Is A Plant Diet The Best Choice To Curb Menopause Symptoms?
It has been well documented that a person’s diet largely affects their body. All women eventually go through menopause. Menopause brings on a host of symptoms from fatigue to weight gain to hot flashes. Can a plant diet be all it takes to curb those symptoms once and for all?
Populations that consume diets that are primarily plant based rarely exhibit symptoms the way women in the United States do. The traditional Japanese diet is rich in soy, which is high in phytoestrogens. Only 7% of women in Japan experience hot flashes; in fact, there is no word in Japanese that means “hot flashes.” Compare this to the ¾ of menopausal women in the US who do experience hot flashes, and you have a stark contrast.
What Is A Plant Diet?
A plant diet contains little to no animal products. It is based on foods that come from plants, such as soy, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits. A plant-based diet can be referred to as a vegan diet, a vegetarian diet, or a semi-vegetarian diet.
- A vegan diet contains no animal products or by-products
- A vegetarian diet contains eggs and dairy products
- A semi-vegetarian primarily sticks to a vegetarian diet, though there are exceptions. They may eat only fish and chicken, or they may also consume small amounts of red meat on an irregular basis.
How Can A Plant Diet Helps Ease Menopause Symptoms
Phytoestrogens or plant estrogens are compounds that bind with receptor sites in the body. Phytoestrogens help keep the hormone levels more balanced by acting in a similar way to the estrogen the body naturally produces. Since menopause, symptoms are caused by the decrease of estrogen, being able to increase the estrogen levels in the body will help decrease the symptoms.
Populations that consume diets that are primarily plant based rarely exhibit symptoms the way women in the United States do. The traditional Japanese diet is rich in soy, which is high in phytoestrogens. There is no Japanese word for “hot flashes” and only seven percent of Japanese women experience hot flashes.
Hot flashes aren’t the only symptom that can be minimized with a plant-based diet. Women who are going through menopause also complain of weight gain, fatigue, and irritability and are at higher risks of cancer and stroke, heart disease and osteoporosis. A plant-based diet can benefit all of these things.
Weight gain can be eased because plant based foods tend to be more nutrient dense. Legumes are high in fiber, carbs, and protein, which are great for balancing blood sugar, maintaining weight, providing energy and making you feel full.
Providing energy and balancing blood sugars means that legumes are also great for fighting fatigue. Green leafy vegetables, whole grains and fresh vegetables are also high in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E. This helps against osteoporosis by also keeping your bones strong.
Plant based diets are lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Phytoestrogens have been shown to have an antioxidant activity, which influences intracellular enzymes that can cause cells to act as natural cancer protective compounds. Countries, such as Japan, that consume higher levels of phytoestrogens also have lower cancer rates.
Phytoestrogens have also been shown to improve lipid function that reduces stroke. Stroke is caused when the carotid arteries in the neck become blocked and prevent blood flow to the brain. Improving the lipid function, enables blood to flow freely.
Completely giving up meats and animal products isn’t for everyone. If you are interested in minimizing your menopause symptoms this way, you don’t need to cut these things out completely. Even minimizing the amount of meats and animal product you consume, and replacing it with healthy plant based options, can go a long way towards improved your menopausal symptoms.