Got Hot Flashes? Soy May Help
Many women of a certain age confront an all-new set of problems when menopause begins. Sometimes called the “change of life,” menopause signals the gradual transition from a woman’s reproductive years into her non-fertile years. The process can take more than a decade, and among many women, especially here in the West, it’s usually accompanied by a host of annoying symptoms and complaints.
These range from moodiness, irritability, breast tenderness, and emotional volatility, to flagging energy and crankiness. If it sounds a bit like pregnancy, that’s because many of these effects are related to wildly fluctuating levels of hormones, similar to the oscillations many women experience during pregnancy. For some women, these “side effects” of menopause are relatively mild and tolerable. For others, not so much. Among the worst symptoms are hot flashes.
Hot flashes are notorious for disrupting sleep (when they’re prosaically called “night sweats”), soaking nightclothes, and driving some women to distraction. Waking women suffer, too. Cycling from too hot to too cold and back is a roller coaster ride most women would prefer to avoid, if at all possible, thank you very much.
Fortunately, there’s a healthy, natural answer to the control of hot flashes for some women. It’s as simple as eating more soy. That’s right; the Asian staple protein source is also a source of natural compounds that are converted in the body to a beneficial compound, called equol, which combats menopause-related hot flashes.
There’s just one catch: Only about one-third of women possess gut bacteria that allow them to produce equol. Among equol producers, the women who ate the most soy in a recent study enjoyed a statistically huge, 76% reduction in the likelihood that they would suffer from a higher than average number of sweating episodes than women with the lowest consumption of soy and soy products.
"Women who are interested in trying dietary soy for their hot flashes can do their own experiment by incorporating it as a healthy food in their diet. If it doesn't help in four to six weeks, they can assume it probably won't and can try other lifestyle or medical therapies for their hot flashes," said Margery Gass, MD, NCMP, in a press release.
Have you confronted the challenges of menopause yet? What about soy? Do you believe it helps you avoid hot flashes? I’d love to hear your feedback.
Katherine M. Newton, Susan D. Reed, Shigeto Uchiyama, Conghui Qu, Tomomi Ueno, Soh Iwashita, Gabrielle Gunderson, Sharon Fuller, Johanna W. Lampe. A cross-sectional study of equol producer status and self-reported vasomotor symptoms. Menopause, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000363