Soy, Menopause and You

Maybe you aren't ready to take on Hormone Replacement Therapy just yet, but you still want to try and reduce your menopause symptoms. Those night sweats and hot flashes are probably getting to you and you may be worried about your increased risks for osteoporosis and heart disease. Well, a variety of alternative treatments are available to combat the effects that menopause has on your body. It is important to choose the right treatment for your symptoms in order to get the best results. Remember to consult a health practitioner or registered naturopath before trying any alternative therapies.

Diet For Menopause
A simple change in your diet can really help to reduce your symptoms of menopause. If you are suffering from insomnia, hot flashes, or mood swings, simple additions to your diet can work wonders. Changes in your diet can also reduce the effects of osteoporosis or help to prevent the onset of the disease. After menopause, your risk of heart disease also increases. Soy menopause supplements can reduce your risk of suffering from high cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke.

Soy For Menopause
It is thought that somewhere between 80% and 90% of North American women suffer from hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. These symptoms can wreak havoc on the body, and contribute to insomnia, fatigue, and depression. However, it has been noticed that only about 30% of women living in Asia ever experience hot flashes during menopause. What are women in Asia doing that we are not? Well, it appears that the high intake of soy in their diet may be contributing to their reduced symptoms.

During menopause, the estrogen levels in your body drop dramatically. This drop is even more dramatic if you have experienced surgical menopause. This loss of estrogen is what causes those horrible symptoms associated with menopause.

Soy contains special chemicals that seem to fight illness and disease. These chemicals are known as phytochemicals. Phytoestrogens, a special kind of phytochemical, appear in high quantities in soy products. These phytoestrogens are a weaker form of our own natural estrogen, and seem to help combat the symptoms of menopause. A particularly beneficial type of soy estrogen is the isoflavone. Isoflavones are linked to the reduction of serious illnesses that plague menopausal women, including osteoporosis and heart disease.

Benefits of Soy
The jury is still out on the benefits that a soy diet may provide. Soy has definitely been proven to reduce cholesterol levels thereby lowering the risk of heart disease in menopausal women. However, the effectiveness of soy in lowering menopausal symptoms is still being hotly debated.

Some studies show that taking 60 mg of soy everyday for three months can reduce hot flashes and menopause night sweats by up to 45%. Sounds great, doesn't it? But other studies show that simple sugar pills also reduced hot flashes by a similar amount. It appears that more studies need to be done to find out if soy can really help reduce menopause symptoms. Moreover, soy has also been linked with a possible increase in breast cancer risk, as it appears to stimulate the growth of breast cells.

Some studies have also shown soy to be helpful in increasing bone density, thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis in menopausal women. While this too is being debated, soy products do contain high levels of calcium, a must for women who care about their bones.

Sources of Soy
The best sources of soy contain high levels of isoflavones and calcium. Try these out in your next meal:

  • soybeans
  • fortified soymilk
  • tofu and tempeh
  • soy flour

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