Scientists from National Cancer Center Institute for Cancer Control and elsewhere found that eating soy food natto is linked to lower dementia risk in women.
Soy is a unique food that is widely studied for its estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects on the body.
Results of recent population studies suggest that soy has either a beneficial or neutral effect on various health conditions.
Soy is a nutrient-dense source of protein that can safely be consumed several times a week, and probably more often, and is likely to provide health benefits.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the association between total soy, soy product (natto, miso, and tofu), and isoflavone intake and the risk of dementia in a Japanese population.
They conducted a population-based study of 18,991 men and 22,456 women. Intake of soy products and isoflavone was tested using a food questionnaire when participants were 45-74 years old (1995 and 1998).
Disabling dementia was defined by the daily living disability status related to dementia in the long-term care insurance program of Japan from 2006 to 2016.
The researchers found that total soy product intake was not associated with disabling dementia risk in both men and women.
In individual soy products, natto intake was associated with a lower risk of disabling dementia in women. This association was clearer in women aged under 60 years.
Any soy product or isoflavone intake was not linked to disabling dementia risk in men.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggest that although total soy product intake is not linked to disabling dementia risk, natto intake may contribute to reducing the risk of disabling dementia in women, especially in those aged under 60 years.
The research was published in the European Journal of Nutrition and conducted by Utako Murai et al.
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