Grumpy, Menopausal, or Just Damn Tired! Understanding Menopausal Mood Swings

Understanding Menopausal Mood Swings

When you thought the physical symptoms of menopause were enough to make the transition into the next stage of female sexuality more complicated than it needs to be, mood swings and emotional changes enter from stage left.

While it is common for most people to associate physical symptoms like hot flashes and flushing with this time of transition, mood swings during menopause are also prevalent symptoms.

As every woman experiences aging and menopause differently, the severity of an individual’s mood swings and emotional stability is subjective and personal, making it more difficult for those with severe symptoms to get the adequate level of care they need without strongly advocating for themselves.

Looking to provide education and support to all women entering menopause, we created this resource to deep dive into the complexities of menopausal mood swings.

This article explores some of the most critical questions about this condition, from “can menopause cause mood swings?” to “what can I do to regulate my mood during my transition better?”

We hope this article is a helpful resource for anyone struggling with their mood as they transition into menopause — because no one should have to go through these changes without the support and compassionate care.

Menopausal hormone changes impact the entire body (including the brain)

Menopause is not just a condition of the female reproductive system — it is something that affects the whole body.

As a woman enters menopause, the natural amount of estrogen (the primary female sex hormone) decreases.

When estrogen decreases, many areas of the body can be affected, and symptoms can develop, from vaginal dryness and irritation to sleep disturbances, slowing of the metabolism, and possible emotional irregularity.

But, it is important to note that not all symptoms of menopause can be seen or felt physically. Mood disturbances, often described as a depressed mood, stress anxiety, or a decreased sense of overall well-being, are genuine symptoms of menopause that are often hard for women to express or explain.

Unfortunately, due to these symptoms, it is very easy for these feelings to be overlooked as “normal” or even used as an excuse to blame women for their behaviors and emotions.

With this in mind, education about the most common symptoms and how to advocate for yourself if you begin to experience these feelings is essential in ensuring that women get the correct level of care they need to reduce the severity of their emotional symptoms during this time.

Signs of menopausal mood swings

Emotions and feelings are already a very personalized experience — so it should be no surprise that menopausal mood swing symptoms are also specific to the individual.

Varying in duration, intensity, and timing, knowing which feelings are being brought on by menopausal hormone changes is not always a black and white situation.

While it is not possible to definitively define what constitutes the actual symptoms of menopausal mood disturbances, signs that you may be experiencing mood swings during menopause include:

  • Increased irritability — If you notice that you are quickly becoming frustrated or have a shorter than usual temper with your friends, family, or even yourself, this may be a sign that you are experiencing menopausal mood swings.
  • Lack of motivation — Having a lower mood, less energy, or less drive to complete your everyday tasks is also a common experience felt by women with menopausal mood swings. If these feelings persist and interfere with your day-to-day routines, we suggest speaking with your doctor about possible treatment options for better managing lower moods.
  • Increased anxiety — It is not uncommon for women to experience more significant stress and anxiety as they enter menopause. Like the treatment for having a low mood, if you notice that your anxiety symptoms prevent you from participating in daily activities, we recommend speaking with your primary care provider for additional support.
  • Feeling not like yourself — Often harder to explain, if you have been feeling “off” or not like yourself, it is possible that these feelings are being brought on by hormonal changes associated with menopause. 

Other sources of stress also play a role in developing mood swings

As the easy scapegoat for negative feelings, menopause is likely not the only emotion-filled event happening in your life when you enter middle age.

From work challenges making you more fatigued, children leaving home for the first time leading to feelings of loneliness, and even the ever-changing state of the world causing plenty of stress, many other factors can be underlying reasons for your change in mood and emotions.

Regardless of the causes of your mood swings, it is essential to know that you can take steps to reduce the extent to which they interfere with your daily activities.

