Cool It Down With Soy or Take a Cold Shower?
How can soy cool down the flames burning underneath your skin caused by low estrogen associated with menopause? The flame I am referring to is hot flashes or some might also say hot flushes.
If you have experienced hot flashes then you have felt the sudden flashes of hotness, redness and sweatiness at the most inconvenient times. This is usually a cardinal sign that menopause is in the near future.
Although not life threatening, hot flashes can significantly disrupt your livelihood. Therefore many women like you choose to seek out natural remedies such as soy.
There are a lot of discussions and claims about soy and the effect it has on the body. There have been a variety of studies done on soy that have provided different results. This is due to an abundance of different research methods used to study soy.
What is Soy?
Soy is a part of the legumes family. The legumes family is an essential part of every person’s diet. Three cups a week is the recommended intake by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Members of the legumes family are rich in protein, folate, fiber, phosphorus, and iron, as well as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
Legumes are an also an essential source of isoflavones making soy a good source of isoflavones.
With this said, soy boasts an abundance of health benefits and is an excellent alternative to processed meat. This is because soy is considered a complete protein. Soy contains all 9 essential amino acids that your body needs but cannot make. For this reason, soy is popular among vegans and vegetarian. They do not need to eat meat to meet their daily protein needs.
If soy is good for vegans and vegetarians then why can’t it beneficial to menopausal women?
One of the speculatory aspects of soy is its estrogenic and anti-estrogenic properties.
This refers to the effects that soy has on a women’s (and man) reproductive tract and menstrual cycle. Some consider soy to be a significant health food because it helps regulate hot flashes and protects against osteoporosis, as well as breast and prostate cancer. On the other hand, others have concerns about soy causing breast cancer, dementia, and thyroid problems. The debate is due to conflicting research on the effects of soy.
Soy contains isoflavones, which are similar in structure and function to estrogen. The major isoflavones found in soy are called genistein and daidzein. Research suggests that genistein and daidzein can reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and promoting bone health. However, the results shown for these isoflavones differ in the effects on the body depending on a few different factors.
Who Are They Studying?
The type of study used is one of the most critical factors. If the study for soy’s effects were done on animals, then it is likely that it is not entirely accurate. There is a good chance that soy metabolizes differently in animals than in humans. Another factor is ethnicity. Soy may break down differently in the bodies of people with different ethnic backgrounds. Some cultures are more prone to consuming an abundance of soy than others, so their body is used to it and thrives from it. Existing hormone levels is another important factor. If a woman is premenopausal, then they have a higher level of estrogen. In this situation, the soy would be more anti-estrogenic. If a woman is postmenopausal, then the soy would be more estrogenic. Finally, the type of soy used in the study is critical to know. Soy can be fermented or unfermented, as well as a soy supplement or soy substituted product. Some research has shown that fermented soy enhances its digestibility and helps it to absorb into the body easier.
What are They Studying?
S-equol is a metabolite of daidzein. As stated above, daidzein is an isoflavone found in soy. It has been hypothesized that daidzein may reduce menopausal symptoms. A study from the “Journal of Women’s Health, Vol. 21, No. 1” was done, in which the effectiveness of natural S-equol supplements was tested against isoflavones for relieving menopausal symptoms. The method used for the study was an 8-week randomized, double-blind, active comparative trial. The study used postmenopausal women, aged between 45-65 with over 5 hot flashes a day. They were each assigned to one of four groups and then had to document their hot flash frequency and rate the severity of their symptoms.
At the completion of the study, the results for reducing the number of hot flashes were similar for all variable groups. However, S-equol had better reduction results for the subjects with over 8 hot flashes per day. S-equol was also more efficient in decreasing the frequency of hot flashes, as well as relieving muscle and joint pain.
The final results of the study were that 10mg S-equol is as efficient as soy isoflavones at reducing the frequency of hot flashes but superior in relieving the pain of muscles and joints in postmenopausal women. S-equol also reduces hot flashes more effectively for women that have more than 8 hot flashes per day.
If you decide to eat soy friendly foods, here is a list of food that you can try. Non GMO soy foods are an excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and B vitamins.
Plant Based Foods Rich In Soy
- Soy Nuts
One of the simplest way to try soy products is to swap your regular cows milk for soymilk. It can be substituted for any place where you need milk such as cereal, oatmeal, porridge, smoothies or even your lattes.
If you are lactose intolerance, you can use soy milk instead of cows milk. You can find soy milk fortified with calcium. Having calcium in your diet is very important if you are menopausal, therefore you should select the one that is fortified.
Although, the content of soy is minimal, you can add flavor to your food with soy sauce and miso paste.
Even if not for menopausal purposes, there can be a place at the table for soy products. However, if you must avoid estrogen containing foods then you should note the items mentioned here that you should also avoid.
Hot flashes can last for years. The rate and intensity is different for each woman. The best thing for you to do is to continue searching for a remedy that can alleviate the symptom. But remember, medical science is not perfect and it does not always have the answers to all our burning problems.