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How to fight against hot flashes with food?

There is something fascinating about the way a woman’s body is programmed, but the path is sometimes dotted with small (or big) inconveniences. This is the case of hot flashes that often accompany menopause . Fortunately, ladies, it is possible to calm your internal thermostat by adopting certain dietary practices.

First, some definitions

The Menopause is officially installed when a year has passed since the last menstrual period [1] . The dreaded hot flashes sometimes appear a few years before this pivotal moment, during the period of perimenopause , characterized by an irregular menstrual cycle.

That said, it is usually during the first 12 months of menopause that the puffs are at their peak. Nearly three-quarters of women would feel the effects [2] , effects that can last for 4 or 5 years, sometimes longer [3] .

What is commonly called a hot flash is actually a vasomotor symptom (a what?). The phenomenon is not fully understood yet, but it would be initiated by the lowering of estrogen , a female sex hormone produced mostly in the ovaries. The woman would then experience a sort of estrogen withdrawal, and a series of hormonal and chemical changes would take place in her body.

In turn, these changes would knock on the door of the hypothalamus , which is none other than the center of regulation of the brain ‘s body temperature. Disturbed by this disturbance, the hypothalamus would react disproportionately to small temperature rises and start a whole system to try to “cool” the body at all costs (even if it was well at ease ) [4] .

Thus, the peripheral blood circulation (under the skin) increases in an attempt to dispel this false excess of heat and bring the internal temperature of the body back to “normal”. The woman in question thus feels a heat wave, blushes, feels her heart rate accelerate and sweat: these are the vasomotor symptoms [5] .

Hot flashes cause the most damage when they occur during the night, disrupting a woman’s sleep. The irritability that sometimes accompanies the menopause could therefore come more from the tiredness caused by interrupted sleep than from hormonal changes.

In short, hot flashes are not trivial. They can significantly alter the quality of life of perimenopausal or postmenopausal women, so it is important to look for treatments to relieve their symptoms

It is essential to develop or maintain healthy lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet, good hydration, regular physical activity, no smoking and achieving or maintaining a healthy weight. .

To date, the most effective treatment for hot flushes is hormone therapy[1] prescribed by a physician. There are still some alternative or complementary practices that are worth seeing.

First, it is essential to develop or maintain healthy lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet, good hydration, regular physical activity, the absence of smoking and the achievement or maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. ‘a healthy weight [2] . Then, when the most important is covered, consider the following options:

  • Cold Drinks: Siping a cold drink will not make your vasomotor symptoms go away, but it will help you cool down a lot when the puffs come on. Unsweetened beverages are to be preferred: flavored water, frozen herbal teas, sparkling water, etc.
  • Soybeans: Soy contains naturally occurring isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens are plant molecules whose form is akin to female estrogen. The popular belief is that consuming soy helps to reduce hot flashes given the “hormonal” action of isoflavones … This claim is unfortunately questioned by science, which has failed to prove the effects of these compounds isolated and even less foods that contain it [3] .
  • Flax: Like soybeans, flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens, especially lignans. Here too, the effect of these compounds and linseed has not been proven effective in overcoming hot flashes [4] , despite what can be heard on the subject.

Many women still had a positive effect (possibly placebo) after starting to eat soybeans. If you do not have a contraindication to consume, such as an allergy or a history of hormone-dependent cancer, you will lose nothing in integrating these highly nutritious foods to your menu: tofu, tempeh, edamame or soy beverage.

As for flax, it is a locally produced food that contains, among others, omega 3 and soluble fiber beneficial to the health of the heart. So it pays to add ground flaxseed to our muffins, patties, grits and smoothies, whether or not they help to reduce vasomotor symptoms.

  • Omega 3: Omega 3 are good fats that can be found in certain foods or in pharmacies as supplements. Many women see an improvement in their symptoms by consuming omega 3 supplements, even though studies are unanimous as to the lack of a demonstrated link with better management of vasomotor symptoms [5] . So there is no danger in trying this option to see if this has a positive effect on your body to you. In any case, integrating sources of omega 3 (oily fish, linseed, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil, etc.) into your diet can only be beneficial for your health in general.
  • [1] Society of Obstetricians and Gynec

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