A plant-based diet may reduce hot flashes and aid weight loss

A plant-based diet may reduce hot flashes and aid weight loss

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A new study suggests that some dietary changes, including increasing soy intake, may help reduce hot flashes during menopause and aid weight loss. Westend61 / Getty Images
  • Hot flashes can be a common annoyance during menopause, but a new study suggests that changes to diet may provide relief.
  • Researchers found that a low-fat, plant-based diet rich in soy products was as effective as hormone replacement therapy for reducing hot flashes.
  • The participants who followed the dietary protocol also experienced weight loss.
  • The results suggest that dietary changes may be made as an initial treatment for hot flashes.
  • More research is still needed to understand the role of diet in hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause.

Making dietary changes during menopause may be as effective as hormone replacement therapy for treating hot flashes without the associated health risks.

This is according to a new study recently published in the journal menopause By the North American Menopause Association.

According to the researchers, participants who adhered to a strict vegetarian diet rich in soy experienced an 88% reduction in their symptoms. In comparison, hormone replacement therapy is associated with a 70-90% off in hot flashes.

In addition, the participants also reduced their overall weight by an average of 8 pounds over the course of 12 weeks.

“Our results mirror diets in places in the world, such as pre-western Japan and the modern Yucatan peninsula, where a low-fat, plant-based diet including soybeans is prevalent and where postmenopausal women experience fewer symptoms,” said the lead researcher. . Dr. Neil Barnardchair of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and assistant professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine in new version.

For the study, researchers followed 84 postmenopausal participants with two or more hot flashes per day for 12 weeks.

People stick to a plant-based diet rich in soy products by incorporating the following dietary changes:

  • Avoid animal products
  • General decrease in fat intake
  • Add a daily serving of soybeans

Despite the reduction in hot flashes, researchers admit that they do not fully understand why this particular dietary protocol is so effective.

They confirmed that combining each of the three above was key to reducing hot flash symptoms.

It’s also important to note that in the study, participants with fewer hot flashes ate significantly less fat and more fiber, which they achieved in just 12 weeks on a plant-based, soy-focused diet.

Additionally, the study neither proves nor refutes that eating meat causes hot flashes, but rather that a low-fat vegetarian diet rich in soy foods reduces hot flashes and contributes to weight loss.

Amy BraganiniMD, RD, CSO, a gynecological dietitian and oncologist at Trinity Health Lacks Cancer Center in Michigan and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Healthline that she sees many clients willing to try anything to reduce hot flashes. .

“Customers have told me that hot flashes disrupt their sleep, cause irritability, and lead to profuse sweating at work,” she said.

Her recommendations for reducing hot flashes with diet include:

  • Increase your intake of whole soy foods
  • Increase consumption of fermented soy products
  • Limit processed foods
  • Reducing alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, which can negatively affect sleep cycles

Kristen KirkpatrickMS, RDN, nutritionist and author”lean liverHe said that menopause and the hot flashes that accompany it may alter the function of blood vessels in some individuals.

“This is one reason why postmenopausal women are more likely to develop heart disease than premenopausal women,” Kirkpatrick told Healthline. “Therefore, it is often recommended to eliminate foods associated with poor vascular health.”

Kirkpatrick added that foods containing isoflavones, such as whole soybeans, may also be beneficial for blood vessel health.

Dietitian Julie CunninghamRD, in which women with type 2 diabetes also experience menopausal symptoms, explained that the isoflavones in soy foods (and some legumes like chickpeas) mimic estrogen inside the body.

While more research is needed to understand how soy isoflavones affect menopausal symptoms, Cunningham offered one possible explanation:

“Since it is low estrogen during menopause that causes hot flashes, eating these foods effectively convinces the body that there is a lot of estrogen circulating in the blood, so there is no need for a hot flash,” she told Healthline.

Although the new study suggests that a plant-based diet may reduce hot flashes, nutrition experts say that doesn’t mean animal products should be avoided completely.

Lean meat can be a rich source of protein and vitamins [and] Braganini said.

At the same time, not every meal needs to contain meat, and increasing your intake of plant foods can provide a number of health benefits.

Bragagnini recommends swapping out your meat entree for a vegetarian one once or twice a week.

“To maintain a good relationship with food, we should not focus on ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but rather ask ourselves whether that food will help or hinder my health and menopausal symptoms,” Kirkpatrick said.

There are simple everyday ways to make adjustments to your diet to enhance your well-being and relieve your menopausal symptoms.

According to Kirkpatrick, healthy dietary changes may help improve:

  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • cholesterol levels
  • Sleeps
  • bone health

Kirkpatrick said you can work on swapping animal protein for plant protein by evaluating how many servings of fruits and vegetables you have in your diet and increasing them if you eat less than 7 handfuls a day.

She added that moderate carbohydrate intake can help regulate blood sugar levels during the postmenopausal period.

“When you have fruits and vegetables, focus on those lower on the glycemic index,” she said.

According to research findings, eating soy, which is rich in estrogen, can help reduce hot flashes, and even provide additional health benefits.

As a general rule, choose minimally processed soy foods whenever possible. You may also prefer soy products that are labeled non-GMO.

If you’re interested in getting more soy in your diet, there are a number of soy foods to try — but it’s a good idea to consult your doctor or registered dietitian first, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

Edamame (soybean)

Bragnini suggests adding edamame as an appetizer to any meal.

“This delicious, green-looking vegetable isn’t terribly intimidating, and for that reason, your family is likely to try it,” Braganini says.

Try steaming the edamame in the shell, then sprinkling it with a pinch of salt.

Soy milk

Bragagnini said that soy milk is another great option for getting a serving of soy in your diet.

“Consider combining soy milk with some fresh or frozen fruit and blending them together for an excellent, delicious smoothie,” she said.


Soybeans are a great choice for a quick, protein-packed snack.

“I keep soy nuts on my desk and often have them in the afternoon when I’m craving something rich in protein and fiber,” Braganini said.

New research suggests that eating a low-fat vegan focused soy product may help relieve hot flash symptoms associated with menopause and lead to weight loss.

Despite the positive results, larger studies are still needed to determine if this dietary protocol can be considered as a primary treatment or as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy.

If you are going through menopause or menopause and are interested in switching to a vegetarian diet, it may be beneficial to gradually reduce your intake of meat products rather than change everything at once.

Anyone can benefit from eating more plants – just remember that it’s a good idea to consult your doctor or registered dietitian before making any important changes to your diet.

“The take-home message almost is this: Eat more veggies and less fat,” Cunningham said.

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