Many women going through menopause describe often experiencing brain fog. For years, there was not enough evidence to support such claims. In recent years, however, research has begun to reveal that brain fog in menopause is a real thing.
One study on the impact of menopause on episodic memory published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that brain fog could be related to estrogen levels. The term “brain fog” is used to describe a state of forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and an inability to think clearly.
Brain fog as a result of menopause is not a permanent condition, nor does it increase the risk of dementia later in life. It is, however, a frustrating condition to live with.
Estrogen Levels and Brain Fog
The study found that a woman’s ability to carry out memory-dependent tasks becomes hindered when her estrogen begins to dip between the ages of 45 and 55.
Estrogen is related to activity in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory and thinking.
Roughly 60 percent of menopausal women report brain fog symptoms. The 2016 study adds to previous findings by offering a better understanding of how estrogen plays a role in the brain.
The study was based on 200 women whose memory skills were tested while undergoing a functional MRI to track brain activity.
The study found that, on average, women with lower estradiol—a form of estrogen—performed worse on memory tests. Postmenopausal women also showed different brain activity in the hippocampus compared to premenopausal women. But these changes were not seen among all women, which raises the question as to why some women experience such changes where others do not.
Researchers speculate that lifestyle habits of women may also offer protective effects from the decline of estrogen. For example, women who frequently exercise are less likely to experience brain fog. This raises the possibility that exercise offers protective effects against lower estrogen.
Although more research is needed, the findings do offer some relief to many women who may wonder whether their condition is normal. Women don’t have to fear that what they are experiencing is a result of their “going crazy.”
How to Treat Menopause Brain Fog
You don’t need to suffer from brain fog in menopause to benefit from practices that can boost mental clarity, like the following:
- Eat a Healthy Diet: You want to ensure you are eating a diet that provides you with essential nutrients to support good health. You also want to incorporate foods that are high in phytoestrogens, or so-called “dietary estrogens.” Such foods include soybean products, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, beans, dried fruit, bran, nuts, alfalfa, chickpeas, olives and olive oil, peaches, strawberries, red wine, and multigrain bread.
- Stay Hydrated: Even the slightest amount of dehydration is enough to shrink the brain, which can contribute to greater brain fog. Therefore, staying well hydrated will reduce brain shrinkage and brain fog.
- Lose the Belly Fat: Dementia and Alzheimer’s have been linked to being overweight, more so with the fat that accumulates around the abdomen. Studies have shown that reducing weight can help improve memory.
- Make Sleep a Priority: Without proper sleep, the brain cannot restore itself, leaving “clutter” that can exacerbate brain fog.
- Exercise: Exercise can help reduce weight, help manage other menopausal symptoms, and reduce stress. Try and get at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity in order to maintain good health.
- Meditate: Meditation helps to reduce stress that contributes to brain fog.
- Try Acupuncture: Some studies on acupuncture have found it to relieve menopause symptoms.
By adhering to these natural remedies for brain fog in menopause, you can reduce stress, feel better, and promote mental clarity so you can continue to partake in your normal daily life.
Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. This article was published on Bel Marra Health.