Isoflavones may reduce elevated blood sugar levels: Study

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

© vovashevchuk / Getty Images
© vovashevchuk / Getty Images

Related tags Flavanoids Diabetes Blood sugar Blood glucose levels

A new study reveals that dietary isoflavone intakes are inversely associated with prediabetes risk following analysis of participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Specifically, the association was found between glycitein, genistein, daidzein and total isoflavone intakes and prediabetes risk, whilst logistic regression analysis revealed a further inverse association between urinary daidzein and genistein concentrations and risk level.

“Our findings reveal an inverse association between dietary isoflavones and the risk of prediabetes, as well as an inverse association between urinary levels of isoflavones and the risk of prediabetes,” the Chinese researchers wrote in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition​. 

“Our study highlights the significance of employing diverse indicators or measurements for evaluating the health impacts of isoflavones. Our research findings suggested that the application of isoflavones should be initiated earlier in the prevention and management of diabetes."

Bioactives and blood sugar

Prediabetes is defined​ as a state of elevated glucose levels beyond normal levels but that fall short of meeting the criteria for diabetes. However, there is a significant risk​ of prediabetes developing into diabetes, as well as further health conditions​ such as chronic kidney disease, acute coronary syndrome and stroke.

It is known that lifestyle interventions​ including increased physical exercise, healthy diet and weight management can effectively delay the onset of diabetes by controlling blood glucose levels and reducing the risk of developing further complications.

Bioactive compounds known as flavonoids, commonly found in plant-originated foods such as fruits, vegetables and herbs, have been increasingly associated​ with an array of health benefits. A previous animal study found isoflavones (a subclass of flavonoids) to have significant blood glucose control effects, however the researchers noted a need for epidemiological and clinical research to validate these conclusions.

Study details

The study used data from 19,021 participants with a mean age of 32 years obtained from the NHANES database during 2007-2010 and 2017-2018. A medical professional clinically determined the presence of diabetes by using the set diagnostic criteria.

In addition, data was gathered from the 2007-2010 NHANES from 3,706 participants to determine correlations between concentrations of isoflavones and urinary metabolites and prediabetes risk.

The researchers reported a significant inverse association between glycitein, genistein, daidzein and total isoflavone intake with prediabetes risk, as well as an inverse association between urinary daidzein and genistein concentrations and prediabetes risk following logistic regression analysis. They highlighted the potential of early stage isoflavone interventions for the prevention and management of diabetes progression.

“Consumption of soy and soy products has been associated with the preservation of β-cells in pancreatic islets. Genistein and/or daidzein exhibit inhibitory effects on α-glucosidase, along with increased secretion of insulin in vitro​, and in vivo​, activation of hepatic glucokinase, suppression of gluconeogenic enzyme synthesis and inhibition of glucose uptake in adipocyte cells,” the researchers explained.

They noted that due to the observational nature of the research, cause and effect could not be established, and thus further research is needed to validate the findings.

 

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition
doi: doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2023.1288416
“Inverse association between isoflavones and prediabetes risk: evidence from NHANES 2007–2010 and 2017–2018”
Authors: Yanjun Zhou et al.

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