While different women benefit from other treatment options, some common examples of at-home treatments for mood swings during menopause include:

  1. Making diet changes to include more nutritious foods
  2. Practicing mindful meditation and self check-ins
  3. Partaking in daily exercise that you enjoy
  4. Getting outside and seeing friends and family
  5. Taking time for yourself to participate in hobbies

Suppose you or those nearest to you are still noticing significant changes in your mood despite trying these at-home options. In that case, we recommend speaking with your primary care provider for additional support.

Depending on your unique needs, they may prescribe other mood-supportive treatment options like medications or psychotherapy that can make the transition into menopause a less stressful and emotional experience.

Treatments for menopausal mood swings

You aren’t alone in age-related mood changes.

Mood swings and emotional disturbances are a natural part of aging and menopause — but that doesn’t mean you need to suffer through these symptoms without support.

While these mood changes are deeply connected to our hormones, it is vital to approach handling these changes holistically to ensure that you tackle them in the best way possible.

From at-home changes to seeking medical attention and support for your mood, options are available to reduce the severity of any mood swings during menopause.

Access to education, resources, and support are essential first steps to getting the care you deserve.

At Fit4100, we strive to be your go-to place for high-quality educational resources about menopause, aging, and everything in between.

We strongly believe that all women deserve access to supportive and easy-to-understand resources about their transition into the next chapter of their lives.

Do you want to learn more about menopause and the natural progression of aging in women? Read more educational and supportive articles on our blog to gain more information about this critical topic, anytime, anywhere.

Is Weight Gain a Natural Part of Menopause?

Weight Gain and Menopause

Maintaining body weight within typical values for your body can be an increasingly difficult task with increasing age.

This can become increasingly problematic for women in the perimenopausal phase. 

The perimenopausal phase is a transition period during which your body goes through hormonal changes that begin with menstrual irregularities and gradually lead to a complete cessation of menstrual cycles. 

Aside from the uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings, the hormonal changes associated with menopause are seen as responsible for an increase in weight gain, especially around the abdomen.

But is weight gain a natural part of menopause or is it something that can be prevented?

Why Does Weight Gain Occur During Perimenopause?

Estrogen is not just a hormone necessary for reproductive functions, but it also plays an essential role in our body’s metabolism.

Estrogen can also influence how our body utilizes starch and blood sugar and lower estrogen levels have been associated with increased insulin resistance.

The decline in estrogen levels can lower the metabolism rate, which is the rate by which our body utilizes stored energy. 

Researchers have demonstrated in numerous studies that a women’s body composition can undergo considerable changes (such as abdominal fat deposition and increased body fat percentages) during menopause.

Such studies have also attempted to understand whether weight gain during menopause is a stand-alone phenomenon associated with increasing age or if hormonal changes are the primary culprit for the weight gain.

Researchers have concluded that weight gain is not solely a consequence of hormonal changes but is a combination of many changes that occur as a natural part of aging, such as lower activity level, family history of obesity, lifestyle choices, AND hormonal changes.

The studies found that the fall in estrogen levels during menopause was associated with an increased tendency for fat deposition in the abdominal area. This finding is further supported by the fact that patients suffering from Turner syndrome suffer from central obesity. It is well known that most women with Turner syndrome eventually develop premature ovarian failure that causes a drastic decline in estrogen levels, simulating menopausal hormonal changes earlier in life.

Several studies have provided substantial evidence that menopause is directly correlated with a rapid rise in body fat mass and abdominal circumference. 

How Does Weight Gain Impact Perimenopausal Women?

While menopause is inevitable, the symptoms associated with menopause can be managed via hormone replacement therapies and traditional herbal medicines. But, with this in mind, obesity and weight gain can worsen the symptoms associated with menopause, increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders, and negatively impact a person’s overall psychosocial wellbeing.

Reductions in body weight can improve some symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, and has a positive influence on mental health.   

How Can Menopausal Weight Gain Be Managed?

Many practical and easy management strategies are available to control weight gain associated with increasing age and menopause. Some common examples include:

Yoga for Menopause

Physical Activity

As exercise is inversely related to waist circumference and body weight, physically active women are less likely to be affected by the weight gain associated with menopause. Participating actively in physical activities can lower abdominal fat deposition, body fat percentage, and higher lean body mass even in women nearing menopause. Sixty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, including daily resistance exercises, is mainly sufficient to maintain average body weight. 

