Phytoestrogens have been identified as a natural, plant-based alternative to synthetically derived estrogens, to supplement the absence of endogenous estrogens in post-menopausal women, and attenuate the progression of pathologies and side-effects associated with menopause. The increased availability of these plant’s derived compounds as diet or nutritional supplements makes their ingestion and consumption easier and more accessible as compared to pharmacological alternatives. Further, phytoestrogen intake has shown beneficial effects as estrogens alternatives in attenuating severe complications in diseases such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, NAFLD, and obesity. However, in many cases phytoestrogen effectiveness remains largely circumstantial or just anecdotal as significant uncertainties on the relative abundance of different phytoestrogens in a given diet, the need for conversion to an active principle through the gut microbiome, the possibility of an effect threshold, the synergistic effect of different phytoestrogens possible due to different modality of actions still persist. The present article aims at highlighting the main issues and concerns plaguing the field as well as some of the possible causes of inconsistencies observed in the various nutritional and clinical studies attempted so far.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.