Soy against hot flashes: is it effective?

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Would soy be effective against menopausal hot flashes? These are characteristic of the onset of menopause. They are linked to significant inerrant hormonal changes at this essential stage in a woman's life. A recent study shows that it would however be possible to reduce them by following a specific diet including soybeans.

Causes of hot flashes during menopause

Sensation of intense heat, flushing, sweating, chills, dizziness are characteristic of hot flashes. Occurring irregularly, they are associated with hormonal disturbances caused by the onset of menopause and in particular with the decrease in estrogen secretion. This hormone is indeed involved in the body temperature regulation mechanism. The decrease in estrogen levels thus causes vasomotor disorders which result in an increase in body temperature.

75% of pre-menopausal or menopausal women say they suffer from hot flashes. These particularly unpleasant manifestations can last up to 30 minutes and be accompanied by headaches and palpitations. They can appear spontaneously, day or night, or be triggered by certain foods or drinks, especially alcohol and caffeine, or even by stress.

Although they generally only last a few months before disappearing, hot flashes are sufficiently unpleasant or even disturbing, particularly at night, to justify the search for a treatment aimed at reducing them and increasing women's comfort. .

Read also – When the thyroid is disturbed by menopause

A soy-based diet would help alleviate menopausal hot flashes

Soy for hot flashes: is it-effective?

An American team conducted a study to assess the effects of a specific diet on the frequency and severity of hot flashes associated with menopause. Tested on a panel of 38 postmenopausal women who regularly suffer from hot flashes, this diet is particularly low in fat and vegan. It includes in particular the daily intake of cooked soybeans.

The researchers noted a significant decrease in the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in the group of women who followed this diet, compared to the control group. After 12 weeks, more than half of the women reported a disappearance of hot flashes. Other beneficial effects were also identified at the end of the study: reduction of vasomotor, psychosocial, physical and sexual symptoms generally accompanying menopause.

The quality of life of postmenopausal women has therefore been significantly improved thanks to this soy-based diet.

Read also – Exercising to fight hot flashes

Soy, a miracle ingredient?

Soy is already known to relieve menopausal ailments. Its seeds indeed contain isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens, a plant substance close to female hormones. Isoflavones are also found, but in lesser amounts, in pulses, onions, apples, red wine and tea.

Faced with hormone replacement treatments using female hormones, taking phytoestrogens as a dietary supplement seems less risky. Indeed, several clinical studies have caused controversy around hormone replacement treatments. They would be associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer or venous thrombosis. In this context, the phytoestrogens contained in soy therefore seem to be an interesting and rather effective solution, in particular to fight against the hot flashes of menopause.

However, as with any hormonal treatment, taking phytoestrogens as a dietary supplement must be done under medical supervision. Because as with hormone replacement treatments, isoflavones could promote the appearance or development of cancer. Taking such food supplements is therefore contraindicated for women with a personal or family history of hormone-dependent cancers (breast, uterine or ovarian cancer). In any case, it is better to seek the advice of your doctor, in particular to avoid combining several sources of phytoestrogens.

Note: following the review of scientific data, European health authorities have ruled that food supplements containing isoflavones (phytoestrogens) do not have the right to claim effects on several symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes.

Further studies are therefore to be expected to confirm the real effectiveness of soy on menopausal hot flashes.

Read also – Soy products: stay vigilant!

Morgane Gillard, scientific writer

Sources– The women’s study for the alleviation of vasomotor symptoms (WAVS). Accessed August 31, 2021. – Food supplement: isoflavones. Accessed on August 31, 2021.

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Morgane G. Scientific writer Passionate about science in general, is committed to providing accessible and quality content, based on reliable sources. Writes reliable scientific content with verified sources in compliance with our HIC charter.

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