Following This Diet Could Alleviate Your Menopause Symptoms, New Study Suggests
Researchers recruited 38 women going through menopause who were having two or more hot flashes per day. Although they're often brief—usually between 30 seconds and 10 minutes—these hot flashes can interfere with sleep and everyday activities. One large, multinational study on the issue found that frequent hot flashes can severely impair quality of life.
For the recent study, participants were split into two groups for 12 weeks. One group had no diet changes while the other adopted a low-fat, vegan diet that included a half cup of cooked soybeans daily. The plant-based group saw a 79% reduction in total hot flashes, and moderate-to-severe hot flashes decreased by 84%.
This is in line with previous studies showing the benefits of soy products, most likely because of soy's high level of isoflavones, a compound that has estrogen-like effects in the body. In that research, though, results tended to be modest.
This new model of pairing soy with low-fat, plant-based eating could be a game-changer, according to study author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
"We believe it's the combination that's important," she says. "By the end of the study, the women on a plant-based diet were reporting they no longer experienced moderate-to-extreme hot flashes at all, and that brought significant improvements in their quality of life."
Although the study was limited by its small number of participants and relatively short timeframe, Kahleova says this may be a way for women who experience hot flashes to try a non-medication approach to alleviating their symptoms.
That can be particularly true if weight loss comes as a result of the diet change. Previous research that looked at weight changes from a low-fat diet in middle-aged women found that dropping just 10 pounds, or 10% of your body weight, can go a long way toward reducing or even eliminating hot flashes.
Those researchers suggested this might happen because excess weight makes it more difficult to regulate hormones related to body temperature. Also, more body fat tends to hinder heat loss, so hot flashes may last longer.
Considering the many other benefits reported with plant-based diets like improved heart health, it's worth giving it a try if you're looking to cool down.
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