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Low-fat Diet May Help Eliminate Menopausal Symptoms

Update Date: Jul 11, 2012 11:26 AM EDT

A new study has revealed that a low-fat diet with high fruits and vegetables "may help to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause."

The Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study was published current issue of Menopause.

Researchers studied about 17,400 women and concluded that those on a "diet low in fat and high in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, who had menopausal symptoms, who were not taking hormone replacement therapy, and who lost weight - 10 or more pounds or 10 or more percent of their baseline body weight - were more likely to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats after one year."

Lead Author of the study Candyce Kroenke said many women experience hot flashes at some point before or after menopause, when their estrogen levels are declining.

"While the mechanism is not completely understood, hot flashes and night sweats are thought to be caused by a complex interaction that involves fluctuating hormone levels, the hypothalamus region of the brain that regulates body temperature, brain chemicals and receptors, and the body's blood vessels and sweat glands," Kroenke said. "Weight loss, especially loss of fat mass but not lean mass, might also help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats."

Earlier studies showed that high body weight and weight gain are associated with hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause. However,  this study is the among the first and the largest to analyze whether weight loss on a diet designed to reduce fat and increase whole grains, fruit, and vegetable intake might ameliorate symptoms. According to researchers, it is also among the first to examine the influence of a dietary change on symptoms that include hot flashes and night sweats.

Senior Author of the study Bette Caan said losing weight might be beneficial for menopausal women.

"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," Caan said.

She explained that greater body fat provides insulation that may hinder heat loss, and hot flashes and

Researchers say further research is needed to better understand the relationship between diet, weight and hot flash/night sweat symptoms. They explain that the beneficial impact of a healthy diet alone (regardless of weight change) may also help improve symptoms.

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