How Menopause Causes Chronic Disease: 4 Ways To Reduce Your Risk

Early menopause is tied to increased cardiometabolic risks (4), and other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. (5,6) Menopause has also been linked to risks for diabetes and gastroenteritis.(7) A study suggested that hypertension onset during the menopause transition appears together with abdominal obesity and may be a driving force for increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. (8) Also, a large 2019 study of midlife women veterans suggested that increased menopause symptom burden is associated with higher vulnerability to chronic pain. (9)

As estrogen levels drop across the stages of the menopause transition, impairment of endothelial function and acceleration of vascular aging have been noted. (10-12) In addition, obesity, cancer, endometriosis, CVD, and poor cognitive function are all marked by gut dysbiosis and can be considered estrogen-modulated conditions. (13) More broadly, hormonal changes in aging patients have been associated with greater risk of frailty and disability, (14,15) likely due to disruptions along several hormonal axes rather than a single hormone deficiency. (16)

Evidence continues to grow demonstrating that lifestyle changes can modulate hormonal function to improve health, lowering or even reversing the risk of these chronic issues. 

Anti-Inflammatory Foods & Hormonal Balance

Nutrition is an essential pillar of lifestyle interventions that can impact hormonal balance. At the most basic level, the consumption of anti-inflammatory foods—specifically fruits and vegetables—may help alleviate symptoms of many chronic conditions associated with increased inflammation. (17-20) Additionally, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower may help prevent the development of hormone-modulated female cancers. (21)

In a survey-based study, women in pre-menopause were followed for nearly 13 years and reported regularly consuming the carotenoid B-cryptoxanthin (a precursor to retinol) fruit entered menopause later than those who did not. (21) B-carotene, lycopene, lutein, curcumin, and other carotenoids are being studied to identify their mechanisms of action, including stimulation of B- and T-lymphocytes. (22)  Fruits with the highest amount of β-cryptoxanthin include oranges, papaya, peaches, tangerines, and yellow and orange maize.

Mediterranean Diet

Reduced estrogen increases cardiometabolic risks for women entering menopause, (23,24) but nutrition can significantly differ in health impacts. For example, researchers found that women who followed a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts displayed a significantly lower index of preclinical atherosclerosis and lower weight than their non-compliant counterparts during pre-menopause. (25) Another study found that the Mediterranean Diet has a cardioprotective effect on women if they adhere to it. (26) This cardioprotective effect included lower total cholesterol, resting heart rate, LDL-C, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein.

These cardioprotective results may be partly due to changes in fat intake. A study showed that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids lowered total and LDL-C cholesterol dramatically over a three-month supplementation with fish oil and vitamin E. (27)

Nutrition has several potential impacts on women experiencing changes in hormones that occur during menopause.

Vasomotor Symptoms & Plant-Based or Vegetarian Diets

During the menopause transition, vasomotor symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats are frequently reported. Studies suggest that these symptoms may be biomarkers for potential chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. (10,28,29) Nutrition may play a part in managing vasomotor symptoms and enhancing the quality of life. A study found that women who were in perimenopause and ate a vegan diet reported less bothersome vasomotor symptoms than those who ate an omnivore diet. (30)

Sustainable Lifestyle Change

One study found that lifestyle modifications implemented by women during menopause improved the women’s health status. (32) Functional medicine promotes collaboration between patient and practitioner fully involves the patient in their healing process and supports them during the treatment.

If you think that this type of treatment might be right for you, then consider signing up for a free discovery call so we can answer any questions you may have.


