Dr Elisabeth Philipps has shared the science behind menopause brain fog – and how your diet can help ease symptoms.
October is Menopause Awareness Month and with a 33% increase in Google searches for menopause brain fog in the last month it seems many may be suffering from this debilitating symptom.
Dr Elisabeth Philipps, a clinical neuroscientist and nutritionist from the health and wellbeing brand, fourfive, reveals the science behind menopause brain fog and how those of menopausal age can help reduce its impact.
Brain and menopause
“Estrogen stimulates the brain, keeps the neurons firing, supports the growth of new cells and helps existing cells to form new connections. When estrogen levels fall in midlife, your entire body – including your brain – goes into a sudden deprivation state. At a cellular level, estrogen pushes your brain cells to burn more glucose, which is its main fuel,” says Dr Elisabeth Philipps.
“Studies have shown that there is an overall reduction of brain energy levels during menopause, which can trigger hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, brain fog, and a host of other cognitive symptoms.
“Testosterone (which is also produced by the ovaries) strengthens nerves in the brain and contributes to mental sharpness and clarity, as well as overall energy levels. It also strengthens arteries that supply blood flow to the brain, which is crucial to protect against loss of memory.”
Is menopausal brain fog incurable?
“The good news is that we can support brain health with simple lifestyle changes,” says Dr Philipps. “Although memory loss and brain fog can be alarming when they happen, there’s no need to panic about these menopausal effects on the brain. Midlife is a turning point, and there are many things you can do to support brain function.”
How your diet can help reduce menopausal brain fog
“There are clear links between what we eat and our hormone balance. A brain-friendly diet is one rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as Omega 3 and Omega 6, which are found in eggs, fish, nuts and seeds. Your brain will thank you for giving it plenty of these nutrients.
“Another important dietary consideration is giving your brain antioxidants, in particular vitamins A, C and E. The brain is the most metabolically active organ in the body. When it burns glucose, free radicals are formed which have unwanted effects on your body, including the brain, as they make your cells age faster and work less efficiently. It’s important to have antioxidants in your diet as they can balance out these free radicals and minimise their negative impact of them on your cells.”
A brain-friendly diet
Some must-have foods to consider in your brain-friendly diet are:
Opting for more of these foods in your diet alongside regular exercise can not only maintain brain function but can also:
Support the immune system
Maintain healthy weight
Improve cardiovascular health
More expert tips from Dr Elisabeth Philipps on how to supercharge your brain health can be found on the fourfive website.