Read the full video transcript below
Hello and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today, on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be discussing the use of soya products and foods in the menopause.
Should I be adding more soya to my diet?
Now, I get asked this an awful lot. Women are emailing in saying, "Should I be adding more soya into my diet? I've read so much about it. Soya seems to be really good at helping with menopause symptoms. What should I do?" And we're talking here about whole soya foods. So these would be things like soya milk, soya cheese, soya yoghurt, and your sort of textured vegetable protein packets that you can get to make up into your own dishes.
Why would I not recommend these foods?
Now, I tend not to recommend these foods. And you might well be thinking, "But why? Because we do know and research has showed that soya can be something that's very beneficial in the menopause." Well, the reason is that the use of soya in the menopause has basically been lost in translation.
If you look to the Far East where they have soya in their diet, you look over there and menopause symptoms seem to be very few and far between, and those women who are eating a traditional diet that includes little bits of soya tend to do very well during the menopause.
But the problem is that here in the West, they've looked at what's going on in the East and they've gone, "Soya's great. Let's add it to our diet." So we've got a huge number of women who are approaching the menopause. They may be in their late 30s, early 40s, suddenly starting to add lots of soya foods into their diet. And this is the problem because whole soya foods can cause a whole range of issues.
Whole soya foods, the phytoestrogens, if you like. The ingredients that we are looking for, the hormonal action that we're looking for in soya is locked into the soya foods themselves, and whole soya foods can be very, very difficult to digest. They can cause bloating. And especially if your digestive system is not used to them and all of a sudden you start putting lots of soya foods into your diet, you can end up with bloating, you can end up with wind, you can end up with constipation.
And I've had people who are drinking, you know, a litre of soya milk a day and then wondering why they feel really awful all the time. And it's purely because the majority of us here, our digestive systems can't cope with whole soya foods.
Fermented Soya - What's the difference?
So if you go back to the Far East, in their traditional diet, the soya foods that are eaten are things like miso, tempeh, annatto, and fermented soy sauces and other foods such as these.
Now, fermented soya is very different to whole soya foods. They've been fermented and, in that process, these phytoestrogens have almost been unlocked from the soya foods, so they are much more bioavailable in our digestive system, and our digestive system doesn't have to work so hard at dealing with them.
And if you think about it, one of the big symptoms in the menopause is that our digestion can get weaker as we go through the menopause. So having soya foods that have already been partly digested, if you like, through the fermentation process can make it much easier on our digestion. And because these phytoestrogens have been partially released, we are going to get a lot more benefit from them eating less soya products.
Let your digestive system get used to it
So all I would say here is that if you want to start adding soya foods into your diet, go along to your local health food shop. They will have a range of fermented soya foods and you can start. Just do it very slowly so that your digestion will get used to it and you'll know whether these foods are actually going to be helpful for you or not.
What about tofu
Now, the one thing that a lot of people ask is tofu. Tofu is not normally fermented. In small amounts, it's absolutely fine. And again, this isn't something you should be putting into your daily diet. I love tofu, especially the smooth tofu. I love it in salads and in stir fries. But I'll maybe only have it once a fortnight or something like that and just have small amounts as well. Again, if you look at the traditional Eastern diet, they will have tofu, but it would just be part of the meal. It won't be the major product that's in the meal. So just take care with soya products.
Getting digestive problems?
If you have been eating a lot of soya products and you suddenly notice you're getting digestive problems, hopefully, you will now know the reason why. There will also be those of you asking, "But you have soya in your menopause support products." Yes, we do, and it's fermented soya. And that's the reason that we put fermented soya in the product, is to make sure that it's actually going to be beneficial for you and it's not likely to cause any particular problems.
Menopause Support can be used to help you through all stages of the menopause.
Using fermented soya beans means that the important phytooestrogenic soy compounds (genistein, daidzein and glycitein) are more easily absorbed by the body.
Find out more
So I hope this has maybe given you a little bit of food for thought and, hopefully, that will help you. So I look forward to seeing you next week on another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.