As women age and hormones start to decline, superfoods can be incorporated into your daily routine in order to help to alleviate any unwanted symptoms that accompany hormone changes. If you focus on adding in the good stuff, then there’s less room for the problematic foods that can lead to hormone disruption and push us into a state of imbalance.
Soy is one of those superfoods that often gets a bad rap, and I have to admit, I used to avoid it until I really delved into the research about the many benefits it provides to menopausal women.
Soy is a type of phytoestrogen, which are natural hormones found in plants, and are not the same as hormones found in the female body, although they have somewhat similar beneficial effects. Phytoestrogens often get a bad rap because they are wholly misunderstood. They are not human estrogens, nor are they steroids. They do not cause estrogen excess like xenoestrogens in the environment do, nor do they stimulate the growth of estrogen-sensitive tissue. In some animal studies, they have even shown to inhibit breast tumors through their anti-oxidant effects. Soy is great alternative option to women that have concerns over the safety of hormone replacement therapy.
The most important function of soy’s phytoestrogens is that they bind to estrogen receptors, which are found on the surface of nearly every cell in our body. They exert a balancing or “apoptogenic” effect. This means if your estrogen is low, soy will help create an increased estrogenic effect (thus lessening hot flashes). If your estrogen is high, they will bind to receptors and block the stronger natural estrogens that can potentiate cancer or create PMS symptoms.
Want to try soy out? It’s important to know how much to get a therapeutic effect. In general plants and herbs exert their influence in a much slower, more gradual way than drugs, or even bioidentical hormones. To have a noticeable effect, research has shown that women need to consume 100-160 mg of soy isoflavones per day for 6 weeks to get significant relief from menopausal symptoms. Studies have also shown that women who consumed 60 g of soy protein per day in the form of a powdered drink mix, had a 45% reduction in hot flashes after 12 weeks.
Safe sources of soy are sprouted organic tofu, organic soybeans, organic miso, and organic soymilk. It’s essential to purchase non-GMO and organic soy only. My favorite way to get in soy is to add it to my daily breakfast smoothie. I use Vitanica PhytoEstrogen Herbal powder (found on Fullscript under my favorites), which contains soy isoflavones, flax seed, black cohosh, and red clover.