This post may contain affiliate links from which i can earn a commission
I decided to write this post after watching a TED talk by Lisa Misconi a renowned Neuroscientist who studies how brain health plays out differently in women than men. Read on to find tips to improve menopause brain fog naturally.
I’ve used a bit of her material and added my own to give you a bigger picture of how menopause can affect a woman’s brain and what we can do to slow down the effects it has.
Stick with me through this, I’m going to talk a bit about hormones but I promise it’s going somewhere.
What is menopausal brain fog?
Brain fog is a term that describes a difficulty in getting your brain to do things it would have once done easily such as focusing, memory recall, and being able to think clearly and quickly.
- Memory lapses
- Unable to think clearly and quickly
- Not being able to make decisions
- Incorrect recall
- Slower processing
What causes menopause brain fog?
You probably know that estrogen is an endocrine hormone produced in the ovaries along with progesterone and is vital to normal reproductive development and fertility.
What you may not know is that the brain and ovaries work closely together and in actual fact menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and brain fog actually start in the brain.
The hormone estrogen is key for energy production in the brain.
Estrogen pushes neurons to burn glucose to make energy. The more estrogen you have the more brain activity there is and the clearer your brain will be.
As we age and estrogen declines well, our brain function declines with it and we develop what we’ve come to know as menopausal brain fog.
Studies have shown that this decline can even lead to developing risk markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
Many consider Alzeihemers is a disease that only strikes those in old age.
In fact, it has been found that changes in the female brain that could possibly lead to Alzheimer’s may start happening as early as menopause.
Menopause symptoms themselves can be attributed to changes in the brain caused by lower estrogen levels.
For example, estrogen activates the hypothalamus to regulate temperature. When it doesn’t fully activate, that’s when we get hot flashes.
When estrogen levels start to get low in the amygdala (the emotional centre of the brain) we can experience mood swings and forget things.
How to avoid menopause brain fog
There are quite a few things you can start doing today to improve menopause related brain fog.
A healthy diet
As usual, our diet is a great place to start and it’s been found the Mediterranean diet is good for women in menopause, it’s rich in foods that contain estrogens in the form of phytoestrogens.
These are the estrogens in plants that act like estrogens in our bodies.
Some phytoestrogens have been linked to cancer; the ones you would find in this diet are fortunately safe.
The foods that are high in phytoestrogens are
- soy products – make sure to choose non-genetically modified,
- sesame seeds,
- nuts such as cashews and almonds,
- cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts and kale,
- peaches and dried apricots
- and a tie for my personal favourite, dark chocolate and red wine
A good diet is one thing that works to help improve cognitive function but on the flip side, it’s also important to avoid things that steal our estrogen and so contribute to brain fog.
Stop forgetting appointments and your first born’s name!
Stress is a massive estrogen thief so stress reduction is important.
This is because of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol moves in tandem with estrogen in our bodies. When estrogen goes down, cortisol goes up and vice versa.
Do things that help bring down stress levels. I talk about these a lot over on my website. The list of things you can do is long.
- Walk out in nature
- Any form of exercise
- Connection with family, friends and community
- Getting your hair done.
- Arts and crafts.
- Martial arts
Whatever you can find that takes you out of yourself to allow your cortisol to level out.
Of course, exercise is going to get another mention. Resistance exercise has been shown to improve estrogen levels by building muscle. It also strengthens bone.
A basic exercise regime to build muscle is all it takes. Use dumbbells that challenge you just a little and consider doing around 3 reps of 10 for each exercise. There are many on the internet. I do about 20 minutes. Do it consistently, start today and keep doing it until it’s a habit.
Improving estrogen levels has also been shown to help with cognitive function.
Aerobic exercise has been shown to slow down the ageing of the hippocampus which controls our memory.
Regular swimming has been shown to improve and is possibly the best aerobic exercise especially as we age as there is no stress on the joints. Memory, cognitive function, immune response and mood can all be improved with a regular visit to the pool.
Drink your water
Dehydration is not good for brain health and memory loss issues and lack of focus.
Try to make sure you’re getting your 8 glasses of water per day to make sure that your brain is nicely hydrated.
Get enough sleep
Poor sleep quality can contribute to a decline in cognitive functions. However, getting enough sleep can be difficult for menopausal women due to hormonal changes.
Stress and anxiety will perpetuate sleep disturbances, so spend time unwinding before you go to bed. Maybe try a regular meditation practice or some deep breathing exercises just before bed. Yoga is also good at reducing stress.
Avoid eating too close to bed as this will cause you to wake in the night. Caffeine and alcohol can also cause problems with sleep.
All of the things I’ve mentioned should be a normal part of a healthy lifestyle. The good news is it’s never too late to start and every little bit you do now can make a huge difference to not only the quality of your life moving forward but also a positive difference to your risk of developing chronic health issues such as diabetes, coronary disease and Alzheimer’s.
I want to finish by saying if you are struggling in menopause please please go see your doctor. If your doctor doesn’t give you the help you’re looking for find a doctor who understands menopause.