Could a Menopausal Diet Help With Hot Flashes?
If you’re experiencing hot flashes — those uncomfortable waves of heat that seem to take over your body during menopause — you’re probably wondering where you can find relief. A menopausal diet may help.
Changing what you eat can help you cope with menopausal symptoms and maintain good health as you age.
Understanding hot flashes
Hot flashes and other symptoms affecting menopausal women are caused by decreased production of the estrogen hormone that occurs during menopause. Estrogen regulates many body functions. Fluctuating estrogen levels cause blood vessels to either constrict or dilate depending on whether the levels are high or low. These “surges” in blood flow can cause hot flashes, which are worsened because estrogen also helps regulate body temperature.
How a menopausal diet can help
What should you eat to help ease symptoms and stay healthy? Start here:
- Soy. Soybeans contain phytoestrogens, which can mimic the role estrogen normally plays in the body. Other foods that contain phytoestrogens include berries, grapes, barley and black tea.
- Healthy fats. Eating a moderate amount of foods containing healthy fats — such as the omega-3 fatty oils found in salmon and flaxseed, rather than saturated fats, like those found in butter and baked goods —has been shown to decrease hot flashes and night sweats.
- Fruits and veggies. Not only are these fresh foods delicious, but they may also lower the risk of hot flashes. Eating a diet high in produce is associated with getting to and maintaining a healthy weight, which can help the body maintain a normal temperature.
- Lean protein. While protein won’t prevent hot flashes, increasing protein intake following menopause can help postmenopausal women maintain muscle mass and protect bone health. Choose lean proteins, such as chicken, turkey or fish, prepared in healthy ways such as grilling or baking.
- Dairy. As estrogen levels fall, a woman’s risk of fractures increases. Because of that, it’s a good idea to eat dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, to get a healthy dose of both calcium and vitamin D.
<h2>Foods that may aggravate hot flashes</h2>
Limit your intake of both caffeine and alcohol since both can trigger hot flashes in some cases. Caffeine-containing beverages that are served hot, like coffee, can be a particular trigger.
You may also want to try minimizing spicy foods in your diet to see if that helps with hot flashes. Watch your intake of processed foods and added sugar, too. Foods like baked goods can cause your blood sugar to increase, which in turn can increase hot flashes.
Hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause don’t have to disrupt your daily life. St. Elizabeth women’s health services can help. Find a women’s health services provider at St. Elizabeth Physicians in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.