Millions of women all over the world suffer from hot flashes during menopause, but not many realize that diet can be a factor. Fortunately, hot flashes do not have to be an inevitable part of the menopause. In fact, females in some cultures, namely in Asia, very rarely experience discomfort from hot flashes at all. And it seems that the secret to this could be what’s on their dinner plate!
Research into the subject indicates that soy, one of the main ingredients in the traditional Japanese diet, may be useful in preventing hot flashes in women. Beans, especially soybeans, contain the compounds daidzein and genistein, which are estrogenic and help control hot flashes. This may explain why only a staggeringly low 7 percent of menopausal Japanese women suffer from hot flashes, as compared to 55 percent of women living in the USA for instance, according to Dr. Lindsey Berkson’s estimates in “Hormone Deception.”
Japan Is Land Of The Free (From Hot Flashes)
In fact, there is no Japanese term for “hot flashes.” Alice Feinstein author of “Healing With Vitamins” writes, “If you’re fed up with the menopause then move to Japan. In the Land of the Rising Sun, hot flashes and night sweats are virtually unheard of. Researchers firmly believe that the secret lies with their traditional diet. Besides providing more vegetable protein and less animal protein than a Western diet, it’s also low in saturated fat and high in soy products such as tofu. These foods are also rich in plant compounds known as phytoestrogens, which seem to mimic some of the biological activities of female hormones such as estrogen.”
As well as consuming soy and tofu products, women can also help combat hot flashes by eating more foods that are rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamin E such as cold-pressed oils, green leafy vegetables, nuts and almonds. As well as plenty of mineral- and fiber-rich foods, like whole grains and fresh vegetables. Janet Zand, Allan N. Spreen and James B. LaValle who authored “Smart Medicine for Healthier Living” suggest that women who suffer from hot flashes add sea vegetables to their diets. “This is because the minerals in these foods replenish necessary electrolytes lost through perspiration,” they write.
During menopause, it is also of vital importance for women to drink plenty of water. “One of the best things you can do during this time is to be sure to drink plenty of quality water – at least 2 quarts (aprox. 2 liters) daily,” writes Phyllis A. Balch, who penned “Prescription for Dietary Wellness.” “Drinking water replaces those fluids lost to perspiration during hot flashes and can even help to prevent or minimize the hot flashes themselves.”
Foods to avoid to prevent hot flashes
Just as important as which foods women should eat to prevent the occurrence of hot flashes are those foods they should avoid. There are many foods that are thought to contribute to or worsen the discomfort felt from hot flashes. Alcohol, spicy foods, meat products, caffeine, excess sugar and dairy products rank among the top aggravators of severe hot flashes as well as mood swings which is also prevalent during menopause.
In Prevention Magazine’s “New Choices in Natural Healing,” Eve Campanelli, a holistic family practitioner in Beverly Hills, California, says, “Hot flashes very often flare up when women drink coffee or wine, which both acidify the blood and strain the liver. One way to avoid this acidification is to cut down on these beverages and instead to drink more fresh vegetable juices, which counteract the effect by alkalinizing the system.”
Changes to a woman’s lifestyle can also help ease hot flashes. For example, regular exercise can help alleviate some women’s discomfort. It also pays to put an end to smoking. According to “Natural Cures and Gentle Medicines” by the editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, “A recent study at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center found that women who smoke have significantly more episodes of hot flashes than nonsmokers do.”
If you are a woman going through the menopause then the good news is that hot flashes can be placed under control. It may take some diet and lifestyle changes on your part, but now you don’t have to suffer through hot flashes and simply accept them as a “normal” part of that time in your life. You can fight back with food, and, best of all, the foods you eat to help stem those hot flashes will benefit your overall health as well.