Whether you’re a newbie or old hand at experiencing them, it’s never too soon to learn what to eat when you have hot flashes!
According to the Johns Hopkins Health site, about 3 of every 4 menopausal women experience hot flashes when their upper bodies’ blood vessels widen and raise their skin’s temperature.
A hot flash can last between one and five minutes. They often trigger sudden perspiration as the body attempts to cool down. Nocturnal hot flashes, or night sweats, can be severe enough to require a change of sleepwear and sheets.
But even “normal” hot flashes are uncomfortable and can strike daily or several times a week for years.
Today’s post will bring you up to date on what the research says about plant-based ingredients’ positive impact on hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
A Systemic Review Explores What to Eat When You Have Hot Flashes
A group of researchers from Harvard, Cambridge, and Erasmus Universities led by Professor Oscar H Franco, M.D. performed a systematic review of randomized clinical trials specifically related to plant-based eating and menopausal symptoms.
Their findings, published in the June 21, 2016, JAMA journal, concluded that the 62 trials provided sufficient evidence that eating soy and other phytoestrogen-rich plant foods helps relieve hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
However, they also recommended that more studies confirm the association between plant-based eating and improved menopausal health.
And a little more than five years later, on July 12, 2021, the journal Menopause published research that confirmed their findings in remarkable fashion!
The PCRM Investigates What to Eat When You Have Hot Flashes
Dr. Neal Barnard headed a team from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine and the University of Utah School of Medicine in conducting a randomized, controlled trial of postmenopausal women.
Their goal was to observe how eating a low-fat, plant-based diet including whole soybeans affected the severity and frequency of hot flashes (recorded in real-time with a mobile app).
The trial enrolled 38 postmenopausal women who reported having two or more daily hot flashes. The researchers separated the women into two groups.
They instructed the control group to continue eating their normal diet and exclusive the second group to eat only plant-based, including a daily ½-cup serving of cooked soybeans.
Despite their instructions, the control group shifted from their normal dietary habits to healthier ones.
The research team attributed the change to an unconscious reaction which sometimes occurs in people who know they’re part of a study.
Unconscious or not, their healthier eating yielded a 49-percent decrease in overall hot flashes and a 42-percent drop in moderate-to-severe ones.
However, as impressive as the control group’s results were, none of the women reported a complete end to moderate-to-severe hot flashes.
The plant-based group fared much better. During the 12-week trial, well over half enjoyed life-changing outcomes.
- Total hot flashes decreased by 79 percent.
- Moderate-to-severe hot flashes decreased by 84 percent.
And, most impressively, 59 percent stopped having any moderate-to-severe hot flashes! But the plant-based-plus-soybeans diet worked even more wonders. It improved their:
- quality of life
- psychosocial health
- general physical health
and sexual health.
In their conclusion, the Physician’s Committee team strongly associated eating a low-fat, plant-based diet along with cooked whole soybeans with fewer and less severe hot flashes. (See Dr. Barnard’s video summary here).
In most of those who followed it, the diet also led to the end of moderate-to-severe hot flashes.
With 75 percent of North American women enduring hot flashes, the popularity of the Google search term “What to eat when you have hot flashes?” isn’t surprising. And the research-based answer is clear!
Adopting a plant-based diet with an increased intake of whole soybeans is one of the simplest, most healthful ways to relieve your hot-flash miseries!