3 Diet Tips to Reduce Hot Flushes
Probably the best known symptom of the menopause, hot flushes can make life miserable, causing discomfort, embarrassment and affecting your sleep. Every woman has a different experience and they can range from the occasional feeling of an increase in your internal thermostat to full-on drenching where you need to change your clothes.
Anyone who’s experienced this will know just how unpleasant it can be, but there are ways that diet and lifestyle can help. There’s recently been some very interesting research into the impact of paced breathing and some evidence suggests that it can help to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes. Paced breathing is slow, deep breathing that goes right down to the diaphragm. With normal breathing, you take about 12 to 14 breaths a minute but with paced breathing you take only 5 to 7 breaths a minute, and is certainly worth a try if you struggle with hot flushes. The goal of this breathing technique is to reduce the production of stress hormones and to promote a relaxation response; it may be one of the reasons that a regular yoga practice can help to reduce hot flushes.
Maintaining a balanced diet, rich in wholegrains and vegetables, will support maintain a hormone balance which can help to relieve these symptoms. There is also some research that focuses on specific nutrients which can make a difference to anyone who experiences hot flushes. Here are two foods you might want to focus on and one you’d do well to reduce:
Try adding a spoon of ground flax seed to your morning cereal or porridge. Not only will it add a boost of protein, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, but flaxseed is an excellent source of plant compounds called lignans which have an oestrogenic effect. Some studies suggest that regular consumption of flaxseed can help to reduce hot flushes and while the evidence base is mixed, there are so many health benefits associated with flax seed, that it’s probably worth a try, if hot flushes are an issue for you.
The lack of instances of hot flushes amongst women in Asia has led to a body of research into the possible impact of a soya-based diet. To date, the evidence is inconclusive, but soya contains isoflavones which are plant compounds that help to balance hormones and some women have found that regular consumption of soya helps to relieve hot flushes. Ideally you would consume the soya in its natural form such as edamame pods or in fermented form, such as tempeh, miso or tofu rather than the Westernised processed form of soya milk or yoghurt, as this will reflect the approach used in Asia, which might be preferable. It’s also possible to take soy isoflavone supplements, although it’s important to respect the recommended dosage, and to check with your GP if you’re taking any other medication.
When you’re feeling tired and irritable, it’s very easy to be tempted by sugary treats, for a quick mood and energy fix. This is definitely one to watch if hot flushes are a problem for you. As the sugar levels spike, this will initiate a stress response and increased stress is a classic trigger for hot flushes. Reducing sugar levels can be easier said than done, so make sure you start the day with a protein-rich breakfast, which might include, eggs, seeds or nut butter for example because this will keep you going all morning and reduce the risk of sugar cravings. Adding a good portion of protein to lunch and dinner will achieve the same result, so that you’re less likely to get the munchies later in the day and reach for the biscuit tin or a chocolate bar!
If you’ve been struggling with hot flushes, you might benefit from a WellWellWell nutrition consultation. The right nutrition can be very supportive and may help to relieve a range of menopausal symptoms. Contact me if you’d like to arrange a free 20-minute telephone assessment.