Phytoestrogens are biologically active compounds that occur naturally in plants. It has been shown that when ingested, plants that contain them (as is the case of soybeans) are capable of exerting certain healthful effects on people.
The fact that the ingestion of phytoestrogens has a biological effect was discovered in 1940, when it was observed that a diet based on foods rich in phytoestrogens affected the fertility of animals.
Later, around the 1980s, it was confirmed that they could also have an effect on people. This prompted researchers to begin to investigate further what these compounds were, how much of them were in foods, in which ones there were more, and of course, how they could affect human health.
One of the first considerations was the fact that there is a great similarity between the chemical structures of phytoestrogens and human estrogens. Therefore, it was investigated whether phytoestrogens could do the same effects as estrogens and it was found that they could act like estrogens, albeit in a weaker form.
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Estrogens (E) exert their effect through 2 types of receptors-ERa and ERb-which have different distribution in tissues, so that b is more ubiquitous than a. The former is expressed in non-reproductive tissues such as bone, brain, pituitary, urinary tract, vascular system and prostate, and reproductive tissues such as ovary and testis. The former is expressed in non-reproductive tissues such as bone, brain, pituitary, urinary tract, vascular system and prostate and reproductive tissues such as ovary and testis. The ER a is expressed in uterus, liver, breast and kidney. Both receptors are expressed in ovary, brain, bone, cardiovascular system and breast.
Isoflavones are potent ERb and weak a agonists, which allows them to be classified as selective estrogen receptor blockers or natural modulators (SERMs). For these reasons, isoflavones act on bone, brain, cardiovascular system and ovary, which explains their usefulness for:1. Improve vasomotor symptoms; 2. prevent osteoporosis; 3. apparently, reduce the risk of breast cancer; 4. induce anti-atherogenic lipid pattern (decrease of total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides and slight increase of HDL).
Disclaimer: This article is not recommending any product or ingredient or indicating that any product or ingredient can cure, prevent, or treat any disease. This article is not meant to diagnose any person or recommend a product that treats any ailment, discomfort, or disease. This article is not associating any ingredient or product to any cure or treatment
review studies of phytoestrogens: Cuban Journal of Endocrinology