Brain fog in menopause can be anything from a momentary lapse to a completely debilitating symptom where women feel like they need to give up their jobs, give up, driving, and lose their confidence altogether. In this blog (or video if you prefer) I will give you some surprising factors underpinning your menopausal brain fog as well as four tips for improving memory and cognition.
Menopausal Brain Fog
Brain fog, fuzzy head, concentration issues, senior moments, they can all make us feel like we are losing it and wondering if we’ve got early onset dementia.
But there is good news.
Whilst it is completely normal to have some senior moments during the menopause years, things will get better. Once we reach post-menopause cognitive strength will go back to what it was in the pre-menopause years.
Just knowing that it’s temporary can do a lot for brain fog because worrying, being stressed, and getting anxious about being forgetful will only make you… well, more forgetful.
So that’s my first tip for treating brain fog. Try to show yourself some compassion and have a laugh about it because laughing is great for your brain health.
Why do we get menopausal brain fog?
We have oestrogen receptors all over the body, including in the brain. So declining hormones affect brain health and brain energy, all of which can lead to memory issues, focus and concentration problems.
From a holistic perspective, we’re going from the outer focus to the inner where our attention needs to be much more on our inner needs and desire. That is, the brain is essentially rewiring.
We are shifting from a left-brain, logical, linear way of thinking to a right-sided, much more creative, intuitive, feeling-based way of being. And the more we can soften into that, the easier the transition will be.
Menopausal Brain Fog and Alzheimer’s
There is a lot of talk about menopause and Alzheimer’s risk, and it’s important to understand that being a woman and going through menopause is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
It’s not a causation. It’s a risk factor of which there are many.
Menopause is a trigger for other Alzheimer’s risk factors such as inflammation and insulin resistance.
When viewed like this, menopause can be seen as a unique opportunity in which we can get all of our health ducks in a row.
Causes of Menopausal Brain Fog
Stress will make your brain fog a lot worse. When we go through menopause, we naturally have higher levels of cortisol, and when we are busy all of the time running around, doing all the things, giving all of ourselves away to other people and not tending to our own self-care, then we have even higher levels of stress.
And from that place, the brain can’t cope. It’s like there’s just not enough bandwidth to deal with all the demands that you’re putting on your body. So instead, what we need to do is learn to delegate, learn to say no, only take on those things that fill us with joy and prioritize taking care of ourselves.
Blood sugar balance
The other major factor for brain fog is blood sugar balance.
Alzheimer’s is now referred to as diabetes type three. We know that sugar, gluten and many other grains dampen down the brain. They cause inflammation in the brain, but more specifically to menopause, we are in a low oestrogen state where we don’t hear the message of insulin, so we are much more susceptible to these kinds of foods. So much so that some women end up in a pre-diabetic state in menopause.
There is no getting away from it, we have to eat to balance our blood sugar levels. Not only will eating to balance your blood sugar levels, ensure a better menopause transition, ensure better brain fog and fewer symptoms all around, but it’ll set you up for better long-term health.
Sleep is paramount to brain health. We know if we don’t sleep well, we don’t function well and we become much more reactive to stress. And from that place, our brains can’t function well.
The problem is when we are not sleeping well and we are more reactive to stress, we have higher cortisol levels, and this impacts our ability to make our sleep hormone melatonin. And we end up in a vicious circle.
So, if you’re not sleeping well, check out my blog on sleep.
Iron Deficient Anaemia
The brain requires optimized levels of iron-rich blood in order to function well. For some women, heavy flooding periods become a problem during peri-to-post menopause, and this can cause anaemia. If you have heavy periods, and are struggling with brain fog, I would definitely recommend getting your iron levels checked.
B12 is an essential brain nutrient that we typically become deficient in as we age. Symptoms of a deficiency will include fatigue, anxiety, brain fog, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. Personally, I would recommend anyone over the age of 50 get their B12 checked annually and for vegans and vegetarians supplementation, regardless of age, is absolutely essential as you can only get B12 from animal products.
Tips for Improving Brain Fog in Menopause
The brain requires a lot of fat in order to function well as do the neurons and the nervous system, that is, getting the messages from the brain around the body.
There are two types of fat acids that I like for brain health. The first is an omega-3 fatty acid from fish. Research shows that those with the highest omega-three index have the biggest area of memory within the brain. And people with the lowest omega-3 index have the smallest, almost shrunken brains and the smallest area of memory within the brain.
The brain is about 60% fat and over half of that comes from DHA making oily fish the best food for brain health.
The other fat that I like for brain health is MCT oil. MCT oil reduces brain inflammation and it actually blocks a receptor in the brain that causes memory loss.
Choline is an essential brain nutrient, and it’s the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which supports memory, cognition, and brain health. Acetylcholine protects against age-related memory issues, especially those related to Alzheimer’s and dementia. So it’s really important to have a choline-rich diet to help the synthesis of acetylcholine.
But just like with b12, with age we become less efficient at making it ourselves and often become deficient in it. So, we want to ensure that we’re eating lots of choline-rich foods, which include salmon and eggs.
Any type of movement is good for the brain, but research and studies have found that strength training is the best type of exercise for brain health, and that’s because it helps with both blood sugar balance and because having greater muscle mass has a direct impact on cognition, memory and focus, and it prevents against dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Your brain is 80% water and it actually can’t store water. As little as a 2% water loss can result in fuzzy thinking, memory, and focus and concentration issues. Every single function in your brain requires water, so being hydrated is the best thing that you can do for your memory. Being dehydrated shrinks your brain.
So in terms of brain fog, there are a lot of things we can do but the most important is to slow down, allow the brain to do its ‘re-wiring’ and be kind to yourself because things will get better.
In the meantime, if you need any help with your transition I invite you to book a free discovery call so we can discuss how we can work together.
P.S. If you are not ready to work with me, that’s cool. I have free resources: