Chaos to Calm

Cooling Summer Heat: How to Reduce Hot Flushes in Perimenopause

February 04, 2024 Sarah McLachlan
Chaos to Calm
Cooling Summer Heat: How to Reduce Hot Flushes in Perimenopause
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us for a deep dive into managing and reducing hot flushes during summer:

  • Hear about Sharon's Journey: Learn from Sharon’s experience with hot flushes and her path to relief.
  • Understanding Hormonal Changes: Explore the hormonal dynamics behind hot flushes in perimenopause.
  • Lifestyle and Diet Triggers: Discover how your summer lifestyle and diet choices can intensify hot flushes.
  • Beyond Symptom Management: The importance of addressing root causes, not just symptoms (and some tips on how to do that.)
  • Practical Management Tips: Gain insights into effective wardrobe choices, hydration tips, and helpful herbs.
  • Exacerbating Factors: Identify common issues that can worsen hot flushes.
  • Holistic vs. Medication: Learn why a holistic lifestyle approach can be more beneficial than relying on antidepressants.
  • Movement for Relief: Find out which types of physical activities are most effective in reducing hot flushes.

Resources and Next Steps:

FREEBIES:

  • Caught in a hormonal storm? The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? It's time to dig deeper and uncover the missing piece of the puzzle. Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.

To connect with Sarah and learn more about her services, visit her website at www.theperimenopausenaturopath.com.au, follow along on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.

Sarah McLachlan:

Hey there, I'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the Chaos to Calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism, and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable, and permanent way. Each episode will explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s, like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle, and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So, if you feel like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on Chaos to Calm as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life. Hello, I am Sarah, The Perimenopause Naturopath, and welcome to episode number 33 of Chaos to Calm podcast.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now I want to start today by just telling you a little story, and I wonder if you can relate to it here. I want to introduce you to Sharon. Sharon's a busy professional. She's a working woman. She likes to look after herself. She eats well and moves her body every day. She's really mindful and conscious of doing all of that. Unfortunately, her job is super demanding, and combined with the stress of COVID lockdowns from Melbourne, her mum's passing, and her stress levels were super, super high. Now, Sharon, when I met Sharon, she didn't want to do menopausal hormone therapy; you might call that HRT because there was a higher risk of stroke for her and her family. So when it came to her life and perimenopause for her right now, she was the hot flushes and sweats queen, like I'm not kidding you, she was constantly having them and she was feeling really overwhelmed by them. At work, she felt really embarrassed by them, and they were interrupting her sleep. Worse in the summertime too, because Sharon likes to exercise, and walk every day. She was just feeling like a beetroot all the time because the flushes for her were starting from her chest and going up, making her really red in the face. Now her doctor had put her on an anti-depressant to help reduce the flushes. It wasn't working, unfortunately for Sharon, and that's when she reached out to me for help, and she just didn't know what to do and she was feeling a bit desperate.

Sarah McLachlan:

So is that you have I just described you? Do you feel like Sharon, the hot flush queen? Today, I want to talk with you about managing your hot flushes, and especially, you might feel them even more so in the summertime, although I don't know about you, but, until like the last week, it actually hasn't been very hot for very long in my town of Adelaide, which is usually a beautiful place to be in summertime. Anyway, it seems like things are turning around, and we're going to get a good hit of summer now, so that's perfect. We're getting lots of beach time.

Sarah McLachlan:

It's not so great if you are getting hot flushes or find that they wake you up in the night time and then it's really difficult to get back to sleep because it is warm. So, let me backtrack a bit there. Back in episode number 14, I talked you through the nitty gritty of why hot flushes happen. Hopefully you've listened to it. If you haven't, that's okay, pop back and listen to it afterward there as well. So if you really want to unpack the why of why these hot flushes, why they happen, please do give it a listen.

Sarah McLachlan:

And what I'm going to talk you through today is not necessarily quick tips for quick hacks or quick fixes for hot flushes, because that's not really what I'm about. You might have noticed, you've listened, hopefully, to 32 episodes with me so far. I am more about uncovering why these things are happening to you, uncovering what the driver is, and what's the real problem. Because the symptoms are just, like their messages, our body shouts out to us like hey, not really coping so well here, drawing your attention or trying to draw your attention. Sometimes it can be super confusing because maybe those symptoms could be related to a few things, and that's why, you know, having someone on the outside looking in and who's someone, who's experienced in that, can make things a lot more efficient for you there. Anyway. So you're not necessarily going to get a quick hack from me, that's you know. You're going to go off and add that into your day, and bingo, no more hot flushes.

