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Brain Fog Blues: Understanding Cognitive Challenges in Menopause

Podcast Episode 22 transcript.

Listen to Apple, Spotify, and our website - or wherever you get your podcasts!


Today, I’m talking about Brain Fog during Menopause.


Brain fog is one of the most discussed symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Many women describe their brains as being like cotton wool or floating in the clouds.


Some women notice they become increasingly forgetful, like walking into a room and forgetting why or reading a letter and finding thoughts drift away and need to start again. Sometimes, symptoms are so severe that some women ask their doctors to be referred to a memory clinic, thinking they are having symptoms of dementia.


We mostly think of oestrogen and testosterone as sexual hormones, but these chemicals also have other very important non-sexual functions in the body, including affecting the brain. 


Oestrogen stimulates brain cells to burn glucose and keep energy going. As oestrogen decreases, so does energy production in the brain. This triggers hot flushes, anxiety, depression, brain fog, and memory lapses.


Testosterone is known to sharpen the brain and strengthen the arteries supplying blood to the brain cells, which enhances memory.


There is a thought that brain fog is not just due to hormonal changes. Sleep disturbances and stress interfere with both concentration and memory.


So, what can we do to feel less foggy?


Manage your stress and learn to slow down when things are getting a bit too much. Allow yourself to refocus and give your brain time to process the task at hand. Stay calm and try not to get frustrated - as this will only make matters worse.


Nutrition


Stay hydrated - dehydration is linked to drops in concentration and memory.


Eat a diet rich in omega-3 and folate, as they are vital for the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Good sources include fish, chia seeds and brussel sprouts.


Antioxidants like Vitamins A, C and E mop up free radicals that damage the body, including the brain. Good sources include bananas, red peppers, spinach and oranges.


Soy has been found to improve memory in menopausal women.


Reduce processed food and sugars and eat food rich in vitamin B and probiotics, like yoghurt.

Fuelling your brain with energy-rich foods allows the brain to function at its very best 


Exercise


Exercise is a great way to improve fitness while promoting mental and emotional well-being. 

Exercising the brain is just as important. You can try doing crosswords, memorising the occasional shopping list, or taking up new activities that involve coordination.


Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake.


Sleep


Sleep helps clean out the brain. Improve your Sleep Habits by improving your sleep hygiene habits, like establishing a regular sleep schedule. I’ve spoken in a bit more detail about this in a separate podcast called Menopause & Insomnia. Better sleep boosts energy levels and concentration and helps lift brain fog.



HRT helps brain fog and improves concentration and memory. It can also improve other symptoms that interfere with brain function and sleep, like night sweats.


Always seek support if you’re struggling. Talk to your doctors if you are feeling unwell or worried. Brain fog can be a symptom of other conditions that might need checking out.


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