What was I writing again? Oh yes, brain fog! For many years brain fog was written off as a ‘fake’ condition! But let me tell you, brain fog in menopause is very much REAL! Think of a time you went upstairs and forgot why… now imagine that feeling 10+ times a day, or for some, all day! Let’s see what we can do about it…
What is brain fog?
Brain fog isn’t classed as a medical condition; but rather as a symptom of another medical condition e.g. menopause. Brain fog is a type of cognitive dysfunction which can include:
- Problems with memory
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of mental clarity
- Inability to focus
According to Healthline, 60% of middle-aged women report difficulty concentrating and or other cognitive issues. The highest spike being from those women who are going through peri-menopause. Unfortunately, brain fog can also be linked to sleep conditions and vascular symptoms e.g. hot flushes.
Why do we get brain fog?
Scientists believe brain fog is due to hormonal changes. Our bodies processes are controlled by estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone; during peri-menopause our hormone levels start to decrease, which in turn affects our cognition.
Many women report to GPs that they are worried they have Alzheimer’s disease due to the inability to remember appointments, birthdays and general day to day duties. Whilst these symptoms may be considered ‘normal’ if you feel worried or have any of the symptoms listed below, be sure to visit a doctor.
- Repeating questions or statements over and over
- Getting lost in very familiar places
- Trouble identifying objects
- Difficulty performing day to day tasks
- Difficulty at making any decisions
- Change in mood, personality or behaviour
How to treat brain fog
There are many ways to boost your memory, but how about preventing brain fog before it has a chance to impact your life? There are many lifestyle changes you can make to ease symptoms and to improve your overall cognition.
We’ll say it once, we’ll say it again, regular physical activity is so important for menopausal women! We should all be engaging in 150 minutes of moderate activity OR 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week and strength exercises that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) 2 or more days a week. Women who are inactive and menopausal are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Our favourite way to get our vigorous AND strength activity in is to dance ourselves silly with Maxine Jones, either at her class in London, at home through the live stream or just when we have time online http://www.maxicise.tv.
Check our Facebook and Instagram for ‘Move it Monday’ where we challenge you to do a different move each week, formulated by the lovely Maxine Jones to help with fitness, weight loss and general wellbeing. https://www.instagram.com/hotflushclub/
Healthy Balanced Diet
We heal from within! Everything we put in our bodies has either consequences or rewards for our health. Diets rich in omega-3 and low in unsaturated fats are great for cognition; the meditation diet in particular, has been associated with lower cognitive impairment.
Get enough rest
This is our favourite excuse for a nap! Without enough sleep/rest brain fog can be a significantly symptom of menopause! Tips to up that sleep..
- Healthy diet: avoid spicy/acidic foods
- Avoid heavy or large meals 4/5 hours before attempting to sleep
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid nicotine
- Avoid caffeine
- Wear comfy, light clothes
- Keep your bedroom cool & dark
- Reduce stress where possible – practice relaxation (apps are great for this)
- Exercise regularly
Just like your body, your brain needs to be exercised too! As we age, we need to challenge our brains and keep them sharp! Taking up a new hobby or learning new skills are great ways to get your mind into shape. Also, doing crosswords, Sudoku and teasers are great ways to stimulate those neutrons. Smart phones have a section in their app stores called ‘puzzles’ or ‘brain games,’ will thousands you can try (for free), and play anywhere you are, so there’s no excuse!
Our brain is 73% water, even mild dehydration can lead to brain tissue shrinkage and temporary loss of cognitive function. Dehydration risk increases in menopausal women as estrogen and progesterone (the hormones that decrease in menopause) are important for regulating fluid in our bodies. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, it is suggested we drink one-half to two-thirds of our body weight in ounces of water per day during peri > post menopause. So, if you weigh 140 pounds (10 stone) you should be drinking 70oz of water (2 litres).
Lose stomach fat
A neurology study claims, ‘The bigger the belly, the smaller the brain.’ Many studies have linked being overweight to cognitive decline. We all know menopausal weight gain clings around our middle! Well, the fat we accumulate doesn’t just sit and do nothing, it actually pumps out stress hormones which then affect our brains and cognitive function. Us menopausal women can improve our brain activity by losing weight.
Check our Facebook and Instagram for ‘Move it Monday’ where we challenge you to do a different move each week, formulated by our celeb fitness trainer to help with fitness, weight loss and general wellbeing https://www.instagram.com/hotflushclub/.
As well as these lifestyle changes, there are many treatments and remedies available, some of these include..
Some women swear by HRT as the answer to all their prayers in the menopause. And for some women, if their symptoms are due to drastic changes of hormone levels, then HRT could help with brain fog. Very interestingly, studies have shown that the male hormone testosterone shows more promise for increasing cognition in the menopause.
CBD is an exciting new trend with hundreds of reported benefits. Studies have found that its interaction with the hippocampus (a formation in the brain) may be able to help with recall, long-term and short-term memory. One of the HFC founders says since she started taking CBD she feels ‘mental clarity.’
Many women say acupuncture helps alleviate their menopausal brain fog; some say it helps them ‘think more clearly.’ The evidence is heavily opinion based, but, if it works for you then it works!
Sometimes we need a little extra boost, even when eating healthily. Our top tried and tested brain boosting supplements are..
- Pregnenolone supplements
- Gingko Biloba
- Omega-3 (if you’re not getting enough in your diet)
- Maca supplement
- Soy protein supplement
When does brain fog end?
The good news is that menopausal brain fog does not last forever! The changes in our cognitive health are temporary and will rebound in post-menopause. The tips above will help delay, lessen, diminish and support you through menopausal brain fog. We hope they will work for you! Please remember, no two women are the same and what has worked for one woman will not automatically work for another, you must find your balance.
If you need help with this or want to suggest any new tips for us and our Hot Flush Ladies please leave us a comment, post on our forum, or private message us on social media.
Happy Menopause Ladies