Nutritionists believe hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause can be controlled with natural remedies and some lifestyle changes. One of them, Ann Louise Gittleman, explains the philosophy in her book, "Hot Times: How To Eat Well, Live Healthy And Feel Sexy During The Change."
"I call hot flashes 'Power Surges.' We are now powerful women going into the hot times of our lives," Gittleman tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler, "This is a time when we really have to embrace menopause and all the changes it brings with it. And we get the chance for the next 50 years to reinvent ourselves. We're the first generation that has that opportunity."
So in the Young at Heart series, she offers some dos and don'ts to be comfortable when going through menopause.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, and spicy foods. They all can bring on hot flashes. Spicy food is a major hot-flash promoter.
"The excess caffeine is important because it acts as a diuretic," Gittleman explains. "Particularly at this age and stage of life, you don't want to start losing your calcium and magnesium, both very important minerals in terms of bone building and keeping you very calm. That's why I say, if you're going to drink coffee, just one cup a day. Or better still, why not a little bit of dandelion root tea."
- Avoid acidic and high sugar-content foods. "You don't need the ups and downs in terms of your mood swings," Gittleman says. "A lot of times in terms of acidic foods, we can become a little nauseous. Again, watch your sugar, because sugar is the most acidic food that we know of."
- Be calm, exercise and eat balanced meals. "First thing in the morning you take 10 deep breaths," Gittleman suggests. "It's just what your mother taught you. Eat three meals a day, perhaps two little snacks, make sure you rest, and take some time for yourself. That's exceedingly important at this age and stage of life."
- Take supplements. Gittleman recommends taking flax seed oil along with mineral magnesium.
"I think magnesium is the underrated all-star in terms of menopausal women," she says, pointing out it is not only good for bones, but it helps prevent heart disease and can keep you calm and help you sleep throughout the night.
- Take a salivary hormone test. Gitlleman says it is important to figure out your base-level hormones and how to balance them. She says the test is "one of the most accurate ways to see your levels, to assess where you're lacking, what you need to improve upon. Then you can make a determination how to do that naturally or even with synthetic hormones that women can take for a short periods."
- Watch your weight. In her book she writes, "All of our lives we have been told thin is better, when in fact being a shade on the plump side is really ideal at menopause. Women who are exceptionally thin seem to suffer more during menopause, not only from hot flashes but from other estrogen-related symptoms as well, because body fat is the prime site of postmenopausal estrogen production. On the other hand, carrying around too much weight opens you up to the risk of uterine and breast cancer from the constant flow of estrogen being produced by body fat."
For more information, visit her Web site.