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As women age, memory loss is a nearly universal experience, and more significant for some than others. Misplacing papers and mail, searching for lost keys, forgetting names of persons, movies, and books are just a few of the examples I hear quite often in my practice. Although age-related memory loss affects both genders, research indicates that cognitive support is particularly critical for women. This is due to the loss of a critical protective hormone – estrogen.

As women age, memory loss is a nearly universal experience, and more significant for some than others. Misplacing papers and mail, searching for lost keys, forgetting names of persons, movies, and books are just a few of the examples I hear quite often in my practice. Although age-related memory loss affects both genders, research indicates that cognitive support is particularly critical for women. This is due to the loss of a critical protective hormone – estrogen.

In the brain, estrogen ensures that neurons (brain cells) stay healthy. It supports cell survival, regeneration, and efficient communication with other neurons. Estrogen helps the brain acquire and store information and to adapt to change.

Prior to menopause, estrogen is made in the ovaries, and crosses into the brain to perform these vital roles. The brain itself also produces estrogen. Menopause is marked by loss of estrogen production by both the ovaries and the brain.

Many patients feel alarmed at their forgetfulness and loss of mental clarity at this stage of life and beyond. Fortunately, with diet and lifestyle changes, you can be proactive in maintaining brain health and cognitive performance, regardless of age.

Diet and lifestyle modifications

  • Eat organic, whole foods, emphasizing a wide variety of vegetables, including root vegetables
  • Reduce exposure to antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, artificial colors and flavors, and high-fructose corn syrup
  • Eat a diet high in fiber, low in refined carbohydrates, and free of common allergens (soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts and dairy) to reduce stress on the digestive tract and the immune system
  • Include lean meats from free-range, grass fed animals as sources of high-quality protein
  • Maintain adequate fluid intake to facilitate the action of the fiber
  • Avoid environmental toxins as much as possible
  • Walk 10,000 steps daily and sit as little as possible
  • Stimulate your brain by learning new things and by challenging yourself

Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil support learning and memory, neuronal communication and energy metabolism in the brain
Bacopa monierii is an Ayurvedic herb that supports mental acuity, memory, relaxation and cognitive function under stress
Rhodiola rosea is an herb with neuroprotective and calming properties. Studies show it also supports mental performance
Ginkgo biloba helps with mild memory problems associated with aging
Acetyl-L-carnitine supports energy production in the brain. It also supports production of a key neurotransmitter called acetylcholine
Phosphatidylserine promotes healthy neurotransmitter levels and spatial memory
Curcumin, resveratrol, and lemon balm help protect neurons from oxidative stress
Although menopause is inevitable for all women, memory loss does not have to be. A comprehensive diet and lifestyle approach is the best way to help maintain brain health and maximize your cognitive performance at any age.

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Staying Sharp After Menopause
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