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Too Hot to Trot - AC Is On Even During Winter

45-year-old woman is experiencing hot flashes. What causes hot flashes during menopause, and what can be done to prevent them?

Case #: 533

Concern:

I'm 45 and I'm really burning up at night. I wake up soaking wet and have to turn the air conditioning on just to cool down -- even in the winter! I guess I'm entering menopause, and I hear this is pretty common. But is there any way to stop it?

Discussion:

Unfortunately, the symptoms you describe sound like typical symptoms of perimenopause, the stage before menopause. Hot flashes affect two-thirds of women during perimenopause, and almost all women during menopause itself. But why do hot flashes occur? Hot Flashes are a direct result of decreases in estrogen that the hypothalamus can no longer produce to regulate body temperature.

A Marvelous Mimicry

As I mentioned above, dropping estrogen levels cause hot flashes, so what can you do to regulate your hormones? Introducing phytoestrogens into your diet can help? Phytoestrogens, known as plant chemicals that mimic estrogen, work as a type of bioflavonoid. These bioflavonoid components provide anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-microbial properties.

But how do these phytoestrogens work exactly? Phytoestrogens bind onto estrogen receptors that increase or decrease estrogen levels in the body. And because phytoestrogens contain about 2 percent of the estrogen from a normal estrogen molecule, the chemical can bond to a receptor to lower the amount of estrogenic action in the body. In instances where the body lacks estrogen (such as perimenopause and menopause), phytoestrogens can increase estrogenic action.

How Phytoestrogens Fight Hot Flashes

Phytoestrogens also affect the gonadotrophin levels, hormones emitted by the pituitary gland that tell the ovaries to release estrogen. The relay of information among the pituitary, ovaries and hypothalamus dilate blood vessels to start a hot flash. The presence of phytoestrogens, however, lowers the gonadotrophin levels to reduce hot flashes.

Phyto-Friendly Foods

So, what can you eat to increase your phytoestrogen levels? The food with the highest phytoestrogen count is flax seed, with the most isoflavones per volume.

Legumes, such as soybeans, contain another source for high volumes of phytoestrogen concentrations. And because soybeans contain two separate isoflavones--genistein and daidzein—the effects of phytoestrogens potentially increase because both contain dosages of the hot-flash reducing chemical.

Other legumes with high phytoestrogen counts include chickpeas, green beans, clover and alfalfa sprouts. Studies show that herbal supplements, meanwhile, feature plants that naturally treat hot flashes...(See how it works)

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