If you have hot flashes, you may be wondering whether there's a special diet for menopause that could help you.
According to estimates, 80% of women have hot flashes, the defining symptom of the menopausal transition. While some hot flashes are light and bearable, others can be so severe that they seriously interfere with day-to-day activities.
Although there isn't a single "menopause diet," some dietary changes may reduce hot flashes. However, menopause involves more than just a series of uncomfortable symptoms.
Women should take the initiative to adopt or reinforce a healthy diet and lifestyle throughout this period of life. The dietary recommendations for hot flashes listed below can also assist safeguard your health in the years following menopause.
Menopause: What is it?
Perimenopause, often known as the menopause transition, usually starts between the ages of 45 and 55, when estrogen levels in the blood are fluctuating. Physical signs of perimenopause include hot flashes, trouble sleeping, mood swings, irregular periods, and a rise in belly fat.
When estrogen levels drop dramatically 12 months after a woman's last menstrual cycle, this is known as menopause. The average age of menopause in North America is 51.
Genetics, autoimmune diseases, ovary removal surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are some of the causes of early menopause in certain women.
The period following menopause is referred to as postmenopause. Although hot flashes might become milder and eventually stop, for some women they can last for up to ten years. After menopause, there is an increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and breast cancer.
Breaking down the “hot flash”
The hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls body temperature, is known to undergo alterations as a result of diminishing estrogen levels, which is thought to be the cause of hot flashes. This "thermostat" tries to cool you off when it determines that you are too warm, which causes a hot flash.
A hot flash makes your face, neck, and chest feel warm. Flushing, perspiration, a quick heartbeat, anxiety, and, after the flash passes, shivers are some other symptoms. Hot flashes known as night sweats happen while you're sleeping.
Dietary habits and foods to reduce hot flashes
Avoid meals and drinks including caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and spicy foods that might cause or make heat flashes worse. Other triggers consist of hot temperatures, tension, smoking, and wearing tight clothing.
Changing to a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, like the Mediterranean diet, may also help lessen hot flashes. In a 2013 study of 6,040 menopausal women, it was discovered that those who closely resembled the Mediterranean food pattern had a considerably lower incidence of hot flashes and nocturnal sweats than those who did not.
Women who consumed a diet heavy in fat and added sugars, on the other hand, were more likely to suffer from hot flashes and nocturnal sweats. Low and stable estrogen levels are linked to a Mediterranean diet that is strong in fiber and low in harmful fats.
According to studies, consuming natural soy foods may be beneficial for preventing hot flashes. The most recent study, published in the journal Menopause in 2021, found that after 12 weeks, postmenopausal women who had one half-cup of soybeans daily as part of a low-fat plant-based diet had 80% fewer hot flashes.
Nearly two-thirds of the women in the plant-based diet group stopped experiencing moderate-to-severe heat flashes throughout the course of the trial. Despite its small size, this study supports other research suggesting that soy may lessen hot flashes.
Isoflavones, a class of phytochemicals found in soybeans, are hypothesized to lessen hot flashes by weakly attaching to estrogen receptors in the body. Good options include edamame, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, soy nuts, and unsweetened soy milk.
Do herbal supplements work?
Black cohosh is the plant that has been used to treat hot flashes the most. Relative to other commercial extracts, there has been inconsistent evidence for one in particular (Remifemin), but inconsistent evidence for others. Black cohosh did not reduce the frequency of daily hot flashes, according to an analysis of four trials published in 2016.
In a brief three-month clinical experiment, flower pollen extract (marketed under the brands Relizen and Femal) has been demonstrated to reduce hot flashes.
Red clover, chasteberry, ginseng, dong quai, and evening primrose oil were shown to be ineffective for treating them, however.
Inform your doctor of any herbal treatments you are contemplating using or are currently using. Some medications have adverse effects, however most are relatively safe. If you have liver issues, do not take black cohosh.