50’s Women: How to Deal with Hot Flashes

By Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC

Recently a client who came to see me about weight loss was complaining about her incessant hot flashes.

Looking at her diet devoid of nutrients I wondered if what she was eating had anything to do with the amount of hot flashes she was experiencing.

After delving into the research it seemed like almost anything could trigger a hot flash. The range of sources included everything from caffeine, stress and anxiety to tight clothes or just being in a warm room. The thing I was most concerned about was the diet.

A 2007 study of 10 symptomatic women showed that when blood sugar declined they were more likely to have a hot flash. Just like weight loss, having balanced blood sugar throughout the day is important in prevention of hot flashes.

Adopting a Mediterranean style diet that is high in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins has also been shown to help reduce menopausal symptoms. While those with a diet high in sugar and fat were more likely to have constant hot flashes.

While more research needs to be addressed, if you are suffering from a lot of menopausal symptoms it may be wise to take a look at your diet. Are you eating a diet of highly processed foods loaded with salt, sugar, and caffeine?

Try incorporating more nutrient dense vegetables, nuts, and seeds into your diet and see if there is a shift in your symptoms.

I know when my client started adding more nutritious foods to her diet she reported a decrease in her hot flashes and felt better overall.

Aside from hot flashes, menopause can lead to weight gain and a decrease in bone mass. While the average age of menopause is 51 years old, your bone mass has already been declining since age 30. You are especially at risk if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia in your family.

During this phase in your life combining a healthy diet with strength training is crucial for your bones!

DIET: The best foods for strong bones include: kale, eggs, nuts, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), spinach, kefir, sardines, salmon, tuna, and colorful vegetables. Avoid any foods that are processed and contain phosphorus preservatives. These compounds strip the bones of nutrients and can lead to weak bones. Look for the word “phos” on ingredient labels and stay away!

EXERCISEWalking and cardio are great to burn calories but at this age doing some strength training will help build muscle and protect your bones! Try to get in at least 2 sessions a week. Don’t belong to a gym? No problem! Today there are several resources online for getting in your workout at home with little equipment (although you may need some dumbbells!). Check out this sample plan from Prevention Magazine for 10 strength training moves for women over 50.


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