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The Best Foods To Beat Hot Flushes and Night Sweats

Hot flushes and night sweats can be caused by hormonal changes but what we eat and drink can also trigger them. Here registered nutritionist and menopause expert Karen Newby reveals the foods to step away from plus the ones that can help cool things down.

Hot flushes and night sweats are what are known as ‘vasomotor symptoms’ – symptoms caused by the dilation of blood vessels in our skin to bring our body temperature down. Hot flushes are one of the most common perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms – experienced by more than 70 per cent of us.

Why is this happening to me?

It’s all down to oestrogen – again – which also has a role to play in our body temperature control. Low oestrogen causes our temperature set point to reduce, which then stimulates adrenaline to dilate the blood vessels to stimulate flushing and sweating and bring heat down to this new ‘set point’ in the body. What is also important is to watch for blood-sugar lows. When we get a blood-sugar low, the body releases adrenaline to bring the blood sugar up, but at the same time it can dilate our blood vessels – hence the hot flush.

Areas to consider

What is your trigger? I can’t tell you how useful it is to compile a hot-flush diary. When you have them, note down any of the common triggers you had that day and then a pattern should start to emerge: stimulants such as caffeine, hot drinks, alcohol, sulphites, monosodium glutamate (MSG), chocolate, sugar and spicy food. Be careful of ginger, turmeric and beetroot, because these can be warming, too. Alcohol can trigger night sweats because it’s not only a stimulant but can also cause a blood-sugar low during the night. Stress can also exacerbate flushing.

If you are working at home and feel a flush coming on, stand in front of a mirror and do alternate nostril breathing  (see step-by-step guide below). This helps to switch the body from fight-or-flight mode to rest-and-digest mode and assists the surges of adrenaline that can affect vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels). When you are next at work or about to do a presentation and feel a flush coming on, you can go to a quiet space and breathe to help reduce the flush.

Therapeutic foods to try

  • Black cohosh has been shown in a small study of eighty women to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes after eight weeks of using this herb. Larger studies are needed, but there does seem to be a link between a reduction in hot flushes and black cohosh.
  • Cooling foods: tofu, chicken, egg, apples, pears, lemon, sage tea, millet, cucumber, celery, peppermint tea, green juices.
  • Phytoestrogens, especially soya, have been shown to help reduce hot flushes. The 2015 menopause guidelines from NICE (the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) confirm that there is some evidence isoflavones may relieve vasomotor symptoms (such as flushing and temperature changes).
  • Phytoestrogens: soya (tofu, tempeh, miso, natto, edamame beans), chickpeas, lentils, peas, ground linseed/flaxseed, sesame seeds, cashews, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, cherries, garlic, apples, apricots, soybean sprouts, alfalfa, split peas, pinto beans and red clover.
  • Research has shown vitamin E can reduce hot flushes and night sweats. Food sources: evening primrose oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, spinach, chard, squash, trout.
    Vitamin C is used to help to improve collagen synthesis to keep blood vessels dilated.
  • Sage is another herb that has long been used to help hot flushes. A small study of seventy-nine women showed that after four weeks flushing reduced by 50 per cent and after eight weeks by 64 per cent.
  • Red clover contains isoflavones, a phytoestrogen also found in soya.

Small shifts that can make a big difference

  • Start a hot-flush diary to see what triggers you – we are all different.
  • Avoid triggers or be mindful when you have them.
  • Have a protein-rich snack before bed to help with blood-sugar lows and night-sweat adrenaline triggers.

Lifestyle hacks

  • Keep your bedroom window open to reduce the temperature in the room, so that the body has less to do to reach the new set-point temperature, should there be a dip of oestrogen in the night.
  • Have lots of layers on the bed so that you can easily adjust your temperature.
  • Published research on acupuncture shows that it can also be a side-effect-free support for hot flushes, although research is limited to small numbers like a lot of natural medicine interventions. The Menopoised magnet that can be placed on the nape of your neck, was created by acupuncturist Jo Darling and works by combining acupuncture with the power of magnets to create a natural support for hot flushes. The effectiveness of acupuncture points has been well-researched and recorded, leaving acupuncturists in no doubt which points can help with which conditions. Jo has chosen a popular heat clearing point and the Menopoised magnet simply uses a magnet as a proxy for an acupuncture needle.

Supplements to consider

  • Black Cohosh, Higher Nature
  • Menopause Support, A. Vogel
  • Lignan Plus, Bionutri
  • Evening Primrose Oil, BioCare
  • Menophase, Higher Nature
  • Botanical Menopause Complex, Wild Nutrition
  • Female Balance, BioCare

Cautionary supplement advice

If you are taking HRT or birth-control medication, or are on any other medication or under medical supervision, consult your healthcare practitioner before taking any food supplement. Please note that the supplement section is merely a selection of suggestions that might help a particular symptom – not all of them are to be taken at once. Do get in touch with a nutritional therapist registered with the British Association for Nutritional and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) for a tailored protocol, taking into account your unique health needs:

How to do alternate nostril breathing

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, shoulders relaxed.
  2. Bring your right hand up to your face and place the forefinger and middle finger gently to your ‘third eye’ between your eyebrows, to act as an anchor. You will be using the thumb and ring finger.
  3. Exhale completely, then place your right thumb over your right nostril.
  4. Inhale through your left nostril for a count of six, then close the left nostril with your ring finger.
  5. Pause briefly at the end of the inhale.
  6. Open the right nostril and exhale through this side for a count of eight.
  7. Inhale through the right nostril for a count of six, then close this nostril with your thumb again.
  8. Open the left nostril and exhale through this side for a count of eight.
  9. This is one round. Start off with ten rounds and then progress to five minutes.
  10. Always finish by exhaling through the left nostril for balance.

Extracted from The Natural Menopause Method by Karen Newby, published by Pavilion. For more information visit

For more brilliant ways to cope with hot flushes and night sweats head here


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