Soy and Gut Microbiota: Interaction and Implication for Human Health

J Agric Food Chem. 2016 Nov 23;64(46):8695-8709. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b03725. Epub 2016 Nov 9.


Soy (Glycine max) is a major commodity in the United States, and soy foods are gaining popularity due to their reported health-promoting effects. In the past two decades, soy and soy bioactive components have been studied for their health-promoting/disease-preventing activities and potential mechanisms of action. Recent studies have identified gut microbiota as an important component in the human body ecosystem and possibly a critical modulator of human health. Soy foods' interaction with the gut microbiota may critically influence many aspects of human development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition at different stages of life. This review summarizes current knowledge on the effects of soy foods and soy components on gut microbiota population and composition. It was found, although results vary in different studies, in general, both animal and human studies have shown that consumption of soy foods can increase the levels of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli and alter the ratio between Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. These changes in microbiota are consistent with reported reductions in pathogenic bacteria populations in the gut, thereby lowering the risk of diseases and leading to beneficial effects on human health.

Keywords: gut microbiota; human health; soy components; soy foods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Glycine max / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Soy Foods / analysis*