Bringing awareness to our everyday activities is as equally important as exercise. Like weight gain, inactivity can creep up on us in our daily life, and we become unaware of how little activity we do during the day.

While we might do our morning walk, if we sit for the rest of the day, this can affect our metabolic rate and lead to “sitting disease.” The sitting disease is a term coined by the scientific community and is commonly used when referring to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle.

Increasing research supports the “sitting disease” and includes important reminders of why movement is so important during our entire life span.

Calorie Restriction

In combination with exercise, restricting calorie intake is best to control body weight and abdominal fat deposition.

A 5% decrease in body weight achieved with diet modification and exercise can prevent not only obesity but also decreases your likelihood of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. These minor changes can significantly reduce your risks of developing more severe health complications like stroke and heart attacks. However, make sure that you choose a healthy way to diet with sufficient protein and essential nutrient intake.

Natural remedies 

Traditional treatment strategies for menopause, including various herbs and even yoga, have been around for centuries. Several studies have also found them to be an effective and safe alternative to assisting with the management of menopause and perimenopause symptoms. 

Low impact meditative exercises like yoga and Tai Chi are great options for anyone looking to increase their daily exercise while reducing stress.


Acupuncture, a popular traditional Chinese medicine therapy, may also induce weight loss by regulating endocrine functions. A study on laser acupuncture found beneficial effects of this therapy on BMI with similar efficacy as anti-obesity pharmacotherapy. 

It is important to note that acupuncture is an adjunct therapy, meaning that it is intended to be practiced in addition to other healthy lifestyle choices like eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.


A natural alternative to estrogen is phytoestrogens, which are non-steroidal compounds derived from certain plants, including hops (Humulus lupulus), flaxseed, soy, and red clover. Hops, red clover, and soy contain other compounds with estrogen-like effects, such as daidzein, 8-PN, and isoflavones. Including these foods into your diet is a great way to support your overall health naturally.

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Black Cohosh, a flowering plant found in North America, may be beneficial in managing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and profuse sweating. Recent studies on the impact of Black Cohosh on menopausal symptoms have demonstrated positive effects on weight gain and metabolic disorders.

Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) 

Evening primrose oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in omega-six fatty acids. As per a small study on the treatment of 56 menopausal women suffering from hot flashes and sweating with primrose oil capsules for six months, primrose oil can provide significant relief from nighttime hot flashes, which can improve sleep, decrease stress, and improve the overall health.

The Bottom Line

Weight gain is frequently associated with menopause, but it is manageable with some safe strategic approaches. You can use these strategies alone or in combination to attain your desired body weight and BMI to better reduce your risk of developing additional health complications as you transition into menopause.


  1. Sites CK, Brochu M, Tchernof A, Poehlman ET. Relationship between hormone replacement therapy use with body fat distribution and insulin sensitivity in obese postmenopausal women. Metabolism. 2001 Jul;50(7):835-40. doi: 10.1053/meta.2001.24878. PMID: 11436191.
  1. Kozakowski J, Gietka-Czernel M, Leszczyńska D, Majos A. Obesity in menopause – our negligence or an unfortunate inevitability?. Prz Menopauzalny. 2017;16(2):61-65. doi:10.5114/pm.2017.68594
  1. Davis, S. R.; Castelo-Branco, C.; Chedraui, P.; Lumsden, M. A.; Nappi, R. E.; Shah, D.; Villaseca, P.  (2012). Understanding weight gain at menopause. Climacteric, 15(5), 419–429. doi:10.3109/13697137.2012.707385     
  1. Uebelhack R, Blohmer JU, Graubaum HJ, Busch R, Gruenwald J, Wernecke KD. Black cohosh and St. John’s wort for climacteric complaints: a randomized trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Feb;107(2 Pt 1):247-55. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000196504.49378.83. PMID: 16449108.
  1. Chenoy R, Hussain S, Tayob Y, O’Brien PM, Moss MY, Morse PF. Effect of oral gamolenic acid from evening primrose oil on menopausal flushing. BMJ. 1994 Feb 19;308(6927):501-3. doi: 10.1136/bmj.308.6927.501. PMID: 8136666; PMCID: PMC2542782.

