Female brain health
*All the information contained within this blog has come from ‘The XX brain’ book by Dr Lisa Mosconi*
Dr Mosconi describes female medicine as ‘bikini medicine’. This describes the notion that we only differ from our male counterparts due to our reproductive system. That is the parts of our bodies covered by a bikini!
However, recent studies have shown that we differ in our brain structure, metabolism and so much more. I say recent because after the Thalidomide disaster in the early 60’s, women were excluded from clinical drug trials.
In 2012, a study proved that women needed half the dose of the sleeping drug Zolpidem compared to men. Prior to this (6-7yrs!) women were given the same dose, which resulted in them having ‘hangover’ effects in the morning of sleepwalking, sleep-eating and sleep-driving! In addition to this, high cumulative doses of Zolpidem are also linked to a high risk of developing dementia.
Some stark facts…
Female Alzheimer’s patients out number men by the ratio 2:1
Women in their 60s are 2x more likely to get Alzheimer’s than breast cancer.
Menopause can act as a trigger for starting cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s brain plaques can start decades before symptoms start to show. This means we all need to be taking care of your brain health years before the menopause or any cognitive issues begin.
Here are my top 10 tips that you can start to do right now to take care of your brain health:
1. Get your blood levels checked! Some conditions can present as early dementia signs. Ruling out and treating these can immensely helpful. These are: Vit B12 deficiency, underactive thyroid, frequent UTIs, chronic inflammation, and metal poisoning.
2. Eat a Mediterranean diet. This is rich in fibre, complex carbs, and unsaturated vegetable fats. Studies prove this reduces the risk of dementia, breast cancer as well as decreasing unpleasant menopausal symptoms.
3. Eat anti-oxidants to protect the brain. Vitamin C, beta-carotene and Vitamin E all help to do this. Vitamin E lowers dementia risk by 70%. It is found in soybeans, berries, oranges, apples, artichokes, and other cruciferous vegetables.
4. Rationalize your fats. Eating the right ratio is key. Omega 3 : Omega 6 should be in 1 : 2 ratio. Most of our diets are far to rich in Omega 6, so eat more Omega 3 to balance this out. Sources include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, flaxseeds, avocados, soybeans, chia seeds and almonds.
5. Change the type of fat you are eating. Mono unsaturated fats are fabulous for your brain. E.g. cashew nuts, hazelnuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, organic and grass-fed butter.
6. Nourish your gut microbiome. Studies showing the gut-brain-axis are main in number and very clear. Happy gut = Happy brain! Eat pre-biotic foods (garlic, onions, bananas) as well as pro-biotic foods (kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha). Variety is key!
7. Organic produce doesn’t disrupt your hormones. This applies for food stuffs but also for other areas where endocrine disruptors are present. Basically they are everywhere! Think about using eco-friendly cleaning products, skin-care and ditching your Teflon coated pans.
8. Manage your stress. Make time for your friends! Be physically social, unplug from work and ‘social’ media. Go outside in nature several times a week, ideally daily. Meditate regularly, and stop smoking!
9. Use it or lose it! Engaging our brains helps to maintain and build new neural pathways to keep it young and active. Try reading a book, listening to music, or going to the theatre. Learning a new language/skill will also help, as will playing traditional board games.
10. Move your body. Gentle moderate exercise, like walking is fantastic for brain health. Its free and you don’t have to ‘HIIT’ the gym to do it!
*Please note all lifestyle changes should be done for at least 3 months before you may notice an effect*
Let me know if you found this helpful, and please do go and read the XX brain. It’s a fantastic resource for all women and all men who care about women. If you are needing homeopathy to help you with any of these symptoms, then please email me!