October is world menopause awareness month.
The theme chosen by the International Menopause Society for world menopause day on the 18th of October is “Brain fog and Memory difficulties in Menopause”
So, supporting brain health seems an appropriate topic to put under the spotlight right here and now.
Brain fog can be scary
It is not a nice feeling when you can’t remember things, can’t process information, and just feel like you are living through a cloud of fog. And many women fear that it is the start of Alzheimer’s.
Research shows quite clearly that a drop in oestrogen is part of the problem. And that’s because oestrogen is neuroprotective and plays a big role in our cognitive function.
But it’s not the only reason. Stress, poor quality sleep, nutrient deficiencies, toxic exposure, out of balance gut bacteria and lack of exercise all have a role to play too.
However, there is also another important contributing factor that is so often overlooked. And that is the detrimental effect of sugar in your diet. In fact, brain fog is often referred to as diabetes of the brain.
Why is brain fog called diabetes of the brain?
Your brain cells are primarily powered by glucose. And your brain requires the hormone insulin in order to use the blood sugar. But if you are not managing blood sugars well, you may be heading towards insulin resistance / prediabetes or diabetes. And when this happens your brain cells will suffer.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas and its role is to transport glucose out of the blood and into your cells. But if you are heading towards IR, your body loses its ability to release insulin. And this can be damaging to your brain. And that’s because you need insulin to allow glucose to get into the brain to fuel it.
So, if this is not happening as it should and you cannot fuel your brain, you may start to notice poor concentration, memory, and low mood.
So, you can see that insulin has a role in nurturing and protecting your brain cells, but if getting glucose into your cells is compromised by insulin resistance, then brain health will certainly begin to suffer.
How to reduce brain fog
It is never too early to start focusing on your blood sugars and keeping them in a healthy range. You want to avoid too many blood sugar fluctuations which come from a diet high in sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates.
Here are my top tips to keep blood sugars balanced and your brain in tip top condition
Make sure that you eat protein and healthy fats in every meal. This is particularly important at breakfast. So, ditch the tea and toast in favour of an egg-based breakfast to provide a good source of protein and fat.
Try and fast for at least twelve hours over night. Time restricted eating increases insulin sensitivity
Focus on complex carbs (sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa etc) and remove simple carbohydrates / sugar from your diet (white bread, white rice, white potatoes, cakes, biscuits etc)
Limit alcohol as it is high in sugar.
Focus on your own self-care. A stressful day can increase cortisol levels which will dump a load of sugar into your blood. Not helpful when you are trying to improve insulin sensitivity.
Incorporate exercise into your weekly regime as this too will improve insulin sensitivity. The best type for this is HIIT as it is important to get your heart rate up.
If you would like to learn a little more about supporting your health with diet and lifestyle during your peri and menopause, do drop me a line. I would love to help. My recommendations here are broad, but everyone’s physiology is different. And that’s where a bespoke programme just for you can really help. And why not take advantage of my starter kit for a happy and healthy menopause which you can download here?
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