Soy compound linked to improvements in liver health: RCT

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Jenniveve84
© Getty Images / Jenniveve84
Dietary supplements containing genistein may improve insulin resistance and reduce inflammation in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), says a new human clinical trial.

Data from a randomized double-blind controlled trial with 82 people indicated that genistein supplementation led to significant decreases in levels of malondialdehyde (MDA, a marker of oxidative stress), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), compared to placebo.

“There was no previous randomized controlled trial, to the best of our information to evaluate the effect of genistein on NAFLD patients,”​ wrote researchers from Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Clinical Nutrition​.

“The major findings of our study were an improvement in insulin resistance as the primary outcome in addition to mitigation in oxidative and inflammatory states in compare with the placebo group. Moreover, genistein significantly reduced waist to hip ratio and body fat mass.”

NAFLD is the most prevalent liver abnormality in Western countries and parallels the epidemic of metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes.  Frequently disabling and occasionally leading to cirrhosis, fatty liver disease has currently costs the US health care system about $32 billion annually​.

Study details

Liver © Getty Images Lindama
© Getty Images / Lindama

The Iran-based researchers randomly assigned 82 people with NAFLD to two equal groups, with one group receiving placebo while the other received genistein supplements at a dose of 250 mg per day. Both groups were told to exercise and to consume an energy-balanced diet.

The results showed that after eight weeks of intervention, participants who received the soy supplement had significantly lower levels of serum insulin, compared to placebo, while homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) also decreased.

In addition to reductions in markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, such as MDA, TNF-alpha, and IL-6, the genistein supplements were associated with significant reductions in waist to hip ratio, body fat percentage (an average decrease of 1.4%), and triglyceride levels (from 219.27 mg/dL to 191.59 mg/dL).

“In conclusion, these findings for the first time exhibit the therapeutic potential of pure genistein in patients with NAFLD,” ​they wrote. “However additional clinical trials investigating the long-term effect of genistein are necessary to clarify its efficacy as a therapeutic agent and its possible side effects.”

Source: Clinical Nutrition
August 2018, Volume 37, Issue 4, Pages 1210-1215, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2017.05.028
“Genistein supplementation improves insulin resistance and inflammatory state in non-alcoholic fatty liver patients: A randomized, controlled trial”
Authors: S. Amanat et al.

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