Have you ever experienced cheeks flaring, temperature rising–only to shake it off saying, “I can’t be having hot flashes since I’m not at that age?” Newsflash: hot flashes are not just menopausal symptoms; they can happen at any age.
We go through the three different life cycles of women, with distinct causes for hot flashes. These are the most common cases and reasons I encounter in my work as a nutritionist.
1. Puberty– the surge of hormones. At this point in your life, you can experience hot flashes, irregularity in flow and cramping galore.
Alternative Solution: Diet, diet, diet. I am not referring to cutting calories; if anything you should increase calories to support growth development, especially if you are an active teen. The diet I am referring to is the diet giving you hormonal shifts and causing menopause-like symptoms.
Our standard American diet (SAD) is the common culprit here. The meat industry advocates injection of steroid hormones in animals so they can grow at an abnormally fast rate. Also, in order to produce milk and other dairy products, a mother cow is impregnated with artificial insemination. She gives birth and like with human moms, milking is a hormonal cue. Think about the high amount of hormones a 1,000 lbs. mother cow is carrying when she gives birth. Ingesting these hormone-rich foods may lead to hormonal symptoms such as hot flashes at the age of 15!
To reduce your hormonal symptoms, switch to a plant-based diet and see how you feel! You may be surprised the great benefits you will experience.
2. Child-bearing– fluctuation of hormones. At this stage in life, women experience multiple symptoms, especially hot flashes. From milk production to placenta formation, hormones are at play. For hot flashes, the common solution is to wear loose clothing, use light linens when sleeping and have ice packets ready to go.
Alternative Solution: Exercise, diet and meditation. Lifestyle behaviors in this phase of a woman’s life are crucial and need to be emphasized to nourish mom and baby. In past studies, exercise alone has not shown to have drastic effects. However, exercise and nutrition combined have shown great result. The goal for exercise while pregnant should not be to lose weight. It should be for balance of the mind, body and soul. Find something you enjoy and keep up a healthy diet. Giving into cravings is definitely okay! Always listen to your body!
3. Peri and post menopause– Drastic drop in estrogen level. Doctors believe the drop in estrogen levels causes imbalance in peri and post-menopausal women who are prone to hot flashes.
Alternative Solution: Increase organic soy consumption. Isoflavones from soy are phytoestrogens with estrogen like activity in the body which may help reduce the symptom of hot flashes. This varies from woman to woman as the therapy for menopause is different for each individual. With the decrease levels of estrogen, you also want to increase plant-based calcium rich foods. The decline of estrogen increases the rate of bone resorption reducing bone mass density making women post menopause prone to osteoporosis. Prevention is very important for a happy, healthy future in this stage of life.
Other factors to consider if experiencing hot flashes: stress, anxiety and low blood sugar levels.
The above solutions are not for everyone and should be consulted on and individual basis. Please be sure to listen to your bodies!
Any questions related to these issues? Please ask in the comments below!
Also by Katherine: What You Should Eat to Combat Hypothyroidism
What I Eat in a Day: Food Confessions of a Vegan Nutritionist
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