Hot flashes are frustrating and most often turn up as a symptom of menopause. They come with a sudden and often intense sensation of heat that can be overwhelming. This can be paired with sweating and flushed skin. To make matters worse, they can happen at any time, although they’re often called night sweats if they occur while you sleep.
Regardless of the timing, many people want to reduce their hot flashes. Finding foods that fight hot flashes is an important aspect of doing so.
Now, you probably can’t prevent hot flashes entirely. They seem to be related to the hormonal changes of menopause, so food alone isn’t going to fix the problem. Even so, the right foods can make a huge difference.
Many of the foods on this list are great for your health anyway. So, even if they don’t help with hot flashes directly, they’ll provide plenty of other benefits.
Foods That Fight Hot Flashes (With Pictures!)
Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that have a similar structure to the estrogen that our bodies produce. You’ve probably heard about them before, as phytoestrogens are highly controversial – particularly in soybeans.
The biggest concern is that phytoestrogens will impact hormone balances in our bodies, which could be a particular problem for men. But, let’s not talk about that side of things here, as that could be a whole article in itself.
The important point here is that phytoestrogens and other plant-based compounds can actually help with menopause symptoms, including hot flashes. As such, soybeans and soy-based foods can be fantastic for hot flashes. They may even be more powerful than the other foods on this list.
There are many options to choose from, including soybeans themselves, soy milk, soy flour, tempeh, and tofu. Most of the time, you’ll be looking for products with as little processing as possible, as these will be the healthiest.
Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds have multiple benefits. They’re all excellent sources of nutrients and plant-based compounds. Some of them also provide phytoestrogens and other compounds that can be directly relevant to hot flashes.
There’s also the protein content. Getting enough high-quality protein is an often overlooked aspect of effective hormonal regulation. Thankfully, there are many healthy options for protein.
Pistachios, almonds, and sunflower seeds are particularly good choices to begin with. be afraid to branch out though, as every option will provide you with some benefits (including exotic nuts).
First, avocados are delicious. That’s reason enough to get them in our diet regularly. They’re also an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which are relevant for hormone production and balance.
Another feature is their vitamin E content. A little research suggests that vitamin E can improve hot flashes and blood glucose levels. Now, that research focused on supplements and certainly doesn’t prove that avocados have the same effect. Still… there’s no harm in trying, right?
Beans And Lentils
Soybeans certainly aren’t the only source of phytoestrogens. You find some of these compounds in most other types of legumes as well, including dried beans and lentils.
Beans and lentils have familiar benefits, as they’re high in protein and nutrients. They’re also inexpensive and have a long shelf life. Those are valuable features, given that the cost of living continues to increase and many families are struggling.
If you’re going to eat beans regularly, it’s worth soaking them first. Doing so is thought to reduce their antinutrient content, which should make them more digestible.
Chia seeds deserve a special mention, as these little seeds have so much going for them. For starters, they’re rich in nutrients, despite being incredibly tiny.
They also give you a decent amount of protein and omega 3 fatty acids, so they’ll certainly help with hot flushes.
Beyond this, the seeds are interesting to use. They absorb water like crazy and quickly become gelatinous. This is how you can make chia seed pudding using just chia seeds, some source of liquid, and flavoring ingredients.
Plenty Of Vegetables
Increasing your veggie intake is a sure-fire way to improve health. It should help with your hot flash symptoms too, especially if the increased veggie consumption leads to weight loss.
What veggies do you choose? Well, any non-starchy vegetables should do the trick, including dark leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower.
Rather than looking for the best possible veggies, you’ll often want a variety of them in your diet. Doing this gives you the widest range of different plant-based compounds and means you’re not missing out in any areas.
Pay particular attention to cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower. These have some particularly interesting plant-based compounds that could have an even stronger effect on your hot flash symptoms.
That said – only eat the veggies that help you. For example, some people struggle to digest cruciferous vegetables, particularly if they’re raw. There’s no benefit to forcing yourself to eat vegetables that your body can’t easily digest. Stick to those that help you instead.
Fish is famous for offering health benefits. This is partly because it’s a quality source of protein and mostly because of the omega 3 fatty acids.
You’ve heard about omega 3s, haven’t you? These fatty acids have been linked to countless benefits, including decreased inflammation, decreased risk of anxiety and depression, improvements in heart disease risk factors, and even better brain function.
Fatty fish tend to be the best, as they’ve got the highest levels of omega 3 fatty acids. You’ll get some benefits from lean fish too, like cod, but perhaps not as many.
