Whole Food Plant-Based Diet and Menopause

Whole grains, vegetables, and most fruit are low-calorie, low-fat, high fiber food. By reducing fat and increasing fiber in your diet, you can minimize hot flashes and night sweats and increase comfort and happiness. Fiber makes you feel full – helping you to resist urges to binge or eat late at night. Interestingly, plants contain plenty of fiber and animal products contain none.

Whole Food Plant-Based Diet and Menopause

Recent studies on the whole food plant-based diet and menopause have linked improved symptoms to dietary changes. Menopausal women who consumed a plant based or vegan diet rich in soy, experienced fewer vasomotor symptoms, which include hot flashes or flushing and sweating.

Researchers divided participants into two groups based on the number of hot flashes they experienced each day. Participants in the intervention group consumed a whole food plant-based diet low in fat. Adding a half-cup of soybeans to a soup or salad was also part of the daily diet.

Meanwhile, the control group continued to eat as usual on a standard diet that included animal products and processed food for 12 weeks. The researchers recorded the frequency and severity of physical, vasomotor, psychosocial, and sexual symptoms.

Game Changer For Women

Study results indicate that soy-rich vegan or plant based diets reduced moderate-to-severe hot flashes by 84 percent, from around five per day to less than one per day. Over the course of the 12-week study, 60% of women reported a complete disappearance of moderate-to-severe hot flashes. All types of hot flashes decreased by 79 percent.

Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine and adjunct professor at George Washington University School of Medicine said: “This is a breakthrough for most women 45 and over, as we now know they can get relief from menopause symptoms without drugs.”

Participants also commented on improvements in mood, energy, and sleep. Additionally, several people reported improved digestion and weight loss.

Dealing With the Internal Furnace

In a study comparing perimenopausal and postmenopausal women following a plant based or vegan diet (no animal products) or vegetarian diet (may contain eggs or dairy products) to omnivores (contains both plant and animal products), those who consumed the plant-based food reported fewer night sweats, hot flashes, and fewer flushes. The difference between the plant-based women and the omnivores was most pronounced in perimenopause when symptoms tend to peak.

Managing Your Weight

Women who gain weight during menopause may experience distress as well as increased menopausal symptoms. Research suggests that excess weight has a two-fold effect, causing our bodies to release excess heat and produce system-wide inflammation.

This, in turn, may lead to increased vasomotor symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent symptoms during menopause. In studies on a whole food plant-based diet and menopause, women who lost at least 10 pounds or 10% of their body weight were more likely to be free of vasomotor symptoms.