Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could lower the hot flashes by just changing what you eat?
That’s what a new study in the journal Menopause evaluated — the difference that food makes on lowering hot flashes.
The study included 84 postmenopausal women who had at least two moderate-to-severe hot flashes daily. The women were randomly assigned to a group that ate a low-fat, vegan diet and cooked soybeans (½ cup [86 g] daily) or to a control group that kept eating their same diet. Over a 12-week period of the study, the women used a mobile application to record the frequency and severity of their hot flashes. They also used a Quality of Life questionnaire (MENQOL) to assess their psychosocial, physical, and sexual symptoms.
The women who changed their diets had an 88% reduction in their moderate-to-severe hot flashes (P < 0.001) compared with 34% for the control group. The more dietary fiber and the less saturated fats the women ate, the more it lowered their hot flashes. By the end of the 12 weeks of the study, the women who changed their diets lost weight, and 59% of them totally stopped having moderate-to-severe hot flashes. The women who didn’t change their diets had no change in their moderate-to-severe hot flashes or weight. The group who changed their diets also reported improvements in their quality of life both physically and sexually.
This study speaks to the power of diet in improving the lives of menopausal women and their menopause symptoms. Changing your diet to be more plant-based, minimizing fats, and eating 1/2 cup of soybeans daily significantly reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes and associated symptoms. It also resulted in weight loss and improved quality of life.
Imagine being able to lower hot flashes, sleep better and improve your quality of life just by adjusting your diet. It is known that women in Japan, China and rural Mexico, who traditionally eat more grains, legumes, vegetables, and other plant-derived foods, typically have less amounts of hot flashes than their American counterparts. It is also known that as the Japanese diet became more Westernized over the past two to three decades that the numbers of reported hot flashes increased from approximately 15% to more than 40% of menopausal women.
There are many studies that show eating soy can lower hot flashes. I wrote an entire book about this called The Soy Solution for Menopause a number of years ago. There are many more studies since that have shown that soy can lower hot flashes. The reason is in part due to the fact that soy contains weak plant estrogens named daidzein and genistein which have also been studied and found to lower hot flashes.
The lowering of hot flashes may also be due to the fact that plant based diets include whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less fat. Those foods increases the amount of dietary fiber eaten, which is very healthy for the “good bacteria” in the gut.
The most important thing that comes from this study is the fact that just when it may seem that your hot flashes are out of control, there is something that you can do that you do control — change your diet. That could make a huge difference in your most bothersome menopause symptoms, hot flashes.