For those of you who have hit that forty-plus stage of life you will be familiar with the talk about bone health and hot flushes but have you found yourself in a room forgetting what you went in there to do, or unable to remember even a single thing without writing it down. I am afraid that the hormone roller coaster does contribute to the mental fuzziness you are feeling. However you are not alone cognitive decline and dementia is on the rise and a look at the stats makes gloomy reading, but the good news is there is allot you can do to help slow that rate of decline down and even improve your brain function. The current UK and global stats for dementia and cognitive decline are frighteningly high, 850,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in the UK and 1 in 3 people born in the UK this year will develop dementia in their life time. I am sure you will surprised to learn that the dementias are now the leading cause of death in the UK. However this is not isolated to UK and The World Health Organisation estimate that the global number of deaths due to dementia will increase by 40% from 2015 to 2030.
So the big question is - what has happened in the way that we live, what we are eating, and our environment to cause this global trend of increase in dementia. Africa has the lowest incidence of dementia, followed by Asia, Europe and then America, and so it would appear the more developed the country and the further we are from our original human habitat and nutrition and the more exposed we are to environmental pollutants and processed foods, the worse the situation.
Can lifestyle and nutritional interventions slow down cognitive decline? The good news is that I think the answer is unequivocally YES - there are definitely things that you can do regarding your lifestyle and your nutrition that will support cognitive health.
The key elements that support brain health are:
Check out The MIND diet www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-studies-on-the-mediterranean-diet and make sure that your gut health is in tip top condition too.
Stimulus & challenge
It appears that we have the ability to create new neurons in response to new situations or challenges for all of our lives SO you can teach an old dog new tricks!!
Rest & calm
Sleep is vital in the prevention of dementia www.sciencenews.org/article/sleep-brain-alzheimers-plaques-protein.
Lowering your toxic load
Consciously avoid exposure to environmental toxins (skincare, eat organic).
Movement & exercise
Increase blood flow and therefore oxygenation of the brain.
Love, community, connection, faith and purpose all enhance oxytocin production which helps improve brain function.
To find out more about how to live longer and better check out www.bluezones.com
BRAIN BOOSTING SMOOTHIE
½ cup blueberries
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
½ cup water
Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz together until delicious and smooth!
AVACADO - This green powerhouse is packed with monosaturated fats or “good” fats, helping to keep blood sugar levels steady and your skin glowing. It contains both vitamin K and folate, preventing blood clots in the brain (protecting against stroke) as well as help improving cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration. They are also rich in vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in your body and need to be replenished daily. Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit. Adding them to your smoothie also makes it smooth and creamy!
BLUEBERRIES - Blueberries are extremely high in antioxidants, and are packed with vitamin C and vitamin K and fiber. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress.
WALNUTS - It turns out that eating walnuts can keep you from going nuts, a few walnuts a day can improve your cognitive health. Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also improve mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts can also help ward off Alzheimer’s.
I am passionate about this subject not just because I am a 49 year old woman and very coherent with what the peri-menopause is and what it does to you, but because so many of the women I meet don’t really know what it is or how to even know if they are entering this phase of their life.
If you are a youngster or a husband reading this – please don’t close it down. It is so important that you know and understand what this is all about – as I keep saying “knowledge is power”. Understanding the body and how it works, can really help you to either help yourself or help someone you live with.
It is a fact that every woman that reaches their early to mid-fifties will face menopause (MAYBE EVEN EARLIER), this maybe you right now, you in the future, your sister, your aunt, your wife or even your daughter – read on and arm yourself with the information that could help.
They say that the peri-menopause mirrors the monthly shifts that one experiences during their monthly cycle – and from experience I would say that is true. I feel that I have been relatively fortunate and I have sailed through my peri-menopause, however I do think you would get a different answer if you asked my hubbie!! I tended towards a few pretty moody days on a monthly basis EVERY MONTH and I don’t doubt that I was pretty hectic to live with for a couple of years not that long ago!!.
Don’t despair – this is an exciting new stage of life, a new chapter that should be grasped with both hands and lived to the fullest.
WHY DO WOMEN HAVE A MENOPAUSE
When we are born all our eggs are already inside the ovaries and by the time we reach menopause there are no eggs left. Some eggs are released each month before the period and the rest of the eggs disappear. This happens quite fast once a woman is 35 and when the ovaries run out of eggs the period stops, this is menopause. Literally translated “Menopause” means the ceasing of menstruation.
WHAT IS THE PERI-MENOPAUSE
Peri-menopause is the period of a woman’s life before menopause, and can last for up to about a decade. It is like that one member of the family no one wants to talk about. At best, people confuse it with its “cousin” menopause, and at worst, it’s ignored by women, their partners, and even medical professionals. However, it’s important to know everything you can about this phase of life, which can begin much earlier and last much longer than you might think. Technically, menopause itself is one single day—the anniversary of one year after your last menstrual period. But peri-menopause, the transition from your reproductive years to menopause, can last anywhere from five to 15 years.
The eggs in the ovaries make a hormone (a chemical messenger) called oestrogen. This is the hormone that most defines us as women, it gives us breasts and hips, buffers our mood and keeps us on task – its adjusts the serotonin levels responsible for mood sleep and appetite. It is also responsible for the first half of the menstrual cycle, building up the uterine lining for embedding of the fetus. Oestrogen is responsible for our sex drive, keeps our interest in sex, keeps us well lubricated in our joints and all the other places we like to be well lubricated! Once the numbers of eggs start to decrease the levels of oestrogen in a women’s body start to drop, this has a knock on effect on many of the other hormones in our body, particularly progesterone and testosterone our other sex hormones, resulting in the symptoms classically associated with peri-menopause.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF PERI-MENOPAUSE
We all experience peri-menopause differently. Some of us pass through it smoothly, but many of us suffer a variety of symptoms that go far beyond the classic hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and weight gain. That’s why it rarely occurs to us—or even our doctors.
If you are not sure if you have entered the peri-menopause SARA GOTTFRIED – author of “The Hormone Cure” and menopause guru, has this self-assessment list of symptoms to help you decide:
WHAT TO DO NEXT
All of these changes are being caused by the hormonal tsunami that you are going through – what you do next will depend on the severity of your symptoms. There are a number of things that you can do to try and balance your hormones naturally.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help to promote good health as well as alleviate menopausal symptoms.
STEP 1 – EAT RIGHT
A diet that feeds and nourishes every cell in your body:
STEP 2 – REST
Stress is a huge hormone disrupter. The more stressed you are, the less sleep you will get and let’s face it how do you feel when you are not sleeping well? Tired, moody, irritable and worse still craving sugary carbs like mad – it’s a viscous cycle.
What are some ways that you can reduce your stress:
Our environment has a major influence over our hormones, and sadly toxins in our modern life are unavoidable. However there are some things that you can do to avoid major hormone disrupting chemicals:
Exercise is so important for hormone balance – however not enough or too much can actually increase the stress on the body and make things worse.
If you are not managing and are feeling totally overwhelmed, I would suggest visiting a specialist who can do a deep dive to find the root cause of your symptoms instead of simply providing a Band-Aid solution by treating them with drugs. That process can be as simple as getting your blood drawn and having an extensive hormone work-up, hormones are the software of the body and they govern almost every reaction that takes place inside of us. So it’s no surprise that when they fluctuate during perimenopause, a vast array of symptoms can occur.
Once you have a clear picture of what’s really going on, you will be recommended a treatment plan. This may include:
For those of you who this does not directly affect, congratulations and THANK YOU for sticking with me to the end with me to the end! I hope that learning a little more about this phase of a woman’s life has been useful for you. Here are a few tips for how you can help: