Control Your Hot Flashes by Minimizing These Common Foods

Caffeine

So many people hate me when I mention that this is an important product to avoid. Allow me to explain…everyone knows that coffee is a stimulant and most of the negative effects of caffeine are due to the “over-stimulation” of certain body systems. For example, excessive caffeine will induce unnecessary nervousness, irritability and can contribute to insomnia. Caffeine will also raise blood pressure and can increase the chance of heart rhythm disturbances otherwise known as palpitations (that strange, fast heart beat you may feel once in a while…common in menopause). Caffeine also makes you sweat (diaphoretic) and will exacerbate hot flashes.

So, how much can you have? Well, if you are suffering from constant hot flashes and insomnia, any amount is too much. Get your symptoms back under control and then you can re-introduce small amounts of caffeine to see how your body reacts. One cup per day is usually fine for most people but I still encourage making the switch to anti-oxidant rich green tea.

Spicy Foods

This one is really a no-brainer. Spicy foods make you sweat; they increase your body temperature and can increase vasodilation (aka flushing). Sound familiar hot flash sufferers? So if you want to reduce your hot flashes, it’s time to give up the spice in your favourite dishes. Cayenne, chilies, wasabe, and hot mustard are just a few common spices to avoid.

Fats

We have all been told that saturated fats are the “bad” fats and that we should avoid them at all costs and all though this is somewhat true, it is even more important to avoid trans-fats. Trans-fats are hidden in many foods but are most commonly found in cookies, crackers, candies, baked goods, margarines and any food product that is able to sit on the grocery store shelf for weeks on end and still remain “soft and chewy”. Studies have shown that trans-fats contribute to oxidative stress, which leave you more susceptible to cardiovascular disease, cancer and many other health problems.

Be a label-looker and eliminate foods containing “hydrogenated fats”, “partially hydrogenated fats” and “vegetable oil shortening”. When it comes to eating saturated fats, consume animal fats sparingly and opt for lean meat choices.

Alcohol

Another confusing food item; is it good for us or is it bad for us? Let common sense be your guide with this one. If you do drink, one glass of wine per day is absolutely fine. If you are not a regular drinker, then you can simply stay away from it. For those who are drinkers but who are also suffering from hot flashes and insomnia due to menopause, then it may be best to give it up to get your symptoms under control. Binge drinking is definite no-no. In my opinion, the all-mighty hangover is nature’s way of saying “You won’t be trying that again will you?!”. So let’s just listen to what our bodies are saying and keep the drinking to a minimum.

Processed Foods

Simply put, foods that contain white flour and/or white sugar or meals with refined pastas and white rice should be avoided. Sounds simple right? It’s not! If you look at any food that comes in a box, it no doubt contains one of the above ingredients. It has been well documented that highly processed foods like white flours and sugars and other refined carbohydrates will affect our bodies by doing more damage than just hot flashes. For example:

•they spike our insulin levels which lead to fat storage and obesity not to mention diabetes and cancer! (International Journal of Cancer 2005; 114(4), 653-8).

•they are devoid of any nutrient value (except for empty calories!).

•they typically contain artificial colours, preservatives and strange flavouring agents.

•they promote inflammation in the body which could contribute to joint pain.

•they are stripped of the natural fibers which contribute to constipation.

Unfortunately, this list could go on.

To avoid the issues outlined above, simply enjoy more fruits and vegetables, whole grain options, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds and choose lean meat options. Try to cook great tasting vegetarian meals 3 times per week. Your symptoms (and your families health) with be better off because of it.

Drew Nesbitt BA, TCMP, Ac., ROHP is a Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture as well as a Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner who specializes in all gynecological issues including menopause. For more information about Drew his clinic locations in Toronto, ON; email drew@balanceih.com. For the next 30 days, mention this article and receive OFF your initial consultation with Drew. Get control over your menopause today!

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