8 Ways To Fight Menopause Brain Fog

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    The menopausal transition occurs when hormone levels start to decline. Common menopause symptoms include hot flashes, low mood, night sweats, sleep problems and decreased energy. One of the most challenging symptoms is cognitive decline, commonly known as menopause brain fog.

    Some women describe their brain feels like cotton wool because they begin to find it difficult to take on new information. Other cognitive symptoms related to brain fog include memory loss, mental confusion, losing your train of thought, poor concentration, difficulty finding the right words or forgetting words (impaired verbal memory).

    What causes menopause brain fog?

    Cognitive function is affected by hormone levels. Hormones are essential to keeping memory and cognition working well. Perimenopause and menopause related cognitive changes happen to women in their 40's and 50's when their oestrogen (estrogen)levels start to falter and ebb away.

    Dr Lisa Mosconi, author of The XX Brain stipulates that for some women brain fog can get better as menopause progresses while for some post menopausal women their cognitive problems further deteriorate or turn into a dementia diagnosis.So taking steps to support your brain health is important.

    How many women typically experience brain fog?

    Most women experience the menopause transition will experience some issues with brain function. A Peppy study revealed that over 78% of women had experienced brain fog as an effect of menopause. Symptoms can be so pronounced some women can fear it is an early sign of Alzheimer's disease.

    How do oestrogen and testosterone affect the brain

    Oestrogen levels and testosterone hormones play an important role in the brain, cognitive function and memory. Oestrogen is a neurotransmitter and helps the brain to fire signals. When oestrogen hormone levels start to fall the hippocampus, the brain's memory bank, doesn't work as well.

    Testosterone strengthens nerves and improves blood flow to the brain which helps to support memory, energy levels and mental clarity.

    Studies have shown that there is an overall reduction of brain energy levels during menopause. This can enhance anxiety levels, hot flushes and brain fog symptoms.


    What you can do to fight brain fog

    Stress management, sleep, apps, diet, exercise, hrt, herbal and vitamin supplements can all help to support brain cells and cognitive function and help to alleviate brain fog symptoms.

    Learn to manage stress

    Stress can make brain fog as well as other symptoms much worse. Oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone are produced from pregnenolone which is made from cholesterol. Pregnenolone is converted into progesterone. Progesterone can be converted into oestrogen or testosterone.

    When you are stressed your adrenal glands use pregnenolone to make cortisol instead of oestrogen and progesterone. Lower levels of pregnenolone ( eaten up by cortisol production) heighten irritability, lower progesterone, your body's natural sedative, causes sleep problems. Lower oestrogen stimulates hot flashes and your metabolism can be affected too.

    Prioritise quality sleep

    Hormonal decline is the trigger for sleep problems for many menopausal women. Up to 50% of women have trouble sleeping in their 40s and 50's.

    Sleep is essential for general wellbeing and is the time when cells renew. It helps to reduce inflammation and supports our immune system and the formation of memory. Sleep helps to control blood sugar, weight and appetite. When it comes to the brain sleep disturbances can prevent a really important process happening.

    In Eve Biology consumer trials, 85% of participants said their sleep improved.

    The glymphatic system is a network of vessels with fluid that clear waste and toxins from the central nervous system and brain mostly during sleep. This includes flushing out amyloid deposits which are abnormal fibrous, extracellular, proteinaceous deposits found in organs and tissues including the brain. Amyloids are associated with Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons.

    Dr Tara Swart a neuroscientist says we need 8 hours and 15 minutes of sleep a night to allow this process to happen. Anything over this has the potential to create negative cognitive symptoms which include depression and mood swings.

    Regular sleep habits help to support the brain and keep it healthy. Going to bed and waking up at regular times, keeping the temperature low in the bedroom and keeping electronic devices and your mobile phone off. Blue light stimulates the brain and can make sleep stage harder to reach.

    Simplify your life admin with Doqit 

    Brain fog can make managing life administration a daunting task. Understanding this challenge, Catherine Ann, founder of doqit created an invaluable solution for those suffering life admin overwhelm.

