Hot Flashes in Menopause: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid
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Understating how hormone levels fluctuate throughout a woman’s life can help you get on top of menopausal symptoms. It’s the time when your trusty estrogen levels decline, bringing about some unwanted metabolic changes.
Menopausal hot flashes are probably the first symptom to be noticed by perimenopausal women, ushering in the start of a new chapter in their body’s journey. You might try to shake off menopause symptoms as a minor inconvenience in the early stages.
However, hot flashes are accompanied by mood swings and can affect your overall health and the way you function on a daily basis. Luckily, you can tame and reduce hot flashes by simply adjusting your dietary intake. Follow along as we explore how certain foods can do wonders for menopausal women and reduce hot flashes!
What Causes Vasomotor Symptoms or VMS?
The main mechanism behind vasomotor symptoms (VMS) has to do with estrogen levels declining as we age. VMS is really just another fancy name for hot flashes. The idea here is that estrogen drops cause the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that regulates body temperature, to become extra sensitive.
Meaning, any small rise in body temperature is met by vigilant efforts to bring the core temperature back to baseline. This explains how in just a matter of minutes, you can experience a hot flash followed by profuse sweating in an effort to restore balance.
Night Sweats may be the end result if such a cycle coincides with your sleep hours. Night sweats can mess up your sleeping schedule and, in turn, contribute to the mood swings menopausal women are notorious for.
How a Healthy Diet – Including Soy – Can Help
Research data has shown that the prevalence of eating disorders among menopausal women is on the rise. Adopting healthy diet habits can boost your body’s ability to overcome the hormonal changes posed by menopause.
Nevertheless, it’s important to know that strict diets won’t magically make your menopausal symptoms go away. Ask any registered dietitian, and they’ll agree you don’t need to make drastic changes to your eating habits.
All you need to do is introduce some simple foods that are proven to alleviate common menopausal symptoms. On top of that list are soy foods that are rich in phytoestrogens! Such a natural plant-based diet is rich in antioxidants and can mimic estrogen.
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9 Foods that Fight Hot Flashes
In addition to soy milk and other natural soy products, the following foods can prove to be useful in controlling hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms!
1. Cooling Foods
Traditional Chinese medicine, herbal therapies, and green tea can ease hot flashes thanks to their cooling effects. Bok choy, cauliflower, and cabbage can be included under the umbrella of cooling food as they keep your body hydrated and regulate the intricate balance of electrolytes.
2. Whole Grains
For a balanced diet, you need a great source of fiber! Whole wheat can be exactly what you’re looking for as it also controls blood sugar levels and ensures hot flashes don’t become bothersome.
Bear in mind that white flour is to be avoided whenever possible, as it’s rich in starch and carbohydrates. It could actually worsen hot flashes and increase the incidence of night sweats.
3. Fruits and Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables and fruits should be staple in your diet to alleviate menopause symptoms. Broccoli, spinach, and kale are key elements in the Mediterranean diet, and many women aiming for weight loss have switched to a veggie-rich diet to reach their goals!
4. Other Phytoestrogen-Rich Foods
We’ve already touched on how phytoestrogens can mimic the effect of the estrogen. Such foods can control hot flashes and reduce the risk of menopausal weight gain. Soy products are some of the best foods for menopause, thanks to their low fat and rich phytoestrogen.
Celery, chia seeds, green beans, oats, and legumes are worthy contenders for the soy foods throne as they too can help alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms that come with menopause!
5. Foods Rich in Vitamin E
Avocado, shellfish, and sunflower seeds come with considerable amounts of vitamin E. Research cements the role of vitamin E in reducing depression and limiting menopausal weight gain, making it an essential element to consider when making diet changes.
6. Healthy Fats
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, possess anti-inflammatory functions. That’s not all; such healthy fats protect women from conditions that affect the coronary blood vessels, reducing the overall risk of heart disease.
You need to hold onto your muscle bulk, so eating protein-rich food like poultry, fish, and meat is important. If your vegetarian or vegan you can get your protein easily from tofu, lentils, chickpeas, almonds, quinoa and chia.
One shouldn’t underestimate the effects of drinking cold water in controlling menopausal hormone changes. Drinking 8 to 12 cups per day can reduce bloating and ensure dehydration never gains hold onto you. Set reminders and never skip on the water.
Feel like a stirfry, homemade pizza or mushroom and lentil bolognese? Great idea, pile in those mushrooms They contain selenium, a mineral that helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Stress triggers a surge in epinephrine, which in turn can trigger hot flashes. So avoid stress in you body by eating mushrooms every day.
3 Types of Foods that Can Make Menopause Worse
Incorporating healthy foods into your diet is only one half of the story; the other lies in giving up unhealthy eating habits and refraining from fried and spicy foods!
Here are some examples of foods and beverages you need to avoid.
Hot Beverages Such as Coffee, Tea, and Hot Chocolate
It only makes sense that hot flashes can get worse with consuming lots of hot beverages throughout the day.
Healthy snacking on vegetables and seeds isn’t only nutritious, but it also keeps your mind away from the constant urge to have a hot beverage cup next to you all day!
Caffeinated Beverages Such as Colas, Coffee, and Energy Drinks
Caffeine increases your blood pressure and heart rate, bringing on hot flashes. It’s also worth noting that caffeine and milder spices can lead to dehydration, which in turn worsens the itchiness of vaginal dryness.
Processed Sugars Such as Cakes and Candy
In menopause, changes to your body composition come into play. For instance, muscle mass is replaced by more visceral fat. That is a deep layer of fat that goes on around your middle. Add processed foods to the mix, and your body starts to pile up more fat stores. This, in turn, can lead to insulin resistance and contribute to a variety of metabolic disorders.
By now, you should have a solid idea about how to control hot flashes. It’s always a process of trial and error. So, you need to be mindful of what types of foods trigger your symptoms and work around finding alternatives that play nicely with your clinical nutrition goals!