WHAT IS GENISTEIN?
Genistein is an isoflavone and part of the phytonutrient family (a group of chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and have multiple health benefits but are not considered essential to human health). It is mainly found in soybeans and has been linked with cancer prevention. In this article I will be discussing genistein in greater detail.
WHEN WAS GENISTEIN DISCOVERED?
Genistein was discovered in 1938 by the Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi as part of the flavonoid family. He initially referred to the flavonoids as vitamin P but it was later discovered that they are not essential to human health and therefore not technically vitamins.
HOW DOES YOUR BODY USE GENISTEIN?
Genistein has many health benefits in the human body. It is a powerful antioxidant which has been linked with cancer prevention and much more. The list below outlines the main roles of genistein in the human body:
– Acting as an antioxidant and protecting your body from damaging free radicals (harmful by-products of oxygen related reactions).
– Acting as an anthelmintic (a substance which removes parasitic worms from the body).
– Acting as a phytoestrogen (a compound which regulates estrogen levels in the body and can help prevent cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis (reduced bone mineral density) and negative menopausal symptoms).
– Preventing atherosclerosis (a condition where hard plaques form in the artery walls and restrict the flow of blood which ultimately increases your heart disease risk).
– Preventing diabetes (by minimising insulin resistance and regulating blood glucose levels).
– Preventing various types of cancer (particularly breast cancer and prostate cancer).
HOW MUCH GENISTEIN DO YOU NEED?
There is currently no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) for genistein as it is not considered essential to human health. However, some sources suggest that consuming between 50 milligrams (mg) and 100mg of isoflavones each day will allow you to realise the health benefits discussed above. Consuming up to 200mg of isoflavones per day is believed to be safe.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN GENISTEIN?
Beans and peas are often the richest sources of genistein with soybeans and soybean based products being particularly rich in this isoflavone. The table below outlines some of the best genistein foods:
|FOOD||MG OF GENISTEIN PER 100 GRAMS (G)|
|Soy Protein Isolate||59.62|
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH GENISTEIN?
There are no definitive overdose symptoms associated with genistein consumption. Some studies have suggested that consuming high levels of genistein can lead to the negative symptoms listed below but more research is required before these symptoms are confirmed:
– Possibly destroying male testicular cells (although other research suggests that genistein has no effect on male testicular cells).
– Possibly increasing your cancer risk (by increasing the growth rate of certain breast cancers, inhibiting the ability of your body to fight cancer cells and interfering with certain cancer fighting drugs).
Additionally, some people are allergic to isoflavones and may experience the unpleasant symptoms listed below when consuming large amounts of these nutrients:
– Interference with mineral absorption.
– Interference with thyroid function.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH GENISTEIN?
Genistein is not classed as an essential nutrient so there are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with its consumption.
Most UK and USA diets are seriously lacking in genistein. However, this can be easily remedied by incorporating beans and soy products into your diet. Doing this will allow you to enjoy the many genistein health benefits discussed in this article and help keep you fighting fit and disease free.