Most women experience hot flashes during menopause. It's so common that it's synonymous with menopause.
But, what if there was a way you could avoid it? What if you knew what to do that was easy enough to do every day without any extra work?
Let's talk about this dietary change and what it means for you. But first, we want to talk about one thing…
Is it hot flashes or hot flushes?
We found this question and want to clarify it.
There is no difference.
They both refer to the same process in exactly the same way. It just depends on where you're from, whether it's a hot flash or hot flush. In general, American English tends to use hot flashes. British English tends to use hot flushes.
Why Do You Get Hot Flashes?
If you listen to the doctor, they're caused by changing hormone levels. But what does that mean? And can you stop it?
You can't change your hormones, can you?
You can, technically – and you can't. Your internal thermostat, controlled by the hypothalamus, responds to many different hormones in your body, particularly estrogen. During menopause, your estrogen levels fluctuate wildly.
Because the hypothalamus controls your body temperature, it can register your body temperature going too high when it senses a change in your hormones. So, it creates a hot flash to cool you down. A hot flash basically sends more blood to the small capillaries in your skin. This makes you feel hotter while it cools you down.
But, that's not the only thing that can change. Estrogen also influences your serotonin, dopamine, and insulin hormones. That’s why you get mood swings, too. Fortunately, you can influence these by what you eat.
When you eat a diet that's a little bit better it affects your hormones, the fluctuations in your estrogen levels go way down. That means you get fewer hot flashes, and if you do get them, they're not nearly as bad.
What Kind of Diet Gets You These Results?
This is where the debate starts to get interesting.
VegNews talks about the small, 12-week study published in the journal Menopause. They use diet, particularly soy, to help women with their hot flashes. Most doctors accept that soy helps reduce hot flashes and the symptoms of menopause, that's not up for debate.
What the study looked at is how much it affected the women. It affected them big time.
It helped to decrease moderate to severe hot flashes by 84%. An astounding 60% of the participants reported being completely free of hot flashes by the end of the 12 weeks.
The researchers took a very low-fat, plant-based diet and added a half-cup of soybeans per day. This was compared to the control group that made no dietary changes.
The results were good, helping women be free of hot flashes.
But is it?
But, Isn't Soy Bad For Your Thyroid And Breasts?
This study seems great, but it leaves many questions unanswered. First, it used "cooked soybeans." However, it did not state if the cooked soybeans were also fermented, with very different nutritional profiles and health results.
Secondly, the study was only 12 weeks. Most diets that switch to mostly vegetables show instant results, just like the study. In fact, other studies show similar results that did not include soy and still included meat.
Finally, it did not measure any other factor that soy is known to disrupt.
In particular, thyroid hormone levels were not checked. Soy is a possible thyroid hormone disruptor and not recommended with thyroid problems.
Soy is not recommended for women at risk of breast cancer. Although fermented soy helps reduce the risk of women having breast cancer, soy isolates and soy protein may cause estrogen-dependent breast cancer to accelerate.
Consuming soy products regularly has also been linked to increasing the risk of over a dozen different types of cancer throughout the body. Anyone at risk of developing cancer is often warned away from eating unfermented soy.
Although the study looks good, we find many flaws to it. Following typical guidelines, if you have thyroid issues, or at risk for breast cancer, or have a family history of some of the most common types of cancer, including prostate, lung, and colon cancer, you should avoid soy.
Fortunately, a low carbohydrate, vegetable-rich diet also shows some of the same results for reducing hot flashes. Maybe it wasn't soy, maybe people just ate better and reaped the benefits.