How do we navigate this controversial food item?
While many research articles may seem worth reading, this is not always the case. There are many factors to consider when interpreting the findings of soy research such as the source, form, and processing of the food. The science can be difficult to navigate and the contradicting evidence can be confusing.
One must also consider that what works for one person, doesn't always work for another due to genetic differences affecting the metabolism of soy or even ethnicity. Finally, it's important to separate the outcomes of animal studies from how humans process a food group.
An interesting trend to observe is that North America currently has the highest incidence of breast cancer, while East Asia experiences extremely low rates. They also experience fewer hormone dependent cancers and have far milder menopausal symptoms, mild to the point where a word for 'hot flashes' doesn't even exist!
It is estimated that adults in Asian countries consume approximately 30-50mg per day of isoflavones compared to a paltry 3mg/day in North America. Could the glaring difference in soy intake explain the symptom experience of women in East Asia versus North America? Read on.
What symptoms can soy address?
Most research studies of soy point to its ability to reduce hot flashes and reduce other symptoms of menopause including mood swings and sleep. Estrogen also encourages osteoblasts, the cells that lay down new bone. As estrogen levels decline in menopause, these bone building effects fade, permitting musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoporosis to develop.
How does soy work though?
Soy is rich in plant estrogens called isoflavones. These isoflavones mimic the effects of estrogen which gently bind to the body's natural estrogen receptors to compensate for the lack of estrogen.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help to reduce symptoms, but for some women, these medications are akin to using a sledgehammer on a nail. Side effects of HRT can include vaginal bleeding, breast tenderness, swelling, nausea, headaches, bloating, and leg cramps. It is also difficult to come off of HRT due to the influence on hormone levels and menopausal symptoms can return with a vengeance. As such, many women are seeking alternatives, and phytoestrogens – those sourced from plants, are an effective solution with fewer side effects.
You may be thinking, 'Okay, you've convinced me', but where can I find a soy product with all of these benefits?
A.Vogel is pleased to introduce MenoSupport Complex, a combination product consisting of magnesium, hibiscus, and soy. It has been on the market in the UK for over 8 years with a strong following due to its resounding success in helping women across the country reduce their menopausal symptoms.
The isoflavones in soy have historically helped women to mitigate the impacts of declining estrogen including hot flashes, bone degeneration, menstrual migraines, mood swings, and other difficult menopausal symptoms.
The soy used in MenoSupport Complex is unique for various reasons. A.Vogel has carefully chosen to source and use pure, superior quality starting material. Only whole, non-genetically modified (non-GMO) soyabeans are used. The product contains no isolates and makes use of the complete isoflavone profile from the soybean which have been revered for their numerous health benefits. In line with our A.Vogel philosophy, we have chosen to extract the active components, which are the soy isoflavones, using an alcohol/ ethanol extraction method. This makes it stand above most water extracted soy products found in other supplements.
During the alcohol / ethanol extraction process used to isolate the isoflavones from the beans, lectins are neutralized and rendered non-active. This is important as many people react to the activated form of lectins which are found in most isolated, water extracted soy products on the market. Digestive intolerance and irritation are thus avoided and there have been no reports of adverse reactions to the product.
An additional benefit is that during the ethanol extraction, the glycone molecule splits in the same way that it would while undergoing a process of fermentation. This results in smaller, more digestible particles which are easy to assimilate.
The second ingredient, Hibiscus sabdariffa, has strong antioxidant properties and can impact a variety of cardiovascular functions. Studies have shown the plants ability to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, potentially reducing migraines, and reduces blood lipid levels in diabetics.
The final ingredient is the mineral, magnesium, a deficiency of which has been implicated as a risk factor in the development of osteoporosis, a risk for women due to declining estrogen levels as mentioned. The mineral can also help with reducing the frequency of migraine attacks, encouraging sleep, relaxing muscles, and moderating the rapidly shifting emotions associated with declining hormone levels including anxiety, irritability, and depression. Finally, as an adrenal support, the mineral has been shown to calm the stress response and stabilize mood.