Menopause Hormones and Inflammation

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Menopause Hormones and Inflammation

Are you suffering from arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia or some other chronic inflammatory condition? Has this worsened or become evident over the menopause years?

In the UK the NHS statistics show that over 40 million people have arthritis, 1 in 5 in the US are affected, the majority being women, with the incidence rising after the age of 40 during the menopause years, particularly if there is family history and/or if you have other chronic disease eg heart disease, diabetes, hypertension.

Research into the interplay between inflammation and hormones is still in its infancy. In particular, the sex hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone appear to have important, but complex effects on the body’s inflammatory response. For example, many observers have wondered if the increase in inflammatory diseases that coincide with menopause, such as arthritis, might be related to shifts in the balance of progesterone and oestrogen, further hindered by the raised cortisol levels due to stress.

Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s)  taken long term have some very unpleasant side effects, but you can employ some very simple nutrition and lifestyle practices to help yourself too.

Managing Inflammation Naturally

While it doesn’t exactly make you feel warm and fuzzy, more likely frustrated and frazzled, inflammation is the body’s totally healthy response to injury and infection, a way of defending ourselves by sending immune cells and key nutrients to the areas that need them most.

How do the immune cells get to where they’re needed? Via increased blood flow, which in turn creates the redness, warmth, swelling and pain associated with the word “inflammation”.

Yet a small cut that heals over a short time is very different from a state of chronic inflammation, as the immune system never shuts off, having the potential to cause permanent damage leading to heart disease, arthritis and other health concerns if left unchecked.

The causes of inflammation can vary person to person, but include trauma, injury, posture, being overweight, age, smoking, lack of exercise, experiencing lots of stress and poor nutrition.

Of course you could take anti-inflammatory drugs, but long term they have unpleasant side affects. So it makes sense to do what you can to help yourself reduce any inflammation. Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:

REDUCE your intake of:

  • White bread, pasta and sugars, particularly fructose: All promote an inflammatory response in the body.
  • Salt: An excess of sodium exacerbates any existing inflammatory condition such as arthritis and if continues can lead to increased blood pressure, heart failure and kidney disease.
  • Trans Fats: While these are now identified as being problematic to health and are being reduced by the food manufacturers, it’s sensible to look on labels for the word ‘hydrogenated’
  • Omega 6 fatty acids: Although we need these for health, we need them in the right balance with Omega 3’s (more later on these). In excess they cause inflammation and can lead to heart disease. Found in most processed foods on the supermarket shelves, look for the mention of any vegetable oil listed in the contents.

Reducing your intake of the above is great, but if you can INCREASE the following, the benefits should be far more noticeable:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids: These are natural anti-inflammatories and are found in eggs, grass fed beef, oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. We rarely get sufficient of these in our diet so a supplement is really useful for pain management, with Krill Oil being the most potent. If you’re vegetarian you could take Flax or Hemp Oil.
  • Fresh Air: Get outside in the light to increase your vitamin D levels, so important for building healthy bones, helping manage chronic back pain.
  • Pineapples: The core contains bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory. You may find this to be woody and fibrous in many pineapples, (not if organic), so adding pineapple and the core to a daily juice or smoothie would be beneficial
  • Turmeric: Many studies have now found that curcumin the natural ingredient found in turmeric is now to have amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Add it to your food whenever possible, you can even make ‘Golden Milk’ with it.
  • Water: Drink at least 2L of water/day, spread evenly throughout the day. Water cushions every joint in your body, and if you’re dehydrated you’re more likely to feel pain!

I hope this helps you in some way manage your pain and inflammation without relying too much on the drugs.

Clare Shepherd

Nutritional Therapist, Menopause Health Coach,

Member of British Menopause Society

Helping busy ladies naturally create harmony and  health through the menopause years and beyond.  Regain control, confidence, and be free to live the life they choose.

A full hysterectomy in her 30s led nutritional therapist and health coach Clare on an amazing adventure exploring the many opportunities available to manage her enforced menopause and create long-term health.

Clare prefers the natural approach, and qualifying in nutritional therapy gave her the confidence to come off HRT, take back control of her life and health, and look forward to living the best third of her life free of prescription drugs. Understanding the importance of creating harmony of health of both body and mind through menopause and beyond, she’s now on a mission to inspire, educate and empower other women, too.

Click HERE to find out more about how Clare shares her years of exploring, experience and knowledge through 1:1 consultations and online programmes, and where you can request a FREE 30 minute consultation with Clare to discuss any personal menopause/health concerns you may have.


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