Updated 17th February 2022

7 nutrition tips to manage hot flashes

Are you experiencing hot flashes or night sweats during perimenopause or menopause? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly 80% of women experience them.

At ZOE, we know that women’s bodies change with menopause. We run the largest nutrition study of its kind in the world, with over 15,000 contributors to date, and in our research, we’ve seen profound differences between women before and after menopause — including worse sleep and high blood sugar after meals.

These changes can lead to weight gain and a higher risk of chronic health conditions. They are also often accompanied by hot flashes.

But there’s good news: Making changes to what you eat can help reduce symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats. 

Take a free quiz to learn how the ZOE program can identify the best foods for you to eat during and after menopause.

And read on for our top 7 nutrition tips to help you manage hot flashes.

1. Consume plants with phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that act in similar ways to estrogen, and they may help balance hormones that dip during menopause. 

Plants that include phytoestrogens include:

  • legumes: soybeans

  • nuts and seeds: cashews, flaxseeds, sesame seeds

  • whole grains: rye, oats, wheat, spelt, buckwheat

  • fruits: apricot, pears, grapes, kiwi

  • vegetables: bell pepper, green beans, carrots, zucchini

2. Eat a plant-based diet

Professor Tim Spector, one of the world’s leading gut microbiome researchers and co-founder of ZOE, suggests eating 30 different plants each week in his top tips for a healthier microbiome, and the same advice applies to women experiencing hot flashes.

In a small study examining the effects of a low-fat, plant-based diet on hot flashes, women who switched to a plant-based diet experienced significantly fewer hot flashes than women in the control group who followed their usual diets.

Prof. Spector says that increasing the variety and amount of plants in your diet doesn’t need to be difficult. Spices, herbs, nuts, and seeds all count as plant-based foods

3. Follow the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and healthy oils such as olive oil. A large-scale study found that women who ate a Mediterranean diet or consumed lots of fruit were much less likely to experience hot flashes and night sweats than women who followed other diets.

Our research shows that the way women’s bodies respond to food changes as they get older. For example, post-meal blood sugar levels increase, and these spikes and the dips that may follow can make you feel tired and hungry again soon after eating. Blood fat levels also increase as you get older. 

The ZOE at-home test analyzes your blood sugar and blood fat responses in combination with the bacteria that live in your gut. 

Based on your unique results, you get personalized nutrition advice to help you identify the best foods for your body.

Find out more about what ZOE can do for you

4. Drink cold water

Drinking small amounts of cold water before you go to bed can help relieve hot flashes. Also, lowering the temperature of your bedroom and layering your bedding so you can easily remove them can help ease night sweats.

5. Limit caffeine intake

Caffeine in both coffee and tea narrows your blood vessels and raises blood pressure, and this may be involved in setting off hot flashes. 

If you want to learn more about how to boost your energy without consuming coffee, you can read our tips here

6. Limit foods high in fat and sugar

Studies have shown that a diet high in fat and processed sugar can trigger hot flashes, so limiting the amount of sweets and cakes you eat can help.

To learn more about your unique blood fat and blood sugar responses to food, take our free quiz.

7. Avoid spicy foods

Some research suggests that spicy foods can make hot flashes worse or occur more often, so try milder spices to see if swapping them for their hotter varieties helps ease your symptoms.

Takeaway

Making changes to your diet may help with your hot flashes. At ZOE, however, we also know that nutrition is personal. 

The ZOE at-home test analyzes your body’s responses to food and your gut bacteria to recommend the best foods for you at your current stage of life.

With our personalized nutrition program, you can make changes to your diet and take charge of your symptoms. Take a free quiz to learn more.

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