When you start forgetting things mid-sentence, feel fuzzy in the head, find it hard to focus or other brain-fog-like actions, it can honestly feel as if you’re losing your mind. And it is scary. I know because I speak through experience.
There was a time I was so overwhelmed by all that was happening in my life and that of those around me, it leads to a serious case of brain fog. That feeling of overwhelm affects our thinking, our concentration, our hormonal balance and even how we adapt to stress, and memory.
It is something that happens to all of us every once in a while, but is a pretty common occurrence for those going through menopause. That doesn’t mean that it is something that we have to just accept though.
Brain fog shows up as:
Anger and irritability
Yeah, it isn’t pleasant (for you, or for those around you!). Plus brain-fog is just a symptom of a larger issue.
So before we can get there, we want to nip this in the bud.
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that one can swallow to will away the state of overwhelm. You could try and sedate yourself — which helps to an extent, for a period of time — but when you self-medicate you don't resolve the underlying reason that's making you feel so overwhelmed in the first place. Right?
Plus, putting chemicals in your system — which is already going through changes of its own because of menopause — will only wreak more havoc in the long run. The only sustainable way to overcome an overwhelmed mind and body is to do it naturally, and yes, slowly. You will instill good habits that focus on the mind and body, instead of just putting a band-aid on the problem.
I have tried and tested these five remedies below…
I do not advocate this for the long term, but I also realize sometimes we might get so overwhelmed, anxious or depressed that it becomes difficult to rest. When it is severe, we might need a leg up to get to a safer point in order to heal ourselves. For this reason, I suggest talking to your doctor about prescription options that might help you get deep sleep or address the anxiety or depression to get you back on your feet so to speak. But begin and continue with the remedies below now.
While the brain isn’t actually a muscle, you should still exercise it as if it were. The same principle applies, if you don’t work out your brain — just like your muscles — you’ll notice a slow decline in its functions. When I say “workout” your brain, I mean mentally stimulate it so that it stays in shape!
I notice that as we grow older and our days are filled with the demands of our daily lives, we spend less time on activities that help stimulate our brain. Things like learning new skills, dancing, reading books, solving puzzles, sudoku and more.
Sure, we go about our day, planning meals, organizing playdates (if we have kids), working, etc but we do these things so often that it becomes a habit, and requires less energy — basically, these things happen almost on auto-pilot, thus providing a little extra challenge to the brain.
In order to exercise the brain, you’ll need to provide it with stimuli that challenge it to “think”.
My two favorite ways of exercising my brain are learning languages and mindfulness practice. Though there are other ways to stimulate your gray matter. Things like learning a new skill, reading a good book, having a stimulating debate, or meaningful conversation and working with numbers.
Recommendation: Try to complete games that require problem-solving skills, such as crossword puzzles (The New York Times crossword is a popular one. They even have it as an app for your phone now!), sudoku, chess, cryptograms and so on. You can also go for 10 minutes of mindfulness practice a day. It can be as simple as focusing on a word, the sounds around you, or your own breathing.
While we’re working out the brain, we should also work out the body. I know this seems obvious, but it is essential. There have been conclusive studies that point to aerobic exercise “changing the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills” — two things that can help improve or avoid brain fog.
Aside from the obvious physical benefits of exercise, indirectly it also improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Exercise triggers the growth of new nerve cells and blood vessels in the brain and increases the production of chemicals that promote the repair of existing brain cells.
So basically, a little bit of daily movement goes a long way! There are a lot of ways to get in a workout, but I’d recommend doing more functional and high-intensity interval training exercises because it appears to boost the size of the hippocampus — the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
Recommendation: I know that time can be an issue, so I highly recommend High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It gets your blood pumping, and can be done in as little as 10-15 minutes a day!
Good sleep can be a luxury for some of us going through menopause. There are so many reasons one doesn’t get to sleep and sometimes the thought of having to sleep might also trigger a stress response. Tricky.
