Sugar is on the hot flash hit list!

I know I was posting quite a bit for a while there and then I disappeared. A little over the a month ago my family suffered a loss. My first cousin died tragically. It is something I’d like to write about someday, but not today. His death and other’s in my family speak volumes to the histamine intolerance that lurks in my family tree. And though I know my family’s story will one day add to the discussion on why histamine is so important to know about and control, I am just not ready to share the intimate details of my family. It’s one thing to share personal tidbits about my own body, and quite another to share about my family. I have to reconcile the two things in my mind before I put it out there. But I know one day I will.

That being said, the week my cousin died revealed something very important when it comes to my sugar intake and my hot flashes. It took me a week after everything happened, when I was sitting quietly thinking about the fact that my hot flashes stopped completely again, to realize what I changed in my diet and how it affected a change in my body.

Just a quick synopsis: When I was at my worst with intolerance at the start of menopause I was at my best with the lack of mood swings and hot flashes or most menopausal symptoms. Once I started adding foods back, my hot flashes started again. Over time I realized that certain foods were the triggers. Green tea was a big one. Eventually, my hot flashes came back but milder than when I was having ten a day and ten a night. I’d have a couple a day and maybe one a night. But if you have them, you know that even three a day is way too many.

Flash back to a month ago right before our family tragedy…I ran out of sugar. I was using vegan evaporated cane juice (don’t be fooled, that is a fancy name for white sugar) in my tea at least twice a day. Just a teaspoon a cup, but at least two or three times a day. When I ran out, I only had coconut palm sugar in my house, so I started using that for a few days. (Coconut palm sugar is made from the flowers of the coconut palm, not coconuts themselves)

I needed to fly to New York for the funeral, so for a few days I wasn’t even drinking tea. About a week later, after everything had happened and the dust settled, I realized I hadn’t had a hot flash the entire time I was in New York, for a few days before or a few days after, which when I look back on now, considering the stress, was quite a miracle!

It was then I realized that, even though I still think green tea causes hot flashes in me, the palm sugar was the thing that was making the difference. The summer I realized I needed to give up green tea, I switched to white tea, and, I switched to palm sugar. I didn’t start using white sugar again until about September, when I went back to school. I remember because I finally decided I didn’t like the strong flavor of the palm sugar so I stopped using it.

I’ve done a lot of research on sugar recently and why I can tolerate palm and not white sugar is still a bit of a mystery. So you won’t get any hard answers in this post. But you know me, I’ll leave no stone unturned until I get it!

I do need to mention that I started taking a lot of ginger right around that time because of the flying. Ginger makes all the difference to me. It keeps my air sickness completely away. Also, I knew I’d be eating way out of what my normal diet is, so I was taking the ginger two and three times a day as an anti-inflammatory/antihistamine. I hadn’t been using it nearly so much anymore because my body has been so good lately. But the ginger might play an equally important role in this equation too.

There is a lot of conflicting information when it comes to sugar. At first I thought it was the make-up of palm versus white. They are both sucrose but the amount of glucose and fructose differs. Palm is lower in those. Then I wondered if it had anything to to with the glycemic index or glycemic load, but strangely, even though sugar is the devil, it had a low glycemic index number. But as a side note, white potatoes cause hot flashes with me and they have a really high glycemic number, which is very interesting to me. But there are a lot of things that don’t add up for me yet.

Rather than throwing around more theories, I’ll tell you what I do know. Refined sugar is not good for our bodies. And for me, refined sugars cause hot flashes. The times I’ve slipped off the whole foods wagon I’ve always paid. Now that I know it, I can really see it. I was at my parent’s house over the weekend and my Dad brought out the Entemann’s frosted donuts. That’s like putting crack down on the table in front of a crack addict for me! Yes I ate one. And yes, I flamed up immediately.

I’m not ready to give up my morning and afternoon tea, so I’ve read and researched healthy alternatives to refined sugar and found a good one. I found a recipe for date honey, silan, which is really not honey at all. It’s just date syrup. I made that the other day and have used it with great results. The recipe is quite easy but time consuming. I know I can buy it online, but I’m off from school and have some time so I made it myself. (If you’re interested, this is the recipe.)

