Many of my female friends are experiencing hot flashes, a common symptom of women going through menopause. Some of them are suffering quite severe symptoms. Many are waking up a few times during the night bathed in night sweats. What is the reason for the varying degrees of severity of hot flashes in different women. And how can they mitigate the effects of hot flashes? Turns out there are some simple highly effective natural remedies you can use.
WHAT CAUSES HOT FLASHES?
Hot flashes are a common symptom experienced by many women during menopause. A hot flash refers to an abrupt sensation of warmth in the upper body, with the most intense feelings usually centered around the face, neck, and chest.
According to this Mayo clinic article “hot flashes occur when decreased estrogen levels cause your body’s thermostat (hypothalamus) to become more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature. When the hypothalamus thinks your body is too warm, it starts a chain of events — a hot flash — to cool you down”. This may cause your skin to redden, resembling a blush, and can also lead to sweating. Following a hot flash, it is possible to experience a sensation of coldness due to the loss of body heat.
Here are most common causes of hot flashes
Menopause: The most common cause of hot flashes is menopause. During menopause, the levels of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body decrease, which can cause the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that regulates body temperature) to become more sensitive to changes in temperature.
Perimenopause: Perimenopause is the transition period before menopause when a woman’s body is preparing to stop ovulating. During this time, hormone levels can fluctuate, leading to hot flashes.
Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid problems, diabetes, and cancer, can cause hot flashes. In some cases, hot flashes can be a side effect of medication used to treat these conditions.
Lifestyle factors: Certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking, high caffeine or alcohol intake, and stress, can trigger hot flashes.
Genetics: Some research suggests that genetics may play a role in hot flashes. Women whose mothers or sisters experienced hot flashes are more likely to experience them themselves.
According to this study it was found that a plant-based diet rich in soy reduces moderate-to-severe hot flashes by 84%, and nearly 60% of women in the study became totally free of moderate-to-severe hot flashes. The Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS) trial used a low-fat, vegan diet, including half a cup of cooked soybeans daily, and the combination proved more effective than either diet or soy alone.
As many as 80% of postmenopausal women suffer from hot flashes. The researchers theorize that the effect may be a result of soy products containing isoflavones, which can be metabolized by gut bacteria into equol. If you give it a try use organic soy beans given the problems with GMO soy.
FOOD TO AVOID DURING HOT FLASHES
- Spicy Foods: Spicy foods contain capsaicin which can increase body temperature and trigger hot flashes. Avoid Cayenne pepper, Habanero pepper, Ghost pepper, Szechuan pepper, Black pepper, Horseradish and Mustard seeds.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can cause the blood vessels to dilate, leading to increased blood flow and hot flashes.
- Caffeine: Caffeine can act as a stimulant, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, and potentially triggering hot flashes. Avoid the coffee and black tea.
- Sugary Foods: Sugary foods can cause blood sugar levels to spike and then crash, leading to hormonal fluctuations that can cause hot flashes.
- Processed Foods: Processed foods often contain high levels of sodium, which can lead to dehydration and trigger hot flashes.
- Red Meat: Red meat is high in protein, which can increase metabolism and body temperature, triggering hot flashes. Avoid beef, Lamb, organ meats like liver and seafood especially lobster and shrimp
- Dairy Products: Some women find that dairy products can trigger hot flashes due to their high content of calcium and protein.
- High-fat Foods: High-fat foods can cause the body to work harder to digest them, which can increase body temperature and potentially trigger hot flashes.
- Spices and herbs: Cinnamon, ginseng and ginger should be avoided as these tend to increase body heat resulting in hot flashes.
FOODS TO CONSUME TO REDUCE HOT FLASHES
- Cucumber: Cucumber is a hydrating vegetable that is rich in water and fiber, and has a cooling effect on the body.
- Watermelon: Watermelon is a fruit that is high in water content and rich in electrolytes, which helps keep the body hydrated and cool.
- Coconut Water: Coconut water is a natural electrolyte-rich drink that can help keep the body hydrated and cool in hot weather.
- Mint: Mint leaves have a cooling effect on the body and can be added to drinks or foods to provide a refreshing and cooling taste.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is a probiotic food that helps regulate digestion and can have a cooling effect on the body.
- Melons: Melons like cantaloupe and honeydew are rich in water content and can help keep the body hydrated and cool.
- Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are rich in vitamin C and have a cooling effect on the body.
- Leafy Greens: Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce are high in water content and can help keep the body hydrated and cool.
- Cilantro: Cilantro is an herb that can be added to foods for flavor and has a cooling effect on the body.
COOLING FOOD ACCORDING TO CHINESE CUSTOM
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), foods are classified based on their energetic properties and are believed to have cooling, warming, or neutral effects on the body. Here are some foods that are believed to have cooling properties in TCM:
- Watermelon: Watermelon is considered a cooling food in TCM and is believed to help clear heat and toxins from the body.
- Mung beans: Mung beans are also considered a cooling food in TCM and are often used in soups or congees to help cool the body.
- Lotus root: Lotus root is believed to have cooling properties and is often used in stir-fries or soups in TCM to help reduce inflammation and heat in the body.
- Bitter melon: Bitter melon is a vegetable that is believed to have a cooling effect on the body and is often used in TCM to help reduce fever.
- Cucumber: Cucumber is a cooling vegetable that is often eaten raw or used in salads in TCM to help clear heat and cool the body.
- Seaweed: Seaweed is considered a cooling food in TCM and is believed to help reduce inflammation and cool the body.
- Green tea: Green tea is a cooling beverage in TCM and is believed to help reduce heat and inflammation in the body.
- Chrysanthemum tea: Chrysanthemum tea is a popular herbal tea in TCM that is believed to have cooling properties and can help reduce fever.
Hot flashes are a common symptom experienced by many women during menopause. They can be uncomfortable, disruptive, and even embarrassing. Fortunately, there are several lifestyle changes and dietary modifications that can help reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day can help prevent hot flashes. Dehydration can exacerbate hot flashes and make them more frequent and intense. Aim for at least eight glasses of water a day, and try to limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, as they can be dehydrating.
Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce hot flashes. Avoid spicy, fried, and processed foods, as they can trigger hot flashes. Some women also find that avoiding foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates can help reduce hot flashes.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, most days of the week. Exercise can also help improve your mood, reduce stress, and promote better sleep.
Practice stress reduction techniques: Stress can trigger hot flashes, so it’s important to find ways to manage stress. Try relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. You may also find it helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist about stress management techniques.
Dress in layers: Wearing loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics, such as cotton, can help regulate your body temperature and reduce hot flashes. Dressing in layers can also help you quickly adjust your clothing to your changing body temperature.
Use a fan: A small portable fan can help cool you down and reduce hot flashes, particularly when you’re sleeping. You may also find it helpful to place a fan near your workspace or in other areas where you spend a lot of time.
Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for reducing hot flashes. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night, and try to establish a regular sleep routine. Keep your bedroom cool and dark, and avoid using electronic devices before bed.