But I encourage you to set aside the time you need to get a good night's rest daily. If you are struggling to sleep at night, combine exercise, a good diet and some other good habits that can help to ease you into sleep each night. If you miss a good night’s rest, don’t discount naps whenever you can!
A good night’s rest helps with concentration, cognition, and other brain functions, improves your immune functions, helps with weight loss and depression and basically is the only way your body can recharge and heal itself.
Recommendation: Set up a nightly ritual that you follow every day to encourage deeper, more restful sleep. Keep your bedtime and wake time as consistent as possible. Make sure your bedroom is a distraction-free zone that’s dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. And don’t check your phone or laptop an hour or more before going to bed (and use blue light blocking glasses or screens on your devices). Catch the sunrise rise and or sunset to trigger your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Add supplements like magnesium glycinate, magnesium l-threonate, and melatonin at bedtime. Calming essential oils can really help as well. My favorites are bergamot, Roman chamomile and lavender.
I have written at length about the Keto-Alkaline® Diet and just how beneficial it is to those of us going through menopause, perimenopause, hormonal imbalances or general feelings of lackluster. This diet helps to balance hormones, improve brain function and sleep, stabilize energy, eliminate hot flashes, boost sex drive, lower inflammation and burn fat!
It does require a fair bit of discipline in the beginning, but once you see just how much better you feel, it will become easier for you to make healthy choices.
Instead use the right proportions of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats — and a wealth of alkalizing fresh vegetables and fruits. From my experience 80% alkaline and 20% acid low carb foods will make a huge difference in your health, mood and brain capacity.
Recommendation: Some must-have items to include in your shopping list: Brazil nuts, oysters, salmon, avocado and greens. Do your best to remove all gluten and dairy.
Finally, once we have taken care of our mind, body, sleep and diet; we need to fine-tune our efforts to eliminate brain fog — by getting the right supplements into our system.
If you want to effectively get rid of brain fog and other symptoms of menopause, you have to restore the balance in your body — especially in your hormonal system. In my experience (and expertise) adrenal adaptogens can help you with that.
Adaptogens calm and nourish the adrenal glands, and support their function – from blood sugar and immune system regulation to hormones and blood pressure. The list of supplementary adaptogens is quite long, but some of my favorites would be:
But my all time favorite would be Maca.
This Peruvian super root has been proven to boost energy, improve fertility, enhance libido, relieve symptoms of PMS, hot flashes, menopause and much more.
Recommendation: Herbal supplements take time to take effect, so have patience with yourself (and the supplement), and trust that it is working its magic within your system. Add some Maca into your daily diet.
When I first heard about Maca I had two reactions. On one hand, I was excited about its potential. Maca certainly seems to be shrouded in legend that makes its qualities seem almost magical. But precisely because of that, on the other hand, it got my medical researcher background senses tingling.
I was skeptical. Could this ugly, little root really nurse people back to health?
Turns out, it can. But that’s not all…
I continued my research beyond the mountains of Peru (the home of Maca), to other parts of South America, to the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. I was determined to discover the best natural healing ingredients from indigenous cultures that we in the modern world of medicine might have forgotten.
That’s how I learned about Acerola, Resveratrol, Turmeric, Green Tea and many more superfoods. I found out that when I combined these indigenous herbs with Maca… the effects were greater than the effects of each individual herb by itself.
It’s a powerful mix of over 30 natural superfood ingredients that keep your hormones in check, alkalizes your body (we talked about this in point #4), reduces inflammation, detoxes your body, restores your adrenal glands and keeps you naturally energized.
And the best part is — it takes only minutes to prepare and tastes yummy to boot! Much more yummy than each of its ingredients on their own.
Sidenote: Mighty Maca® Plus is dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, preservative-free, contains no eggs, no peanuts, no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
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Meanwhile, do try the tips I shared above and let me know how it makes you - and your brain - feel! Say good-bye Brain Fog!