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The Mindful: Coping with Cognitive Changes

Updated: Jun 20

We've all experienced it.

Venturing halfway to the kitchen, we suddenly lose track of our original purpose, standing before an open cupboard with a blank mind. Even worse, we might interrupt someone mid-sentence, compelled by a sudden recollection to complete our interrupted task before it slips away again. Does this scenario sound familiar?

This article consolidates available information explaining this phenomenon and explores self-help resources.

Other typical signs of forgetfulness include becoming lost mid-sentence, with sympathetic onlookers assisting in finishing our thoughts. These awkward moments are encountered daily by many women in perimenopause.

As time passes, we experience chronological aging, marked by each passing year. Concurrently, women undergo reproductive aging during midlife, known as perimenopause.

In early midlife, some women experience changes in memory circuitry connections coinciding with reproductive aging. During this period, ovarian hormones, specifically estradiol, diminish. Estradiol, a primary form of estrogen, operates in the brain, directly influencing memory and behavior quality.

Furthermore, studies have indicated that women exhibit greater hippocampal volume loss compared to men of a similar age range, with reduced hippocampal volume observed among women transitioning from pre- to post-menopause. Women with underlying health conditions like diabetes and hypertension face an elevated risk of cognitive decline due to shared energy production processes between the brain and body. Significant fluctuations in gonadal hormones during this phase lead to memory circuitry reorganization during menopause.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Cognitive Health

Brain fog and memory lapses cause frustration and affect not only women's quality of life but also their families and society. Consequently, preserving memory is vital during midlife. Research underscores the critical timing of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) initiation during perimenopause.

  • Timing is Key: Initiating HRT during the early stages of perimenopause can positively impact brain function and memory.

  • Late-Life HRT: Starting HRT later in menopause can be associated with risks, including the development of Alzheimer's disease. The benefits and risks of HRT must be weighed carefully.

Dietary Choices for Enhanced Cognitive Function

To sustain optimal physical and cognitive health, nutritionists recommend superfoods that combat brain fog and related issues.

MCT components are readily digested and absorbed by the body, rapidly converting into ketones, which serve as an instant energy source for the liver and brain. Ordinarily, the brain relies on glucose for fuel, making these MCT-rich options particularly valuable.

Diabetics should reduce sugar and carbohydrate intake and consider supplementing with ketone drinks to reduce abdominal fat and stabilize hormones. MCT-rich products, including dairy items, nuts, seeds, MCT oil, and powder, bolster brain performance and energy, especially beneficial for women in the perimenopausal age group.

Brain Training: Keeping the Mind Sharp

A meta-analysis examining hormone levels and cognitive shifts during the menopause transition reveals that brain fog typically results in a significant loss of verbal memory performance among women compared to men. Therefore, understanding how menopause impacts the brain can help develop strategies to prevent memory loss.

Complex cognitive tests offer tools for enhancing memory recall. Activities like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and word and vocabulary lists effectively enhance verbal memory and learning.

The Wechsler Memory Scale, an intelligence assessment tool, measures immediate and delayed verbal memory recall. Games involving facial recognition, matching paired images, recollection of oral narratives, family photos, visual reproduction, recalling letter sequences, and spatial patterns aim to improve verbal memory.

Empowering Women Through Knowledge

Understanding the link between menopause and memory is crucial for women who play integral roles in both the economy and as caregivers. Engaging in preventive cognitive exercises and considering lifestyle and dietary changes can help mitigate the risks of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Recognizing and addressing menopause-related forgetfulness is a vital step in maintaining cognitive health.


Important Notes

This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional for individualized guidance.



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