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9. Gibson CJ, Li Y, Bertenthal D, Huang AJ, Seal KH. Menopause symptoms and chronic pain in a national sample of midlife women veterans. Menopause. 2019;26(7):708-713. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000001312<>

10. Biglia N, Cagnacci A, Gambacciani M, Lello S, Maffei S, Nappi RE. Vasomotor symptoms in menopause: a biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk and other chronic diseases? Climacteric. 2017;20(4):306-312. doi:10.1080/13697137.2017.1315089<>

11. Moreau KL, Hildreth KL, Meditz AL, Deane KD, Kohrt WM. Endothelial function is impaired across the stages of the menopause transition in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012;97(12):4692-4700. doi:10.1210/jc.2012-2244<>

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13. Baker JM, Al-Nakkash L, Herbst-Kralovetz MM. Estrogen-gut microbiome axis: physiological and clinical implications. Maturitas. 2017;103:45-53. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.06.025<>

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16. Maggio M, Cattabiani C, Lauretani F, et al. The concept of multiple hormonal dysregulation. Acta Biomed. 2010;81(Suppl 1):19-29.

17. Ricker MA, Haas WC. Anti-inflammatory diet in clinical practice: a review. Nutr Clin Pract. 2017;32(3):318-325. doi:10.1177/0884533617700353<>

18. Zwickey H, Horgan A, Hanes D, et al. Effect of the anti-inflammatory diet in people with diabetes and pre-diabetes: a randomized controlled feeding study. J Restor Med. 2019;8(1):e20190107. doi:10.14200/jrm.2019.0107<>

19. Sköldstam L, Hagfors L, Johansson G. An experimental study of a Mediterranean diet intervention for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2003;62(3):208-214. doi:10.1136/ard.62.3.208<>

20. How to use food to help your body fight inflammation. Mayo Clinic. Published August 13, 2019. Accessed January 29, 2020.

21. Pearce K, Tremellen K. Influence of nutrition on the decline of ovarian reserve and subsequent onset of natural menopause. Hum Fertil (Camb). 2016;19(3):173-179. doi:10.1080/14647273.2016.1205759<>

22. Milani A, Basirnejad M, Shahbazi S, Bolhassani A. Carotenoids: biochemistry, pharmacology and treatment. Br J Pharmacol. 2017;174(11):1290-1324. doi:10.1111/bph.13625<>

23. Rosano GM, Vitale C, Marazzi G, Volterrani M. Menopause and cardiovascular disease: the evidence. Climacteric. 2007;10(Suppl 1):19-24. doi:10.1080/13697130601114917<>

24. Park JK, Lim YH, Kim KS, et al. Body fat distribution after menopause and cardiovascular disease risk factors: Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2010. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2013;22(7):587-594. doi:10.1089/jwh.2012.4035<>

25. Mattioli AV, Coppi F, Migaldi M, Scicchitano P, Ciccone MM, Farinetti A. Relationship between Mediterranean diet and asymptomatic peripheral arterial disease in a population of pre-menopausal women. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2017;27(11):985-990. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2017.09.011<>

26. Ruiz-Cabello P, Coll-Risco I, Acosta-Manzano P, et al. Influence of the degree of adherence to the Mediterranean diet on the cardiometabolic risk in peri and menopausal women. The Flamenco project. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2017;27(3):217-224. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2016.10.008<>

27. Alves Luzia L, Mendes Aldrighi J, Teixeira Damasceno NR, et al. Fish oil and vitamin E change lipid profiles and anti-LDL-antibodies in two different ethnic groups of women transitioning through menopause. Nutr Hosp. 2015;32(1):165-174. doi:10.3305/nh.2015.32.1.907<>

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31. Rotolo O, Zinzi I, Veronese N, et al. Women in LOVe:lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet rich in omega-3 improves vasomotor symptoms in postmenopausal women. An exploratory randomized controlled trial. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2019;19(8):1232-1239. doi:10.2174/1871530319666190528101532<>

32. Rathnayake N, Alwis G, Lenora J, Lekamwasam S. Impact of health-promoting lifestyle education intervention on health-promoting behaviors and health status of postmenopausal women: a quasi-experimental study from Sri Lanka. Biomed Res Int. 2019;2019:4060426. doi:10.1155/2019/4060426<>


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