What is Genistein
Genistein is an isoflavone and it is most abundant in soy. This isoflavone is a hormone like substance and it belongs to the flavonoid group. It is also called a phytoestrogen because, in structure, it is very similar to the estrogen found and produced in human bodies. Another similar phytoestrogen is daidzein.
By using glycoside genistein hydrolysis, you can derive genistein. This compound was first isolated back in the late 1800s. It was isolated from dyer’s broom (Genista tinctoria), which basically explains how its chemical name was derived. It was only in 1926 when the structure of this compound was finally established. It was finally chemically synthesized two years later.
What Plant(s) is Genistein Extracted From?
Genistein is mainly derived from soybeans. However, you can also extract this compound from chickpeas and other legumes. Note that sources other than soybeans will have very low genistein content.
Mechanism of AMPK Activation
Genistein activates AMPK. Through this action, this compound induces antioxidant enzymes. It also increases PTEN expression. Click here to see the review of the said study.
The study was initiated due to the epidemiological evidence that seems to suggest that regular intake of isoflavones contributes to a lower incidence of prostate cancer. Experts observe that soy products are more frequently consumed among Asian countries than in the West. Furthermore, prostate cancer incidence is lower among Asians, which may relate to their diet.
Effects of Taking Genistein
Genistein actually influences a lot of biochemical functions. It affects the activation of PPARs. It inhibits topoisomerase. It is a known GPER agonist. It stimulates autophagy. It can influence the manner of contraction of certain kinds of smooth muscles.
It also modulates CFTR channels. Genistein is also a known glycine receptor inhibitor. It has also been identified as an inhibitor of AAAD. This compound can also act as a direct antioxidant, which can help alleviate the many negative effects of free radicals.
Genistein has also been discovered as the main isoflavone that has a powerful deworming potency. During that study, the anthelmintic activity of genistein was investigated.
Estrogen Like Effect: it has been confirmed in multiple studies that genistein has similar effects to estrogen. In fact, if you compare all the available isoflavones, genistein is the one that has the most activity similar to estrogen.
Some experts suggest that this estrogenic effect is responsible for this isoflavone’s action that counteracts osteoporosis. Some also believe that this same action and effect is a possible contributor to weight loss. Some have also used genistein to treat menopausal symptoms – an example of which is hot flushes.
Anti-Cancer Effect: some studies suggest that genistein may be beneficial to people who are at risk of cancers that are hormone related. It appears that the action of this isoflavone reduces a person’s risk for both prostate cancer as well as breast cancer.
There are some epidemiological studies that suggest that the increased intake of isoflavones, genistein included, creates a protective effect against the said types of cancer.
It was noted in the said study that the higher intakes of soy products in two Asian countries, Japan and China specifically, are linked to the lower incidence of both breast and prostate cancer among the nations’ populace.
There are several theories that try to explain the anti-carcinogenic effect of genistein. Some actions that are theorized include its antioxidant properties, tyrosine kinases inhibition, angiogenesis inhibition, and anti-estrogen action have all been theorized.
It is known that genistein has the capability to bind with estrogen receptors. When that happens, estrogen is prevented from binding, which may inhibit the initiation of the growth of certain cancer cells. Of course these are currently theories, in spite of the fact that they are scientifically based, and they will still need to be verified through actual clinical trials.
Antioxidant Action: it is a fact that genistein is a powerful antioxidant. It reduces lipid peroxidation and it gets rid of free radicals. On top of that, it also increases the activity of glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, and other antioxidant enzymes. Some studies show that this isoflavone can influence non-hormone dependent cell growth.
Benefits to Heart Health: there are studies that suggest that this compound can reduce the oxidation of fatty acids. Some studies also show that it can act as a kind of cellular cholesterol inhibitor. Note that a lot of these findings are due to in-vitro tests.
Some tests also show that genistein has a lipid lowering effect. In effect, genistein prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which gets absorbed by the cells in the arteries. The prevention of this oxidation process eventually lowers a person’s risk for arteriosclerosis.
Genistein Dosage Information
There currently no dosage recommended when one supplements with genistein. However, it should be noted that the Japanese people usually take about 200 mg of genistein and other isoflavones on average. This is largely due to the type of diet they have.
To date there has been no side effect reported due to the intake of this compound. However, since it is a type of phytoestrogen, some experts fear that it may stimulate the growth of cancer cells that are stimulated by estrogen. Another concern is the possibility that this compound could interfere with the action and efficacy of birth control pills.
It should also be noted that women as well as men who have been diagnosed with cancers related to estrogen should avoid any type of isoflavones. There are studies that suggest that genistein and daidzein may be able to interfere or even aggravate these medical conditions. In another study, it was found that genistein injected rats can develop a higher risk for uterine cancer.
You can safely get more genistein in your diet by adding more foods made from soy beans in your meals on a regular basis. You can also just take in more soy itself and not just its byproducts.
Good sources of genistein and other isoflavones include roasted soybeans, miso, soy flour, soy milk, and tofu. There are also a lot of good isoflavone supplements in the market today. Some of them contain a good amount of daidzen and genistein.