Hot flashes are one of the most frequent symptoms of menopause. They occur in more than two-thirds of women in this country during normal menopause time and almost all women with menopause as a result of radiation, chemotherapy, medications, or surgeries in which both ovaries removed.
A hot flash is a quick feeling of heat often with a flushed face and sweating. Hot flashes happen when the blood vessels near the skin’s surface dilate to cool. Sweating occurs to cool down the body. When hot flashes with sweating happen at night, they are called night sweats. Night sweats can often make it difficult to sleep.
Some women have hot flashes for a very short time during menopause while other women may have hot flashes for the rest of their life. In most cases, they lessen severity over time.
If you are prone to hot flashes, you probably cannot avoid them. However, some things bring them on more often or increase the severity. Some of the triggers include stress, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, tight clothing, heat, and cigarette smoke.
There are a few things you can do, to reduce hot flashes and their severity:
• Exercise daily
• Stay cool, especially at night. Use a fan and wear light layers of clothes.
• Deep breathing or meditation
• Chill pillows
There are many prescription options in dealing with hot flashes during menopause, including hormone replacement therapy and other drugs. Lately, these methods in “conventional/Western” medicine have come under fire. They have many side effects that are worse than the original symptoms, and don’t fix the underlying issue.
There are also many non-prescription and home remedies that aid in reducing hot flashes, including essential oils and herbal remedies. There is a multitude of information available on the internet, however you should be very careful. Not everything you read is true, and some suggestions from online sources can be just as harmful as prescription options.
What is encouraging is that there is a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition that looks at the connection between what we eat and the occurrence of hot flashes, as well as offering support to the idea that changing our diets could help reduce them. The study identified two food-related patterns that were linked to fewer hot flashes: high fruit intake, and Mediterranean diets (those rich in veggies, garlic, red wine, and tomatoes). Those whose diets with large amounts of processed sugar and fat were linked to increased incidence of hot flashes.
So what does food have to do with hot flashes? Food affects estrogen metabolism; sugar metabolism and blood sugar levels can affect blood vessel dilation, a main component in hot flashes. All the more reason for us to move away from diets full of highly processed sugar, and towards a more plant-based diet.
For additional information about exercise opportunities in the Athens area, please contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.