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The medical community has been divided over the effectiveness of consuming soy for hot flashes. There is evidence showing positive results and evidence showing little to no results. Results also will vary, depending on how you decide to take soy in your diet. Soy can be consumed as a liquid, such as in soy milk; consumed as a solid, such as with tofu; or taken in capsule form as a supplement. Research has shown that consuming soy in whole foods is much more effective than taking supplements.
The research on using soy for hot flashes began when it was noticed that Japanese women rarely suffer hot flashes. In the Japanese language, there isn't even a word for hot flashes, because the condition is so uncommon. Statistically, less than 7 percent of Japanese women suffer hot flashes. In some countries, that number rises to more than 50 percent. Low incidences of hot flashes aren't restricted to Japan; it's true throughout Asia, where soy is a staple food in the diet.
Scientists haven't been able to pinpoint the exact reason why using soy for hot flashes helps to alleviate symptoms. It's assumed that the genistein and daidzein compounds contribute to the phenomenon. Soy contains many isoflavones, which are types of phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens are estrogenic in nature and act as a weak form of estrogen in the body. It's assumed that these low levels of estrogen are what helps to control the hot flashes in certain women.
When using soy for hot flashes, it's recommended to eat whole soy foods rather than take soy supplements. Soy supplements can contain other chemicals that might do more harm than good, so such supplements should be taken only when whole soy foods are not an option. Whole soy foods come in a variety of forms and should be eaten daily when using the soy for hot flashes. Sources of soy include soy nuts or beans, edamame, soy milk, tofu, soy flour and miso.
Studies have shown varying results for how much soy should be consumed to combat hot flashes. As a general rule of thumb, 60 milligrams of soy daily seems to be the average amount required. Studies have shown that individuals who consume at least 60 milligrams of soy per day for three months have an average reduction in hot flashes of as much as 45 percent.
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