Although soy and menopause have gone hand-in-hand in many Asian countries for thousands of years, in the United States there continues to be debate. You see, the majority of protein consumed in Japan comes directly from soy. However, for people in the United States, protein comes from milk and animal. Because Asian woman have long shown much fewer symptoms of menopause and less severe symptoms, studies have been performed to determine if soy and menopause are indeed linked. The difference is so substantial that Asian women have reportedly had upwards of 70% fewer problems with night sweats than westernized women.
Typically, Asian women consume things such as soy flour, tofu, soymilk, and a number of other soybean derivatives, taking in on average 200 milligrams daily. Now if you look at the habits of Americans, you would see that soy is something consumed but typically by cattle and other livestock. Intrigued with the findings about soy and menopause, massive effort has been made to identify the truth. What we do know is that when a woman is menstruating, high levels of estrogen are produced. However, long-term exposure to these hormones increases the woman’s risk of breast cancer and other deadly diseases. When the body stops producing estrogen, she is thrust into menopause.
With soy, the hormones genistein and daidzein are produced that act very similar to the woman’s estrogen. Through intense studies, experts believe the soy hormones attach to the woman’s estrogen receptors, which then block out the ability for some carcinogenic substances to enter into the organs, thus causing cancer and other diseases. The interesting results indicate that these hormones are received differently, thereby changing the way in which the body responds to the soy. This particular process is not fully understood but what is known is encouraging for helping with menopause symptoms and reducing the risk of certain diseases.
Keep in mind that some of the studies performed indicate that the effect of the soy protein depends on the woman’s level of natural estrogen while being consumed. As an example, for a woman still having a normal menstrual cycle, the effects of soy showed little change. On the other hand, for women going through the change of life, it showed that the intake of soy increased the level of estrogen. The result was fewer and less severe symptoms associated with menopause. With this, it appears soy and menopause is a good match.
In addition to the consumption of soy helping with hot flashes, it appears to offer many other benefits. For instance, LDL, or bad cholesterol is also lowered. Again, the reason is not yet understood but somehow, soy helps by keeping the cholesterol within a range considered healthy. With this, the woman’s risk of stroke and heart attack is also reduced. However, there is more regarding soy and menopause. Other studies show that the phytoestrogen genistein in soy keeps muscle cells strong, which reduces the woman’s risk of developing what is called atherosclerosis, which is hardening of the arteries. More information needs to be conducted on soy and how it really helps women going through menopause but the results in thus far are very encouraging.
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