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The Vegan Menopause Podcast -- Ep. 10 -- Unexpected Benefits of Veganism

Updated: Apr 5

Let me start by saying that I went vegan because I love animals, I didn’t want any harm to come to animals, so for me the #1 reason for my vegan lifestyle has always been for compassion for animals. 

But in addition to compassionate reasons, a whole foods vegan diet has amazing benefits to help with menopause, which is great, it’s better for animals and healthy for humans!

If you are eating mostly unprocessed plant foods, that can decrease the risk of many problems that can start to show up during menopause or in midlife.

For example, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and strokes, type 2 diabetes, cancers such as breast cancer and colon cancer.  Diets high in fatty meats are linked to higher rates of these diseases.

Estrogen protects your heart, and a decrease in estrogen can lead to negative changes in heart health.  So it is helpful to follow a whole foods vegan diet to avoid animal fats which clog the arteries.

Hydration is an issue that can exacerbate symptoms of menopause, I spoke about that in detail in episode 9.  Fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed vegan foods are high in water, which helps with hydration.  

These foods are also high in fiber which is great for your blood sugar.  Fiber  takes longer to digest, and helps us stay feeling full longer, which can help with weight gain that is so common during perimenopause.  Fiber keeps your energy levels steady, and you can also eat more of it without adding a lot of calories.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, we can find fiber in beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.  Animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs contain absolutely zero fiber, and low fiber diets are a health risk for many issues.

Also, a low fiber diet can lead to constipation and bloat, so just adding fiber to your diet and becoming more regular may even help with your waistline.

Another benefit of fiber is that it feeds our gut microbiome, which is helpful for mood and brain function through the microbiome-gut-brain axis (I certainly had no idea of this when i first went vegan! Basically it’s the connection between our gastrointestinal system, the bacteria living in it, and the brain).  Keeping our gut bacteria happy helps with inflammation, hormone production, and digestion.  These microbes especially love resistant starch, which we get from cooled off starchy foods, like a cold bean salad, pasta salad, sushi or overnight oats.

A vegan diet typically has lots of colorful fruits and vegetables which are high in antioxidants.  This can help reduce tissue damage and inflammation. 

Eating high amounts of unprocessed foods can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis.  When eating the typical acidic foods in the standard American diet, your body needs to pull calcium from the bones to neutralize the acidity.  A diet high in alkaline plant foods can prevent the loss of calcium.  And, it also helps with  brain health – your brain is affected by oxidative stress. Some foods that are alkaline and also high in calcium include leafy greens, such as parsley, collards, and kale,  

Foods like chickpeas, almonds, and fortified plant milk are also good sources of calcium.  

Some benefits of vegan protein, a Harvard study in 2022 found that consuming protein lowered risk of developing dementia, but beans and legumes had the strongest protective effect.

Another vegan protein, soybeans, has been proven to reduce hot flashes.  A 2021 study called the Women's Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS), conducted by Dr. Neal Barnard, showed that women reduced hot flashes by 84%, without medications.  All these women did was avoid animal products, eat minimal oils, and eat half a cup of boiled soybeans a day. On average, the women were having about 5 hot flashes a day at the beginning of the study.  By the end of the study, only 41 percent had any hot flashes, but those who did only averaged one hot flash a day.

So, a whole foods vegan diet has many benefits in perimenopause, post menopause, and beyond, and I hope that you found this episode helpful. 

I have a free download you can grab – 5 action steps to elevate your vegan menopause experience, you can grab that on my website and I will also leave a note in the show notes.  Have a question about menopause?  DM me on Instagram and I will either answer you directly or include your question in an upcoming episode.

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