    Around two-thirds of women experience memory issues during menopause, impacting their ability to keep track of important dates and documents. This is where doqit comes in – an easy to use, digital platform (app) designed to simplify day- to-day life administration, ensuring nothing falls through the net.

    The app helps to securely store all essential documents in one accessible place with reliable reminders to help you keep on top of important dates from subscriptions to MOT's to insurance. The certainty of having everything organised in one place brings significant peace of mind reducing stress and worry for women in their menopausal years. 

    Tweak your diet to support your brain

    A healthy diet can go a long way when it comes to supporting brain health, improving cognitive symptoms and concentration levels. If you're a woman in menopause you'll already know a mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, oily fish, fibre and nuts is a great foundation for hormonal health.

    Anthocyanins are a class of water-soluble flavonoids present in darker fruits and vegetables which contribute to neurogenesis ( the formation of new neurone in the brain).

    To support brain health, choose darker foods when you have the option because these have higher levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to prevent oxidative stress to brain cells.

    Think darker green cabbage over the light green, red grapes over yellow, blackberries and blueberries over strawberries, choose purple sprouting broccoli over green broccoli. Dark chocolate and high quality coffee in moderation can also help to keep the brain healthy.

    Fasting and calorie restriction have benefits for the brain but only if you have good foundations. This means good sleep habits, being active, managing stress levels, keeping hydrated and eating 30 plant products a week for gut health. Daily prebiotic fibre supplements have been found to increase memory in older adults.

    Regular aerobic exercise

    We don't have to tell you that exercise is non negotiable if you want to feel your best. Weight bearing exercise in your 40's and 50's will help to keep you toned and retain muscle mass. But there are three reasons you should be getting your heart rate up when you're going through menopause.

    Firstly, the hormone oestrogen helps to control your cholesterol levels, keeps your blood vessels supple so they can transport oxygen and reduces the risk of fat building up in your arteries.

    When oestrogen levels fall arterial fat can build up causing them to become narrower. This increases your risk of developing heart disease, having a heart attack or a stroke.

    Secondly, aerobic exercise accelerates neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form and reorganise synaptic connections especially in response to learning new things. So taking up a new hobby, learning a new language or doing things which require concentration like crossword puzzles can all stimulate neuroplasticity which helps your brain to change and evolve.

    Thirdly, regular exercise helps to build bone strength, relieve stress and lower cortisol levels. When you lower cortisol levels your body can produce more oestrogen to help to support other symptoms.

    Ginkgo Biloba

    Ginkgo Biloba is a herbal supplement known for its potential benefits in brain health. Packed with antioxidants which help to protect brain cells from oxidative stress it supports blood flow to the brain which can enhance mental clarity and may alleviate brain fog symptoms.

    Brain boosting vitamins

    Vitamins B1 ( Thiamine), B3 ( Niacin), B5 ( Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine) and B9 ( Folate or Folic acid) are known as the brain boosting vitamins. Together they help to

    • improve nerve function to support learning and memory
    • support energy production in the cells of the brain
    • support neurotransmitter function; support serotonin production
    • support oxygen flow to the brain
    • aid in the formation of new brain cells to support cognitive processes.

    Eve Biology Meal Replacements for Women over 40 contain all these brain boosting vitamins, prebiotic fibre and Ginkgo Biloba to support brain fog symptoms.

       

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    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

    HRT can improve many symptoms experienced by many women during menopause. The increase in hormone levels can help to support sleep, end hot flushes, improve energy, concentration and memory within a few months of taking it. HRT can also help to protect the heart and bones. Women on HRT are 50% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

    Summary

    A lot of women find brain fog with its memory problems and impaired cognitive function is more stressful than other menopausal symptoms. Lower levels of hormones result in memory loss and impaired verbal learning which can make work very challenging and sap confidence levels.

    For a lot of women normal brain function returns as they age but for some it can get worse. Getting enough quality sleep, diet tweaks, aerobic exercise, hrt and vitamin and herbal supplementation can all help to protect and support the brain so it can function optimally when hormones start to decline.

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