The Role of Soya in Treatment and Prevention of Diabetes

+/- 2.6 million people in South Africa (approx. 5% of the population) have diabetes.

Diabetes occurs when there is a rise in blood glucose concentrations above normal. The two major etiological forms of diabetes are type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Type 1 diabetes stems from immune destruction of pancreatic beta -cells characterized by absolute or relative lack of insulin deficiency. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form that arises from a primary defect of insulin action in its target organs and may occur as a part of the metabolic syndrome associated with a constellation of other disorders such as obesity, hypertension and dyslipidaemias.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Increased hunger
  • Increase urination, especially at night
  • Blurred vision

Diabetes is both a metabolic and vascular disease that, if untreated, is associated with numerous long-term clinical complications that contribute to increased morbidity and mortality of the disease.

Vascular complications of diabetes can be divided into micro- and macro-vascular. Micro-vascular complications include diabetic retinopathy (eye damage), nephropathy (kidney damage) and/or neuropathy (nerve damage). Clinically, the complications are manifested as blindness, end stage renal failure, defective nerve conduction and impaired wound healing. Macro-vascular complications include diseases of larger blood vessels consisting mainly of an accelerated form of atherosclerosis that affects the coronary, carotid and peripheral arteries, thus increasing the risk of myocardial infarction, angina, congestive heart failure and stroke.

Diabetes is treatable!


  • Exercise
  • Eat healthily
  • Medication / insulin if prescribed
  • Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels (check often: use a glucometer)

Meal planning and eating healthily is one of the most powerful tools you have to control your diabetes.

Eating correctly will help you:

  • Control your weight
  • Control your blood glucose levels – keeping them consistent which, over time, reduce the risk of developing complications substantially!
  • Control blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Make better use of your body’s own insulin
  • Feel good
  • Improve your overall health

Diabetic Dietary Guidelines: **

  • Low GI carbohydrate foods in small portions should form the basis of all meals and snacks
  • Eat dried beans and peas, lentils, peanut butter, canned beans AND SOYA regularly
  • Avoid refined starch/carbohydrate foods (white flour, biscuits, cakes, sweets, crisps, cold drinks)
  • Small portions of lean chicken/meat /fish/eggs/dairy should be eaten daily
  • Use fats sparingly (lean meat, chicken, dairy; no frying of foods – rather bake/steam/stir-fry; read food labels for • Use PLENTY of fresh vegetables and fruit every day (spread your fruit portions out over the course of the day)
  • Eat regular meals and snacks every 3-4 hours
  • Drink plenty of water (6-8 glasses/day; NOTE: if you are extremely thirsty, test your blood glucose levels)

Extra Tips: **

  • Test your blood glucose levels often aim for the ideal of 4-6mmol/l for a fasting reading or pre-meals; and <8mmol/l 2 hours post-meals. Stable, non-fluctuating blood glucose levels are the key to preventing long-term complications of diabetes (renal/eye/heart disease or damaged toes/feet)
  • Exercise regularly: a consistent exercise routine (e.g. 45 minutes 3 times/week) is essential for improved blood glucose control, circulation, and general wellbeing.
  • Inform those around you at home, work and leisure of your diabetic condition, and of what to do when your blood glucose levels fall too suddenly (hypoglycaemia).
  • Have regular check-ups with your Diabetic Practitioner, Dietician, Podiatrist and Opthalmologist.

What does the research say about soya in diabetic diets?

  • Soya fibre helps stabilize blood glucose levels
  • Soya products have a low Glycaemic Index, preventing blood glucose fluctuations
  • An important study conducted proved that a soy rich diet reduces the risk of complications in diabetes, specifically cardiovascular disease and renal disease

In addition: For those who are susceptible to developing diabetes, include a daily source of soya products e.g. soya porridge/milk as a means of stabilising blood glucose levels, and managing weight, and thus as a means to preventing diabetes from occurring.


Obtain your daily source of blood glucose-stabilising (low GI) carbohydrate; soluble fibre and healthy fats, all of which play vital roles in healthy diabetic diets.

  • Soya Life Soya Milk
  • Soya Life Meal Replacement Shake
  • Soya Life Breakfast Porridge
  • Soya Life Premium Porridge

Easy-to-prepare (instant)
Nutrient-dense supplement / food / meal replacement

** Consult with a Registered Dietician in order to obtain individualized dietary advice and counselling

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