.

When we look at the Diabetes Canada Practice Guidelines, the Mediterranean dietary pattern is listed as one of the foremost protective styles of eating.

Guess which food appears at the base of the Mediterranean Food Pyramid?

Legumes! a group of foods in which soybeans are included.

Soy Intake & Diabetes Management

Diabetes Canada Practice Guidelines provide recommendations for diabetes management including:

To reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, adults with diabetes should consume less than 9% daily energy from saturated fatty acids and replace these fats with poly- and monounsaturated fats from plant sources.

One of the easiest ways to achieve this objective is by occasionally swapping out animal protein options with plant-based alternatives, like soy-based foods.

A 2011 systematic review and meta-analysis looking specifically at soy consumption in those living with type 2 diabetes supports the notion of cardiovascular benefits of soy intake, finding that those who consumed higher levels of soy tended to have lower LDL and triglyceride levels paired with higher HDL levels.

Soy is one of the primary components of the well known cholesterol lowering Portfolio Diet.

Adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes may aim to consume 30 to 50 g/day of dietary fibre with a third or more (10 to 20 g/day) coming from viscous soluble dietary fibre.

Soy-based foods, like other legumes, tend to be a good source of dietary fibre.

100 grams of soy beans, for example, contain 9 grams of fibre.

Unlike cow’s milk, soy milk contains fibre (1 cup has appx 2 grams fibre).

Unlike animal protein sources, tofu contains fibre (1 cup has appx 2 grams fibre).

Those with type 2 diabetes may consider dietary patterns emphasizing pulses (e.g. beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils) to improve glycemic control.

Although soy is not among the pulse category of legumes that are exceptionally high in soluble fibre, it still represents a valuable component of any dietary portfolio owing to the characteristics defined above.

Final Thoughts

While there is no such thing as a diabetes super food, soy-based foods check important boxes when it comes to the world of diabetes prevention and management.

No one is saying that you need to eat tofu 24/7, but re-evaluating the role that foods in this category play in your dietary pattern could be an important step to improving your health.

If you still don’t believe me, read this to learn more.

Until next time,

Andy De Santis RD MPH