WASHINGTON, D.C.—Postmenopausal women who followed a low-fat vegan diet reduced their intake of hormone-disrupting dietary compounds called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which led to a 92% decrease in severe hot flashes and an 88% decrease in moderate-to-severe hot flashes, according to new research by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine published in the journal Maturitas.
AGEs may be ingested through the diet, and animal products are generally higher in AGEs than plant foods. Cooking with high heat under dry conditions, such as grilling, leads to significant formation of AGEs, especially in animal-derived foods, which are also rich in fats.
High amounts of AGEs circulating in the body cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which contribute to hot flashes. AGEs also act as endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals or compounds that interfere with the body’s hormones such estrogen.
“Eating meat increases the amount of hormone-disrupting advanced glycation end-products circulating in the body, which contributes to hot flashes,” says lead study author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “A low-fat vegan diet reduces intake of AGEs, improving hormonal balance and significantly decreasing hot flashes.”
The new research is an analysis of data from a Physicians Committee study published in the journal Menopause earlier this year. In the study, 84 postmenopausal women reporting two or more moderate-to-severe hot flashes daily were randomly assigned to either the intervention group that was asked to follow a low-fat vegan diet, including a half cup cooked soybeans a day, or to the control group that continued their usual diets for 12 weeks. Frequency and severity of hot flashes were recorded with a mobile application. Dietary AGE scores were assigned using a database of with the AGE content of approximately 560 food items.
Sixty-three participants provided complete hot flash and dietary data for the AGEs analysis. Dietary AGEs decreased 73% in the vegan group, compared with a 7% increase in the control group. About 44% of the reduction of the dietary AGEs in the vegan group was due to the reduction of meat intake, and 24% due to decreased dairy intake. Eighty percent of the dietary AGEs from meat intake were derived from white meat consumption.
The reduction in dietary AGEs with a low-fat plant-based diet was associated with a significant reduction in the frequency of hot flashes independent of changes in energy intake and weight loss.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.