Brain fog is a common and frustrating symptom of the menopause transition.
In this article on brain fog during menopause, we will discuss
Brain fog can happen to anyone at any time; it’s that feeling of confusion or like you’re stuck in a haze, and it might make you feel a bit airheaded or forgetful when going about your day. Brain fog can be caused by a number of factors including poor sleep, stress, dysregulated blood sugar and fluctuating hormones during the menopause transition. The menopause transition is characterized as perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.
Whilst perimenopause and menopause are characterized by a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms from irregular periods, night sweats, hot flashes, mood changes, weight gain and brain fog, these symptoms are all due to the fluctuation of hormones that our bodies naturally go through. As women approach menopause, levels of estrogen in the body decrease rapidly. Estrogen, namely estradiol, is associated with enhanced cognitive function, which explains why we notice a change in our cognition in the form of brain fog and memory loss. Decreased sleep and consequently lower quality of sleep can also impact cognitive function and lead to worsening symptoms of brain fog.
Menopause may be a natural part of being a woman, but that does not mean you have to suffer through the symptoms or put up with brain fog forever. There are numerous diet and lifestyle interventions that can drastically reduce symptoms such as brain fog. The two key factors to consider are blood sugar regulation and inflammation.
Making sure you’re eating a balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your brain and body at this time. This means prioritizing high quality protein, plenty of veggies, healthy fats and fibre at every meal. Reducing your intake of refined carbohydrates and added sugars will also prevent blood sugar spikes and dysregulation that can lead to worsening symptoms. Increased intake of legumes & extra-virgin olive oil was associated with less severe total menopausal symptoms and psychological symptoms in obese postmenopausal women (Vetrani et al, 2022). A balanced diet also has the benefit of enhancing sleep and cognition.
Incorporating exercise into your routine can also help to support healthy brain functioning by enhancing circulation and blood flow to the brain. This will not only help you to feel more energetic, but it will also help to sharpen your senses, including your mind. Strength training 3-4 times a week has been shown to provide the most benefits for mental sharpness, and it will help with blood sugar regulation and lowering inflammation. Plus, exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on stress levels, management of which is essential for thriving through menopause.
Apart from diet and lifestyle changes, there are a few helpful supplements that I recommend to my clients dealing with menopause symptoms like brain fog. Before starting any supplements, however, I always suggest having lab work done in order to know exactly what your body needs and to get a better understanding of your baseline.
A high quality fish oil supplement is a great way to boost your body’s levels of omega-3 fatty acids and lower total inflammation. Those with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets were found to have lower psychological menopause symptoms (Abshirini, 2019).
I also recommend adding a magnesium supplement to your routine as about 80-90% of the US population is deficient in magnesium. In terms of testing, you will want a red blood cell (RBC) magnesium test. We need this mineral to stay healthy and for our bodies to perform numerous functions such as supporting muscle and nerve function and energy production. For brain fog during menopause, the specific types of magnesium we need are magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate. I personally prefer to supplement with a full spectrum magnesium that includes both of these forms as well as others since this is better for our all around health and will make it easier for your body to naturally balance magnesium levels.