Hot flashes are incredibly common during perimenopause and menopause. If you’ve ever experienced one, you know how uncomfortable the intense, burning up feeling can be. Prickly skin, sweating, and heart palpitations are some of the symptoms that come along with hot flashes, followed by a cold chill. Although hot flashes can be quite unpleasant, modifying your diet can help with their severity. Here are 60 of the best and worst foods for hot flashes so you can alter your eating habits accordingly.
Hot Flashes 101
Hot flashes are the most common menopause-related symptom. They typically start before menopause, often in your 40s, and signal that your body is changing and menopause is on the way. Hot flashes are different for everyone who experiences them.
Hot flashes can last anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes and are often followed by a cold chill. They include numerous symptoms like sudden feelings of warmth and redness, sweating, palpitations, and anxiety. Nighttime hot flashes (night sweats) may wake you up from sleep and cause long-term sleep disruption.
Some will get no or minimal hot flashes, and for others, they can be really bothersome. They typically last around four years, however they can last into your 60s, and about 10% of women will experience hot flashes until they die.
What Are Hot Flashes?
A hot flash is a sudden, often unexpected feeling of warmth in the upper body. It often feels the most intense on the face, neck, and chest, and can result in sweating. You may experience a flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin, a rapid heartbeat, perspiration, feelings of anxiety, and a chill as the hot flash dissipates. For some people, hot flashes can be so intense that they may disrupt your daily activities and even your ability to work.
What Causes Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are most commonly due to perimenopause or menopause. Perimenopause is the transitional period before menopause, and menopause happens when menstrual periods stop and ovary production is no longer occurring.
Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause are thought to be responsible for hot flashes. While it’s not fully clear how hormone changes are at fault, it’s thought that decreased estrogen levels cause your body’s thermostat (the hypothalamus) to become more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature. When the hypothalamus thinks your body is too warm, it triggers a hot flash to cool you down. Not everyone responds the same to this process, which explains the range of reactions to hot flashes.
There are other factors that can affect the severity of hot flashes, as well as whether you’ll experience hot flashes at all. You’re more likely to get intense hot flashes if:
- You’re overweight or obese
- You’re a smoker
- You’re African American
Hot flashes are rarely caused by something other than menopause. These potential causes include medication side effects, problems with your thyroid, certain cancers, and side effects of cancer treatments.
What Do Hot Flashes Feel Like?
Although some people can experience them slightly differently, hot flashes often feel like a sudden flare of heat in the upper body. They usually start with a feeling of heat in your chest, which quickly rises up your neck and your face. You may become flush and start sweating, and after the heat, you may feel chilled. While they may be mild for some, others can experience intense hot flashes.
When Should I Worry About Hot Flashes?
If hot flashes are affecting your daytime activities, keeping you from work, or disrupting nighttime sleep, consider seeing your doctor to discuss options for treatment.
60 Best and Worst Foods for Hot Flashes
What you eat can affect your hot flashes, but being too hungry can trigger a hot flash in the first place. When you’re hungry your blood sugar drops and your adrenaline spikes, which can aggravate a hot flash. Ensuring you don’t let yourself get too hungry is the first step to avoiding one. Here are the best and worst foods for hot flashes.
32 Best Foods for Hot Flashes
Soy foods contain compounds called genistein and daidzein, which have been shown to help control hot flashes. They also contain phytoestrogens, which may help control hormone levels.
- Soy milk
Phytoestrogen rich foods to balance hormones and manage hot flash symptoms.
- Sesame seeds
- Dried beans
Healthy greens, which contain high amounts of antioxidants. Eating a veggie-rich diet can also help with weight loss and in turn, hot flashes.
- Brussels sprouts
Healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids) have been found to provide relief for hot flashes and night sweats.
- Nut butters
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
Cooling foods, which can provide some relief from hot flashes.
28 Worst Foods for Hot Flashes
Processed sugars and fats, which create a quick spike and drop in blood sugar and lead to high blood pressure.
- Fast foods
- Fried foods
Caffeinated beverages, which can create sugar crashes and have a stimulant effect.
- Soda pop
- Energy drinks
Hot beverages, which cause your body temperature to rise.
- Hot coffee
- Hot tea
- Hot chocolate
Alcohol, especially consumed close to bedtime, can exacerbate menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes/night sweats.
- Red or white wine
- Spirits like gin or vodka
- Beer or cider
Spicy foods, which can already cause symptoms like sweating, flushing, and other elements found in hot flashes.
- Hot peppers
- Black pepper
- Hot sausage
Fatty meats (high in saturated fats) can lower the body’s serotonin levels, affecting your mood and making you feel angry, grumpy, and irritable.
- Pork belly
- Beef ribeye
- Beef short ribs
- Chicken thighs
If you’ve been experiencing hot flashes try switching up your diet and eating/avoiding the foods above to help alleviate your symptoms!
This post contains affiliate links.
Did you enjoy this round up of the best and worst foods for hot flashes? We’d love it if you shared this post on Pinterest!
Looking for more menopause tips? Make sure to follow our All Things Women Board on Pinterest!