Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, affecting up to 85% of women. They can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and even disruptive to sleep. While the exact cause of hot flashes is unknown, there are a number of factors that may contribute to them, including hormonal changes, genetics, and lifestyle choices.
One lifestyle factor that has been linked to hot flashes is sugar intake. Sugar can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash. This can lead to a number of symptoms, including hot flashes, sweating, and fatigue.
How does sugar affect hot flashes?
There are a few ways that sugar may cause hot flashes:
Blood sugar spikes: When you eat sugar, your blood sugar levels rise quickly. This triggers the release of insulin, a hormone that helps your cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Once your blood sugar levels drop, your body may release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in an attempt to raise them again. These hormones can cause hot flashes.
Inflammation: Sugar can also promote inflammation in the body. Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development of hot flashes.
Weight gain: Sugar is a high-calorie food that can lead to weight gain. Excess weight can worsen hot flashes.
Research on sugar and hot flashes
There is growing evidence to suggest that sugar intake may be linked to hot flashes. A 2019 study published in the journal Menopause found that women who consumed the most sugar were more likely to experience hot flashes than women who consumed the least sugar.
Another study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, found that a diet high in processed foods and sugary drinks was associated with an increased risk of hot flashes.
How to reduce sugar intake and hot flashes
If you are experiencing hot flashes, one way to reduce their frequency and severity is to reduce your sugar intake. Here are a few tips:
Limit sugary drinks, such as soda, juice, and sports drinks.
Avoid processed foods, such as candy, cookies, and pastries.
Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over sugary snacks.
Read food labels carefully and avoid products that contain high fructose corn syrup or other added sugars.
While more research is needed to confirm the link between sugar and hot flashes, the evidence suggests that reducing sugar intake may be a helpful way to reduce hot flashes and improve overall health and well-being during menopause.
Foods that trigger hot flashes
In addition to sugar, there are a number of other foods that can trigger hot flashes. These include:
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
If you are experiencing hot flashes, it is a good idea to avoid these foods and see if there is a reduction in your symptoms.