Hot Flash Foods

Hot Flash FoodsMenopause is one of life’s unavoidable rites of passage. You can’t go above, under or around it. You must go through it. Eating certain foods may ease common symptoms and prevent other related health conditions.

Menopause Stages

  • Perimenopause: The word means “menopause transition.” Perimenopause typically starts in your 40s, and it’s marked by unpredictable monthly cycles. Your hormones may run rampant, causing hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and heavy menstrual bleeding. You might experience “brain fog,” or changes in memory, and some weight gain.
  • Menopause: If you’ve missed your period for 12 straight months and you’re between 45-55, it’s likely you’ve reached menopause. Your ovaries no longer release eggs, and for the next year or so, your estrogen levels will continue dropping. While this lowers your risk for certain types of cancer, it also increases your risk for bone loss (think: osteoporosis), a lower sex drive, drier and more wrinkle-prone skin, and tooth loss and gum disease.
  • Postmenopause: You might be relieved to know that in the postmenopausal years, the hot flashes and night sweats go away and your energy returns. However, the risk for developing osteoporosis, heart disease and other serious health conditions remains high. Having an annual wellness checkup is as important as ever.

Comfort Foods

In the meantime, certain foods may ease the discomfort of many common menopause-related symptoms and health risks.

  • Fragile bones. During menopause, and especially after, your risk for developing osteoporosis increases significantly. Upping your intake of calcium (1200 mg daily) and vitamin D (at least 800 units daily), whether through food or supplements, can help with bone loss.
    • Triggers to Avoid: Sodium, caffeine, red meat, processed foods and carbonated drinks can contribute to bone loss, so consume them in moderation.
  • Hot flashes/night sweats. A recent study found that women who eat a Mediterranean-style diet are about 20% less likely to report hot flashes and night sweats. The high-fiber diet calls for eating lots of fruits, veggies, olive oil, and whole grains (and a drinking a glass of red wine each day).
    • Triggers to Avoid: Coffee, spicy foods, chocolate and alcohol can turn on the heat, especially if you indulge at night.
  • Mood swings. Nobody has mood swings like a menopausal woman. Often, they go hand-in-hand with feelings of depression, anxiety and irritability. Vitamin B- and Omega 3-rich foods like lean meat, poultry, salmon and flaxseed can help you keep an even keel. Adding more protein to your diet also may help you feel better.
    • Triggers to Avoid: A sugar-filled diet can cause you to feel tired, while skipping breakfast — or missing any meals — can make you cranky.
  • Weight gain. Menopause increases your risk for heart disease. Yet, most women have to work harder than ever to maintain their weight during and after menopause. High fiber foods can help you feel full while eating less. Try to work in 25-36 grams each day.
    • Triggers to Avoid: To help keep your weight where you want it, limit foods that are processed, sugar-laden, or delivered by a fast food joints. And, be aware of why you eat. Emotional eating can cause your waistband to expand.

When you have questions about menopause or another aspect of your health, the experts at Meritas Health Pavilion for Women and Meritas Health Obstetrics & Gynecology are here to help.