By Robyn Chuter, Naturopath and Counsellor
The results of the report ‘Vegans report less bothersome vasomotor and physical menopausal symptoms than do omnivores’ confirms what plant-based practitioners like myself have known for a long time.
The authors surveyed female vegans, vegetarians and omnivores aged 45 – 80. Participants filled in a detailed questionnaire assessing their diet and exercise patterns and listing their vasomotor and physical symptoms of menopause.
Vasomotor symptoms include hot flushes and night sweats, while physical symptoms include muscle and joint aches, fatigue, sleep difficulties, neck, head and back aches, reduced strength/stamina, lethargy, skin changes, weight gain, facial hair, bloating, frequent or involuntary urination and flatulence.
The researchers found that the more vegetables, fruit, soya products and high omega-3 plant foods the women ate, the less vasomotor and physical symptoms they reported. Vegetables (especially leafy greens) and berries were the most protective foods against menopausal misery. Moderate physical exercise was also associated with less severe physical symptoms.
On the other hand, the higher their body mass index (BMI) and the more flesh food, dairy products and high omega-3 fish they ate, the worse their vasomotor and physical symptoms were. Also, the more sweets eaten, the more severe the physical symptoms.
Overall, women who ate an entirely plant-based diet reported significantly less bothersome symptoms than omnivores.
One of the most interesting aspects of the study was the differential effect of omega-3 fat intake from animal-sources versus plant-sources. Marketers’ enthusiasm for fish oil supplementation and promotion of oily fish has not waned, despite mounting evidence of lack of benefit. The authors speculate that the reason why animal sources of omega-3 fats, such as salmon, were associated with more bothersome symptoms, might be because the long-chain omega-3 fats (DHA, EPA and DPA) from animal products are more susceptible to oxidation than the short-chain omega-3s found in plant foods such as linseed/flaxseed.
As well as reducing the severity of menopausal symptoms, the authors point out that more plant-based diets are protective against the diseases that women become more susceptible to as they age, including cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. Furthermore, whole-food plant-based diets help prevent the weight gain that is the bane of many women’s lives as they transition out of their reproductive years.
The bottom line: get more plants on your plate and skip the animal products!
Need help with navigating perimenopause? You can apply for a Roadmap to Optimal Health Consultation with Robyn today. www.empowertotalhealth.com.au
Robyn Chuter BHSc(Hons), ND, GDCouns is an ASLM-certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, naturopath, nutritionist, counsellor and EFT therapist.
Reproduced with permission from Robyn’s enewsletter, Empowered. You can subscribe here