(BPT) - As women enter their 40s and 50s, it's inevitable. Menopause will begin. And so will the hot flashes.
At the onset of "the change," many women turn to their moms, sisters and friends for advice on how to beat the heat during unpleasant and uninvited hot flashes. While each woman can offer her advice on relief, you might find that different treatments work for different women.
According to Rebecca Hulem, certified menopause clinician and affectionately known as "The Menopause Expert," that is OK.
"There's no one method of treatment that is appropriate for all menopausal women," says Hulem. "The choices you make might be quite different from the ones your best friend makes. And the way a specific treatment method affects your body might also be quite different."
But one common ground many women find in their treatment plans is that they are looking for natural solutions. Natural remedies typically involve plants or habitual lifestyle changes that help alleviate hot flashes.
For women seeking natural hot flash relief, below are a few of the most effective options:
Focus on nutrition
With many changes taking place inside your body, it's essential to maintain the right kind of diet. What's the right kind, you ask? One that's full of fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, legumes and soy. Certain soy supplements, specifically, have been scientifically proven to decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
For some women, certain foods trigger hot flashes. Common triggers include coffee, spicy foods or alcohol. Many experts recommend avoiding caffeine or alcohol within three hours of bedtime to decrease the likelihood of night sweats interrupting your sleep.
Exercise has been shown to improve hot flashes as well as a host of other menopause-related issues women face, including sleep disturbances. However, to reap the full benefits, it's important to incorporate a variety of training techniques including aerobic, weight-bearing, strength training and relaxation exercises like yoga.
Take a natural supplement
Supplements containing soy isoflavones rich in genistein, or naturally-occurring compounds with a chemical structure similar to estrogen, have been scientifically proven to reduce the frequency and severity of menopausal hot flashes.
The results of the most comprehensive study to-date, which were published in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society this year, found clear and consistent evidence that soy isoflavones decrease hot flash frequency and severity by approximately 50 to 60 percent.
However, it's important to carefully examine supplement dosage to make sure you are getting an effective amount. Supplements that contain a dose of at least 19 milligrams of the soy isoflavone genistein are most effective.
Some companies are making it especially easy to find supplements that contain the right amount of soy isoflavones - just look for the green NovaSoy brand leaf on the labels of over-the-counter supplements widely found in drug, grocery and health and nutrition stores. To find a list of products featuring the leaf logo, visit www.NovaSoy.com.
Deflate stress with therapy
It's been proven that lowering stress levels helps decrease menopausal hot flashes. There are many ways to alleviate stress, such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga exercises. But some women are turning to more creative therapies such as hypnotherapy, herbal therapy and aromatherapy. Regardless of the approach you choose, bringing your body to a state of calmness and relaxation should help minimize hot flashes.
It's important to remember though, that you should still consult your health care provider even if you are using natural options for hot flash relief. Discuss your symptoms, treatment plan and how it may impact your overall health.
It's also critical for women to remember that treatment doesn't work overnight, emphasizes Hulem.
"You may need to try several different approaches before you find the one that works best for you," she says.