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The Relationship Between Menopause and Inflammation

Menopause is a turning point in the life of every woman. Hormonal changes are the cause of many unpleasant menopause symptoms. They are sometimes more and sometimes less pronounced. In various studies, scientists have found a link between menopause and inflammation.

In this comprehensive guide, we discuss this connection as well as ways to reduce inflammation during menopause.

Hormonal Changes During Menopause

Menopause marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It typically occurs in the late 40s or early 50s, and is defined by the absence of menstruation for 12 consecutive months. The ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone during menopause, which causes hormonal changes. These hormonal fluctuations lead to various symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.

Estrogen regulates the menstrual cycle and maintains the health of the reproductive tissues, so its decline often results in these symptoms. Progesterone, on the other hand, helps prepare the uterus for pregnancy and contributes to menstrual cycle regulation. Mood swings are often attributed to these hormonal changes, as estrogen and progesterone influence neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. 

Menopause and Inflammation

During menopause, estrogen levels decrease significantly, which can cause low-grade chronic inflammation. Proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), are elevated during menopause. These cytokines are involved in the body’s response to injury and infection, but elevated levels can cause chronic inflammation.

Needless to say, chronic inflammation increases the risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative disorders, and certain cancers. It can sometimes contribute to ischemic events, such as heart attacks and strokes.

In addition to the decline in estrogen, other factors associated with menopause can also contribute to inflammation. For example, an increase in visceral fat can lead to higher plasma levels of pro-inflammatory molecules. The development of insulin resistance is also a common problem during menopause and is associated with increased inflammation. 

How to Reduce Inflammation During Menopause?

Lifestyle changes can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of developing chronic diseases during and after menopause. Let’s see what we can do to reduce menopause inflammation:

Menopause Diet

A healthy diet is necessary during menopause. Foods rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients can mitigate the effects of hormonal changes. For example, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines), flaxseeds, and walnuts, can reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are converted into anti-inflammatory substances in the body, which counteract the inflammatory effects.

Including a lot of fruits and vegetables in your diet is also important, as they are rich in antioxidants, fibers, and other anti-inflammatory compounds. Berries, tomatoes, leafy greens, and peppers are all excellent choices. Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats, are high in fiber and can help reduce inflammation by promoting healthy gut bacteria. Besides, spices like turmeric, ginger, and garlic have potent anti-inflammatory properties. 

Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity decreases levels of pro-inflammatory markers in the body, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). As excess body fat can trigger inflammation, keeping a healthy weight through exercise is particularly important. On the other hand, exercise has benefits for overall health, including improved cardiovascular fitness, bone health, and mood, which is crucial during menopause. For the best anti-inflammatory effects, combine aerobic activity like running or swimming, with strength training.

Reduce Stress (If Possible)

Chronic stress increases levels of cortisol. Elevated levels of this hormone for long periods of time can promote inflammation. Stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can lower cortisol levels and thereby decrease inflammation. Apart from this, reducing stress improves circadian rhythm and sleep quality, which also regulate inflammation. 

Try the Best Menopause Supplements

Various food supplements have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are valuable for both menopause and inflammation symptoms. Some of the best menopause supplements include:

  • Polyphenols (quercetin and resveratrol especially): These powerful compounds, found in foods like green tea, rosehip, and berries, have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Here you can read more about the benefits of polyphenols and the VANA Smart Liquid™ formula.
  • Probiotics: By promoting a healthy gut microbiome, probiotics can help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.
  • Antioxidants: Vitamins C and E, as well as other antioxidants like resveratrol and quercetin, can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, which is linked to inflammation.
  • Magnesium: This mineral regulates inflammation, and magnesium supplements are especially beneficial during menopause when its levels are low.
  • Omega-3 supplements: These fatty acids, found in fish oil and flaxseed oil, can also reduce inflammation and support overall well-being during menopause.


Frequently Asked Questions


What are the neurological symptoms of menopause?

Estrogen affects focus, concentration, memory, and mood. Neurological symptoms of menopause can be attributed to the hormonal imbalance that occurs during menopause, particularly the decline in estrogen levels. They often include focus difficulties, memory problems, and mood swings. Menopausal women may also experience sleep disturbances, which further impact cognitive function and mood. 


What joints are inflamed during menopause?

Menopause frequently causes inflammation in the knees, hips, hands, and wrists. Inflammation can lead to symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and swelling in these joints. Hormonal imbalance contributes to the development of inflammatory joint conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Age, genetics, and certain lifestyle factors may make menopausal women more prone to developing these conditions. The best way to reduce inflammation in the joints is to develop healthy lifestyle habits.


What foods should you avoid in menopause?

During menopause, it’s advisable to limit or avoid foods that exacerbate symptoms of inflammation. Junk food is known to promote both inflammation and weight gain. Caffeine and alcohol consumption should also be limited, as these can disrupt sleep and provoke mood swings. Limiting salty foods can help reduce bloating and water retention. For some women, spicy foods can trigger hot flashes and other unpleasant symptoms.