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Soybeans - Cure for Protein Malnutrition 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago
Soybeans - Cure for Protein Malnutrition 

Description and Rationale


According to research, there are two major nutritional problems in the Philippines. One of them is Protein-Energy Malnutrition, or PEM for short. As the name suggests, this malnutrition is due to the lack of sufficient proteins in the body. PEM is most common in many developing countries, such as the Philippines. Chronic PEM has many short-term and long-term physical and mental affects, including growth retardation, lowered resistance to infection and increased mortality rates in young children. Also, death rates are high among children with untreated PEM. The risk of dying increases along with the severity of the condition. It is even common for deaths to result while under treatment because of the severe state of health which can lead to other problems such as electrolyte imbalance (lack of potassium and magnesium), hypothermia (low body temperature), or complicating infections.


It is sad to know that there are about 12 million people in the Philippines, mostly children, who are underweight and chronically energy deficient, which means that they are most likely malnourished and have PEM. However, as stated above, PEM is not only a problem in the Philippines, but in numerous other countries as well! This is due to the fact that protein is mostly found in meat which is too expensive for a poor populace in developing countries. One substitute for meat that is cheap, rich in protein, and easy to access in the Philippines is soybeans.


What exactly is a soybean? Can it be grown in tropical temperatures? Does it need a specific soil? Is it expensive to cultivate? What kind of equipment is needed? How long does it take to grow? What nutrients are found in a soybean? How many people are aware of the fact that soybeans are high in protein? Will the positive affect of soybeans on PEM through continuous consumption show up fast or slow? How much soybean is needed to help prevent and cure PEM for one person?


How much can the Philippines benefit from soybeans? Throughout the Philippines it is easy to see, whether it is the squatter villages in the cities or the poor Ayta villages that people there seem to be very weak and sick. This is the result of a poor and unhealthy diet. These people need homes, jobs, and money, but most importantly, a healthy or at least a sufficient diet. This is where food such as soybeans can play a role. Soybeans have been accepted all around the world for their nutrition and for their various uses. For example, Soybeans not only can be used as food meant for people, but also as food for their live stocks. In a certain soybean factory, the owner gives his animals, such as pigs, chickens, and dogs, ground soybeans. The animals were bigger in size and very healthy. Or is it possible for soybeans to be used as a fertilizer or to make other products?


The purpose of this project will be to research more about soybeans and their biological and ecological affect on PEM. This will be achieved through searching through the Internet as well as going to some areas that could have people with PEM (hopefully with an interpreter). Then some food made with soybeans will be introduced and a toll of which food the people most liked will be taken. Also, if there are other alternatives for the use of soybeans, there will be an attempt to introduce them as well. The information gathered will then be used to help conduct the results where the affect of soybeans on PEM and the livelihood of the people will be checked and explored.


 It is hoped that new information of cheap but high protein food such as the soybeans will help lower the PEM rate of the Philippines and improve the health of the citizens and the country. It is also hoped that by finding other uses of soybeans, the economical state of the country would be improved. But furthermore, if possible, that it will help all the other developing countries suffering from PEM and low economical conditions.


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Common Names and Synonyms


Soybeans have many different names. soybean is the USA version of the name. Other names include soya bean (UK), sojabohne (German), soya/soja (French), seme di soia (Italy), and balaton (Philippine)




Kingdom:  Plantae (Plant)

Phylum:  Magnoliophyta (Cronquist: Flowering Plants)

Class:  Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons: produces an embryo with paired cotyledons and net-veined leaves)

Order:   Fabales (Bromhead)

Family:   Fabaceae (Bean Family)

Genus:   Glycine (A genus of the Bean family)

Species:  G. max (soybeans: a species of Legume that are native to East Asia)



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Morphology and Physical Description


Soybeans are annual plants that may vary in growth, habitat, and height. While some may grow prostrate, not growing higher than 20 cm (7.8 inches), it may also grow up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) in height. Soybean pods, stems, and leaves are covered with fine brown or gray hairs. The leaves are trifoliolate, having 3 leaflets per leaf, and the leaflets are 6-15 cm (2-6 inches) long and 2-7 cm (1-3 inches) broad. The leaves fall before the seeds are mature. The small, inconspicuous, self-fertile flowers are borne in the axil of the leaf and are white, pink or purple. The fruit is a hairy pod that grows in clusters of 3-5, with each pod 3-8 cm (1-3inches) long and usually containing 2-4 seeds 5-11 mm in diameter.


