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Soy: An All-Natural Antibacterial Substance?

Soybeans may fight more than just hunger: New research has found that peptides (protein fragments) from soy may stop the growth of bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses. In the study, published in Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports, two soy peptides, PGTAVFK and IKAFKEATKVDKVVVLWTA, which have previously demonstrated antibacterial properties, were tested against two types of bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Listeria monocytogenes. Researchers used two complementary lab testing procedures that allowed them to rapidly perform millions of tests to assess the bacteria’s response to the peptides. Here is what they found:

  • Both PGTAVFK and IKAFKEATKVDKVVVLWTA soy peptides inhibited the growth of L. monocytogenes.
  • The IKAFKEATKVDKVVVLWTA soy peptide inhibited the growth of both P. aeruginosa and L. monocytogenes.

While larger studies are needed to confirm these results, these are interesting findings that could someday lead to changes impacting the healthfulness and safety of our food supply. Currently, the food industry uses a variety of natural and synthetic antimicrobial chemicals to protect food from harmful bacteria. If soy proves its antibacterial worth in future studies, it may make some less-savory antimicrobial food additives unnecessary. Some experts further hope that the discovery of antimicrobial peptides might someday lead to a reduction in the use of antibiotics in livestock agriculture, a practice that has contributed to an alarming rise in the rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the generation of “superbugs.”

Source: Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports

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