The one odd thing about the date syrup is every time I’ve used it I’ve noticed my body feels cooler after I’ve had it. Weird. And I’ve researched endlessly about the health benefits of dates and what is in them. They are very healthy with lots of vitamins and minerals. I’m not sure if because the way the syrup is made it concentrates them or what, but I know what I feel, and I know it bears way more research. Magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6 are all part of the equation.

I’ve been digging around in the brain again, (sounds gruesome) exploring the hypothalamus which is the thermostat, neurotransmitters, (histamine and orexin) and reading about whatever I can find about hot flashes and vitamins and minerals, and sugar. But I have lots more work to do. This is just the tip of my sugar research iceberg.

As an update to previous posts, I can tell you that a lot of what I discovered about migraine has really helped me keep them away and get rid of them. Specifically the jaw muscle release. I used it on my New York trip several times when a migraine was close at hand and I never got a full on migraine.

I can also tell you that rosemary essential oil, something that is supposed to help cure migraines, gives me migraines! Go figure. I can’t touch the stuff. (Anybody need a bottle?!)

Also on a positive note, my cat is almost completely healed. He has one little spot on his belly where it all started that still needs to completely heal, but other than that, all the sores are gone and all his fur grew back. He is my beautiful boy again. All without having to resort to prednisone. I cured him with the same logic and information that I used on myself. Food and supplements. (I learned that the quercetin boosted the healing powers of salmon oil.)

Well, let me go ahead and post this. I need to get a few things done today and I want to really dig into real research about sugar. I need to find cold hard facts about why it causes hot flashes and why date syrup cools my body. And I will!

In the meantime, as always, have an itch free, flash free day!

Dale

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, migraine, peri-menopause, Women's health
6 comments on “Sugar is on the hot flash hit list!
  1. Kelina says:

    Hi there, I’m curious about your mention of ginger, I’d like a few tools in my travel arsenal: specifically in what form do you take it? Keep up the digging, becoming your own healer puts you in the driver seat.

  2. HI Dale – this is great food for thought. Can you give more details as to the timing of the hot flashes that you believe are sugar-related? I’ve been suspecting the same for awhile and have been doing some research, and came across this info: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2765999/ I seem to have two types of hot flashes – one type prior to eating, as described in this article, and another type after eating. They feel very different to me.

    • That’s a great link. I’ll have to read through it all. But I can tell you if a food is going to make me react, like white potatoes, it’s going to cause a hot flash before I leave the table. Pasta will also sometimes make me flash about ten minutes after I’m done eating.

      I was just thinking yesterday that the timing of a hot flash is relevant and that I should keep a journal.

      I still don’t think it’s just one thing though. I’m still looking!

  3. Teresa Beaird says:

    Hi Dale,

    Your article popped up on a web search for links between sugar and hot flashes. Very interesting. I totally agree that sugary is a huge trigger. I found out by accident whan trying to clean up my poor eating and lose a few. My experience follows:

    I have never been an “I have to eat all natural person”, but rather all things in moderation and overall healthy if possible. I have never had health issues so the hot flashes really caught me off guard. Aren’t they just supposed to happen to those women who have always complained about their moods and cycle every month? I was picking up weight and attribute most of it to being back in school and snacking my way through study sessions. They were not healthy choices. I decided to just cut out sugar or foods with added sugar. This was not done to try to diminish the hit flashes. I just wanted to get my diet back on track and lose the weight i had out in in the past couple of months. The first thing I noticed was that I slept through the night. Wow, that was weird. Good, but weird. I was also much less moody and irritable. The only change – no sugar. Of course I fell off the wagon for a couple of days (for experimental purposes, of course) and the hot flashes were back and I was a total b to my family. Lesson learned. I am back off sugar. My waist, my family, and my overall mood are very appreciative. What

    • During this holiday season I fell off the wagon big time on the sugar and have really paid for it. I’ve been tossing and turning the last couple of nights and am having hot flashes again. So I went from having none to having a bunch! Today starts the clean diet to get rid of the damn things and sleep well again.

      It’s never worth it to cheat. I’d rather feel good all the time than the fifteen seconds it takes to eat a chocolate chip cookie!

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