Vaginal Dryness and Menopause – What You Need to Know

When did you last discuss Vaginal Dryness and Menopause over a cup of tea?

Let’s start the discussion today – it’s important!

As a natural part of the ageing process, many women do not look forward to the many different symptoms that menopause can bring. While it is true that no woman experiences menopause in the same way, there are some common menopausal symptoms that are worth knowing about as your body begins to make the transition into the next chapter.

In this article, we will be exploring one of the most common menopausal symptoms, vaginal dryness, to better understand its causes, learn about its identifying signs, and explore which supplements and natural remedies are worth using as helpful treatment options when you need relief.

We want to share this important information about this taboo topic to let women know that while vaginal dryness may be a natural part of menopause, it does not mean that they need to suffer through the symptoms on their own. Increasing access to educational resources and promoting awareness about common struggles are some of the best ways to ensure that people know when they should reach out for help — and our team at Fit4100 is committed to helping achieve this goal.

With this in mind, here is everything we want you to know about menopausal vaginal dryness:

Why We Don’t Talk About Vaginal Dryness

Caused by the reduced amount of estrogen present in the body after menopause, tissue thinning and vaginal dryness are a normal part of ageing that many women live with on a daily basis. So why don’t we talk about it?

With an estimated 17% of women aged 18-50 experiencing vaginal dryness before they even enter menopause, it is genuinely shocking to learn how little this topic is discussed. As possibly one of the most significant barriers to getting accurate information about vaginal dryness, the stigma against talking about women’s sexual health prevents many women from getting the care they need to reduce their menopausal symptoms.

From doctors historically not believing the severity of women’s health concerns to the taboo nature of discussing sexual health changes with age, it is no wonder that so many women worldwide often feel isolated and alone as they experience symptoms of vaginal dryness and pain.

Thankfully, as access to high-quality medical resources improves and more women feel empowered to tell their stories, the societal stigma is beginning to be challenged. Acting as your own self-advocate, becoming educated and talking about menopause symptoms and available treatment options can help not only your experience, but for the future experiences of women following in our footsteps.

Common Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness 

It is common for most women to develop vaginal dryness during or after their transition into menopause. As a hormonal-based health condition, the severity of the vaginal dryness symptoms that a woman experiences are dependent on her specific body and estrogen levels, meaning that some may have it much worse than others.

While not every woman with vaginal dryness will experience all of the following symptoms, examples of the most common signs of dryness that you may come across during menopause include:

  • Soreness or itchiness near the vagina
  • Pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Feeling like you need to urinate more frequently
  • An increased risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Decreased overall sex drive

Depending on a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition, age, and pre-existing medical conditions, symptoms of vaginal dryness may change or shift throughout your transition into menopause. If you develop any of the above symptoms, we highly recommend consulting with your primary care provider for additional support and to begin exploring treatment options that will be best suited to your needs.

Vaginal Dryness Supplements and Natural Remedies to Try (or Avoid)

As we mentioned before, just because vaginal dryness is a common experience for many women during menopause doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the symptoms without treatment. With various at-home remedies available for women to try, we wanted to share some insight into which supplements are worth exploring vs which might do more harm than good.

