Soy Doesn’t Improve Your Asthma After All

soy beansDespite hints from prior research that soy supplements might help asthma patients breathe easier, a major new study finds the nutrient has no beneficial effect on lung function.

“This study highlights why it is so important to perform well-designed, placebo-controlled studies when associations are reported between specific nutrients and disease outcomes,” study lead author Dr. Lewis Smith, professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a university news release.

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The study, published in the May 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, also highlights the need to focus on overall health — including diet and lifestyle — to manage asthma, rather than on specific approaches such as consuming more soy, he said.

“You are what you eat, but that’s a whole constellation of foods, not just a single food or a single component of a food,” Smith said. “Instead of focusing on supplements, we should be taking a more holistic approach.”

His team note that prior research had suggested that soy might shield against asthma, including a study that found low rates of asthma in countries with high rates of dietary soy intake, such as China and Japan.