Feel like you’re forgetting things all the time?! Like walking into a room multiple times a day and thinking “what the heckity-heck did I even come in here for?” Yep, we hear you and you’re amongst many of us doing that multiple times a day here at SheBANG!

 During perimenopause (the transitional years leading to menopause which is a point in time when you haven’t had a period for a year) you’ll experience hormonal fluctuations as your estrogen and progesterone levels decline. These hormonal changes can have all sorts of effects on your body, including cognitive changes like the luverly brain fog and memory loss. Did you know there’s a whopping 80-per cent chance you’ll notice some form of menopause-related cognitive whoopsy-woos like brain fog, memory loss, or trouble concentrating on things.

Whilst the exact reasons behind these cognitive symptoms aren’t yet fully understood, researchers do believe that those wild hormonal fluctuations play a significant role (surprise!). Estrogen has a protective effect on the brain affecting your neurotransmitters and receptors involved in cognitive function. So when estrogen levels decline during perimenopause, it can disrupt those processes and lead to cognitive changes. 

But wait! There’s good news in all this: the research suggests that it’s temporary and generally experienced only in the perimenopause years as we transition to post-menopause (the years after menopause).

What Are the Kinds of Cognitive Changes we Might Experience in Perimenopause?

Brain fog usually refers to that yucky feeling of mental cloudiness or difficulty focusing on things.  

Memory loss, on the other hand, is when you just can’t quite recall specific information or um whatsitcalled? Events, details, words and things along those lines.

Apart from hormonal changes in perimenopause there are also a whole host of other (super annoying) factors that can also exacerbate cognitive changes. 

Of course, crappy sleep isn’t ever going to help our brains function as we need them to. And of course, need we mention the stress, mood changes, and ageing itself which are all factors that can dampen our poor old brains.

Something to remember here is that, it is temporary and secondly, that not all women are going to experience serious cognitive changes.

Foods that Support Brain Health in Perimenopause

Getting the good nutrition in during perimenopause is going to support your brain.  Be sure to include these foods where you can in your daily diet to give your brain the best possible chances of living its best life:

    1. Fatty Fish: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines can help support brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
    2. Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and other berries are packed with antioxidants, which have been associated with improved brain health and memory.
    3. Leafy Green Vegetables: Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are excellent sources of nutrients like vitamin K, folate, and antioxidants, which have been linked to better cognitive function.
    4. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are good sources of healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, all of which can support brain health.
    5. Whole Grains: Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread, which provide a steady supply of energy to the brain and are associated with better cognitive function.
    6. Avocados: These fruits are rich in healthy fats and vitamin E, which can support brain health and improve cognitive function.
    7. Turmeric: The active ingredient in turmeric, called curcumin, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit brain health.  Take this!
    8. Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or more) contains flavonoids and antioxidants that can improve blood flow to the brain and enhance cognitive function. Take this!
    9. Eggs: Eggs are a good source of several nutrients important for brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline.
    10. Green Tea: Green tea contains caffeine and antioxidants that may improve brain function and enhance alertness.

Remember too that maintaining a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, reversing insulin resistance, soothing your nervous system and adopting other healthy lifestyle habits like regular movement and sufficient sleep can also contribute to overall brain health during perimenopause.

Movement is SO beneficial for cognition and deserves special mention. Find things that you enjoy doing walking, swimming, dancing and include them in your day-to-day. Resistance training in the form of weights or lifting your own body weight through push-ups or yoga to maintain our muscle mass is super important for cognitive function and prevention of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.

Supplementation is also a powerful tool in helping cognitive function in the form of magnesium, taurine, vitamin B12, choline and MCT oil. 

Ashwagandha is a clinically studied adaptogen that has been shown to promote cognitive function and enhance memory.  We included Ashwagandha KSM-66 in our Peri Protein POWder 👇for this exact reason. 

Have a chat with a nutritionist or naturopath to help you choose the right supplements for you.

Wrap up…

Your basic action plan for healthy cognition in peri should be movement every day (even if it’s taking the stairs and not the lift, work on increasing your incidental exercise), work on eating a whole food diet, work on getting better sleep, trying to reduce stress levels and soothe your nervous system (taking time for you is important, work on getting yourself to a yoga class), reverse insulin resistance if you have it and look at natural supports that are beneficial for you. We included Magnesium Glycinate in our Peri Chai Latte and Peri Hot Choccy as it helps soothe our nervous systems in perimenopause and helps reverse insulin resistance. 

July 09, 2023 — Angela Greely

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