Hot flashes and night sweats are experienced by 75% of women during perimenopause and 50% of women during postmenopause. Having a healthy and balanced diet is imperative to making hot flashes and night sweats infrequent and less disruptive.
Studies have shown that hot flashes occur more often in women who have diets that are high in saturated fats and sugar. Also, some researchers have shown that hot flashes are more likely to occur when blood glucose levels fall in between meals.
Why Avoid Excess Fat and Sugar?
Hot flashes and night sweats are connected to fluctuations in estrogen production during menopause. The part of the brain that regulates temperature, the hypothalamus, is sensitive to estrogen fluctuations, as are the blood vessels.
A woman's diet can change how the body metabolizes, or processes, estrogen, which can lead to different concentrations of estrogen in the body and therefore hot flash and night sweat episodes. Diets high in unhealthy fats and sugars tend to increase the frequency of menopausal hot flashes and night sweats.
What Healthy Eating Habits Help Reduce Hot Flashes?
Research has found that Mediterranean diets and diets higher in fruits and vegetables reduce hot flashes. The Mediterranean diet includes garlic, peppers, salad greens, whole wheat pasta, olive oil, and fish. It is also low in red meat, processed food, and foods high in simple sugars and unhealthy fats. Mediterranean diets have high amounts of fiber, something most North Americans don't get enough of, as well as healthy fats, which are found in nuts, olive oil, avocados, and fish.
Dietary Tips That Impact Hot Flashes
Studies have shown that stabilizing blood glucose levels will help diminish hot flashes. A woman can take certain steps to stabilize her glucose levels. The primarily way is to not skip any meals or wait too long between meals.
Consuming more cinnamon, especially Ceylon cinnamon, can help stabilize blood glucose levels. Cinnamon can lower blood glucose levels between 3% and 5%, making it as effective as some diabetes drugs.
Eating fiber helps stabilize glucose levels, and doing so will also cause hot flashes and night sweats to subside. Foods high in dietary fiber include legumes, fruits – especially raspberries and fruits that have an edible peel – whole grains, nuts and seeds, and vegetables, especially artichokes.
If you are suffering from hot flashes or night sweats, a healthy diet and regular exercise will help. However, in moderate to severe cases, these tips may not be sufficient to treat the root problem: hormonal imbalance. Read on for more information about hot flash treatments.
- Dormire, S. & Howharn, C. (2007). The Effect of Dietary Intake on Hot Flashes in Menopausal Women. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 36(3), 255-262. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2007.00142.x
- Herber-Gast, G.C. & Mishra, G.D. (2013). Fruit, Mediterranean-style, and high-fat and -sugar diets are associated with the risk of night sweats and hot flushes in midlife: results from a prospective cohort study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(5), 1092-1099. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.049965