If you have hot flashes, what you eat may play an important role in how severe your hot flashes are and how frequently they occur.
As women approach menopause, their hormone levels start to fluctuate which can lead to hot flashes. Prescription medications including hormone replacement therapy can help offset these fluctuations and reduce menopause symptoms including hot flashes.
The FDA has approved hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and one non-hormonal medication called Brisdelle, for the treatment of hot flashes. However, many women have found that what they eat can also have significant impact on their hot flashes.
According to Prevention Magazine, some studies show that women who eat a diet rich in vegetables, pasta and red wine were less likely to report hot flashes.
More research is needed to determine why this type of diet may help. Some researchers suggest it may be due to the high fiber content found in whole grains that help the body keep hormone levels more stable.
Others believe that the lower glycemic index of the carbohydrates in this diet help stabilize insulin levels, which may in turn help stabilize the hormones that cause hot flashes.
Certain fruits including strawberries, pineapples, melons and mangos may help reduce hot flashes. Again, this may be because the high fiber content works with the body to balance hormone levels.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that many women fighting hot flashes benefit from including plant estrogens such as isoflavones in their diet. Plant estrogens work in the body like a weaker form of the estrogen our bodies produce. So eating foods rich in plant estrogen may help the body balance hormone levels.
Soybeans, chickpeas and lentils are believed to have the strongest plant estrogens. Other options include flaxseed, grains, beans, fruits, red clover and vegetables. Be aware that only crushed or ground flaxseed is likely to help, as opposed to whole seeds or seed oils.
It is important to note that what works for one woman may not work for another. For example, soy products are known to contain plant estrogens and are a common choice for women looking for a natural way to reduce menopause symptoms.
But according to a new study published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), only 20 to 50 percent of women will actually benefit from eating soy products to reduce hot flashes.
Researchers determined that only women whose bodies produce equol, which is needed by the body to metabolize soy, will gain the benefit from eating soy. Out of the 357 women studies, 34 percent produced equol.
For those women, eating soy appeared to have a significant benefit in reducing hot flashes. For the remaining women who did not produce equol, eating soy did not help their hot flashes.
Dr. Margery Gass, NAMS Executive Director suggested that women who want to try soy can determine for themselves if it will help them. If there is no notable improvement in hot flash symptoms after eating soy for four to six weeks, women can assume it will not work for them.
If you are looking for diet-based solutions to your hot flashes, you may benefit from keeping a food journal or diary.
As you test various foods, keep track of what you eat and when. Also keep track of whether you notice any change in the frequency or severity of your hot flashes. This may help you discover what foods can help reduce your hot flashes, and may also point out foods you should avoid that can make your hot flashes worse.
If you have questions about hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause, talk to your health care provider.
Prevention. Foods that Prevent Hot Flashes. Cindy Kuzma. Web. January 28, 2015.
Cleveland Clinic. Non-Hormonal Ways to Cope with Hot Flashes & Menopause. Web. January 28, 2015.
Science Daily. Soy spells fewer hot flashes for certain women. Web. January 28, 2015.
Fruit, Mediterranean diet tied to fewer hot flashes. Health Beauty- Guide. Web Jan 29, 2015.
FDA approves the first non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes associated with menopause. U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
Reviewed February 4, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith