Once women start experiencing the effects of brain fog during menopause they likely start to wonder if dementia is the next step. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help reduce your chances of developing dementia and keep you feeling mentally sharp as you get older.
Many women experience brain fog during menopause and this can cause some concern. Brain fog has many causes and does not mean you are getting dementia. Check out this article for some ways to reduce brain fog.
Exercise or physical activity
Exercise has several benefits when it comes to brain health. Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve memory and your ability to learn. It also helps prevent dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, exercise can actually half your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
There are several other indirect benefits to getting exercise. Exercise can increase your mental health, reducing anxiety and depression. It also helps to lower risk of heart disease and diabetes or improves outcomes of these diseases. People with heart disease have a higher risk of developing dementia and diabetes is also considered a risk factor for developing dementia. Diseases like these mean less blood is getting to your brain, so your brain is not getting the nutrients and oxygen it needs to function properly.
Including resistance training and balance training in your exercise program reduces the risk of falls and head injuries from falls. Brain injuries can increase the risk of developing dementia later in life.
Start exercising now to help to reduce your risks of developing dementia later in life and to improve your brain health now. To get your free workout plan click here.
Eat brain foods
There are several foods that help to improve the health of your brain and to reduce your overall risk of developing dementia.
Fatty fish like salmon contains omega 3 fatty acids which may help to reduce the risk of dementia. It may also help to increase the brain’s grey matter. Other foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids include supplements, flax seeds, and walnuts.
Turmeric and blueberries help reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation can contribute to the risk of developing dementia. These foods also contain antioxidants which are good for the brain.
Other foods that are associated with improved brain health include broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, nuts, and oranges.
A diet of healthy whole foods that is low in sugar will help to prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes so prevents the risks associated with that type of diet. You can find a list of superfoods for midlife women here.
A daily meditation practice
A daily meditation practice has several benefits. Long term meditation has benefits for the portion of the brain responsible for memory and decision making. The part of the brain responsible for anxiety seems to shrink in meditators. If you haven’t been meditating, it’s not too late to start. Improvements can be seen in as little as 8 weeks.
Meditation also helps to reduce stress and anxiety which can improve heart health, meaning the brain is getting the nutrients it needs.
There are several forms of meditation that can be applied to any tradition. Prayer has many of the same benefits as meditation, so if you feel that meditation doesn’t fit into your religious practice this might be an option. Yoga and walking in nature are forms of moving meditation. You can use a form of mindfulness meditation that simply involves watching your breath.
Get enough sleep
Many women find it difficult to get enough sleep during their midlife years. The effects of hormones and menopause symptoms can make sleep difficult. If you are sleep deprived you know how you can walk around the entire day feeling like you are in a fog. You have trouble remembering things, making sound decisions and functioning in a useful way.
Not getting enough sleep can have long term effects and frequent nighttime wakings are associated with cognitive decline.
On the flip side getting too much sleep is also associated with dementia.
Stress reduction activities like exercise and meditation can help you to get better sleep (link to sleep article) or you can start by creating a bedtime routine.
Use your brain
Brain training games do not seem to prevent dementia from occurring, but they do often help the symptoms to take longer to show up. They also help to improve memory and information processing skills. Remember the old saying, if you use it, you lose it. If you keep actively trying to learn new things or improve your abilities you will help to keep your brain feeling young.
There are many ways to keep your brain active. Take an online course, read, or play games. You are never too old to learn new things or a new skill. You can also use the opportunity to get some social contact (either virtual or in person) which also helps to improve brain health.
Prevention is often something women ignore, but for brain health and preventing cognitive decline prevention is the only way. There is currently no cure for dementia whether caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other causes. Take charge of the health of your brain now by getting exercise, eating healthy, starting a meditation practice, getting enough sleep and of course by using your brain.