Perimenopausal brain fog? Let’s support our beautiful brains
- Have you ever found yourself wondering what did you need from the fridge?
- Is it taking you ages to write a message or an email? Uhm…who were you writing it to?
- Ok let’s focus, where did I put the car keys?
If the above is you, well then relax. You are not alone: more than 60% of women going through perimenopause report experiencing symptoms like memory problems, difficulty concentrating, lack of mental clarity, trouble focusing, which are often referred to as “Brain Fog”.
Our brain goes through a massive rewiring during perimenopause, our nervous system needs to adapt to fluctuations in our main hormones: oestrogen and progesterone.
Fact is while we might still get periods during our perimenopausal years, we don’t always ovulate. Lack of ovulation leads to lack of progesterone in that month. But our body loves progesterone and its calming effect on our nervous system. It yields a reduction of anxiety and promotion of sleep but also it supports the development of nerve cells.
Our brain also loves oestrogen which fluctuates quite a bit during earlier phases of perimenopause (but it is not lost!). Oestrogen is very important for stabilising our mood and mental wellbeing: it reduces inflammation, improves insulin sensitivity, regulates our circadian rhythm boosting serotonin (our happiness hormone), being a cofactor in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.
So, what can we do about it?
While supporting our hormonal balance is key, today let’s focus on our beautiful brains and what would make them very happy!
– Blood glucose balance: As we saw above oestrogen helps optimizing the action of insulin, the hormone that prevents high blood sugar level by shifting glucose from the blood to the cells in our body. Many studies have now shown links between insulin resistance / diabetes with brain atrophy, impaired cognition, and higher risk of dementia. So, let’s all aim to eat low glycaemic load foods, preferring whole complex carbs to simple refined ones, and adding proteins to our meals.
– Healthy Fats: The DHA Omega 3 fat is the most abundant polyunsaturated fat in our brain and alongside other omega 3 fats, like EPA and DPA, they are involved in a variety of processes like making neurons, connecting synapsis and regulating inflammation. They are found in oily fish like SMASH: Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines and Herrings. But phospholipids also have an important link with learning, memory, and cognition, in particular phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine so ensure a good intake of eggs, seafood, beets and seeds.
– Antioxidants: Are you eating your 10 colours a day? A higher intake of fruit and vegetables has been associated with lower risk of cognitive decline and that is because they are high in polyphenols which are great at fighting harmful oxidants and inflammation. Ensure you have things like: carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and berries in your diet. Ah btw, polyphenols are also in green tea and dark chocolate!!!
– Vitamins, in particular D and Bs: We should all have a variety of macro/micro nutrients to ensure no deficiency. But some vitamins take the spotlight when it comes to brain health though. Vitamin D has shown neuroprotective and anti-oxidant properties. Main source is sun exposure but also available through oily fish, mushrooms, eggs. B9 (folate), B12 and B6 are also essential to regulate mood and ensure cognitive development through the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters and the maintenance of normal levels of homocysteine. Sources of B9 are green leafy vegetables. B12 is through intake of animal sources whether is meat, fish or derivates like milk and eggs. B6 is also found in animal sources alongside starchy vegetables.
– Healthy gut: Ever heard of the gut-brain axis? That is because there is a direct connection between gut and the brain through the Vagus nerve. A healthy gut is essential for the absorption of nutrients critical to brain health (e.g. Vit B12), for the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, GABA and for the elimination of toxic compounds.
– Sleep: Oh sleep! Easier said than done, right. But we all know that our brain as much as our body needs to rest and that lack of / disturbed sleep has been associated with higher risk of dementia. Are you unwinding before going to bed? Ensure a bed time routine which sooths you, introduce meditation, breathing, read a book, have a bath…
– Physical and mental activity: Keeping our minds and body active seems to be a very powerful way to reduce risk of cognitive decline. If you feel your brain can do with some extra stimulation, then go ahead and sign up to that course you have always wanted to take! And don’t forget to walk when you can – leave the car and tube for rainy days.
Hope this helps you and if you need further guidance addressing your symptoms, why don’t you book a Free Discovery call with me.
In this 30 minute call you will be able to explain your symptoms and concerns so that we can assess how we could work together.