Vaginal dryness supplements that are worth trying include:

  • Vaginal lubricants — Primarily used before sexual activity, vagina-safe lubricants can help offset feelings of irritation or pain caused by vaginal dryness. While these products should not be used on a day-to-day basis, they can be beneficial during periods of profound dryness or for reducing the risk of pain during intercourse.
  • Hyaluronic acid — As a natural substance designed to provide additional support and cushioning to our joints, hyaluronic acid has also been proven effective in treating vaginal dryness. One study found that hyaluronic acid offered comparable results to low-dose estrogen therapy for reducing the symptoms of vaginal dryness in menopausal women, indicating that this product may provide health benefits worth exploring.
  • Vitamin E — This fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant is often recommended as a supplement for anyone looking to support overall health. And while many of these health claims still require additional research to verify, a recent study found that applying vitamin E gel directly to the vaginal tissue was effective in reducing dryness and overall irritation.
  • Replens — For anyone looking for a more long-term solution to their dryness, vaginal moisturisers can be incredibly helpful. Applied to the affected area as a gel, vaginal moisturisers like Replens offer up to three days of dryness relief. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, vaginal moisturisers can be an excellent option for preventing periods of painful dryness.

So while there are many great vaginal dryness options available on the market, there are also some common at-home remedies that should be avoided due to the ability to cause more irritation or discomfort. Here are some examples of vaginal dryness treatments that we don’t advise you use:

  • Coconut oil — As more people are being introduced to coconut oil in their cosmetics, skincare, and even in the kitchen, it is tempting to see if this thick and pleasant smelling oil can help with vaginal dryness. Unfortunately, not much research has been done to understand the full extent of the benefits or risks of using this product to treat menopausal dryness. Additionally, because coconut oil is a foreign substance to the body, it is capable for people to have an allergic reaction, making it not a great choice for treating this issue.
  • Olive oil — Like coconut oil, olive oil is also a foreign substance to the body that can cause additional issues when used to treat vaginal dryness. Messy to clean up and easy to permanently stain your clothing or linens, it is not advised that anyone use olive oil for managing their vaginal dryness symptoms.
  • Vaseline — Known for being incredibly moisturising and slick, petroleum jelly products like Vaseline products may come to mind when thinking of something to assist with menopausal dryness. But, because this product is not water-soluble, using Vaseline on vaginal tissue can actually increase your risk of experiencing friction, discomfort, and developing infections, making it a poor choice for helping with vaginal dryness.
  • Women’s health vitamins — From daily tablets to gummy sexual health supporting vitamins, there is no shortage of supplements claiming to help women transition into menopause. But, with little research available to support the claims of these products, it is best to avoid relying on these products as a way to treat your vaginal dryness. Instead, speak to your primary care provider about what specific vitamins or nutrients you can add to your diet to improve your overall sexual health.

You Don’t Have To Go Through This Alone

If you have been experiencing vaginal dryness as you transition into menopause, the most important thing to know is that you are not alone.

At Fit4100, our team is committed to providing women around the world with access to high-quality medical research and articles designed to empower and inspire women to get the treatment they need. Menopause is a natural part of life — but suffering from symptoms doesn’t have to be.

Vasomotor Symptoms and Menopause

Vasomotor Symptoms

Vasomotor Symptoms or Hot Flushes?

Vasomotor symptoms (VMS) affect 80% of women undergoing menopause, which usually occurs in the late forties or early fifties. Vasomotor symptoms are also called hot flashes or flushes, and night sweats and are due to dilation of blood vessels that cause heat to rise to the surface of the skin. 

Menopause is defined as the absence of menses for one year due to low levels of estrogen, progesterone, and elevated levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH is secreted from the pituitary gland in the brain in response to lower production of estrogen from the ovaries.

Ovaries, like any organ, are subject to a decline in function as they age. Ovaries’ main functions are ovulation, estrogen and progesterone production, and maintenance of early pregnancy. As these hormones decrease, the pituitary tries to trigger the ovaries to work harder by releasing higher and higher levels of FSH. However, the aged ovaries are exhausted and do not respond.

What are Vasomotor Symptoms?

VMS can occur for months or years prior to the cessation of menses. Most VMS are moderate or severe and can have significant harmful effects on quality of life. At their core, VMS are thermoregulatory heat dispersion events that appears to have a narrower trigger zone in the menopausal years, meaning that small fluctuations in core body temperatures can trigger heat loss events such as sweating from peripheral vasodilation (hot flash).[1]

As such, vasomotor stands for ‘vaso’ or blood vessels and ‘motor’ means movement and is associated with dilation of the smooth muscle in the walls of the blood vessels. When blood vessels dilate, they release heat into the surrounding tissue and are responsible for people feeling hot and sweating. Thus, VMS include hot flashes or flushes, night sweats, and flushed skin.

