Profuse sweating, drenched clothes, disrupted sleep….Does this sound familiar? Do you get hot flashes? Are they mostly at night?
Hot flashes bother 80 percent of women who are in the midst of menopause. They are described as a sudden sensation of heat in the chest, face and body, followed by perspiration and sometimes flushing. Hot flashes could happen at any time of the day and they tend to interrupt concentration, disrupt sleep and lead to frustration, embarrassment and even depression. It’s important to understand what causes hot flashes, and what you can do to help relieve them!
What causes hot flashes?
The medical community isn’t in agreement as to why hot flashes occur. Every woman is so different. But most research points to the decrease in estrogen. Studies show that as estrogen decreases, the hypothalamus—the gland that is in charge of regulating body temperature—is affected. The decrease in estrogen causes the brain to detect too much body heat. As a response, hormones are released to The rush of perspiration is our body’s attempt to cool you off and bring you back to a neutral, comfortable temperature. The result of this automatic response is menopausal hot flashes.
Apart from biology, everyday stress is another cause for hot flashes. And it’s no suprise that stress skyrockets after 35. Juggling home, work, finances and everything else life throws at you can take a toll.
While under stress, your body may release the hormones epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine. These two players increase your heart rate and circulation, which raises body temperature.
Diet can also be a cause of hot flashes. There are certain foods that can trigger hot flashes, including
- Spicy food
- Hot beverages
The good news is…there are things that you can do to reduce those hot flashes and night sweats. Below are some simple strategies:
When you’re under so much pressure, your adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol, which can make hot flashes even more intense. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the day to practice breathing or meditation exercises. Schedule some “you” time like it’s any other appointment and create a plan to relax more.
Nourish your body with the right nutrients
Feed Your Adrenals
Your adrenal glands are responsible for producing close to a dozen hormones your body depends on. That requires a lot of nutrients to get the job done right, like the B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium. Leafy green veggies are rich in these nutrients.
Eat More Phytoestrogens
Just 25% of Japanese women experience hot flashes vs. 85% of North American women (although some researchers propose that these numbers might be skewed due to reporting bias).
Although there are probably many factors involved, such as genetics and other dietary factors such as fish/seafood consumption (which creates a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids), some think this variation is due to the consumption of soy.
Soy (and many other plant foods) contains isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen, which are plant derived compounds that can exhibit hormonal activity. American women consume less than 3 mg of isoflavones per day, while women in Eastern Asia consume between 20 and 80 mg/day.
How can you include them in your diet?
- 1 to 1½ cups soy milk
- 4-5 oz tempeh
- 4-5 oz tofu
- ½ cup edamame
- 3-4 tbsp miso
- ¼-1/2 cup soy nuts
By including phytoestrogens into your diet, you could reduce the intensity of hot flashes and night sweats. Found in nuts, seeds, and soy products (e.g., soymilk and tofu), phytoestrogens replace depleted levels of estrogen in the body to help regulate internal imbalances and reduce hormone-driven symptoms, including flashes and sweats.
A great source of phytoestrogens is Flaxseeds. 4 tablespoons of flaxseeds per day can halve the amount of hot flashes in post menopausal women. This same dose can lessen the severity of hot flashes by about 50%.
How can you include flaxseeds in your diet?
- Combine ground flax with cinnamon and use as a dip for fruit (like apples)
- Sprinkle ground flax over berries
- Mix ground flax in super shakes
- Add ground flax to whole grain cereals
- Add ground flax to salads
- Add ground flax to salad dressing
What brings relief from hot flashes and night sweats to one woman can bring a different result for another. It can be helpful to keep a journal so you can determine what helps you most. It may take time to find what works best for you.
Fortunately, natural remedies can be combined with lifestyle changes to provide some relief . While medical intervention is not usually necessary to prevent hot flashes, you may need to consider discussing it with your doctor, if you are unable to find reduce hot flashes naturally.
DISCLAIMER: This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases. It is intended to be provided for informational, educational, and self-empowerment purposes ONLY. Please consult with your wellness team, and then make your own well informed decisions based upon what is best for your unique genetics, culture, conditions, and stage of life. .