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Menopause brain? Forgetting what you went up the stairs for? Can’t concentrate for more than 30 seconds?




Now today I hope, very much that we aren’t going to cover any crazy new ground. We are, of course, going to talk a little about brain fog and why that might happen to us at this stage of our lives, we are also going to talk through some nutrition bits and bobs that will contribute to a healthy brain and cognitive processes BUT you will notice that wholefoods and protein form a large part of that guidance. You know by now that this guidance isn’t just exclusive to brain health – it’s essential for our health at a number of stages of our lives.

 

Brain fog or ‘menopause brain’ then – what is it?

 

You might have noticed that your chain of thought just disappears in a way that is out of character for you, your ability to solve issues at work or your ability to manage conflicts between the kids at home is diminished, you can’t pay attention to a single episode of Corrie anymore or you spend more time going up the stairs and forgetting what you went up for? You aren’t on your own, I promise. I know it can be disconcerting, quite scary actually, and really disruptive in your life, especially if you have been a high functioning and high performing individual throughout life, which I know many of you are!

 

It's those hormones dipping again, isn’t it? You see the theme…

 

Those hormones that we spoke about early in the 5 blogs, oestrogen and progesterone taking a dip has an impact on many of our brain’s functions alongside, at ‘regular’ levels, being somewhat inflammatory in the brain and supporting our brain development, blood flow and function. Of course, at reduced levels, these systems and functions are slowed down resulting in your ‘menopause brain’.

 

We have also spoken about our sleep plenty in these blogs up to now, it goes without saying that when our sleep is impacted negatively, we have a reduced capacity to think clearly. Yet another reason to get on top of those tactics that we spoke about in our sleep blog.

 

Alongside those couple of things, as our ages increase, our sharpness decreases, alongside all of our menopausal changes – where’s the justice?!

 

It doesn’t have to be that way though and won’t last forever! By now you know I’m not all doom and gloom and am here to arm you with some tactics to make you feel your best self during this time and beyond. If we can work on some positive nutrition habit changes to keep us feeling better overall but also support the health of our brains, that can’t be wrong!

 

It will ONLY get worse if you try to restrict your nutrition from a place of low self-worth, not fuel yourself properly or embark on more health fads that are not coming from a health first approach.

 

So, first things first we MUST ensure that we are consuming all of the nutrients that our bodies need in the right quantities. Easier said than done when you aren’t a nutritionist, I know. We can do this by focussing on those whole foods that we have spoken about before whilst employing the following tactics.

 

Like we said yesterday, plenty of colours, plenty of variety in our diets first and foremost, for help with ‘menopause brain’ but also SO many health factors overall!

 

Firstly, fibre, from wholefoods plays a major role in our brain function, gut function and health as a whole. You’ll find fibre in wholegrains, beans and legumes but most importantly as far as I am concerned, fruit and veggies! I’ll never stop encouraging you to load that plate full of fruit and veggies before anything else, although if you don’t currently have a huge amount of fibre within your diet, it is important to increase it in small amounts at a time to avoid digestive discomfort – keeping adequately hydrated will help with that one too. Here we go, going full circle again.

 

Speaking of water, we have all felt super thirsty and unable to think clearly. Hydration can have a big impact on the way that our brains function so make sure you are getting an absolute minimum of 2 litres of water each day – anymore is a bonus!

 

Another one we have spoken about before but with reference to a different symptom of menopause, is protein. Protein isn’t just great for our muscle health and weight loss goals during our menopause but is also super pivotal for our brain functioning, most especially what we call neurotransmitters which form part of the chemical messaging systems in the brain and our hormones. If we aren’t getting enough protein in our nutrition at regular intervals throughout our day, starting at breakfast time, then a number of the symptoms of menopause that we have already discussed, like difficulty sleeping or ‘feel good factor’ due to imbalance of the necessary hormones alongside brain fog or difficulty concentrating will be exacerbated. Again, I’m not asking you to drastically overhaul your diet, we aren’t about that, what protein sources do you enjoy already? Chicken? Cottage cheese? Beans? Beef? Simply increase the portion sizes of the sources you are already consuming to begin with. Beyond there, we can look to top up if we need to.

 

Next up, we have all heard that ‘healthy’ fats are great for us. Why? Our brain function relies on them! But what is a ‘healthy’ fat and what is an ‘unhealthy’ fat? Well, the ones I want you to try to focus on here are the unsaturated variety. Nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocado, eggs, olive oils are all going to help the cells within our brains to do their thing, most principally, help to transport the goodness and nutrients we consume as fuel for our brains! A quick link back to our weight loss chat though – it is important that we get the quantities of these things right for our health above all else but if you have a weight loss goal, we need to get more nuanced about the amount that we are consuming. Fats are more calorific than their other macronutrient counterparts, namely protein and carbohydrates, so if we overeat fats, it can be very easy to put weight on without even feeling like we are overeating. If you need additional support here on the appropriate amount for you individually, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

It goes without saying that alcohol consumption affects our brain health short term but also neurodegeneration longer term too, alongside the impacts that it has on our sleep and the knock on of that. I will reiterate what I have said up to now, it might be worth playing with a reduction in the amount of alcohol you consume, perhaps it isn’t worth the pay-off for you from a social health perspective. Perhaps have an experiment; how is your brain fog manifesting in the couple of days after consuming alcohol? One to bear in mind at least.

 

Lastly, I will reiterate that if you feel that there may be something deeper, medically going on, whether that’s with your cognition, digestion or otherwise, it is pivotal you go to get a medical check-up. It’s better that than to simply put it down to menopause but not truly be sure. It can’t hurt to get some reassurance!

 

Ladies, we are not simply ‘smaller men’ – you deserve better, you deserve to understand your bodies, what they need, not only in general, but for you as an individual with personal goals, needs and preferences different to those of any other person. Once we have this understanding, I want you to feel empowered to take the time and the decisions that really impact your health and how you feel from day to day and ultimately, how you take that forward towards living the best life you possibly can!

 

We have honed in pretty specifically on just a few nutrition hints and tips over the last 5 blog posts that might help you to feel more energised and your menopausal symptoms to be slightly more manageable BUT, I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it again and again. Our health and wellbeing is multifaceted and is way more than quick diets, health fads and supplements. We need to work on moving well and properly in a way that works for us as individuals, our stress-management and wider mental health, hydration, sleep and many, many other things in order to feel our most optimal selves. If you would like some extra support or simply have any questions, I would love to hear from you over at annalouisecoaching@outlook.com.


Peace and love for now, A x



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