Perimenopause, the transitional phase leading up to menopause, can bring about significant hormonal changes in women’s bodies, impacting various aspects of health, including brain function.

As estrogen levels fluctuate, women may experience cognitive changes such as memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, and mood swings. However, there are proactive steps women can take to support their brain health during this transitionary period and beyond.

The Impact of Hormonal Changes

Estradiol chemical compound

Estrogen plays a crucial role in brain health, influencing neurotransmitter activity, blood flow to the brain, and the formation of new neural connections. During perimenopause, estrogen levels decline, which can affect cognitive function.

Studies have shown that women may experience changes in memory, attention, and executive function during this time. Additionally, fluctuations in estrogen levels can contribute to mood disturbances such as irritability, and increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety.

Nutrition for Brain Health

A balanced diet rich in nutrients is essential to support the brain during perimenopause. Foods high in antioxidants, such as vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, may help combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are crucial for maintaining cognitive function and supporting mood stability.

Incorporating whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into meals can provide sustained energy levels and support overall brain health.

Exercise and Physical Activity

Regular exercise has been shown to benefit brain health by promoting neuroplasticity, enhancing cognitive function, and reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

Aerobic activities like walking, running, or cycling increase blood flow to the brain, delivering oxygen and nutrients essential for optimal cognitive performance.

Strength training exercises can also support brain health by improving mood, reducing stress, and promoting overall well-being.

Movement is one of the best medicines for women at midlife.

Stress Management

Chronic stress can have detrimental effects on brain health, contributing to cognitive decline and impairing memory and concentration.

During perimenopause, women may experience heightened stress levels due to hormonal fluctuations and life changes.

Practicing stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help alleviate stress and promote relaxation.

This is a time to prioritize self-care activities and engage in hobbies or activities that bring joy and fulfillment.

Quality Sleep

woman sleeping

Sleep disturbances are common during perimenopause, with many women experiencing insomnia, night sweats, or disrupted sleep patterns.

Poor sleep can negatively impact cognitive function, mood, and overall well-being. Establishing a regular sleep routine and creating a comfortable sleep environment can promote better sleep quality.

Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and electronic devices before bedtime, practicing relaxation techniques, and ensuring a cool, dark, and quiet sleeping environment can help improve sleep hygiene.

A supplementation of magnesium glycinate can also promote sleep. Check with your pharmacist to ensure that there is no contraindication for you.

Emotional support

social gathering

Staying engaged with a trusted circle is essential for maintaining a healthy emotional life during perimenopause. Social interaction and staying connected with friends and loved ones can also support brain health by providing intellectual stimulation and emotional support.

Navigating perimenopause can present unique challenges for women, including changes in cognitive function and emotional well-being. However, by adopting lifestyle habits that support brain health, women can promote cognitive vitality and overall well-being during this transitional phase and beyond.

By prioritizing nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep hygiene, and social connection, women can nurture their brain health and embrace the journey of perimenopause with resilience and vitality.

Annie Gaudreault is the founder of Veev Health and Wellness. As a holistic nutritionist, endurance athlete and women’s health coach, she supports the wellness needs of women living busy lives. Annie is a regular contributor to The Health Insider and is a sought-out women’s health and nutrition expert for media, corporations and lifestyle organizations.

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