Often presented as a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy, phytoestrogens may not only mitigate the symptoms of perimenopause, but also reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and heart disease, lower cholesterol and blood pressure. What products can these compounds be found in?
It has been proven that Asian women pass menopause much more miserably than residents of Europe and North America. It is believed that this effect is due to the Asian's greater consumption of legumes, including soybeans, which contain large amounts of phytoestrogens.
Fito, or vegetable
Estrogen is a natural sex hormone, produced in the female body to regulate the menstrual cycle. During puberty, estrogen is responsible for breast growth, the appearance of pubic hair and the beginning of menstruation. Until the period of menopause, he controls the fertility of a woman. Phytoestrogens are compounds found in plants that have a chemical structure similar to endogenous human estrogen. Due to their similarity, they may bind to estrogen receptors, however, their action is much smaller than estrogen - they show efficacy at the level of 1-2 human action of estrogen. In plant organisms, phytoestrogens are responsible for the regulation of growth, the time of ripening and flowering of plants.
Phytoestrogens are usually divided into three classes: lignans, stilbenes and flavonoids. The representative of lignans is sekoizolaricirezinol. Lignans can be found primarily in vegetable oils, including linseed oil, as well as in sunflower seeds, linseed, garlic, onions, cherries, pears and in hop beer and red wine. The representative of stilbenes is resveratrol, contained mainly in the skins of grapes. Flavonoids, including isoflavones, can be found in soybeans, lentils, peas, beans, broad beans, hops and cereals, including wheat, rye and barley.
And I feel better!
For the first time, the action of phytoestrogens was described in 1931 for genistein, a compound naturally found in soybeans. Today, we know that phytoestrogens have particularly beneficial effects in women in perimenopausal and menopausal age. Perimenopause usually starts in the fourth decade of a woman's life and is the time before menstruation stops. It is associated with unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, breast tenderness, frequent mood changes, decreased libido, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irregular menstruation, memory and concentration problems or palpitations. These symptoms are associated with changes in the hormonal economy, which is why some women apply for hormone replacement therapy. However, not all women are prescribed such a therapy, and not all women want to decide on it. Sometimes, as a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy, the increase in the content of phytoestrogen-rich components in the diet is considered.
Foods with phytoestrogens should also reach ladies in the post-menopausal age, because it has been proven that these compounds can protect against the development of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases associated with a decreasing amount of female hormones.
Some studies suggest that phytoestrogens in the diet may also be a way to support acne treatment. Sometimes it is caused by an increase in the level of male hormones in the body, and phytoestrogens can restore the natural hormonal balance. Some studies also indicate that phytoestrogens may have an effect that reduces the likelihood of developing hormone-dependent cancers, including breast and endometrial cancer. However, caution and consultation with a gynecologist is recommended before making a decision to increase the amount of phytoestrogens in the diet - because these compounds can be dangerous for women who have mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and those who already have a hormone-dependent type of cancer.
The effects of phytoestrogen therapy, whether in the diet or in the form of supplements, are noticeable after 2-3 months of regular use.Whether or not phytoestrogens are effective is affected by many factors, including dietary fiber, alcohol consumption and smoking.
E. Kwiatkowska,Phytoestrogens - a pro-health role and content in products. Progress of Phytotherapy 2 (2009) 107-112