Brain fog can be an indicator of a hormonal imbalance. And certainly, brain fog in the menopause is very a commonly talked about symptom. Brain fog looks different for everyone – it could be a lack of focus or concentration, slow recall or memory problems. Within memory problems, it could be the inability to remember names, dates, instructions, it could be short term or long term memory loss. So what’s going on?
During our fertile years, a number of factors can influence our cognition:
- Poor sleep
- Excess stress
- Being constantly busy
- Food choices
- Alcohol consumption
During the peri-to-post menopause years, all of these influences are coupled with fluctuating hormones which interact with the brain’s neurotransmitters and heighten symptoms of poor memory, concentration and focus.
There are a number of things you can do to improve brain function, whatever age:
During sleep, the brain re-organises, files and filters all the information we are exposed to during the day. And it is during sleep that learnings are stored in our memory.
Be less busy
When we are constantly on the go, the body thinks it’s under attack and so the brain is on high alert. Creating quiet time in the day lets the brain switch off and rest. This allows space for free thinking and creativity to develop which in turn enhances problem-solving skills and memory.
The brain requires a lot of energy, water and fat to function well. Eating nutrient-dense whole foods, drinking plenty of fresh water and foods rich in essential fatty acids is a must e.g. oily fish, avocados, nuts (especially walnuts), seeds and olive oil. If you struggle to get enough essential fatty acids in, consider an Omega 3 supplement like Krill Oil.
The brain is also influenced by gut health – think lots of fibrous vegetables as well as pre-and probiotic foods and try avoiding gluten and sugar – Dr David Perlmutter the author of Grain Brain talks about the effects of gluten and sugar ‘dampening’ the brain.
Challenge the brain
Challenging the brain through new or different actions allows the brain to develop neurogenesis (forming of new neurons in the brain) and neuroplasticity (the growth of new neural pathways). Simple actions can be really challenging for the brain: brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, drive a different route to the supermarket, swapping the placement of everyday items like your kettle. Bigger challenges like learning a new language or a creative hobby are even better still.
Don’t forget to get regular exercise – research shows that those who exercise perform better on cognitive tasks than those that don’t exercise. Exercise also encourages the growth of new brain cells preventing age-related decline.
If you are unsure where to even start with all this, grab my free download on The Ultimate Guide to Thriving in the Menopause.