Women experiencing menopause and peri-menopause often wonder if there is anything they can do alleviate their symptoms naturally. Hot flashes, headaches, mood swings, weight gain, fatigue, sleepless nights and decreased libido are some common symptoms that can be reduced by some simple diet and lifestyle changes. With all the debates on hormone replacement, isn’t it nice to know you have the power to change how you feel naturally.
Certain foods can actually cause night sweats and hot flashes. To see if you are eating your way to an internal heat wave, consider keeping a Hot Flash Journal. Try to identify and understand what your food triggers might be. Keep track of the time of day or night your flashes come along with a food journal for a few weeks. This will allow you to see if there are any patterns present and which foods may be the ones setting you off. Typically, foods like sugar, simple carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods are the culprits.
• Reduce alcohol and caffeine: Both alcohol and caffeine can affect your hormone levels and exasperate your symptoms. Try transitioning to herbal teas and limiting your alcohol intake to 1 or 2 drinks 1 or 2 times a week. Sometimes just one glass of wine can teleport your body to the tropics.
• Reduce sugar intake: Sugar can also affect your hormone levels, throwing your hormones out of balance and making your symptoms worse. Try switching over to natural sweeteners like Agave or maple syrup. You can even experiment with fruit and sweet vegetables to satisfy your sweet tooth.
• Reduce processed white flours: Processed white flours and white grains, like white bread, pasta, baked goods and white rice react like sugar in your body, throwing your hormone levels out of balance. Stick with whole grains like quinoa, barley, millet, amaranth, brown rice and whole wheat to give you long lasting energy without the blood sugar spikes.
• Increase Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Omega 3 fatty acids can help to relieve irritability, mood swings and hot flashes. They are also considered a source of healthy fats, which actually helps your body burn fat, possibly resulting in some weight loss. Flaxseeds, flax oil, walnuts, olive oil and cold-water fish like salmon are full of omega 3 fatty acids. Try this recipe for “Apple Cinnamon Menopausal Muffins” as an easy and yummy way to get your omega 3 fatty acids.
Stress can be a major cause of hot flashes, irritability and night sweats. Finding your favorite method of relaxation and stress reduction is key.
• Increase your exercise. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to calm your body and mind, reduce anxiety and to control your weight. Whether it be yoga, tai-chi, weight lifting or aerobics, be sure to give yourself ample time to cool down since exercising raises your body’s core temperature.
• Try to relax. Consider taking up meditation or a class in deep breathing to help you clear your mind, rebalance and refocus. Since your emotional state has just as much to do with your symptoms as anything physical, keep in mind that feeling stressed, anxious or angry may be adding fuel to your fire. If meditation is not for you, simply taking some time for yourself to read a book, take a bath, get a massage or even listen to music can have an affect on your mental state of mind.
Photo Credit: Dainec at Flickr for Creative Commons