It usually starts in perimenopause, as estrogen levels begin sloping downward. Foggy brain (and some short-term memory impairment, fatigue, and loss of focus) happens because estrogen is a “master regulator” of our brains. We have lots of widely distributed estrogen receptors in our brains, and when estrogen levels decline, a critical energy source is gone. To put it simply, perimenopause brains are tired.
It’s great that menopause brain fog isn’t forever, but the fact is it usually starts in perimenopause and can hang on even into early menopause, meaning women may not feel as sharp or focused for several years. Given that women in their late 40s and early 50s are often at the height of their careers.
WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?
When you are young, your testosterone levels help regulate the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn affects the function of neurotransmitters (chemicals used for communication) in the brain. As testosterone levels decline, as is common in andropause, testosterone cannot effectively regulate cortisol. As a result, neurotransmitters begin to malfunction, causing these momentary lapses in memory. Often, men begin to notice memory loss during the early stages of andropause when the production of testosterone begins to decrease naturally. In fact, men have a greater likelihood of developing cognitive impairments than women do and generally experience symptoms at an earlier age than women do.
While there’s research still to be done to prove it, it does appear that making our brains work harder to learn new things and acquire new skills helps our brains stay plastic and flexible. Repeated demands allow new neural pathways to form.
- Do hard stuff over and over again
- Be Social
- Omega 3 fatty acids
FOODS FOR FOCUS & MEMORY
Oily fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help build membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain cells. They can, therefore, improve the structure of brain cells called neurons.
A 2017 study found that people with high levels of omega-3s had increased blood flow in the brain. The researchers also identified a connection between omega-3 levels and better cognition, or thinking abilities.
Berries –Antioxidants help by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidants in berries include anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin.
A 2014 review notes that the antioxidant compounds in berries have many positive effects on the brain, including:
- Improving communication between brain cells
- Reducing inflammation throughout the body
- increasing plasticity, which helps brain cells form new connections, boosting learning and memory
- Reducing or delaying age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline
Nuts and seeds are also rich sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
As a person ages, their brain may be exposed to this form of oxidative stress, and vitamin E may, therefore, support brain health in older age.
A 2014 Source found that vitamin E may also contribute to improved cognition and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The nuts and seeds with the highest amounts of vitamin E include:
- sunflower seeds
Eggs can be an effective brain food.
They are a good source of the following B vitamins:
- vitamin B-6
- vitamin B-12
- folic acid
Recent research suggests that these vitamins may prevent brain shrinkage and delay cognitive decline.