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Soy Protein Shows Benefit in Gestational Diabetes

Findings suggest improvement in glucose measures, including triglycerides.

There is no data available to examine the effects of soy intake on the metabolic status of women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Therefore, a study was designed to assess this relevance. Researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial among 68 women with GDM. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either a control diet containing 0.8 g/kg protein (70% animal and 30% plant proteins) (n=34) or a soy diet containing the same amount of protein with 35% animal protein, 35% soy protein, and 30% other plant proteins (n=34). This was performed for six weeks.

Mehri Jamilan, MD, from Arak University of Medical Sciences, and Zatollah Asemi, PhD, from Kashan University of Medical Sciences, conducted this study in Iran. At the end of six weeks, researchers found an increase in fasting plasma glucose in the control group vs. the soy group (P<0.001), in addition to increased serum insulin levels (P=0.02).

Furthermore, the control diet yielded differences in serum triglycerides (P=0.03) and very-low-density lipoprotein changes (P=0.03). Decreases were noted in the control diet vs. soy diet in plasma total antioxidant capacity (P=0.005), glutathione (P=0.004), and an increase in plasma malondialdehyde concentration (P=0.04). No relevant effects of soy protein consumption were noted on other lipid or inflammatory markers.

Authors believe that soy protein consumption in women with GDM significantly improves the glucose measures, triglycerides and biomarkers of oxidative stress, in addition to reductions in the incidence of newborn hyperbilirubinemia and hospitalizations. However, future studies are warranted to identify the significance of soy protein intake and newborn hyperbilirubinemia and hospitalizations.

Practice Pearls:

  • Soy protein intake in women with GDM improves measures of glucose homeostasis, triglycerides and oxidative stress biomarkers.
  • Maternal soy protein intake may result in decreased incidence of newborn hyperbilirubinemia and hospitalizations.
  • Future studies are warranted for concrete evidence regarding the decreased incidence of newborn hyperbilirubinemia and hospitalizations.

Jamilian, Mehri, and Zatollah Asemi. “The effect of soy intake on metabolic profiles of women with gestational diabetes mellitus.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (October 27, 2015): jc-2015.