Inflammation May Be More Serious Than You Think

Aging is the decline of the body in function, integrity and the ability to repair itself.

Aging is just as affected by environmental factors as it is by genetics.

The aging pathway seems to be very susceptive to nutritional choices: some choices cause rapid progression of the aging process, while others curb the speed of the inevitable. 

Furthermore, as women approach menopause, typically between the age of 45 and 55, our bodies go through several radical hormonal fluctuations that can affect us in many ways.

Changing levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone have a role to play in age-related inflammation. For example, researchers believe that the declining levels of estrogen play a major role in joint pain during menopause. It appears that a decrease in estrogen corresponds with a rise in the inflammatory markers called cytokines, interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 (pro-inflammatory chemicals). Estrogen affects joints by keeping inflammation down; therefore, as estrogen levels begin to decline during peri-menopause, joints get less and less estrogen, and pain is often the result.

The hormonal changes leading up to menopause also contribute to weight gain. There is clear evidence that extra fat cells, especially around the middle of the body, add to systemic inflammation by creating extra cytokines and C-reactive protein (chemicals in the body that promote inflammation).

As our levels of inflammation rise, so does our susceptibility to disease, weight gain, and chronic illness.

Mary Claire Haver, MD

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