Sarah McLachlan:

Because even though we know that hot flushes are part of perimenopause, it's really about understanding what specific triggers, what's underlying that for you. So, let's have a quick chat about why you might be getting hot flushes. It is about your hormonal changes they think particularly estrogen and luteinizing hormone, and the changes in those as you go through perimenopause. So it's not so much about the changing levels of them but the sharp fluctuations to the big gaps between the high and the low of those that can change your body's thermostat. We have an internal thermostat; how cool is that? A lso, they can change your serotonin, your brain neurotransmitter, your happy hormone, and other hormones like adrenaline and cortisol can actually impact your hot flushes and what's happening there as well. So all of those big changes in hormones can basically send your thermostat into tears, and you might get these sudden waves of heat because your brain is thinking, oh my gosh, you're really cold; just warm you up, and they give you a hot flush. And then, oops, did it too much? Now you're too hot, let's cool you down; we'll give you a sweat. So that's why you often if you're getting flushes, you often get a sweat just behind it. Yeah, so there is a small variation in that thermostat. So, it's much narrower in perimenopause.

Sarah McLachlan:

I talk about that in episode 14. So, a small variation will trigger the body's alarm and send out a flush or a sweat. So they're not really 100% sure. If there's one specific hormone, it's unlikely because everything's interrelated with us, isn't it? But luteinizing hormones are pretty important in all of this, but also cortisol and adrenaline massive impact as there. So remember episode 14 for a deeper dive into why they happen.

Sarah McLachlan:

And I wanted to flag as well that not every woman in perimenopause will actually have hot flushes, and they're not necessarily the early warning sign that you're in perimenopause that we might think that they are. They're like the hallmark symptom that we all think about when we talk about perimenopause and menopause, but they're often a later symptom, one of the later phases of perimenopause there as well. So just because you're not being a hot flush queen, you're not being a human toaster, it doesn't mean that you're not in perimenopause. So everyone's journey is unique and different, and it's the sum total of your hormone and health history, your genetics, your lifestyle, your diet all those things as well. So your perimenopause experience might be totally different from your friends, and I've even supported a woman who had cold flushes and not hot flushes. So yeah, so if you're foreign, let's call your friend. Michelle says, "don't bother trying, that it didn't work for me. Well, with all due respect to Michelle, it's essential to find out what really works for you. It's your body, your rules, your journey, and what works for you may not work for someone else. So, anyway, let's get into what's going to help keep you a bit cooler and more comfortable this summer or reduce those hot flushes there.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now, remember, I do talk about the phases of perimenopause and the symptoms that go with each in my freebie, the perimenopause decoder. So you can find the link to download that in the show notes. It'll really help you work out, you know. Are your symptoms perimenopause related? What phase are you at, which then helps you work out the big question, how much longer you might be in perimenopause for all right? So let's go through some tips to help you get through summer, reduce those hot flushes and make the most of you know and be able to be outside.

Sarah McLachlan:

You don't need to hide inside in the air con. So what really stirs up the hot flushes in summer? Well, we know it's not just about the high temperatures. It's more about those sudden changes. So, just like it's the sudden changes in your hormones, it's sudden changes like moving from your hot car to an air- conditioned shot that can spark a flush that you know your body's more sensitive internal thermostat gets, that jolt over, reacts, sends out the warming up flush. The opposite can happen as well. If you go from a cool air con inside and then you go outside or you're in the car and it's hot, you can maybe get sweat, and without the flush there as well. So also in summertime, you know we've got longer days, more sunlight, more activities, a bit more of the festive spirit or the relaxing and happy hour.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, yeah, changes in your diet and sleep, a few extra bubbles, an extra latte or you know so. More coffee, more alcohol. Change in your exercise routine. You know those foods and drinks are generally hot flush triggers. There's no two ways about that. We know they're irritating for lots of reasons, but in summer they are like fuel petrol on the flames of your trigger- happy thermostat. So you know, if you're having more caffeine, more alcohol, then you might notice that you're going to get more flushes, probably going to sleep a bit crappier too. And yeah, you might notice as well you get flushes from eating really cold foods or cold drinks as well, or cold water, cold pool. All of those things can trigger a flush there as well. But you do need to be aware of what your food and drink triggers are, and sometimes I'm sorry, it's just the reality those things are quite irritating, and you might need to ease off on them for a period of time.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now. Stress, busyness, high exercise stress, or, yes, new school year All of those things can trigger more flushes because they increase adrenaline and cortisol, which is part of your body's response to those stressors. So, yeah, be realistic about what you're doing and how much you're scheduling yourself or how stressful it actually might be to get your children back into school and school routine. Yeah, and like I mentioned before, hot nights can make it really difficult to get back to sleep, so you might wake up with a sweat or a flush, and it can be really hard to go back to sleep in that time as well. So you know there are lots of things you could do at the moment, and Google will give you those as well. You know like you might cool down quickly from a flush with a cooling spray. And, yes, there are people selling perimenopause- specific cooling sprays. Holy crap, I thought it would just be like when I say cooling spray, I'm thinking of like just getting water in a spray bottle and spraying your face, or putting a cold cloth on and then putting your face in front of the fan. It's nuts what there's going to be sold to everyone. Anyway, you know, put your air con on high if you need to, but you might go too far either way. So there are sort of symptom- reducing tips. But, like I said, I want to talk to you about the things that you can do to help work on the underlying causes of those hot flushes. These are the things that I do with my clients, and the great thing about investing the time in doing them is that they're going to help you resolve or reduce the number of flushes you're having rather than just end each one a little quicker. So think about that again: we're going to work to resolve or reduce the number of flushes that you're having rather than just ending each one a little quicker. So I really hope you understand what I'm saying there. We're not just putting a band-aid on the situation, but preventing the fall and the grace knee from happening in the first place.

