Diet can work to modify hot flashes. Diet, the composition of that diet, your overall nutritional health, and your hormonal state all factor into whether you are going to have moderate or severe hot flashes. For some women this is merely adjusting her diet to be a bit less bothered; for other women eating right to control hot flashes can be a matter of significant health consequences. GynoGab was watching that great movie on one of our favorite shows, and there they were trying to use diet to control the hot flashes. And it was fun watching Samantha try to treat her menopause symptoms with massive yam consumption. And GynoGab wishes someone would tell Samantha in STC2 that our body just cannot metabolize yams into hormones. You do need a laboratory to do that. And while they're doing the telling, make sure she knows progesterone is not well absorbed from the skin, so if her only advice was the popular press, she's needing a second opinion!
That second opinion might come from data released in October of 2012 from the Women's Health Initiative gives clues as to how diet affects your hot flashes. The diet can affect how you work with a hot flash that is occurring now, as well as the overall numbers of hot flashes you will have in the future. Gyno's have always recommended drinking the cooling water not just using it as a compress, and generally be well hydrated when you are having hot flashes. Other gynos have recommended adding soy to the diet, but high soy intake has not consistently proven successful as a preventative hot flash treatment, and it has been shown that the effects of plant estrogens might vary depending upon the stage of your menopause. Dr. Thurston and her colleagues have reported in another analysis of their NIH study of menopausal women, the SWAN study, that women with hot flashes have more heart disease. In fact this new study says that the more you flash the worse your blood lipids like cholesterol are. In fact women with hot flashes have worse triglycerides, and worse bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) as well as other markers of heart disease. In the new information of October 2012 the WHI tried to control the hot flashes of over 17,000 post menopausal women, not on hormones. The WHI researchers looked at whether a diet that was high in good nutrients like fruit, vegetables, and fiber would reduce hot flashes alone. What they found in their study, was that weight loss was more effective, regardless of the specifics of the diet.
Becoming slimmer, not just eating well, might be a better way to make a hot flash cold. Heavier weight has always been linked to worse hot flashes. I like to liken it to wearing a (fake) fur coat all the time. We are literally insulated if we have excess fat, and that will make heat regulation falter. So a new piece of nutrition advice for those with hot flashes is to watch your fat intake and try to actually lose weight! What I found interesting is that how many hot flashes predicted these cholesterol tests better than knowing a woman's estrogen level! Why this could be is puzzling the researchers. We need to take the next step forward and understand that lots of hot flashes are not physiologically beneficial to us, and we have to take steps to make sure they are properly under control.
The scientific quest on how to stop hot flashes has not stopped yet. A group of toxicologists in 2012 at the Bayer HeatlhCare lab in Wuppertal German has decided not to look at whether a woman feels a hot flash, but what really happens when she feels cooled. Is she in fact colder? So they terned to the rat models to study what levels of heat is dissipated over the skin as hot flashes come and go. What they wanted to know is: are we miserable because we are hot, or because first we are actually cold, and then that triggers the hot. They seem to think that there are periods of time when the body temperature is cold, and that low fluctuation doesn't always coincide exactly with the hot flash or the sweating. So understanding how effect strategies control that cooling may be the next best way to make that hot flash cold.