Of the many symptoms that menopausal women endure, hot flashes are the most unwelcome. The episodes initiated by hormonal and chemical changes begin with an unusual warmth that rises up through the body until erupting in profuse perspiration. Each uncontrollable event may last up to five minutes, happen day or night and at frequencies ranging from a few times throughout the span of a week to dozens of occurrences within a single day. While often not completely avoidable, there are lifestyle changes that help decrease the number of episodes.
Proper diets are especially vital when going through the physiological changes at different stages of a woman's life. Menopausal women require an adequate amount of lean protein and healthy fats along with vitamin and mineral nutrients that fruits and vegetables contain. Diet combined with quality sleep and routine physical exercise help counteract hormone imbalances while ensuring that nerve cells function and communicate appropriately.
Unless adhering to a vegan diet, women need at least one four-ounce serving of lean meat daily. The serving size is comparable to the palm of the hand. In addition to offering energy, the nutrients in protein sources provide the much needed compounds to continually rebuild tissues throughout the body. Protein also provides the building blocks needed for hormone production. Lean meat options include grass-fed beef, poultry and pork, eggs, yogurt and wild-harvested seafood, which also contains omega-3 fatty acids.
Many women have been rescued from the onslaught of hot flashes by choosing soy foods as a protein source. Soy contains compounds known as isoflavones in the form of daidezein, genistein and glycitein, which have an amazing ability to inhibit vasomotor symptoms. Plant-based foods also contain estrogen-like hormones that help balance the hormonal deficit created during menopause. Other good plant protein options include nuts, nut butter, legumes and lentils.
Unless consumed in abundance, fats do not contribute to weight gain and remain a vital component for hormone production in a process known as steroidogenesis. Avocados, salmon and other fatty fish, olive oil and nuts are wonderful sources of the essential fatty acids needed for bodily functions and hormone production, In fact, recent studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids in particular decrease the number of hot flashes.
Produce: Raw, Sauteed or Steamed
Fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals that include phytoestrogens, which are the plant world's version of estradiol. The chemical compounds do not replace estrogen but instead assist cells in recalibrating proper balance. Coumestans, isoflavones and lignans are phytoestrogens that are particularly beneficial to women during all stages of menopause. Red clover tea is one of the many sources of coumestans. Flax seeds contain an abundance of lignans. Other plant foods rich in phytoestrogens include fennel, celery, garlic, onions and many different types of legumes, nuts and seeds.