Hot Flushes - Can You Prevent Them?

Your heart rate increases, your face and neck may turn red, you feel intense heat and sweat consumes your body ....... sounds sexy.....believe me, it is not!

Hot flushes or flashes as some people call them, can begin in your 40's as you enter perimenopause, a glorious sign of things to come!

Although the exact causes of hot flushes are still unknown, they are thought to be related to changes in the brain’s thermoregulatory centre, and how the hypothalamus (a small region of the brain, near the pituitary gland, which plays a crucial role in many important functions, including releasing hormones and regulating body temperature) .senses body temperature - basically it thinks you are too hot so causes a response which is designed to cool the body down. Things start to liven up during perimenopause with progesterone and estrogen levels all over the place, behaving like a rollercoaster.

Switching to a plant-based diet can help (yes, I'm banging on about that again!)

Start by cutting back on your fat intake, think fried food, cakes, snacks (which obviously does not include crisps ........) and increase your fibre with whole grains, leafy green vegetables and potatoes with their skins on (crisps?) - this has been shown to smooth out estrogen levels – minimizing hot flushes and night sweats. Fibre also has the power of making you feel full and help with weight control.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises:

“Cut back on calories by about 200 per day. Focus on eating nutritious foods, including bananas, blueberries, dark leafy greens, soy, whole grains and plenty of water.”

Soy and soy foods are a little controversial and I will devote a whole post to them - but soy contains phytoestrogens, which may assist in combating some of the more distressing symptoms of menopause, like hot flushes.

Vitamin E is found in almonds, spinach, broccoli and avocado (amongst other things) it is an antioxidant that helps fight cell-damaging free radicals in the body. A randomised controlled trial concluded that "Based on our trial, vitamin E is recommended for the treatment of hot flashes" so go munch on some sunflower seeds!

According to Chinese Medicine, you could try eating 'Cooling foods', which include apples, bananas, spinach, broccoli and green tea, which may help to cool you down, A bonus: all of these foods are rich in nutrients and disease-fighting chemicals.

Try out these changes and strategies for managing hot flushes:

  • Dress in layers so you can whip some off when you feel a flush coming on

  • Sip some iced water at the start of a hot flush

  • Try having a fan on while you sleep and lower the temperature in the room

  • Switch from polyester to cotton sheets and avoid synthetic clothing.

  • Avoid spicy foods - if they set you off

  • Alcohol - researchers have linked drinking alcohol to an increase in hot flushes and night sweats in some women. However, other women report these are not triggered or worsened by alcohol - wahoo!

  • Limit hot drinks and caffeine - whilst a cup of tea may relax you, it also increases your body temperature, which means you're more likely to feel flushed, sweat, and may bring on a hot flush.

  • Stop smoking - when you smoke, the nicotine releases acetylcholine, a chemical that leads to sweaty episodes. It also raises your body temperature, which contributes to sweating.

  • Lower your stress levels with yoga, meditation, or guided breathing

  • Eat less high fat and high sugar foods - fat insulates the body, so the less fat a person has, the more easily the body can get rid of heat,

As mentioned in my previous post keeping active and keeping your weight in check will help with many menopause symptoms including those pesky hot flushes.

Autumn is upon us in the UK so salads are out the window (hooray) and casseroles, pies and bakes take their place (you could have salad on the side?). I shall be covering some easy, plant-based dishes in the coming weeks - stay tuned.

a wreath of autumnal flowers and leaves

keep safe xx

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