If you’re a menopausal woman like me you have probably experienced hot flushes. And possibly they are mostly at night. I know I have been driven crazy by them at times – waking up every 1.5 to 2 hrs blazing hot and sweating like crazy!
It’s no fun! So let's get you some solutions!
But just before we do that, here is some info on why hot flushes occur so we can get a better understanding of the root cause of these hormonal symptoms.
What causes hot flushes?
As you probably realise, it's all about hormonal balance (or imbalance). During the menstruating years your oestrogen allows for your ovaries to respond when “luteinizing hormone” (LH) says to release those eggs every month. When it gets to the point where your oestrogen levels start dropping (i.e. perimenopause) those ovaries start to simply ignore the LH.
Guess what your body's response to this is? It releases adrenaline!
This causes your body to heat up for a few minutes until it cools itself back down.
What triggers hot flushes?
You may have already identified some of the triggers of your hot flushes.
Perhaps they're related to the food and drinks you consume (e.g. coffee, spicy foods, sugar, citrus fruit, large meals). Maybe they're related to lifestyle factors (e.g. stress, alcohol, smoking, certain medications or intense exercise). Or maybe they get worse as your weight slowly climbs (higher BMI)? Did you know that some menopausal women who lost weight were able to eliminate their hot flushes? Win-win!
If you haven’t identified your triggers yet, keeping a detailed journal for a week can help you identify them. Write down absolutely everything from food, to stress, to bed times and sleep, everything you do in your day.
So now let's reduce those hot flush triggers naturally!
Food #1 – Flax
Flax contains a “phytoestrogen” named “lignan”. Phyto (plant) oestrogens are thought to help our bodies better balance hormones by mimicking them and binding to certain hormone receptors. Flax also contains fibre and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Both are powerhouses for better gut and heart health, an additional benefit!
And here's where it gets interesting.
One study looked at thousands of women who experienced at least 14 hot flushes per week. Researchers had them add four tablespoons of flax meal to their day. After 6 weeks the number of hot flushes they had dropped in half and the intensity of those hot flushes dropped by more than half!
Scientists think that's due mostly to the lignan content of flax seeds.
That's an awesome super-food!
It's pretty easy to increase your intake of flax. You can add one or two tablespoons into your smoothie or sprinkle it on just about anything (breakfast, salad, nut butters, etc.). Not to mention how easy it is to add to your baking. (See the yummy recipe below 😊).
Tip: Flax seeds should be ground up in order to get most of their benefits because much of the healthy compounds in them are securely stored beneath the hard outer shell.
Food #2 – Water
OK, this is not a “food” and here’s the reason for including it:
When you get hot flushes you're losing more water than you normally would. It’s similar to when you exercise. I know that I have noticed myself being more thirsty when experiencing hot flushes.
Make sure you replace those essential fluids by drinking enough water. A good habit is to make sure that you don’t get to the point of feeling overly thirsty by keeping a bottle, glass, or cup beside you all day long for frequent sips.
Water is definitely something to add (or increase) to your daily intake when you're experiencing hot flushes.
There are two important things you could do if you experience hot flushes: increase your intake of both flax and water.
Remember that things won’t change immediately and not everyone has the same results because we are all individuals and react differently to things.
Recipe (flax): Gluten-Free Oatmeal Muffins
1 banana (very ripe)
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup coconut sugar (optional)
½ cup flax meal*
¼ cup oat flour* or other gluten-free flour like almond
½ cup oats (gluten-free)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup nuts or dark chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 175C and line 6 muffin tins.
Add banana, oil, egg, and sugar (if using) into your blender and blend until smooth.
In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (oats, flax meal, gluten-free flour, and baking soda).
Add wet ingredients into dry and stir. Do not over mix.
Add nuts or dark chocolate chips, if using.
Spoon into muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 min.
Serve & Enjoy!
*Tip: You can blend flax and/or oats/almonds to make your own freshly ground flax meal or oat/almond flour.
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