It's estimated that 10% of women can experience hot flashes beyond 10 years. And there's no way to stop them once they start. There's nothing more embarrassing than standing up briefing the team and you begin to visually sweat profusely.
It would be nice, if these interruptions were beneficial in some way, like fat burning, but unfortunately, they are not. Instead they are disruptive, embarrassing, uncomfortable and disconcerting. In the worst cases, they can rob you of your confidence and cause you to avoid high-profile situations.
And it's not just the sweating, many also experience nausea, dizziness, a rapid heartbeat and anxiety. None of which make managing your day, your projects or team easy.
They are a natural response to the changes going on in your body, but they do require patience.
The Cause of Hot Flashes
Research has not determined the exact cause of hot flashes, but evidence is pointing at the hypothalamus and how the drop in estrogen affects it.
The hypothalamus is a gland in your brain that acts as a bridge between your nervous system and your endocrine system. Among other things, it helps to regulate your body temperature by communicating with the thyroid via the pituitary gland. However, because of the drop of estrogen, it is believed the hypothalamus is getting mixed signals and can be triggered by cues indicating the body is too hot.
When your body is too hot, it responds with life saving measures. Your heart beats faster, causing your blood vessels to expand or open, and you sweat to cool off by evaporating water on your skin. This is desirable, if it were necessary, but when standing in front of a room full of people and sweating implies nervousness. And that's not something you want.
Your Diet Is Your Friend
But there is hope, you can reduce and even control them to some degree by using your diet.
Food is one of the fastest ways you can change your chemistry, for the good or bad. There are numerous foods that can act as a trigger for you, and by avoiding them, you can significantly reduce the number and severity of your hot flashes.
Not everyone reacts to the same foods in the same way. For instance, I can often eat chilies that make my husband sweat, have hot flashes.
However, there are a few foods that are common suspects;
- Spicy foods
- Food additives, especially forms of MSG
The best way to determine the foods that trigger your hot flashes is to keep a food/hot flash log. Remember, your hot flashes may not be triggered immediately either, so it's important that you log what you eat and your hot flashes to include their severity and length of time. This will help you see patterns and can help you make strategic choices.
For instance, you may realize that raw green bell peppers can trigger hot flashes, but cooked bell peppers only trigger them once in a while. If you have an important presentation you may wish to avoid bell peppers altogether, but if you have a relaxing afternoon planned you may risk having a cooked bell peppers in a meal you really enjoy.
Tweak Your Diet
In addition, to learning what foods trigger your hot flashes, you can also learn which foods help to reduce them. There is evidence that women on the Mediterranean diet have fewer and less severe hot flashes and night sweats than those on the standard American diet.
You may also have read about eating foods that are rich in isoflavones, or plant estrogen. That may help too, but if you or you family has a history of estrogen-sensitive cancer, then I recommend not eating abundant amounts of these foods. Foods that are high in isoflavones are soybeans, chickpeas, flaxseed, lentils, and pinto beans.
Here are a few things you can do to tweak your diet to support reducing hot flashes:
- Reduce the common food triggers listed above
- Log food and hot flashes to identify personal food triggers
- Eat whole food, less processed food and avoid food additives
- Use pure herbs and spices to season your food.
- Reduce red meat
- Include plenty of healthy fat; fatty fish, nuts, avocados and olive oil are your best sources
- Eat lots of colorful vegetables
I also encourage you to move your body and take plenty of strategic breaks during the day to help rest your nervous system and your stress response system. Your hypothalamus is influenced by both as well as by your drop in estrogen and could use the break.
Finally, there are supplements you can take that have shown to be effective for some women. I don't like to recommend them without first going over health histories, because supplements, though more natural than prescription drugs, do alter chemistry and can have a profound effect. And if taken incorrectly, can cause you to have new symptoms or are ineffective.
If you are challenged by hot flashes and they are disrupting your daily activities, I invite you to contact me. Then we can discuss a supplement protocol.
I have set aside time to meet with women like yourself to look deeper and determine possible root causes of your current condition and to determine a near-term and a long-term strategy for feeling like yourself again.
If you're interested in this, click on the button below and fill out the health questionnaire. Once you click Submit, you will be directed to scheduling an appointment that is convenient for you.
You can feel like yourself again and stop being hijacked by uncontrollable sweat sessions at the most inconvenient times.
Your partner in health,
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