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A low-fat diet and weight loss may help reduce menopausal symptoms in women

Food Facts understands that women going through menopause experience a number of symptoms that interfere with their daily lives. It can go well beyond “discomfort”, having tremendous negative effects that are individual for every women experiencing this transitional time of life.

The most common menopausal symptoms for most women are weight gain, the inability to lose weight and “hot flashes” – episodes of body heating accompanied by intense sweating. In the past, women have been prescribed hormone replacement therapies. And in recent years those replacement therapies have been called into question for their possible effects on women’s health.

A new study just released is pointing to a low-fat diet as key in reducing these often-traumatic symptoms. Researchers studied 17,473 menopausal women and followed their results as the women ate a diet of low-fat, high-fiber, whole-grain foods without using any hormone replacement therapies. Those women involved in the study who lost either 10 pounds or 10 percent of their body weight were less likely to have hot flashes or night sweats than women who did not lose weight. Women who lost more than 22 pounds found that their symptoms were eliminated completely.

“Since most women tend to gain weight with age, weight loss or weight gain prevention may offer a viable strategy to help eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause,” said study author Bette Caan, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. “Because fat insulates the body, increased body fat may worsen hot flashes and night sweats, which are caused by a complex interaction between hormones, brain chemicals and sweat glands during menopause. The less fat a person has, the more easily the body can dissipate heat,” Caan said.

In the past, there has been research associating body weight with the severity of menopausal symptoms. This study, however, is the first to link a healthy diet and losing weight to the reversal of symptoms.

Data for the study was gathered during The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modifications trial. U.S. women were tracked in the trial between 1993 and 1998 to study how a low-fat diet affects many different health issues, menopausal symptoms, included. While the diet focused on reducing fat and increasing intake of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, its focus was not on weight loss, but overall health. Women in the study following the diet lost about 4.5 pounds each year. But surprisingly, the study also revealed that women who didn’t lose weight, but followed the diet also experienced a reduction in their symptoms. This may be because of the high-fiber increase as other studies have shown a connection here. It’s worth it to note that after a year of following the diet, the women studied were 3x more likely to lose weight than other menopausal women. Since weight gain, and difficulty losing weight is such a prevalent complaint among menopausal women, the simple adoption of a low-fat diet can have a tremendous, positive effect on so many women’s lives as they age.
While, more study is needed, one thing is fairly clear. A high-fiber, low fat diet promises more benefits than heart health and may be a simple answer to the discomfort women have lived with for generations during this important stage of their lives.

Food Facts is excited to bring our community this important information that can have real impact on there lives! Read more about it: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711101030.htm and http://www.ajc.com/health/can-weight-loss-cool-1476751.html

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