I recently had a fascinating encounter with a Japanese woman during a menopause talk I presented. She shared that her mother and grandmother struggled to relate to her enquiries about menopause symptoms and hot flushes. This led me to dig deeper into the topic and uncover an intriguing phenomenon: only 25% of Japanese women experience hot flushes, in stark contrast to the 75% prevalence in the UK.

One contributing factor to this disparity lies in the social and cultural attitudes toward menopause in Japan. In the Japanese language, ‘konenki’ [menopause] is referred to as the ‘renewal years’ associated with ‘energy’. This positive perspective on menopause stands in stark contrast to the often negative connotations attached to this life stage in Western societies.

While this explanation may raise eyebrows, research indicates that a positive attitude can significantly reduce menopausal symptoms by up to 30%. Additionally, the Japanese diet and lifestyle play a pivotal role. Japanese women consume a substantial amount of soy in various forms like tofu, tempeh, miso, natto, and edamame beans.

Soy is rich in isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens (plant-based oestrogens) possessing a structure similar to human oestrogen, albeit significantly less potent (around 1/1000th). These compounds can both elevate natural oestrogen levels and regulate them if they are excessively high. Studies have shown that daily consumption of 45 mg of phytoestrogens can have positive effects on hormonal balance.

It is crucial to opt for high-quality, minimally processed, organic soy products and steer clear of GMO or additives. Some individuals have reported noticeable improvements in their symptoms by incorporating phytoestrogens into their diets. Besides soy, other sources of phytoestrogens include chickpeas, clover, lentils, and beans.

If you are interested in exploring foods rich in phytoestrogens and embracing self-care practices, feel free to reach out for more information.