Soy May Support Better PMS Health by Balancing Hormone Levels
By Dr. Aaron Tabor, MD
Medical Research Director at Revival Soy
- Let's face it, PMS is no picnic. The estimated 40 million sufferers of PMS will agree the cramps, fatigue, mood swings and bloating are enough to make life just plain irritating. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common life stage for women in their reproductive years. PMS symptoms include physical symptoms (swelling, bloating, headaches), behavioral symptoms (sleep disturbances, appetite changes, poor concentration, social withdrawal), and emotional symptoms (irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression).
What causes PMS? Studies link the symptoms of PMS to high levels of estrogen in a woman’s body before and during menstruation. Premenopausal women with elevated estrogen levels experience more frequent and severe PMS symptoms.
Soy may support better menstrual health by favorably altering estrogen levels and estrogen metabolism. (1-7) Several studies suggest that premenopausal women who consume soy protein significantly lower their estrogen levels to more "balanced" levels.(3-6)
Other studies suggest that eating soy increases the amount of time between each menstrual period by 1-3 days, thus creating fewer opportunities for PMS to occur. (4,7) Additionally, soy may favorably impact estrogen metabolism by causing the body to produce smaller amounts of unhealthy estrogen metabolites. (6) Essentially, eating soy may naturally "balance" the body's estrogen levels to support a healthier hormonal state.
Two new studies from England and Japan suggest that soy isoflavones are effective for supporting better PMS health. (1-2) Japanese researchers noted that physical symptoms of PMS were "significantly improved" in women consuming soy isoflavones daily. The researchers concluded that soy isoflavones were beneficial for the improvement of physical symptoms of PMS.".(1)
Daily soy consumption for several months is likely required to start seeing a potential "balancing" of estrogen levels. Combined with increased calcium intake, soy may play an important role in better PMS health.
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1. Effects of Soy Isoflavones on Premenstrual Syndrome. N. Ishiwata1, et al. 5th International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease, Sept. 21-24th, 2003. Orlando, FL.
2. Role of Phytoestrogens on Menstrual Cycle Symptoms. M. Bryant, et al. 5th International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease, Sept. 21-24th, 2003. Orlando, FL.
3. Lu LJ, et al. Decreased ovarian hormones during a soya diet: implications for breast cancer prevention. Cancer Res 2000 Aug 1;60(15):4112-21.
4. Cancer. 2002 Feb 15;94(4):1166-74. The specific role of isoflavones on estrogen metabolism in premenopausal women. Kumar NB,et al.
5. Nutr Cancer. 1997;29(3):228-33. Decreased serum estradiol concentration associated with high dietary intake of soy products in premenopausal Japanese women. Nagata C, et al.
6. Xu X, Duncan AM, Merz BE, Kurzer MS, Effects of soy isoflavones on estrogen and phytoestrogen metabolism in premenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prev 1998 Dec;7(12):1101-8.
7. Cancer Res 2000 Mar 1;60(5):1299-305. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 Sep;60(3):333-40. Biological effects of a diet of soy protein rich in isoflavones on the menstrual cycle of premenopausal women. Cassidy A, Bingham S, Setchell KD.
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