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Is Soy a Good Alternative Protein For The Elderly?

Thursday, October 07, 2010
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Therapeutically, soy in limited intake has been seen to help in the following ways-

  • Shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Lower systolic blood pressure
  • Has a hypoglycaemic effect on blood sugar
  • Helps in certain types of cancer especially prostrate cancer
  • Has good amount of calcium so helps bone strength
  • Seen to significantly improve muscle growth and lean body mass.
  • Supplementing with soy protein (68 mgs of isoflavones) may help relieve premenstrual swelling and cramping.
  • The clinical importance of interactions between soy and thyroid function remains unclear but soy isoflavones have been reported to reduce thyroid function in some people.

It is therefore advisable that soy be added in to the elderly diet in controlled amounts 20-25 g of soy /day – as this has been endorsed by the USDA.

What’s most important here is the elderly consumer understand that adequate protein in the daily diet is critical for the aging body.

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar
Sr Dietitian



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User Comments

22 December, 2010 | Kendal | Reply

Kendal I donot like soy so can you suggest an alternative to soy which is as good as animal protein for vegetarians?

22 December, 2010 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam Hello Kendal,
You can have low fat milk products which will give you excellent quality proteins. Cereal and pulse combinations like, beans and toast, hummus and pita bread, rice and lentils etc are also good protein sources.
You might enjoy the taste of textured soy products or meat substitutes better than soy itself.

11 October, 2010 | Swathi | Reply

Swathi Dear Ms.Vijayalakshmi,

Soy protein is compared to animal protein in its nutritional values, my question is -
1. Is is also that difficult to digest when given to elders
2. what are miso and tempeh and how can I use it for my in-laws, they are 75 yrs and 65 yrs, father-in-law does not have any disorders but my mother-in-law is a diabetic.

14 October, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Swathi,
Processed soy in limited quantities is both accepted and assimilated well unlike unprocessed soy.
You can add precooked soy nuggets, chunks, flakes or processed soy powder into dal, sambar or any vegetable preparation. Soy powder can be added to dough’s/ batters to make chapattis /doas/idli etc or added to buttermilk, milk, juice etc and drink it. Choose what is best accepted by the person concerned.

Soy is seen to have a mild hypoglycaemic activity, so your mother in law would as a matter of fact benefit from a limited intake of soy. So get creative and improve the quality of you’re parents in-law’s diet.

09 October, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Dear Gita,

As mentioned in the article, elders face a lot of problems in consuming a healthy and balanced meal due to many reasons as mentioned above. Therefore their meal should consist of foods that are soft, mushy and well cooked. Tofu, miso, tempeh, soy milk are all processed soy foods.

Thank you for your query.

08 October, 2010 | Gita Dalve | Reply

Gita Dalve Does it matter how we give soy to elders? What exactly do you mean by processed? Is not any cooking procedure a kind of processing?

14 October, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Gita
Since unprocessed soy beans may cause abdominal cramps, flatulence etc and certain nutrients may not be easily available, It is preferred to give them soy which has undergone some kind of process that destroy the anti nutritional factors.
Processes like autoclaving; fermenting, sprouting etc destroys the anti-nutritional factors of soy. This will help everybody, especially the elderly both to tolerate soy and assimilate the nutrients in it.
Apart from the few products suggested by Sangeetha you can incorporate soy chunks/ nuggets, soy flakes or even soy processed powder, all commercially available, into any preparation, with out altering the taste of the original dish too much.

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Tags: Alzheimers & Nutrition, Chronic Lifestyle Diseases, Diabetes Management, General health, Healthy Foods, Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition, Nutrition Counseling, Osteoporosis, Seniors Health


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