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isoflavones



Foods Rich in Isoflavones Are Known as Natural Birth Control

If you are frequently forgetting to taking oral contraceptives at the same time every day, you are increasing the chances of becoming pregnant. If you don’t want to switch to another form of birth control are there any foods that might help or hurt your contraceptive chances?

I spoke with our resident expert on all things food-related, Mary Hartley, RD, and this is what she told me. “Foods that are high in isoflavones have been called ‘natural contraceptives.’”

Isoflavones are plant-based estrogen-like compounds that could, in theory, create hormonal imbalances that affect ovulation and interact with birth control. Genistein, the most potent isoflavone, is found in legumes, and so soy foods, peas, peanuts, chick peas, and fava beans have been thought to influence fertility. Wild yams (not to be confused with sweet potato yams) contain the isoflavone, diosgenin, but it has a very weak effect compared to the body’s own reproductive hormones. At this point, the potential health benefits and risks of the various isoflavones are under investigation, but there is no current data to suggest that normal intakes are likely to cause hormonal imbalances.
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Soy Foods and Isoflavones Don’t Increase Risk in Breast Cancer Survivors

Ever since research has come out about soy and its inherent properties that allow it to act like extra estrogen in the body, thereby possibly increasing the risk of breast cancer in women, I’ve been somewhat cautious about adding too much soy in my diet. While I’ve never suffered from breast cancer myself, it does run in my family, so I don’t like to take any chances. I know a lot of women who feel the same way, and I know some breast cancer survivors who are very limited with the amount of soy they consume for these reasons as well. Although the research of late on soy and cancer have been a little back and forth, new research presented at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011 that was held in early April has found that soy foods do not increase the risk of cancer recurrence or death among breast cancer survivors.

To understand the study, it’s helpful to know why soy foods have been suspect. Soy foods contain large amounts of isoflavones that are known to bind to estrogen receptors and have both estrogen-like and anti-estrogenic effects, according to the study. Scientists have been particularly concerned that the isoflavones in soy could compromise the effect of the breast-cancer-treatment drug Tamoxifen because both the drug and isoflavones bind to estrogen receptors.


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