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Female Sex Hormones, Inflammation, and Memory: What You Need to Know

October 2, 2022

Hi, I’m Angela
I'm a functional medicine practitioner & hormone expert working primarily with women in their 40's and 50's to create lasting health.
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Many women in their 40s and beyond experience brain fog and concentration difficulties. While it’s natural to feel like your mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be, you don’t have to just accept these symptoms as a normal part of aging. Several factors can contribute to cognitive decline, including female sex hormones. By understanding how sex hormones impact memory, you can take steps to optimize your mental function and keep your mind sharp well into old age.

Roles of the hormones  

As you approach your 40 to early 50s, the sex hormones drop and change the most. This could mean you may have problems with your memory, and this can make it hard to focus at work or remember things at home. The foggy brain can make you lose your keys, forget an important meeting or speech, and feel frustrated. 

The primary female sex hormone – estrogen- begins to lower in our 40s which causes more confusion than before. There are two main female sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone falls faster than estrogen. Estrogen is more powerful than progesterone and is responsible for our memory, focus, and ability to get things done. As estrogen starts to lower, we start to notice we’re maybe a little less efficient at things we are used to getting done without a problem. 

Your home life is affected a lot.

Perhaps you’re forgetting things you said you would do for your kids or for another family member. Sometimes it might not be just little things, it’s big things. Maybe you’re forgetting to show up for certain events for your family and that has an impact on them. It may be affecting their self-esteem and leave them wondering if you still care. I know there is a massive impact on people that have these concerns going on.

One other thing is, you might feel fearful. It is kind of scary to feel like you’re forgetting things more often than not. You might be feeling like you are losing your mind because you might have Alzheimer’s or dementia. You’re probably wondering what you can do about it, on top of hoping that you’re not on the way to an early onset neurodegenerative disease. Some people in your family might have had this kind of condition developed maybe a little later in life. But you’re concerned that it could be happening to you even earlier because of all the symptoms you’re having.

Due to the mental block, you might feel like a broken record. You can’t remember what it was that your mouth was even trying to say and all of sudden everything just goes silent. 

These symptoms can be quite concerning and scary. It’s something you want to try and get on top of. As mentioned, estrogen is particularly more responsible for acuity and sharpness in our brains. There are things you can do to help restore and regain your memory, and sharpness, and get rid of brain fog, even as estrogen levels lower. 

The other culprit

You don’t have to just accept it as a natural consequence of aging and think that every woman around you has the same thing going on, because the truth is they don’t. You’re feeling these changes because of the estrogen in your body. It’s not the only reason, but it is a part of it.

Quite typically, more of the root cause of this is inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a reaction in the body that triggers an immune system response and sets off the alerts. If this happens more often than not, we can end up with what’s called chronic low-grade inflammation. It’s surely one of the things that are not allowing us to be at our best sharpest selves throughout the day.

There are many things you can do about it. However, it’s also important to understand maybe where chronic low-grade inflammation is coming from in the first place. Most commonly, where this inflammation comes from our lifestyle. Its roots in things like not sleeping properly and being under tons of stress. High cortisol levels drive up inflammation as cortisol is our primary stress hormone. 

Eating a non-optimal diet can be a contributing factor as well. You probably are drinking too much coffee, having too many muffins, or eating too much-processed food. Maybe you’re eating a diet too high in saturated fats. These types of food bring in a little higher toxic load in your body. Or you could be having a drink of wine when getting home from work every night.

All of these, especially when combined over time, will have an impact on your body in the form of inflammation. When we start to feel these symptoms in our brain, it is brain inflammation. As you may have figured, this inflammation from our lifestyle changes and the factors mentioned are not just going to affect other parts of our body. It will affect the brain too. 

Chronic low-grade inflammation may have been happening for 5-10 years before you noticed any problems. But as your estrogen levels decrease, the inflammation becomes more noticeable and affects your health and ability to focus.

Natural strategies that work

Some obvious things may seem easy, but sometimes they’re hard to put in place. Lifestyle changes are some of the simplest things you can do to help you lower your inflammation. 

  1. Something you can change quite quickly and ideally is your sleep. 

Inflammation lowers significantly when we get a good night’s sleep. We have more control over this than we would think. One of the main ways you can do this is to go to bed on time. We live in a world with screens. There is a lot of stimulus coming at us all the time. It can be hard to get to bed on time but deliberately aim it.

You can perhaps read a book to help you wind down before bed. Breathing exercises and having a calm conversation with someone help too, and it’s not screen-related. These activities surely help you slow down at night and can help you start optimizing your inflammation even without making other lifestyle changes yet.

  1. Get some form of exercise. 

It doesn’t have to be anything significant and intense. Getting up and moving your body or getting somewhere between 7000 and 10,000 steps per day can be achieved by most people if they are conscious and want to make it happen. Doing this helps to balance out inflammation in the body significantly as well. 

Working out has numerous benefits for everyone, but it is especially important for women. We can always find some way to fit exercise into our lives, whether it be going for a brisk walk every day or climbing up and down the stairs repeatedly.

Exercise helps improve our moods, reduces stress, and increases energy levels. 

  1. Anti-inflammatory food plan.

An anti-inflammatory food plan can help you lower inflammation even more so. This involves lowering sugar intake, alcohol, caffeine, a lot of starchy carbohydrates, and packaged, processed foods.

Aim to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. These nutrient-rich foods contain powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from damage caused by inflammation. In addition, try to include more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. These healthy fats can be found in oily fish, nuts, and seeds. Omega-3s help to reduce inflammation by modulating the body’s immune response. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day. Dehydration can lead to increased inflammation levels.

This can be something that is adapted slowly over time. Be mindful that all of these things will have a massive impact on how your brain functions as you age. You’re going to notice it more as your estrogen levels continue to lower as you transition into menopause and beyond. 

There’s no time like the present to get started with this.

You don’t want to feel fearful you’re losing your mind literally or you’re on your way to a neurodegenerative condition. You will want to restore the connections you have with people in your life so you feel like you’re functioning properly again. So why not start now? 

Mentioned above are some quick tips. If you want the full, in-depth explanation of how chronic low-grade inflammation affects your body and what steps can help reduce it for good, connect with me! I’m a functional medicine practitioner working in the field of women’s health for many years. I have a passion for helping women understand how to help rebalance their hormones naturally as they get into their 40s and beyond. 

The only way to do this is to understand what’s going on in your body first and do the proper lab testing to see what systems of the body are out of balance. This will then direct us on what to do next. We will create a customized individualized specific plan for you to help get your balance back. 

As you can see, there are a lot of factors that play into how well your memory functions. Thankfully, most of these things are within your control. You can improve your memory by making healthy lifestyle choices like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating an anti-inflammatory diet. If you’re experiencing symptoms that seem to be impacting your memory function, it may be worth scheduling a discovery call with someone like me who can help you find the root cause of the issue. We hope this article was helpful and provided some valuable information about female sex hormones, inflammation, and memory. Thank you for reading!

Whether it’s related to memory, focus, or concentration problems that you’ve been experiencing as the hormone levels start lowering with age, I’ll be happy to talk about how I can help. Schedule a discovery call with me today. During this call, we can discuss your symptoms in more detail and come up with a plan tailored specifically for you.”

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DISCLAIMER:  The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional.

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