Salmon is often seen as one of the best options, as it’s high in omega 3s, but low in mercury. And, of course, there’s no shortage of nutrients. It’s hard to get better than that.
It shouldn’t be surprising to see fresh fruit on this list. After all, getting plenty of fruits and vegetables is always associated with health.
Some of the benefits come from the nutrients, of course, but there are also important plant-based compounds that can help a lot as well. The most common recommendation is to vary your colors. This way you’re getting a large range of different antioxidants.
Apples and bananas are particularly interesting here, as they’re both categorized as cooling foods according to Chinese medicine. This potential effect could be relevant for decreasing the frequency of your hot flashes.
Of course, you’ll need to keep an eye on the sugar content. Too much sugar won’t do you any favors.
Oats seem boring at times, yet there’s a lot going on below the surface. A particularly helpful feature is the fiber, including a special type called beta-glucan.
The fiber is fantastic for your digestive health. While that effect isn’t directly relevant to hot flush symptoms, it’s still important. After all, your body and hormones tend to behave better when you’re healthy than when you’re not.
Oats also contain some phytoestrogens, so they may help with hot flashes from that perspective. It’s even possible to eat oats raw, although they’re easier to digest when cooked.
Grains have a pretty bad reputation these days, mostly because of their carb content. It’s often suggested that we should dramatically cut down our carb intake to promote health and reduce inflammation.
There’s plenty of merit to doing so, particularly if you’re cutting down on refined carbs. But, carbs aren’t all equal. Complex carbs actually provide a variety of benefits for health, such as improving digestion and promoting better weight control.
Whole grains give you complex carbs, while also providing some phytoestrogens and other important compounds for your health. Plus, you’re getting some energy from the carbs themselves, which can be helpful.
Not surprisingly, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Plenty of other foods and drinks will help with hot flashes as well. So, what do they have in common? How can you predict which foods will help and which won’t?
Well, here are some valuable food rules to follow. Don’t worry, they’re not rules you need to adhere to strictly. Think of them more as guidelines for the types of food that help and why they have this effect.
Protein doesn’t just reduce our hunger. It is also an essential building block throughout our body. We need a decent amount for good functioning and to keep our hormones in check.
The trick is to focus on healthy sources of protein, particularly those that fall into other rules as well.
Most of the best foods for hot flashes are whole foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, lean meat, and whole grains. You know, minimally processed foods that don’t come with an ingredients label.
You might still have junk food from time to time (don’t we all?). The trick is to focus on healthy food as much as you can.
As we’ve already discussed, phytoestrogens may actually help your hormone balance during menopause, so they’re a powerful choice. Phytoestrogen-rich foods also tend to be high in nutrients and other useful plant-based compounds.
Soy is excellent here, as it contains plenty of protein, allowing it to help with hormone regulation in two ways.
Eating the right foods is only one part of the equation. You also need to be cautious with any foods that make hot flashes worse. The following foods are particularly relevant:
- Anything With Caffeine. Caffeine often increases the frequency of hot flashes and their intensity. This may even extend to foods with minimal amounts of caffeine, like chocolate.
- Fried Food. Fried foods easily make hot flushes worse. They also aren’t very good for your health, so skipping them just makes sense.
- Spicy Foods. Honestly, it would be more surprising if spicy foods didn’t make hot flushes worse.
- Foods High In Saturated Fat. Then there’s saturated fat. It doesn’t help your symptoms and most saturated fat rich foods are also pretty unhealthy.
It’s worth keeping an eye on your alcohol intake too. A glass of wine every so often probably won’t have a large effect, but consuming a lot of alcohol regularly is likely to make your symptoms worse.
Despite what we’ve often been told, fat isn’t inherently unhealthy. Some types of fat even offer important health benefits. Omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats (like those found in olive oil) are great examples of this.
Here’s another interesting thing. Being too hungry may cause a blood sugar drop, which quickly leads to an adrenaline spike and sometimes a hot flash.
Eating regularly helps to prevent these sudden blood sugar changes and should lower the risk of hot flashes. Doing so also reduces the risk of getting too hungry and binging on junk food.
Finally, pay attention to yourself. This might include keeping a symptom and food journal for a while, so you can see how different foods impact you.
This approach is crucial, as we’re all very different from each other. Sometimes a food that decreases your hot flushes will have no effect on someone else’s – and vice versa.