When it comes to natural remedies for menopause symptoms, there have been conflicting opinions as to the pros and cons of soy and soy products. Studies have shown, however, that soy doesn’t cause hot flashes, but in fact may help prevent them.
What causes menopause symptoms?
Menopause refers to a phase in which the body gradually stops producing estrogen and releasing an egg every month. This change in hormones can cause symptoms including:
One treatment method for menopause symptoms is hormone replacement therapy, which involves taking estrogen to help compensate for the drop in estrogen levels. However, hormone replacement therapy comes with several serious health risks.
Because of this, some women turn to natural remedies to manage symptoms, such as incorporating plant-based estrogen foods such as soy in their diet. This is because soy contains isoflavones, which are thought to have estrogen-like effects that could be effective against menopause symptoms.
What are isoflavones?
Isoflavones belong to a group of chemicals called phytoestrogens. They act like a weaker form of estrogen in the body.
Genistein and daidzein are the main isoflavones in soy, and these break down in the intestines and may bind to the same receptors as estrogen and mimic their effects. When this happens, the isoflavones may reduce hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
Which foods are rich in isoflavones?
Isoflavones are mostly found in soy-based products:
|Food type||Isoflavone amount (mg)|
|Soybeans, green, raw isoflavone||151.17|
|Soy flour (textured) isoflavone||148.61|
|Soybeans, dry roasted isoflavone||128.35|
|Instant beverage soy, powder, not reconstituted isoflavone||109.51|
|Miso soup mix, dry isoflavone||60.39|
|Soybean chips isoflavone||54.16|
|Tempeh, cooked isoflavone||53.00|
|Soybean curd cheese isoflavone||28.20|
|Tofu, silken isoflavone||27.91|
|Tofu, yogurt isoflavone||16.30|
|Soy milk isoflavone||9.65|
Can soy supplements reduce hot flashes?
While studies have shown that isoflavones from soy can modestly reduce the number and severity of hot flashes, they do not work as quickly or as effectively as hormone replacement therapy. For some women, it may take several weeks to reach half of its maximum effect. In many women, it may not work at all.
In addition to this, the effectiveness of consuming soy-based foods for menopause symptoms depends on how the body processes isoflavones.
As with any diet or supplement, it’s best to talk to your doctor about your concerns and to follow their recommendations.
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Woods J. Is Soy A Remedy For Menopausal Symptoms? University of Rochester. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/ob-gyn/ur-medicine-menopause-and-womens-health/menopause-blog/march-2015/is-soy-a-remedy-for-menopausal-symptoms.aspx
Levis S, Griebeler ML. The Role of Soy Foods in the Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms. J Nutr. 2010;140(12):2318S-2321S. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/140/12/2318S/4630730
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Night sweats are severe hot flashes that occur at night and result in a drenching sweat. The causes of night sweats in most people are not serious, like menopause in women, sleep apnea, medications, alcohol withdrawal, and thyroid problems. However, more serious diseases like cancer and HIV also can cause night sweats. Your doctor will treat your night sweats depending upon the cause.
You may experience other signs and symptoms that are associated with night sweats, which depend upon the cause, but may include, shaking, and chills with a fever caused by an infection like the flu or pneumonia; unexplained weight loss due to lymphoma; women in perimenopause or menopause may also have vaginal dryness, mood swings, and hot flashes during the day; and low blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Other causes of night sweats include medications like NSAIDs (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), antidepressants, sildenafil (Viagra), and abuse of prescription or illegal drugs and drug withdrawal; hormone disorders like pheochromocytoma and carcinoid syndrome; idiopathic hyperhidrosis; infections like endocarditis, AIDs, and abscesses; alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal; drug abuse, addiction, and withdrawal; and stroke.
A doctor or other health care professional can treat your night sweats after the cause has been diagnosed.
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