Soy: More Than Just a Protein Powerhouse, According to Experts

Written by Camilla Jessen

Feb.29 - 2024 6:32 PM CET

Recent studies reveal that incorporating soy into your diet can significantly enhance skin hydration and reduce signs of aging, making it a game-changer for skincare enthusiasts.

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Soy, a staple in many diets for its high protein content, has now been found to also offer significant benefits for skin health.

Recent research, including a notable clinical study published in Nutrients in September 2023, has illuminated soy's potential in promoting skin hydration and reducing the appearance of fine lines and pigmentation, particularly beneficial for postmenopausal women.

The Science Behind Soy and Skin Health

Mark Messina, PhD, MS, director of nutrition science and research at the Soy Nutrition Institute Global (SNI Global), delves into the findings, explaining the vital role of soy isoflavones.

"Previous clinical research and trials have suggested that soy isoflavones might favorably affect skin health," Messina states, pointing out the unique skin-supportive properties of soy.

These isoflavones, abundant in soy and acting as "plant estrogen," mimic estrogenic effects on the skin, potentially offering antioxidant benefits and stimulating the production of crucial skin components such as collagen and hyaluronic acid.

The Impact of Isoflavones on Skin Structure and Moisture

Collagen, the primary structural protein in the skin, diminishes with age, making its synthesis particularly crucial postmenopause.

"A strengthened collagen network may help smooth fine lines," Messina explains. Similarly, hyaluronic acid plays a critical role as a biologic humectant, drawing and retaining moisture, thereby enhancing skin hydration and reducing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles.

"Soy may increase the skin’s natural levels of hyaluronic acid," Messina adds.

Soy's Universal Appeal for Skin Health

While the study focused on postmenopausal women with lighter skin tones, Messina assures that the benefits of isoflavones should extend across skin types and ages.

"There is no reason not to think that isoflavones would also be efficacious in postmenopausal women with darker skin," he states, also noting promising results in premenopausal women in previous studies. This suggests a wide range of individuals could potentially benefit from incorporating soy into their diets.

Adding Soy to Your Daily Diet

For those eager to explore soy's skin-enhancing effects, Messina recommends incorporating two servings of soy into your daily meals. Whether it's through soy milk, tofu, or other soy-based products, the possibilities are endless. From savory tempeh bowls and nutritious smoothies to innovative dinner recipes and delightful desserts like lemon tofu cheesecake, soy not only promises a boost in health but also versatility in the kitchen.