Did you know that your hormones could be behind unwanted symptoms such as headaches, migraines, brain fog and mood swings? (Of course you are already probably are aware of the hormone – mood connection).
Hormonal changes and hormone imbalances are in charge of so many pillars of health. They can affect how you sleep, how you digest food, how you respond to stress, and various different systems of your body that can create a manifestation of unwanted symptoms (such as brain fog).
When it comes to your brain and cognitive function, hormones definitely play a roll.
What is brain fog?
Brain fog is when you feel as if you cannot concentrate, feel “groggy” or like your mind is experiencing a mental fogginess, even feeling as if you are easily forgetting things. You may experience brain fog during pregnancy, right before or during menopause, and at certain times throughout your cycle.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a grasp on hormonal brain fog, because there is not much research on female brains! It’s quite unfortunate that few doctors and practitioners have the proper knowledge to understand how brain health in women is very different than in men.
How to know if you are experiencing hormonal brain fog.
When your hormones fluctuate during your menstraul cycle, during or before menopause, or during pregnancy, these fluctuations can create changes in brain chemistry, resulting in brain fog.
During your menstraul cycle, your hormones are constantly shifting – with estrogen being the condoctor of your hormone orchestra. Right after your period, estrogen rises and peaks before ovulation occurs. Estrogen then falls after ovulation, with progesterone rising to prepare for the potential of implanting a fertilized egg. Testosterone also shifts throughout your cycle, with a rise before ovulation and a drop after ovulation.
When estrogen and testosterone drop after ovulation, this can trigger the experience of brain fog. Have you ever noticed that right after your period, you feel more alert, productive and creative? That is because estrogen and testosterone are responsible for giving you more mental clarity and energy.
Pregnancy can also create brain fog because of how prenatal hormones can affect brain structure (that can last for up to two years after you deliver!) because of the drastic hormonal shifts, mainly due to progesterone.
Now on the contrary, if you are experiencing a hormone imbalance characterized by low estrogen and low progesterone, it can also result in brain fog. Usually estrogen and progesterone decrease during menopause, but you could also be experiencing low levels of hormones that are related to other conditions and health challenges.
Steps to take to manage and start healing your hormonal brain fog
Many different factors can affect our hormones. The toxins we are exposed to daily, how much stress we have in our lives, our lifestyle habits and our environment all play an important roll in how our hormone levels behave. When you support your lifestyle, habits and choices, you are supporting your hormones. These steps below will help you start regaining better mental clarity and energy so that you can start saying adios to brain fog.
- FIRST, you want to test, not guess! I talk about this in-depth in my free masterclass that helps you take the appropriate steps to healing your symptoms and conditions. If you feel like you are experiencing more intense brain fog during certain times of your cycle, you will want to uncover what hormones could be out of balance. Instead of trying to troubleshoot your own health, you should be getting hormone labwork done so that you can see exactly which hormones are out of balance.
- Eat foods that support cognitive function and brain health. Some great foods to include into your diet that can provide key nutrients that can nourish your brain specifically are: foods rich in resveratrol (which is a potent antioxidant that has great brain benefits) such as red grapes, red wine (always choose organic clean brands!), and berries such as blueberries and cranberries. Omega 3 rich foods like fatty fish: wild caught salmon and sardines, and plant-based sources such as avocados, walnuts and flaxseeds. Read More: Brain Boosting Foods
- Opt for a diet that helps balance your hormones. This will be unique for everyone, because all of us are experiencing a different hormonal dance in addition to other biological factors that makes our nutritional needs unique. A few steps to get you on the right track to eat for hormonal balance is to eat a diet that incorporates a wide array of organic produce, healthy fats (including raw dairy if you are generally healthy), grass fed meats and wild caught seafood.
- Prioritize getting your sleep in order. If you are lacking quality sleep, this is an area of your life that must be prioritized in order for you to not only feel more mentally alert, but to help keep your hormones in balance (or bring them back into balance). Experiencing deep sleep and quality REM sleep help your body regenerate overnight. If you are having problems falling asleep, you can try this simple 10 minute meditation as you lay down in bed to help calm your mind, reduce racing thoughts and help you shift into a more positive mindset. Read More: An Evening Routine to Calm Anxiety Before Bed
- Nourish your nervous system. One of the best ways to do this is to manage stress and keep your nervous system in parasympathetic mode (feeling calm and safe). Make sure you are incorporating daily practices that helps you feel grounded and connected like exercise or movement you enjoy, hobbies, making time to do nothing, and other additional self care practices. Read More: Try These Essential Oils to Help Ease Anxiety
- Incorporating the right type of exercise. Exercise can definitely help balance your hormones if done in a way that supports your cycle or where you are currently at hormonally. For example, if you suspect that you have adrenal issues or thyroid issues, you will want want to be doing intense HIIT workouts or anything too strenuous as this could prevent your body from healing. You can also look into exercises in accordance to your monthly cycle.
- Align with a functional health team. If you suspect that your hormone levels are off, or are causing you to experience persistant brain fog and other unwatned symptoms, you can work with a functional team to get your hormones tested in addition to other important markers that can give you an exact look into what is going on in your body, such as: full thyroid panels, adrenal health function, gut testing, nutrient deficiencies, organic acid testing, neurotransmitter profiles and more. If you feel like you need more personalized support, the Naturopathic Doctor on my team and myself can help you! You can learn more here.