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What Can I Do To Help With Hot Flashes?

I received a question this morning from one of my readers regarding what could she do to help with hot flashes. Since I specialize in coaching middle age men and women this is a subject I’ve spent considerable more time researching than your typical fitness trainer.

While I don’t pretend to be an endocrinologist and steer clear of providing direct protocol for menopausal treatment, I can share with you some recommendations.

At the root of hot flashes we’re dealing with hormonal fluctuations in the body so there are some things women can do that may help their situation.

Again talk with your health care provider about hormone regulation, but here are some exercise and nutrition related suggestions that may help with hot flashes.

Exercise and hot flashes

While aerobic and cardiovascular exercise is certainly helpful for menopausal women from a holistic perspective, it’s not going to have the same impact as resistance training.

It’s been my experience that most women gravitate towards cardio for the perceived calorie burning benefits with weight loss, but middle age and older women are best served by putting more emphasis on strength training.

Specifically, I’ve found the best results when resistance workouts are done in “burst training” fashion. This is where resistance exercises are completed with short bursts of high intensity effort, followed by brief, often incomplete recovery then repeated.

So why resistance training and why in burst training fashion?

Well this goes back to the hormonal responses which can be produced with various forms of exercise. Aerobic and cardiovascular exercise, while they do create caloric expenditure, they have very little impact on hormonal responses.

If anything when cardio is done in excess, especially in a caloric deprivation state, this can lead to increased cortisol production which can make hot flashes more prominent and pronounced.

The benefits of resistance and strength training based exercise is the impact it has on testosterone levels and lean muscle regulation. The short bursts of high intensity effort done with burst training helps to not only stimulate testosterone and growth hormone release, but also triggers powerful fat burning hormones from the adrenal glands.

So in short, yes you still want to do some aerobic exercise, but make sure you’re regularly completing resistance based exercise a minimum of 2-3 times per week. Think more along the lines of working your muscle and optimizing hormonal production, than burning calories with cardio.

Nutrition and hot flashes

Without question a well balanced healthy diet can help mitigate the severity and frequency with hot flashes. Your top priority is to reduce sugar consumption as that will have the biggest impact. Sugar consumption will impact the hypothalamus, which as you may know is the part of the brain which controls body temperature.

In general, you’ll want to have a balanced diet of carbs, proteins, and fats, that comes predominately from natural, whole foods. Processed and refined foods will negatively impact blood sugar regulation and contribute to increased inflammation in the body, decreased insulin sensitivity, etc.

A few years back there was a lot of attention on flaxseed being the next super-food for reducing hot flash symptoms. If I recall correctly, even Dr. Oz  was reported telling his audience at one of his shows that 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed a day may help cut symptoms of hot flashes in half.

He was probably getting this from a 2007 study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. Click here to read more.

More recent research has shown that flaxseed had little impact over a placebo so the reality is even the experts are unsure.

However, I still think flaxseed is a good addition to the diet of menopausal women due to its excellent omega fatty acid ratios and antioxidant properties.

There may be something to natural whole foods which contain vitamin E, that helps to dialate heat by keeping blood vessels relaxed.

Here are some foods you may want to increase in your diet if you’re suffering from hot flashes. These are all nutrient dense, healthy whole foods so they certainly won’t hurt.

  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Nuts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Shrimp
  • Cold Water Fishes
  • Olive Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Ground Flaxseed
  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Squash

Alcohol and hot flashes

My next recommendation would be to take a good hard look at your alcohol consumption. While there’s certainly little harm with having an occasional glass of wine, regular alcohol consumption can definitely make hot flashes worse.

What’s the deal with alcohol?

Well it goes like this…immediately after alcohol is consumed, blood levels of estrogen start to increase. This could contribute to the first sign of a hot flash. After the alcohol is broken down in the liver and exits the blood stream, estrogen levels start going back down. It’s the yo-yo effect here with estrogen levels which is the problem.

In addition, drinking alcohol indirectly impacts the hypothalamus through increased blood flow. When the brain detects an increase in temperature, a signal is sent to release chemicals that cause the skin’s blood vessels to dilate and dissipate excess heat (hence a hot flash).

Bottom line, go easy on the booze if you want to better control hot flashes and night sweats.

Supplementation and hot flashes

While there’s no supplement that’s going to directly stop hot flashes in their tracks, menopausal women may want to consider supplementation options to compliment a healthy diet and regular exercise.

My personal recommendation, and a product I’ve seen some positive results with coaching clients, is called Formula W from Advocare. Truth be told I only started experimenting with this product because I trust in the Advocare line of supplements. I didn’t want to put any of my menopausal clients on something that I couldn’t vouch for the product purity and safety.

Was it the Formula W that helped to reduce hot flashes or the combination of it along with the nutrition and training regiments I had my clients on? Hard to tell, but I suspect it was the result of all components working synergistically.

In other words, there’s no “magic in a bottle” with this or any other supplement, but from a holistic perspective herbal compounds and nutraceuticals may very well be complimentary.

Click here to learn more or to order Formula W.

Bottom line…

I didn’t get into discussion on HRT in this article as to be honest that’s something to discuss with your health care providers and a personal decision only you can make. While I’m certainly not against the use of bioidentical hormones for middle age men and women, it’s something that’s going to be different for each person.

What I wanted to share is what I’ve found not only through reviewing research, but also from in the trenches experience working with menopausal female clients. There’s little question in my mind at the end of the day that exercise and nutrition can and does make a difference.

After all hormonal regulation is never something to be balanced just with shots or pills anyways. What you do for your body (or don’t do) in regards to nutrition, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle will always play a part.

Feel free to leave me any questions or comments below. Take care- Shane

Shane Doll CPT, CSCS is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. With a staff of over 10 certified fitness professionals, Shaping Concepts provides personal fitness training in Charleston with a specialty on weight loss and body transformation for middle age adults. Sign up today for a no obligations consultation.

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Category: Hormones & Health.