Sarah McLachlan:

Alright, so first up, strategy wardrobe. This is kind of a bit symptomatic. I get that as well, but breathable clothing is really your friend, and I see so many women with hot flushes or sweats and they're wearing rayon, nylon, and polyester. You've got to say goodbye to those synthetic fibers and fabrics. I mean, they're problematic for the environment, but they're really problematic for you in perimenopause if you're already running hot. So you know, maybe you've got a partner or child with a fishing shirt. Do you know those sun- smart tops that help you stay cool as long as there's a breeze or you're moving around? They're the only exception that I would make with my no- synthetic fabrics. Rule Light natural fabrics like wool, cotton, linen, and bamboo are great, and hemp too. They're soft against your skin and keep you cool there as well. Really consider these fabrics for your bedding as well. You know, like choose a natural wool quilt, and you know the wool is cool in summer and warm in winter. And, of course, layering. You're probably doing all of that already, so let's really think about the other things that are going to address the underlying causes there for you as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

Friendly reminder to drink more water. You know you need to be hydrated. You can use foods like fruit and that as well, and herbal teas with your hydration. Some of those herbal teas might be really useful, like peppermint, which has a cooling effect, but also nervous system calming teas like holy basil, rose, hibiscus, oat flowers, and camomile. They'll really help reduce your body from firing that stress response and increase your adrenaline and cortisol. So, there are lots of pre-made blends of those stress relief or sleepy teas that generally are pretty good at the health food store. But if it is a tea bag you're using, do use two per cup to try and get a therapeutic dose of herbs there as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So let's talk about stress, because you know I always love nurturing your nervous system and building your stress resilience is vital for your hot flush toolkit and working out you know what is the trigger or what's making them fire more often. Stress really amplifies your hot flushes. So staying calm, and reducing your body's stress response, is really crucial. And you know I've mentioned it many times: after 40 your stress resilience is declining because your inbuilt stress resilience hormone of progesterone is declining. So you can be more reactive to stress, overreactive, and hyper- reactive if you like.

Sarah McLachlan:

I know I talk about it all the time, but it really is that important. It's worth investing your time in managing your stress resilience. You know, I know you might not be able to. You might feel like you can't get rid of stuff from your life. You probably can, but maybe you can't. But you can build your stress resilience, and we do that by nourishing and supporting your body with foods that work for it. So this means reducing processed to packaged foods, alcohol, and caffeine, and reducing the physical stress of not eating enough, being deficient in nutrients, or not eating regularly. I like three meals per day, without snacks, alright.

Sarah McLachlan:

