A woman has hailed plant oestrogens for helping her to relieve some of the most pesky menopause symptoms - including hot flushes and brain fog.
Charlotte Blackler, 49, decided to start eating more of the nutrients after speaking to a friend who had lived in Japan for four years.
Studies have shown that Japanese women have fewer symptoms and suffer less from menopause then their Western counterparts, and this is largely thought to be down to their diet which includes a high intake of soy-derived phytoestrogens (or plant oestrogens).
"It was getting really painful and hard going," Blackler says of the menopause symptoms she was suffering from, such as hot flushes, brain fog, fatigue, nausea and joint pain.
"I had mood swings and was also getting murderously cross about things. It's the extremes of all the possible emotions.
"I did some more research and found that my friend was right, women in Japan don't suffer with as many menopause symptoms, potentially because they eat so many plant oestrogens in soya-rich foods like tofu and miso."
After she began to eat more plant oestrogens, Blackler says she saw an ‘immediate’ positive impact on her menopause symptoms.
"Some women lose their entire careers over having negative effects of the menopause - it’s not right," she adds. "It’s supposed to take weeks before switching to this diet has an effect, but I found by the afternoon of the same day I started it all symptoms had started to go.
"They didn’t go away permanently. They still come and go in peaks and troughs, and I have better days and worse days. But the difference still in how I was before to how I am now is remarkable. I can’t say it cures menopause, but it’s certainly menopause friendly."
As a result, Blackler has started her own company Mena-pause which infuses items such as bread, muesli and protein bars with plant oestrogens. But, what is plant oestrogen and what food can it be naturally found in?
What is plant oestrogen?
Plant oestrogens (also known as phytoestrogens) are natural chemicals found in food which can help to keep hormones in balance by acting in a similar way to oestrogen, the NHS says.
It does this by blocking the uptake of excess oestrogen and raising low levels when needed which the health service says can help with the symptoms of menopause.
Several studies have looked into the effect of plant oestrogens on menopause, with one 2012 study determining that phytoestrogens could provide a “safe and partially effective alternative” to hormone therapy.
A separate study from 2019 found that plant oestrogens can suppress the clinical symptoms of menopause which are caused by a decrease in the production of endogenous oestrogen. It added that phytoestrogen does not hurt the breast of endometrium in women and does not increase the risk of clotting in postmenopausal women.
Foods containing plant oestrogen
According to the NHS, some key foods containing plant oestrogens and phytoestrogens include:
Soy milk and soy flour
Other sources of plant oestrogens, according to the 2019 study are:
The study added that soybeans are ‘the most important’ source of plant oestrogens and that these are more commonly consumed in Asia than in Europe and North America.
Comparatively, the intake of plant oestrogens in Asia is around 20mg to 50mg per day, according to the study, while it is around 0.15mg to 3mg per day in the US and 0.49mg to 0.66mg per day in Europe.
The study recommended that menopausal women should consume 100mg of isoflavones, a type of plant oestrogen such as soybeans, daily to help relieve vasomotor symptoms like hot flushes.
Always consult with your GP before making any major dietary changes.
Menopause: Read more
How menopause can affect your mood and other things you need to know (Yahoo Life UK, 9-min read)
What it feels like to go through early menopause at 32 (Yahoo Life UK, 3-min read)
'The menopause made me leave my husband – I regret it, but it’s too late now' (Yahoo Life UK, 7-min read)
Additional reporting by SWNS.
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