Brain health in the menopause
So much talk is about our hormones and all the symptoms of the menopause. How much do YOU think about your brain health, heart health, pelvic health and bone health???
However, if I told you the following, will you start being more aware of your bones, muscles, pelvic floor and importantly brain??
- Bones start to lose their density from our mid 30’s – they rapidly lose bone density post menopause
- Muscle strength – similarly, it is harder to build muscle from our mid 30’s – even more so post menopause
- Brain health – Alzheimer’s disease begins in our brains 20 – 30 years BEFORE any symptoms arise
- Pelvic health – the pelvic floor are muscles. They will also lose strength post mid 30’s and even more so after the menopause.
Today, I am talking all about brain health & how we need to start looking after that ‘matter’ … NOW!!
Dementia & hormones
Unfortunately, it has only been in more recent years that there have been women-only studies. Hence, when it comes to women’s symptoms they can be missed as we don’t necessarily have the same as men – which have been well researched!!. Here are some facts about women and their brain health:
- women are twice as likely to have anxiety & depression as men
- women are over 3x more likely than men to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, including those affecting the brain like Multiple sclerosis
- women are 4x more likely to suffer from migraines and headaches than men
- strokes kill more women than men (All taken from research by Dr Lisa Mosconi)
I’m reading the book ‘The XX Brain’ by Dr Mosconi. It is fascinating. It has also made me more aware of needing to talk about the importance of a woman’s brain.
In the research (The Shriver Report: A woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s 2010) they reported a few facts:
- two thirds of people who have Alzheimer’s are women
- women over the age of 60 yrs, the risk of getting Alzheimer’s is twice that of developing breast cancer
- our hormones play a role in why women are more vulnerable to the disease
- lifestyle factors, hormones, nutrition can all play a part in a woman’s vulnerability to getting dementia.
- women’s brains are more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s in the years leading up to & after the menopause
Why lifestyle factors are so important for menopausal women
What do I mean by lifestyle?? The main factors we should be thinking about and looking at for ourselves are generally:
- nutrition – our brain is one of the organs in our body that suffers the most from a poor diet
- eating ‘healthy’ fats – from fish, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados (polyunsaturated fats) are good for the brain
- restrictive ‘diets’ or eating a lot of ‘transfats’ foods can have a negative affect on the brain
- sleep, rest & recovery – your body needs time to ‘reset’ or regenerate cells, so as we age it is even more important to focus on sleep
- stress – how stressed are you? As with rest & recovery, we want to try & reduce the stress in our lives – stopping & focussing on breathing for a few minutes here and there can help de-stress and connect to the Vagus nerve – to deregulate the stress.
- Exercise & movement – physical movement helps heart health which in turn helps brain health. It also stimulates the production of growth hormones including ones in the brain. Basically, these neurons acts like a 1st aid kit – repairs brain cells which need repairing
- Moving more in the day – rather than just doing 1 hr of exercise and then nothing, is more supportive for our bodies and brain health.
Hopefully, this has opened your eyes to why we should be thinking about looking after our brain. If you are interested, then get Dr Lisa Mosconi’s book ‘The XX Brain’ as it is full of the more recent research into WOMEN’s health – especially the brain. https://www.lisamosconi.com/