Brain fog!!! It is not an unusual symptom in perimenopause and post menopause. Most women suffer from brain fog at some point, and for some women it can be so bad that they fear they are experiencing early onset dementia. Early onset dementia can occur in our 50’s but is rare.
It is not unusual for menopausal women to struggle to remember simple tasks and concentrate fully. These symptoms are a physiological response to the depletion of oestrogen and testosterone levels which trigger hormone receptors in the brain responsible for clarity. For most women, this type of memory loss and lack of mental clarity is temporary so don’t panic if you are affected.
I recall experiencing brain fog when I was in my mid 40s. I used to say I couldn’t do anything requiring my brain before 9.30am which is when the cloud lifted! I hadn’t heard the expression brain fog back then! But it was just like a fog. Now I only experience the feeling when I am sleep deprived.
Causes of brain fog
Stress exacerbates brain fog. Raised cortisol impacts our brain’s neurotransmitters causing mood swings and brain fog. We women are often coping with a lot – teenage children or empty nest syndrome, ageing parents, demanding jobs, 24/7 technology, a global pandemic etc
Poor sleep – we all know what it’s like trying to think clearly after a poor night of sleep. Less than 6 hours of sleep can impact our thinking, memory, ability to focus, reaction time and co-ordination.
Gut infection or imbalance – there is much research in this area but poor gut health can impact our mental and brain health. When your microbiome is out of balance you can suffer from brain fog, mood swings, cravings and depression.
Blood sugar imbalance – too much insulin production (from eating too much sugar and or stress) can contribute to inflammation in the brain which in turn can disrupt neurotransmitters.
Low thyroid – low thyroid hormones can impact our brain cells and typical symptoms are brain fog, low mood, fatigue, memory loss, anxiety and low motivation. Get your thyroid hormones tested.
Lack of exercise – physical activity gets the blood flowing to our brain delivering oxygen and nutrients to its cells.
If brain fog is impacting you in a serious and debilitating way consider HRT as it can result in significant improvements in mental clarity, memory and concentration by boosting declining hormone levels.
Other natural solutions are
Hydration – drink more water around 2 litres a day. A headache and a foggy brain are typical symptoms of dehydration.
Herbal remedies such as tea made with sage, rosemary and or liquorice. You could also use rosemary or bergamot essential oils in a diffuser.
Exercise – any cardiovascular exercise such as running or walking; strength training is really important as is some flexibility and balance work. Exercise releases chemicals that can sharpen our focus and help with concentration. Research also shows that exercise can improve memory and slow down cognitive decline as we age. Yay! There is loads of evidence that just going out for a walk clears the minds, improves mental clarity and creativity – try mindful walking so leave your phone at home!
Beware of toxins in our environment – filter tap water; eat organic where possible; switch to plastic free products; avoid synthetic fragrances in cleaning roducts, candles etc Think about what you are putting on your skin!
Sleep – get 7/8 hours a night. More on this in another blog!
Nourish your brain with food. Brain healthy foods include the following
- foods high in vitamin B12 – eggs, liver, salmon and sardines;
- foods high in omega 3 fatty acids so oily fish again and walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds.
- healthy fats such as avocado, oive oil, nuts, seeds, and oily fish.
- also increase your intake of antioxidant rich foods such as citrus fruit, berries, green leafy veg, dark chocolate, avocado and tumeric.
- Add in herbs and spices such as turmeric (again!) sage, rosemary, clove, cinnamon, oregano and cumin
If you would like to know more about how to support yourself through the menopause please do not hesitate to contact me for a free Discovery chat designed to help you find out whether I can help you! You can book a call here https://calendly.com/apkhealthandfitness/30min