So one thing that's really important with hot flushes, a long-term thing, and it's something that you might not think about, I certainly don't hear much talked about, but it is insulin resistance and keeping a healthy blood sugar level, and it's a huge focus of mine all of my clients. It's what we work on because with the changes in your hormones, particularly estrogen, during perimenopause, you're more likely to become insulin resistant, and this is why it's hard to lose weight in perimenopause because you're in fat storage mode a lot of the time. So insulin resistance means that your pancreas, your body, needs to use more insulin to get your cells to unlock and open up and take the glucose from your bloodstream there as well so that they can use that as fuel to do their job. So, when you've got higher insulin, you're in fat storage mode. Anyway, I use metabolic balance personalized nutrition plans with my clients because then it helps them understand what foods really work well for them, but also it's the boss at resolving insulin resistance and balancing insulin levels and blood sugar into a healthy range because blood glucose levels that bounce high or low and they will do this if you're insulin resistant and your body's not mastering or maintaining that nice balance of insulin. So you'll bounce around, and that will increase your hot flashes because it increases your stress hormones. So, three meals a day, no snacks, is a great start. Have some protein with every meal, healthy fats using virgin fruit, blah, blah, blah. I've talked about it lots of times before. I do talk about it in my free masterclass and I also have the balanced meal formula free before you as well to help you with putting your plate together so that you can get things right for your body. So I find when we get blood sugar levels balanced we really resolve that insulin resistance.

Sarah McLachlan:

There isn't as much need for that herbal or nutritional medicine. But if I was going to prescribe a favorite herb, it would be black hohosh. There's a formula you can buy at the chemist, remy, femin, or the health food store as well. It works mostly on your neurotransmitters, your brain chemicals and compounds, serotonin, and receptors. It makes you feel happier and less stressed, and that's how they think that it works. So I guess it's not so different to a doctor prescribing an antidepressant, but it is an herb and often comes with outside effects that antidepressants can come with there as well. You may not need it ongoing, and you might just need it for a short time. But, as I said, if we get your food right and get your body and your biochemistry set we often do I barely use that herb or herbs with my clients because we've got the food wrong. So, let's talk supplements. And I say we've got the food rack; we've actually identified what's going on, what's the problem and addressing that, and then we don't need the other stuff. But let's talk supplements, okay?

Sarah McLachlan:

So magnesium and taurine are really helpful for flushes and perimenopause generally. Please always check with a professional, like a naturopath or nutritionist, before you start any new supplement or herbs because you want to make sure it's right for you and it's not going to interact with any medications that you might be taking. But magnesium and taurine will help with your stress resilience. They soothe your nervous system. They help with blood glucose management, too. You want really good quality magnesium that's in the form of citrate or glycinate or an amino acid chelate with at least 500 milligrams of taurine. But again, you know I really like nutrients and herbs to be personalized to you and what's going on for you. So my suggestion is, please talk with someone like a naturopath who's qualified to give you information about that and knows your case as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, last thing before we finish up today's lifestyle, regular movement is really has been shown in research to relieve hot flushes. But I'm not talking about high- intensity thrashes self-carnous stuff. I'm talking about strength training and yoga. So yoga has been shown to relieve hot flushes, reduce stress, and relieve other symptoms like anxiety as well. And so, like I just mentioned before, while doctors might suggest antidepressants for flushes, it's really important to be aware of the potential side effects they can have, like weight gain and low and reduced libido. I think that diet and lifestyle addressing the underlying cause is the key to significant positive impacts, without the downsides that are going to stay and stick there, okay. So yeah, you know, by focusing on those things that I've talked about, identifying the underlying root cause, you're not just managing symptoms but investing in your long- term health and well- being. There, they'll have a positive effect on other aspects of your life and maybe help get rid of some other symptoms, too.

Sarah McLachlan:

All right, so to summarize what we've talked about today, managing hot flushes, especially in summer, is really all about understanding your triggers and working on what is causing them or contributing to those triggers going off more often. So, do you think that insulin resistance might be a problem for you? Or maybe it's high stress combined with declining stress resilience? If you're feeling stuck and you don't know what to do next and you'd like to get more help with your hot flushes or any other perimenopause symptoms under control there, you might find watching my free masterclass really helpful for you, and the link to it is in the show notes.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now, don't forget to tune in next time when we will be talking about high- end deficiency in perimenopause. And it's the most common deficiency that we deal with here at the perimenopause naturopath or that we see in our clients there as well, and I would love to hear from you.

Sarah McLachlan:

If you have questions or topics you would love me to talk about, please do share them with me. You can check out the show notes on how to contact me, and you can find them at www. chaostocalmpodcast. com. If you found success with any of these tips or the information that I've shared, I'd also love to know that, and I would say goodbye and thank you so much for joining me today, I look forward to talking with you next time. Until then, I hope you keep finding your calm in the chaos. It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism, and energy. But I hope you know now that commonly doesn't have to be equally normal for you or them. You can help others understand they aren't alone in feeling this way and that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific by subscribing, leaving a review, and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thanks so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this chaos to calm conversation.

Managing Hot Flushes in Perimenopause
Manage Perimenopause Hot Flushes and Stress
Navigating Perimenopause