There are several hull or seed coat colors of the soybean seeds, including black, brown, blue, yellow, and mottled. The hull of the mature bean is hard, water resistant, and protects the cotyledon and hypocotyl (or "germ") from damage. If the seed coat is cracked the seed will not germinate. The scar, visible on the seed coat, is called the hilum (colors include black, brown, buff, gray, and yellow) and at one end of the hilum is the micropyle, or small opening in the seed coat which can allow the absorption of water.


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Getting Food


Like all its other species of the kingdom Plantae, soybeans are autotrophs, which literally means "self feeders". This is achieved by photosynthesis like all other plants. Photosynthesis is the process of making oxygen and glucose/organic compounds from sunlight, Carbon dioxide, and water. After photosynthesis, soybeans release the energy stored in organic compounds through cellular respiration like both autotrophs and heterotrophes (organisms that feed on other organisms).


Like all organisms, soybeans need a certain environment in order to grow and develop. They can grow in a wide range of soils, with optimum growth in moist alluvial soils (a recent deposit of sand, mud, etc., formed by flowing water). The growth is also enhanced if the soil contains good organic content and has a minimum pH of 5.6 and a maximum pH of 7.5. They require a cultivation space of 3-6 inches apart with full sun exposure. Cultivation is successful with hot summers, with optimum growing conditions in temperatures of 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F); temperatures below 20°C and over 40°C (68°F, 104°F) delay and damage growth significantly. The amount of water that is needed for soybeans depend on several factors: the storage capacity of water in the soil, soil depth, and soil texture. It also depends on evapotranspiraton (how rapidly a crop uses water) and how efficiently a crop uses water. So it is hard for one to say the exact amount of water soybeans need.




As a plant, soybeans reproduce through a process called pollination. Because the anthers (pollen bearing males) mature in the bud and shed their pollen directly onto the stigma (ovary bearing female) of the same flower, soybeans are ensuring a high degree of self-pollinated seeds. Therefore soybeans are strong pure breeding plants.

Naturally, cross pollination is usually less than one percent. However, manual cross-pollination is practiced routinely in breeding programs. Cross pollination is achieved by either using insects such as bees or manually pollinating the flowers by using a small paintbrush or a soft cotton swab.


Modern crop cultivars generally reach a height of around 1 m (3 ft) when fully mature. They take around 80-120 days from sowing to harvesting. As mentioned above, mature soybeans produce hairy pods that grow in clusters of 3-5, with each pod 3-8 cm long. The pods usually contain 2-4 seeds (rarely more) that are 5-11 mm in diameter.


Environmental Factors


 There seems to be a lot of things that soybeans have to go through in order to survive. Soybeans have numerous diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. They also have parasitic nematodes that cause problems for soybeans and their cultivators. Nematodes are any of the several worms of the phylum Nematoda that have unsegmented, cylindrical bodies that often narrow at each end. They also include parasitic forms such as the hookworm and pinworm. Both diseases and parasites may cause the plant to die.Luckily, soybeans do not seem to have any competitors, since most soybeans are cultivated.



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Origin and Distribution


Although soybeans are an important global crop, their origins come from East Asian countries such as China and Korea, going back thousands of years long before any written records. Soybeans were crucial crops in China, Korea, and Japan, and they still remain a major crop till this day. In fact, soybeans were so special that it was once considered to be sacred in China.


From about the first century AD to the Age of Discovery (15-16th century), soybeans were introduced into several countries and land races (domesticated animals or plants adapting to the natural and cultural environment in which they live in or originated from) developed. The movement of the soybean throughout this period was possible due to the establishment of sea and land trade routes. Among the many countries that were part of this land race, the Philippines was one of them.  

