Asian diet ‘helps to get rid off brittle bones after menopause’: Chemical...

Asian diet ‘helps to get rid off brittle bones after menopause’: Chemical in soya beans that is similar to oestrogen helps to prevent bones from weakening

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  • Oestrogen is essential for maintaining healthy bones, but levels fall sharply after menopause, leaving women at higher risk of osteoporosis
  • British researchers said chemicals called isoflavones, which are found in soya beans, mimic oestrogen and so protect the bones from weakening
  • The condition affects three million British adults, mostly women
  • Osteoporosis leads to 300,000 hospital admissions for fractures each year 

An oriental diet may prevent women from developing brittle bones after the menopause, scientists have found.

Soya beans – which are a staple of Asian cuisines – contain crucial chemicals that are very similar to the female hormone oestrogen, the researchers said.

Oestrogen is essential for maintaining healthy bones, but levels fall sharply after the menopause, leaving women at a much higher risk of the bone-thinning condition osteoporosis.

British researchers said chemicals called isoflavones, which are found in soya beans, mimic oestrogen and so could protect the bones of post-menopausal women from weakening

British researchers said chemicals called isoflavones, which are found in soya beans, mimic oestrogen and so could protect the bones of post-menopausal women from weakening

The British researchers said chemicals called isoflavones, which are found in soya beans, mimic oestrogen and so protect the bones from weakening.

They said that oriental cooking, such as Chinese and Japanese food, could therefore help to ward off osteoporosis.

The condition affects three million British adults, mostly women, and leads to 300,000 hospital admissions for fractures each year.

The researchers, from the University of Hull, looked at 200 women in the early menopause who were given tablets to take for six months.

Half of them took a pill containing just soy protein, while the other group were given tablets with an added 66 milligrams of isoflavones.

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The scientists measured the levels of proteins called ßCTX and P1NP, which are indicators of bone density, in the women’s blood before and after the study.

Those who had been given the isoflavones pills had healthier bones after the six months. They were also less at risk of heart disease, which oestrogen is also thought to protect against.

Oestrogen is essential for maintaining healthy bones, but levels fall sharply after the menopause, leaving women at a much higher risk of the bone-thinning condition osteoporosis (file image)

Oestrogen is essential for maintaining healthy bones, but levels fall sharply after the menopause, leaving women at a much higher risk of the bone-thinning condition osteoporosis (file image)

 

Lead researcher Dr Thozhukat Sathyapalan – a lecturer in endocrinology, the study of illnesses that are related to hormones – said: ‘Soy protein and isoflavones are a safe and effective option for improving bone health in women during early menopause.

‘The actions of soy appear to mimic that of conventional osteoporosis drugs. The 66mg of isoflavone that we use in this study is equivalent to eating an oriental diet, which is rich in soy foods.

‘In contrast, we only get around two to 16mg of isoflavone with the average Western diet. Supplementing our food with isoflavones could lead to a significant decrease in the number of women being diagnosed with osteoporosis.’

Soya beans – which are known as edamame beans when eaten from the pod before they have ripened – are an increasingly popular alternative to meat.

They are also the basis for tofu, soy sauce, soya lactose-free milk and miso paste, which is used in Japanese cooking.

The beans originate in China and are extremely high in protein, fibre and certain vitamins and minerals. Many health stores therefore sell supplements made from soya beans.

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Dr Sathyapalan is presenting his research at the Society for Endocrinology conference this week in Edinburgh.

Oestrogen is essential for bone turnover – the process by which the body replaces bone tissue. Lower levels of the hormone lead to osteoporosis, where bones become less dense and are therefore weaker and more prone to fractures.

Women are more at risk than men because their oestrogen levels plummet after the menopause.

In men, a small amount of the male hormone testosterone is converted to oestrogen, which protects most from the condition.

Low testosterone levels have been linked to a higher risk of osteoporosis in men, as it means they also have lower levels of oestrogen conversion.

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