Are you going through menopause? Are hot flashes and night sweats disrupting your quality of life? Well, perhaps you’ve heard that soy can be a mature lady’s best friend. That’s what I certainly thought before I became a functional medicine practitioner. In fact, the number one Google search result for ‘is soy good for menopause’ is this:
“Research has found a link between soy and menopause and that a soy diet may reduce hot flashes and night sweats for women going through menopause. Most menopause symptoms are the result of low estrogen levels.”
But ladies—and gents—I’m here to tell you that’s not the whole story. Soy is not the menopause cure you might think it is. In fact, by the time you’re done reading this, my goal is for you to give up all processed forms of soy including:
- Soy protein powder
- Anything made with soy flour
- Soy milk (especially with added sugars)
- Soy burgers and other fake meats
Reason #1 To Avoid Soy: It’s Overrated For Hot Flashes
Before I explain why soy actually isn’t very helpful for menopause, I’ll tell you why many people believe it is. It’s because the soy industry and the vegetarian-diet-favoring mainstream press claim that soy has estrogen-like effects, and that when you go through menopause, estrogen levels tend to fall.
Therefore, consuming copious cups of soybeans in one form or another will relieve menopausal symptoms. Or so the mainstream health articles say.
Without doubt, the isoflavone compounds in soy do contain estrogen-binding properties. However, there’s a lot of research like this 2013 Cochrane review that suggests that plant estrogens in soy (phytoestrogens) hardly make a dent in the frequency of hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. To make matters worse, soy protein supplements don’t work as quickly as conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Some women get estrogen HRT for menopausal symptoms. However, estrogen-only HRT can cause cancer of the uterus.
Ladies: do not mess with your hormones. This is why it’s best to work with a functional medicine practitioner (like me) to correctly restore your hormone levels. In my practice, I offer the DUTCH Cycle Mapping™ PLUS test, which analyzes patterns of progesterone and estrogen throughout the menstrual cycle.
Reason #2: Soy Leads To Abdominal Weight Gain
Speaking of progesterone, this is another hormone that plummets during menopause. Progesterone helps regulate sleep and helps balance estrogen levels. Thus, in order to resolve menopausal symptoms, you also have to restore progesterone.
Menopause and abdominal weight gain go hand in hand like PB & jelly. The truth is that abdominal weight gain is caused primarily by a lack of progesterone. However, soy may contribute to developing a bigger midsection, too. You see, if soy can bind to estrogen receptors in the body, it has the potential to lower levels of lean-muscle testosterone. To make matters worse, soy has the potential to inhibit thyroid gland function. Your thyroid plays a crucial part in your metabolism.
To put it simply, estrogen competes with testosterone. The more estrogen-mimicking soy you eat, the more you’re shoving muscle-building testosterone out of the way. This is why men should also limit their consumption of soy.
More Reasons To Limit Soy
You’ve probably heard the term “GMOs”. What does that mean? It means genetically-modified organism. More than 90% of soy is genetically-modified. Should you be concerned? Maybe a little, says this study, which concludes:
“Serious adverse events of [GMO] consumption include mortality, tumor or cancer, significant low fertility, decreased learning and reaction abilities, and some organ abnormalities.”
Soy is one of the most heavily-sprayed crops. And the most frequently used pesticide is Roundup, which contains the active ingredient, glyphosate. Over 125,000 people have filed cancer lawsuits over Roundup weedkiller. Many studies show that people who live near large farms are at risk of serious health problems because of pesticides.
Conventional soy contains aluminum and other heavy metals because of the way it’s processed. If you’re eating lots of soy-based products, these heavy metals can accumulate in your organs and tissues. (I can help clear your body of toxic heavy metals.)
Soy isn’t the menopausal panacea we’ve been led to believe. This does not mean, however, soy doesn’t have a place in a healthy diet. But the only healthy soy in my opinion is fermented like tofu in miso soup or tempeh. And eating a handful of whole non-GMO soybeans is healthy, too. Just don’t expect your hot flashes to miraculously vanish overnight after eating them.
Ready to live your best life even while you’re undergoing menopause? The first step is to give me a call.
Until next time,
Jenna Witt, NP