Soybeans were first introduced to Europe in the early 1700s and the Unites States in 1765, where it was first grown for hay. It was not until about 1910 that soybeans became an important crop outside of Asia. In America, soybeans were considered only as an industrial product and not utilized as a food prior to the 1920s. Soybean was introduced in Africa from China in the late 19th Century and is now widespread across the continent.


Importance to People


As mentioned above, soybeans are now an important crop around the world. This is mainly because of four reasons. First, soybeans contain Omega-3 fatty acids and Isoflavones that are known to prevent certain diseases. There are claims of cholesterol reduction as well. The second reason is for their various uses. Soybeans can be used as oil, meal (food for farm animals), flour, infant formula, nut butter, substitutes for existing products, etc. Thirdly, they are known for their nutrition. For 100 grams (3.5 oz) of soybeans, they contain 90.4 g of water, 3.04 g of protein, 0.18 g of fat, and 5.94 g of carbohydrates. They also contain vitamins B6, C, K, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Soybeans are generally considered to be a source of complete protein, without any need for protein combining. Protein combining is a theory that consumers must eat foods such as beans and rice together or at least on the same day, so that the different amino acids in the foods combine to form a "complete" protein. So, a complete protein would be a food that contains a significant amount of all the essential amino acids that must be provided to the human body because of the body's inability to produce them. For this reason, soybean is a good source of protein, amongst many others, for many vegetarians or for people who cannot afford meat. And finally, soybeans are important because of their ability to perform nitrogen fixation by establishing a symbiotic relationship with the bacterium Bradyrhizobium japonicum. This means that soybeans lower the cost of fertilizers and that they can be used in crop rotation to replenish soil that has been depleted of its nitrogen 


"The gold standard for measuring protein quality, since 1990, is the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) and by this criterion soy protein is the nutritional equivalent of meat and eggs for human growth and health. Soybean protein isolate has a Biological Value of 74, whole soybeans 96, soybean milk 91, and eggs 97.

Soy protein is similar to that of other legume seeds, but has the highest yield per square meter of growing area, and is the least expensive source of dietary protein."



Survivability and Endangered Status


Mostly as a cultivated plant used for agriculture, soybeans seem to have a high survivability rate due to the modern advances in agriculture and science. New developments in pesticide and the biotechnology of combining genetic adaptations to diseases are increasing the survivability of crops in countries that can afford the technology and are applying the new developments, like in the United States. Also because soybean cultivation is widely spread out across the globe, the chances of sudden extinction are very unlikely as well: unless the world itself is threatened.


Cagayan Valley, which is also designated as Region II, is one of the Philippines top producers of soybeans. Five provinces make up the Cagayan Valley: Batanas, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirno. The region continues to increase the amount of soybeans produced in the Philippines mainly due to the ability of the crop to perform nitrogen-fixation, which enriches the soil for rice production. Also, some farmers produce soybean seeds as planting materials which proves to be a profitable farming venture. Therefore, if there is a chance of soybeans becoming extinct in the Philippines, it is unlikely to happen in the near future.



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Potential Solutions


Why is protein so important? Dr. Latham, director of the Program in International Nutrition at Cornell University claims that malnutrition is a frequent cause of death and disease in developing countries. Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) affects 500 million people and kills 10 million people annually. The lack of protein causes, in severe cases, white blood cell numbers to decline and the ability of leukocytes to fight infections to decrease. Protein deficiency also can cause growth retardation and increases mortality rate in young children.


So, back to the main question: can soybeans prevent and cure PEM? People are mostly diagnosed with PEM because of the lack of protein in their diet. Based on the information that has been acquired, it is evident that soybeans are rich in protein. It has also been established that soybeans contain a lot of nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Therefore, a continuous consumption of soybeans should cure and prevent PEM as well as other diseases in the Philippines and other developing countries. Below are three possibilities that could benefit the Philippines and other developing countries in curing and preventing PEM. The advantages and disadvantages of each possibility in the Philippines will be weighed to choose the most practical aid for PEM through the use of soybeans.



