These and other symptoms are caused by a decline in estrogen and other hormones. It is natural for estrogen to decline with age, but the body still needs estrogen to function properly. Progesterone, another hormone, can be used, but this hormone also may be deficient. The pituitary gland reacts by secreting LH, or luteinizing hormone, in an effort to balance the system. However, this hormone does not act like estrogen in the body, and too much of it causes blood vessels in the face, neck, and torso to swell. It also activates sweat glands. This results in excessive perspiration and hot flashes.
There are substances called isoflavones in soybeans that the body can use as estrogen. These phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens, are bio-identical to human estrogen and can mitigate the effects of lowered hormones. The phytoestrogens are available in soy-based foods and supplementary powders or capsules.
There are many soy products on the market. Genistein is one of the most effective isoflavones in the soybean. This phytoestrogen has been extensively studied and shown to bind to estrogen receptors in the body in the same way that a woman’s natural estrogen does. The bio-identical plant hormone is marketed as a single supplement for menopausal women.
Mitigating the unpleasant effects of menopause is important, but there are even more compelling reasons to provide bio-identical hormones for the aging body. Estrogen-like substances in plastics can be absorbed by the body if there is a lack of the true hormone. These components of plastic have been found to be carcinogens. They are being studied as possible contributors to the growing rates of breast and ovarian cancers.
Soy foods can be consumed, too; you don’t have to take pills. However, it is the fermented soy that experts believe is beneficial and responsible for a lower rate of cancer in Japanese women. Soy milk is not as good a source of isoflavones as tempeh or tofu. The isolated soy protein found in energy bars is generally not fermented, although some of the higher quality products do contain fermented beans.
However, since westerners may not be familiar with or accustomed to fermented foods that boost the health of oriental peoples, supplements are valuable. There are many to choose from. Look for a reputable manufacturer and a product that has been clinically tested and proven effective.
Not all soybeans are healthy. Most of the beans grown in North America are genetically modified and are grown with heavy applications of herbicides. Reputable vitamin manufacturers and natural food producers will use only organic beans. The organic standards prohibit the application of chemicals to crops.
In addition to adding soybean products to the diet, women can get adequate exercise, drink lots of pure water, eat fresh whole foods, and get enough sleep. Avoiding caffeine and spicy foods can help keep hot flashes and night sweats under control. Menopause doesn’t have to be miserable.