By April Benshosan
Scientists recently discovered a new and surprising benefit of dairy protein's biggest rival.
While cow’s milk has been one of the primary sources of nutrients for growing kids’ since, like, ever, new research suggests that little ones may benefit from guzzling down soy milk, too. The study, which is published in The FASEB Journal, reveals that consuming soy protein early in life may help prevent bone loss in adulthood.
Researchers came to this discovery by dividing a group of newborn rats into two groups. The first group was fed a diet of soy protein isolate, beginning 24 days after birth, while the other rats were fed a standard, soy-free rodent diet. Then, the mice underwent either an ovariectomy (an operation in which the ovaries are removed to induce bone loss) or a placebo surgery. After that, some of the rats continued to consume a soy-based diet for up to three weeks before switching to a typical rat diet, while the other group maintained a standard diet free of soy. And the results were astounding: The rats that were fed soy protein isolate experienced a significant increase in bone mass compared to those fed a standard soy-free rodent diet—even those who underweant the ovariectomy.
While the old adage that milk helps grow strong bones still rings true, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal Thoru Pederson, Ph.D. explains that children’s frames can definitely benefit from soy's osteogenic effects. In addition, Pederson predicts that these new findings will revolutionize pediatric health worldwide—but does this mean you should toss the cow's milk and refill your little one’s bottle or sippy cup with the soy variety? Not just yet.
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Newborns need to consume breast milk or formula until they're 12 months of age. Older tots and children can enjoy soy milk, but there are few things to keep in mind before adding it to their diet: About 95 percent of calcium-rich soymilk, edamame, and tofu products are genetically modified and infested with carcinogenic pesticides. To keep your family safe from the harmful side effects of these chemicals, buy only organic non-GMO soy products. And unless you get the okay from your child’s doctor, don’t nix the cow’s milk altogether. Instead, serve your little one both types of milk. This study was in a rat population, after all, so you should take it with a grain of salt.