Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause — and even perimenoapuse and postmenopause — for many women. They can be as mild as occasionally experiencing slightly warm flushing to feeling scorching hot while you sweat profusely. Finding long-term relief may seem impossible, but a promising new study says that you just need to add one thing to your diet to potentially get ongoing help: Soy products.
Researchers published by the North American Menopause Society in the journal Menopause conducted a study looking into how soy products could affect symptoms of hot flashes. Over the course of 12 weeks, they split postmenopausal women who experienced at least two of them a day into two groups, one who kept eating their normal diets and one who ate a plant-based vegan diet plus a half-cup of soybeans daily. Neither group used any medications or other interventions to manage their symptoms.
The results that scientists reported were remarkable. They showed that the total number of hot flashes experienced by the soybean diet group decreased by 79 percent, and moderate-to-severe ones were reduced by 84 percent. Moreover, well over half of the group who ate soybeans during the 12-week study said their moderate-to-severe hot flashes disappeared altogether. The control group didn’t see a change in their hot flashes. Additionally, these soybean-eating study participants anecdotally reported sleeping better, digesting their food more easily, losing weight, and having an overall better quality of life after the three-month protocol.
Researchers are still parsing together why a plant-based, soybean-enhanced diet can have such an impact on hot flashes, but they believe it’s because soybeans contain compounds called isoflavones. These share a similar molecular structure to the hormone estrogen, which decreases significantly as women age and is responsible for many menopausal symptoms. By upping estrogen levels, women may see a decrease in those signs of aging.
While you’ll want to talk to a doctor before you make any serious diet changes, it’s great that relief for unbearable hot flash symptoms is available without the use of medication!