Why do VSM Symptoms Occur?

The presumed reason for VMS is thought to be estrogen deficiency because supplementation of estrogen appears to stop or prevent hot flashes. However, other systems are implicated in the process such as central (brain) serotonergic, noradrenergic, opioid, adrenal, and autonomic systems, as well as vascular processes.[2-6]

How Long do VSM last?

The length and severity of menopausal symptoms are highly individualized and depend on a variety of factors such as whether your menopause occurred naturally or surgically, your ethnicity, your mother’s history, obesity, smoking, and alcohol intake. For instance, surgical removal of the ovaries, often done at the time of a hysterectomy, can result in the abrupt onset of hot flashes that are severe and debilitating.

This contrasts with natural menopause whereby the ovaries still produce a tiny amount of estrogen. Other co-morbidities like thyroid disorder and diabetes may influence the duration of symptoms. Most women experience the most severe symptoms in the early years and then they taper off rather gradually. However, certain triggers such as ambient temperature, certain foods, and anxiety may exacerbate or prolong the duration of symptoms.   

In a study by Avis and colleagues [7], they used data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) and showed that Black women experienced the longest total VMS duration (median, 10.1 years). Japanese and Chinese women reported the shortest VMS duration (median, 4.8 years and 5.4 years, respectively). For non-Hispanic women, the median total VMS durations were 6.5 years and 8.9 years for Hispanic women.

Risk Factors of Vasomotor Symptoms

VMS are associated with a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and greater bone density loss. Other risk factors for the severity of VMS are obesity, smoking, low levels of exercise, and alcohol intake as well as psychologic parameters such as: [8-12]

  1. attitudes toward menopause
  2. symptom sensitivity 
  3. anxiety, irritability, or grouchiness,
  4. tenseness or nervousness,
  5. pounding or racing heart,
  6. fearfulness for no reason
  7. perceived stress 
  8. depressive symptoms
  9. level emotional and social support

The best way to reduce your risk factors is to exercise regularly, lose weight, stop smoking, and reduce or stop alcohol intake.

It is also important to make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable and there is good air movement. It is best to add layers to your clothing rather than wear one heavy garment. That way, you can add a sweater to a blouse, but not have to change clothes all together. Wear lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics and avoid spicy foods. Keep well-hydrated and if your symptoms are severe, see your healthcare practitioner for advice and management.

Menopause Symptoms


  1. Freedman RR, Krell W. Reduced thermoregulatory null zone in postmenopausal women with hot flashes. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999;181(1):66–70. 
  2. Thurston R, Christie I, Matthews K. Hot flashes and cardiac vagal control: A link to cardiovascular risk? Menopause. 2010;17(3):456–461. 
  3. Woods NF, Mitchell ES, Smith-Dijulio K. Cortisol levels during the menopausal transition and early postmenopause: observations from the Seattle Midlife Women’s Health Study. Menopause. 2009;16(4):708–718. 
  4. Freedman RR, Woodward S. Elevated a2-adrenergic responsiveness in menopausal hot flushes: pharmacologic and biochemical studies. In: Lomax P, Schonbaum E, editors. Thermoregulation: the pathophysiological basis of clinical disorders. Krager; Basel: 1992. pp. 6–9. 
  5. Casper RF, Yen SS. Neuroendocrinology of menopausal flushes: an hypothesis of flush mechanism. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 1985;22(3):293–312. 
  6. Sturdee DW. The menopausal hot flush–anything new? Maturitas. 2008;60(1):42–49.
  7. Avis NE, Crawford SL, Greendale G, Bromberger JT, Everson-Rose SA, Gold EB, Hess R, Joffe H, Kravitz HM, Tepper PG, Thurston RC; Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Duration of menopausal vasomotor symptoms over the menopause transition. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Apr;175(4):531-9. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8063. PMID: 25686030; PMCID: PMC4433164.
  8. Sommer  B, Avis  N, Meyer  P,  et al.  Attitudes toward menopause and aging across ethnic/racial groups.  Psychosom Med. 1999;61(6):868-875.
  9. Barsky  AJ, Goodson  JD, Lane  RS, Cleary  PD.  The amplification of somatic symptoms.  Psychosom Med. 1988;50(5):510-519.
  10. Cohen  S, Kamarck  T, Mermelstein  R.  A global measure of perceived stress.  J Health Soc Behav. 1983;24(4):385-396.
  11. Radloff  LS.  The CES-D Scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population.  Appl Psychol Meas. 1997;1:385-401.
  12. Sherbourne  CD, Stewart  AL.  The MOS social support survey.  Soc Sci Med. 1991;32(6):705-714.

