Americans are becoming more health conscious. An increase in health conditions, including diabetes, obesity and cancer has prompted studies to learn about how diet affects our body. Food is fuel, and any foods containing organic compounds that are essential for our metabolism. Soy has been the subject of research and debate for many years, but one thing is certain, it contains isoflavones which are phytoestrogen compounds that may be beneficial for our health
equol is a steroidal estrogen produced in the body by bacteria in the gut. Intestinal bacteria convert daidzein, a type of isoflavone usually found in soy foods, in equol. However, studies published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” (June 2007) and “The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry” (May 2005) show that only about 30 to 50 percent of people are able to produce equol. This has prompted further research on whether equol producers have health advantages over non-equol producers.
equol containing a carbon atom in position C3 (see picture) that provides the ability to form two enantiomeric forms, R-equol and S-equol. S-equol is diastereoisomer having estrogenic properties and are also believed to block dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Isoflavones, including genistein and diadzein, found in many plants, but soybeans have the highest concentrations of these potentially healthful substances. Although isoflavone supplements are available, the best way to consume them is from natural food sources. The highest amounts are found in whole soybeans, so eat edamame will promote equol production in those manufacturers. There are other soy products, including soy protein, soy nuts, tofu and soymilk, which also contain high concentrations of isoflavones, and will therefore promote equol production.
Equol and Estrogen
equol has the ability to bind to beta estrogen sites. This can make equol beneficial in estrogen-related cancers, including breast cancer. Studies are also being done to determine if equol can help reduce the symptoms of menopause, according to “The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry,” (May 2005).
equol as Anti-androgen
equol is unique because it not only has the ability to bind to estrogen receptors, but also acts as an antagonist of androgen action. Researchers have found that in contrast to anti-androgen drug, not equol not bind to androgen receptors, but binds directly to DHT, thereby inhibiting it. This action has prompted studies to determine if men who are equol producers may have an advantage against prostate cancer, as referenced in “Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology,” (februar2004).
Proponents of isoflavone supplements claim that equol production combats male pattern baldness, but there is no scientific evidence, however, that support this.