Soy for menopause symptoms is not a new idea. In many Asian countries women there report much milder symptoms when going through the change, and it is thought to be partially due to the wide variety of soy foods they consume.
If you are in early stages of menopause, or right in the middle of it, foods for menopause like soy can provide some relief from your symptoms. There are some “rules” to follow to get the most benefits from soy to lessen some of the worst menopause symptoms.
What is Menopause? Signs and Symptoms
Menopause is a time when women’s bodies begin to decline in the production of the fertility hormones estrogen and progesterone. Women usually begin having mild symptoms that increase as production of the two hormones continues to dramatically decline with age and eventually stop menstruation. Other symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness, atrophy, and pain during intercourse
- Urinary tract infections or incontinence
- Mood swings and depression
- Irregular periods or none at all
- Breast tenderness
- Decreased sex drive (libido)
- Changes in hair in skin (may feel thinner and drier)
How Can Soy Help?
Soy is rich in compounds called isoflavones; polyphenolic compounds that are capable of exerting estrogen-like effects (Linus Pauling Institute)
Isoflavones are classified as phytoestrogens, meaning plant-derived compounds with estrogenic activity that can act like estrogen in the human body. Since the abrupt decrease of estrogen and progesterone is what causes menopause, replacing it with a similar compound can bring relief to those suffering unpleasant symptoms.
The Three Rules for Menopause Relief with Soy
1. Soy Pills Don’t Work
According to a University of California San Francisco study published recently, soy pills had no measureable effect on menopause symptoms like hot flashes. While disappointing it is not surprising. Asian women who suffer less severe menopause symptoms do not take soy pills or supplements. They consume it by eating real foods.
2. Real Food Is Best
Consume whole soy by eating it in real food form. Most women can eat a lot of it every day with no side effects. For a small percentage it can cause digestive discomfort, but that is rare. It’s really easy to incorporate more soy into your diet, too. You can eat:
- Tofu (prepared many different ways)
- Tempeh (deep-fried fermented soy beans)
- Miso (miso soup is delicious!)
- Whole soybeans like edamame
- Soy powder
- Soy ice cream
It is important to note that you consume soy whole soy foods, not just isolated isoflavones or soy protein to get the estrogenic effects to relieve some menopause symptoms like hot flashes. It’s the combination and concentration in whole foods rich in soy that make it an effective menopause symptom reliever.
Since soy is one of the most GMO (genetically modified) crops in the U.S., so always choose the organic varieties.
3. Consume Soy Throughout The Day
To get the most benefits from soy for menopause, it is best to consume soy-rich foods throughout the day rather than a lot in one meal.
Soy is safe to eat everyday so look for recipes to prepare tofu in different ways. Use soymilk on your cereal or to make a smoothie. Edamame has a mild flavor, but is rich source of isoflavones and protein to enhance many dishes.
Since menopause symptoms like hot flashes can come and go eating soy throughout the day will help keep them in check for more consistent relief.
Say “Soy Long” To Hot Flashes
Since menopause is an inevitable physical change for all women, it’s not too early to start making soy a regular part of your diet. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who won’t suffer a lot of the more unpleasant symptoms of menopause because you are regularly consuming soy.