Debunking Soy’s Bad Rap
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. The average age of menopause in North America is 51, but this change does not occur overnight. Think back to adolescence and how long it took for your period to stabilize (perhaps 5-7 years), peri-menopause (the time leading up to menopause) will also require time for your body to find its new equilibrium. Some women begin their change as early as 35 years of age!
Your genetics can provide a good indication as to the age at which you might begin your menopause journey. Ask your mom, her mom, and even your aunts when they began their menopause journey – you’re likely to begin at about the same time. Lifestyle, however plays an integral role in hormonal shifts and can make the transition much better or much worse for you. If you’re feeling like your menopause journey is off to a rough start, consider your stress level, the type of or lack of exercise in which you partake, the quality of your food and beverage, and whether smoking continues to serve you. 75% to 85% of women will experience peri-menopausal and/or menopausal symptoms, but 20% of those women experience severe and and even debilitating symptoms. If you think you’re one of these 20% consider this your body’s way of saying “Take care of me already!”
If you’re ready to try anything to feel more balanced, consider this: a study published by the North American Menopause Society in October 2017 revealed a shift in preferred menopause treatments from the Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) our mothers endured towards lifestyle therapies such as exercise, diet, herbal supplements, acupuncture and meditation.
Organic Grocer has just brought in a new product called MenoSupport which was developed to support women throughout their menopause journey. MenoSupport addresses low estrogen symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, anxiety, changes in skin, hair and nail condition, low mood, low libido, dryness, aches, fatigue and memory lapses. Recently introduced into Canada, it has been sold globally for over 8 years. A.Vogel’s UK office gets calls daily from women telling them that MenoSupport has helped them feel like themselves again. How could we say ‘no’ to a product like that?
MenoSupport is made from high quality non-GMO soybeans. Soybeans are the richest food source of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are antioxidant rich, plant-based estrogens, which mimic the effects of estrogen in both female and the male the body. They do this without the huge punch, side effects or withdrawal symptoms associated with HRT. Complementing the soybeans, the formula also contains magnesium, hibiscus and essential oils of lemon, lemongrass, and Litsea cubeba (AKA May Chang or Lemon Verbena) which support both the digestive and nervous systems.
Soy’s beneficial role in menopause
Over the years, soy’s reputation, like the wind, has been constantly changing directions. There have been an abundance of conflicting views on soy’s benefits versus its risks, particularly in relation to increased breast cancer risk. It’s no wonder that menopausal women seeking natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy are confused about soy’s efficacy and safety. However, the proof is in the pudding – or in this case research.
Epidemiological studies have linked Asiatic women’s diets, which are high in soy, to a significant reduction in their frequency and severity of hot flashes compared to Western women (20% versus 80%, respectively).1
Isoflavones are a common class of phytoestrogens naturally found in soy. They act like a weak form of estrogen and have been proven to help alleviate symptoms caused by reduced levels of estrogen, such as hot flashes.2,3 And they do so without aggression, side effects or rebound symptoms often present in hormone therapy.
A clinical study showed that women who took an average dose of 54 mg of soy isoflavones a day for 12 weeks had 20.6% fewer hot flashes and experienced a 26.2% decrease in symptom severity compared to at the start of the study.4
Soy isoflavones are also rich in antioxidants, which, combined with calcium supplements and exercise can help reduce stress, elevate mood and enhance energy.5
Soy Isoflavones and breast cancer risk
Since soy contains isoflavones, which act like a weak form of estrogen in the body, and most breast cancers require estrogen to grow, it is understandable where the correlation between soy and increased breast cancer risk came from. However, clinical studies show different results.
Recent data from Asia and North America indicate that soy foods may actually decrease the risk of breast cancer and even improve the results of treatment in patients with breast cancer. We look forward to the results of future studies of soy foods and isoflavones as they promise to be an exceptionally fertile area of study for a wide range of cancer researcher. 6
In addition, a high dietary intake of soy isoflavones was associated with lower risk of recurrence of cancer among post-menopausal patients who fought breast cancer positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors as well as those who were receiving anastrozole as endocrine therapy.7
Supplementing with Soy
While soy can be added to your diet through food, if you’re looking to regulate your consumption and test its effects on your menopause symptoms supplementation would be your best option.
Always ensure that your soy source is GMO free. GMO crops are typically sprayed with the Round-Up, a well-known hormone disruptor. If your goal is hormone regulation it would be counter-intuitive to eat anything containing soy grown using Round-Up.
If bone health is also a concern for you, try a combination product made with both GMO free whole soybeans and magnesium for optimal benefits – like A.Vogel’s new MenoSupport.
We’ve had a few of our staff members testing MenoSupport and they are reporting all kinds of improvements including cessation of hot flashes, improvement of mood, and improvement of sleep. We definitely recommend this one!
- Cassidy, 4., et. al, Critical review of health effects of soyabean phyto-oestrogens in post-menopausal women, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2006, 65,76-9