The collective imagination at this time of year would have a woman, toned, with beautiful tanned skin, on the beach or at the seaside enjoying the heat. And yet for some women, this isn’t the case. Especially if we’re talking about the menopause, when the mere idea of heat is enough to bring on hot flushes and perspiration.
Hot flushes present as a feeling of intense heat that spreads throughout the whole body, particularly the face and neck. They are accompanied by a flushing of the skin, which can feel hot to touch, and a few minutes of widespread perspiration, followed by a feeling of listlessness and chills. Some women experience occasional flushes, with little impact on their quality of life, whereas others may experience 20 or more episodes a day, perceiving them as obstacles to everyday life.
When talking about the menopause, although the first person to turn to is our gynaecologist, our diet and physical and mental exercise can also be valid allies.
A specific diet is required, since animal proteins, sugars and carbohydrates would seem to favour the onset of hot flushes. Conversely, eating foods containing isoflavons, a kind of plant oestrogen with a similar action to female hormones, helps to keep the onset of these disorders under control. It is no coincidence that oriental women, who eat plenty of soya (which is rich in phytoestrogens), are less prone to menopausal problems. As a matter of fact, it is interesting to note that hot flushes are uncommon in Asian countries. As a matter of fact, Japanese women, for example, do not know what a hot flush is. There is no Japanese word to describe them.
Phytoestrogen-rich foods – like soya and its derivatives – can also reduce the risk of heart disorders and breast cancer. In addition to having a lower incidence of hot flushes, Japanese women who eat a traditional diet are less likely to develop breast cancer. However, it should also be pointed out that the Japanese diet contains little refined processed foods and is rich in seaweed with a high mineral salt content and fresh fish oils, which have important beneficial effects. It is interesting to note that when Japanese women follow a more Western diet, the incidence of heart disorders and tumours increases.
Here in Italy, the foods that contain phytoestrogens are: cashews, peanuts, oats, corn, wheat, apples, almonds, lentils, green beans and pomegranate. Lifestyle must also be kept under control and, if necessary, adjusted. Stress? Be shot of it immediately.