The Five Worst Foods for Joint Pain

A few careful decisions at the dining table can make a world of difference for frustrating and exhausting joint pain.

It starts at about the age of 30 – that’s when we all begin to hear the warnings. We’re told that our mornings will soon be full of aches and pains and that our bodies will seize up.

This dire outlook doesn’t always come true, but for many people it does. Often, as we age, pain increases. One of the main culprits is arthritis and joint pain – in Australia about one in six people have arthritis and in America the figure is more like one in four.

But these changes aren’t just an inevitable part of getting older – research shows a strong link between joint pain and chronic inflammation.

The good news is that studies have found that the choices we make about food can affect inflammation and have an impact on how much joint pain we feel.

It’s useful to include foods that are actively anti-inflammatory in your diet if you have joint pain, but it’s equally important to avoid the foods that can make inflammation worse. These are the five foods to avoid if you want to say goodbye to knee pain, hip pain, and arthritic joint pain and get on with life.

#1 – The Effects of Red meat and Joint Pain

Red meats like lamb and beef are triple threats when it comes to joint pain-inducing inflammation. Firstly, digestion of meat, particularly if it has been cooked at high heat, ultimately results in the increased bodily presence of two molecules associated with inflammation – trimethlyamine oxide and advanced glycation end products. Meat is also high in saturated fat and studies show high-fat meals can cause an immediate increase in inflammation.

#2 – Processed and Fried Foods and Joint Pain

While not always the case, most processed and fried foods are high in partially hydrogenated oils, which are also known as trans fats. These are created when hydrogen is added to unsaturated fat to give it more stability – a process that can extend shelf life and boost flavour. Lots of research, including this 2011 study examining the effect of trans fats on cells, has shown that trans fats contribute to systemic inflammation, which underlies conditions like arthritis and joint pain.

#3 – The impact of White bread and other refined grains on Ageing and Joint Pain

While whole grains can have an anti-inflammatory effect, refined grains like those found in white flour, pastry, and white bread can increase inflammation – likely by encouraging the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria. Joint pain is only one of the consequences linked to the inflammation associated with refined grains – this 2010 study also suggests diets high in refined grains could be connected with early death.

#4 – Vegetable and seed oils

When it comes to oils and inflammation, there’s good oils and bad oils. Good oils, like olive oil, are high in omega-3 fatty acids while bad oils, like corn oil and other vegetable oils, are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Both omega-3 and omega-6 are necessary to be healthy, but modern diets tend to provide us with far more omega-6 than we need, and this can cause increased inflammation that leads to joint pain. Replacing oils high in omega-6 with olive oil could produce an anti-inflammatory effect and a reduction in pain.

#5 – High-sugar foods and the negative implications on Ageing

Sugar has found its way into all kinds of products – from breakfast cereals to canned sauces – but a diet high in sugar can be incredibly harmful. It increases the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and – because the consumption of sugar triggers the release of inflammatory bodies called cytokines – it also has a negative effect on joint pain. In 2014, a study looking at the links between arthritis and soft drinks sweetened with sugar established a firm association between the two.