New research suggests that following a low-fat vegan diet that includes soy leads to a decrease in menopausal hot flashes by as much as 95%. More than 80% of people at menopause experience vasomotor symptoms, commonly known as hot flashes. Hot flashes can sometimes be reduced through lifestyle modifications like maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and not eating spicy foods.
The study, titled “A dietary intervention for postmenopausal hot flashes: A potential role of gut microbiome. An exploratory analysis” was published in the December 2023 issue of the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Data from 84 postmenopausal women who participated in the Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS) trial was used for this research. Study participants were randomly asked to either follow a low-fat vegan diet that included a half-cup of cooked soybeans a day, or to just continue with their normal diet for 12 weeks. A subset of 11 participants were asked to provide stool samples for a gut microbiome analysis both before the start of the study and after being on a vegan diet for 12 weeks.
Researchers also found that the vegan diet led to a 96% decrease in moderate to severe hot flashes, as well as a reduction in daytime hot flashes by 96% and nighttime hot flashes by 94%.
According to Dr Hana Kahleova, director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and lead author of this study, one of the reasons she wanted to study the effect of a vegan diet on hot flashes is because obesity is a risk factor for hot flashes. She said to Medical News Today, “Research, including our own, shows that a vegan diet promotes weight loss and can help fight obesity. A vegan diet also avoids meat and dairy products, which are high in saturated fat and compounds called advanced glycation end-products, both of which cause inflammation that can contribute to hot flashes. Also, some research shows that women who have hot flashes may be at increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer, and a vegan diet can help lower the risk of both.”