Possibility 1


Tell Them the Benefits of Soybeans


Not many have had a chance to learn about the numerous benefits soybeans posses. The most well-known dish in the Philippines made from soybean is the Taho. It is made of bean curds: mostly soybeans, sweet arnibal (liquefied raw sugar), and soft sago (tapioca balls). Although Taho is a simple and lowly street food, it is likely that people do not know how nutritious it is. Also, because soybean is mostly produced in the Cagayan Valley, which is only a small portion of the Philippines, most Filipinos would not know the agricultural details of soybeans.



1.By sharing this information on the nutrients of soybeans, the people could understand the benefits of soybeans and make better decisions in choosing food. For example, instead of buying sweets, they could buy a tasty Taho.

2.By telling the poor people about the cultivation of soybeans, they could increase their food production and their diet to a healthier one.

3.They can learn how to prevent malnutrition such as PEM and share the knowledge with other people.



1.Even if the people acquire the nutritional facts of soybeans, why would they bother to buy a less delicious food when they could buy cheap and sweet food, since most nutritional food tastes worse than unhealthy food?

2.It takes 80-120 days from sowing to harvest. Why would the people plant soybeans that they have never cultivated before, in a limited and small house for almost a third of the year, investing their money on seeds and maintaining the plant? 

3.The people might not take it literally and just forget about it. And if the people listening do not take the necessity seriously, the knowledge is not going to be spread as much.



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Possibility 2


Giving out Cook Books with Foods Made with Soybeans

As mentioned in the previous Biology paper, most soybeans grown in the Philippines are cultivated because of their abilities to perform nitrogen-fixation. So, most soybeans are not grown for food in the Philippines. Therefore, most Filipinos would probably consume soybeans only as oil or soy sauce. This means that most people in the Philippines would not know how to prepare foods by using soybeans as part of their ingredient. There are many foods in the world that tastes good with ingredients that are cheap and easy to get. Some of those foods could be told to the people in the Philippines.




1.By showing the people how to prepare cheap and tasty food, the people could improve their diet and reduce the risk of getting PEM.

2.The people would learn how to make foods high in protein for free.


1.Some people might not like the taste of the foods that are introduced in the cook book.

2.They might not care about eating healthy food when it is even hard for them to have all three meals everyday.

3.Making a cook book would require a fairly large amount of money on my part.


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Possibility 3


Cooking Some Foods that Meet the Standard

Malnutrition such as PEM is common in developing countries. This means that most people with malnutrition are not wealthy enough to eat a healthy diet. Therefore, the ingredients required for the food should be inexpensive and easy to purchase in that specific country, like the Philippines. Also, introducing the foods with soybeans could be a more attractive method, because soybeans itself do not have much of a taste. The texture is similar to sweet potato without any flavor. I cooked two foods: portage with ground soybean, and soybean boiled with soy sauce and sugar. I then asked several people to taste my food. Everyone approved of my foods taste.




1.The people can improve their diet by eating high protein food.

2.They can come across an opportunity to learn more about affordable, nutritious food.

3.By cooking and testing the foods myself, I have acquired some knowledge on how to prepare food with soybeans. Therefore I can help others to a certain degree on how to cook good tasting food with soybeans. 

4.I have asked several people, including Philippinos, to taste my food and all of them approved my food. So, hopefully my food will fit the taste of most people in the Philippines.



1.People have different tastes for food. Some people might not like the taste of my food or how it is cooked.

2.My foods use soybeans which are cheap and rich in protein as one of the main ingredients, but what if someone is allergic to soybeans?



Biblical Rationale

1 Peter 3:8

 "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble."

God tells us that we should be sympathetic and love everyone as brothers. Therefore, we should strive to achieve a greater accomplishment not only to make our lives on this earth better, but to improve other people뭩 lives as well. Also, Jesus shows multiple examples of sharing, like the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. As Christians, we should try to become more like Jesus, by following his foot steps.



Below are the names and signatures of the people who tasted and approved of my foods.

1. Atte Mary       2.  Atte Grace


3. Moses Lee     4.  Joy Lee


5. Glaren Lee     6.  Roomie Lee


7.Edward Go


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Taho Online. 2005. 15 Mar. 2008 <http://www.tahoonline.info/>

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