Menopause: Study finds vegan diet with serving of soybeans helps fight off hot flushes

A vegan, low-fat diet might be just as good as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women, a study claims.

Researchers found women who cut out all animal products and ate more legumes suffered 88 per cent fewer hot flushes twelve weeks later.

For comparison, experts estimate HRT gels, patches and pills are up to 90 per cent effective.

The diet — which also urged women to steer clear of avocados and nuts — helped women lose up to 8lbs, on average.

However, experts today encouraged women to ‘be careful’ when considering natural alternatives to HRT. 

A vegan diet rich in soybeans and low in fat can help fight off menopausal hot flushes, a study claims

Hot flushes are the most common symptom of 'the change', affecting three quarters of women for around two years on average

Hot flushes are the most common symptom of ‘the change’, affecting three quarters of women for around two years on average

Soybeans contain a chemical called daidzein. When this is digested it turns into equol, a type of oestrogen

Soybeans contain a chemical called daidzein. When this is digested it turns into equol, a type of oestrogen

WHAT IS THE MENOPAUSE?

Menopause is when a woman stops having periods, and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.

It usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.

It is a normal part of ageing and caused by levels of the sex hormone oestrogen dropping.

Some women go through this time with few, if any, symptoms. 

Others suffer from hot flushes, sleeping difficulties, mood swings and brain fog, which can last for months or years and might change over time.

HRT replaces the hormones and is the main treatment used to treat symptoms — which can be severe and disrupt day-to-day life.

Menopause happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.

George Washington University researchers tracked 84 postmenopausal women, none of whom were taking HRT at the time.

Participants were aged between 40 to 65 and all had two moderate-to-severe hot flushes a day. 

They had all had their last period between one and 10 years before the start of the study, published in the journal Menopause.

One group of women followed the vegan soybean diet, while one who continued eating normally.

The vegan group had to have half a cup of soybeans cooked in a pressure cooker every day. 

They were also told to minimise oils and fatty foods, including nuts and avocados, and avoid animal products entirely.

The women were asked to record their hot flushes through an app on their phones, noting when they occurred, for how long and how intense they were. 

Their exercise levels, dietary intake, bodyweight, height and health status were also all recorded before, during and after the study. 

Results showed the number of hot flashes experienced by the vegan group fell from six to 1.4 per week. 

In the control group, they only fell from 5.7 to 3.4, on average. 

Meanwhile, the soybean group saw their average weight fall from 74.8kg (11st 11lbs) to 71.1kg (11st 3lbs).

Lead author Dr Neal Barnard said: ‘We do not fully understand yet why this combination works.

‘But it seems these three elements are key — avoiding animal products, reducing fat, and adding a serving of soybeans.’

The team believe the effect may be caused by a chemical in soybeans.

When daidzein is digested, it turns into equol, which posses oestrogen-like properties.

The digestion occurs in the intestines and is improved by a high-fibre diet, like a vegan one, the experts said.

Dr Barnard added: ‘These new results suggest a diet change should be considered as a first-line treatment for troublesome vasomotor symptoms, including night sweats and hot flashes.’

The menopause is when a woman’s periods stop. It usually between the ages of 45 and 55.

It is a normal part of ageing and caused by levels of the sex hormone oestrogen dropping.

HRT replaces the hormones and is the main treatment used to treat symptoms — which can be severe and disrupt day-to-day life.

Lorna Driver-Davies, head of nutrition at supplement company Wild Nutrition, told MailOnline it’s ‘not surprising’ some women may be looking at natural alternatives to HRT.

The company’s Perimenopause Report found 32 per cent would prefer to use diet, exercise, better sleep and supplements over HRT. 

But she said: ‘The research is interesting, and diet certainly supports peri and menopause.

‘However, we need to be careful with this kind of data. The quality of soya varies dramatically.

‘And a low-fat diet can be very unhealthy — think about the overwhelming clinical research into the merits of a Mediterranean diet which includes healthy fats required for hormone production and balance.’

HOT FLUSHES: THE FACTS

Most women will experience hot flushes when going through the menopause.

They’re often described as a sudden feeling of heat that seems to come from nowhere and spreads throughout the body.

You might also experience sweating, palpitations and flushing of the face.

Some women only have occasional hot flushes that do not really bother them, while others can have many a day and find them uncomfortable, disruptive and embarrassing.

Hot flushes can start a few months or years before your periods stop (before you start the menopause) and usually continue for several years after your last period. 

Causes of hot flushes

Hot flushes usually affect women who are approaching the menopause and are thought to be caused by changes in your hormone levels affecting your body’s temperature control.

They can happen without warning throughout the day and night, but can also be triggered by:

  • eating spicy foods
  • caffeine and alcohol
  • smoking
  • wearing thick clothing
  • a high temperature
  • feeling stressed or anxious
  • treatment for certain types of cancer (this can affect both men and women)
  • certain medicines
  • some health conditions, such as an overactive thyroid, diabetes and tuberculosis

What does a hot flush feel like?

Women often describe a hot flush as a creeping feeling of intense warmth that quickly spreads across your whole body and face.

It typically lasts for several minutes. Others say the warmth is similar to the sensation of being under a sun bed, or feeling like a furnace.

The website healthtalk.org has several videos where women describe what a hot flush feels like.

SOURCE: NHS

Source link

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Verified by MonsterInsights