Menopause Symptoms and Brain Health

We all know menopause changes your body. But did you know menopause can also affect brain health? Hormone changes caused by menopause can cause cognitive issues like memory loss, learning problems, and trouble concentrating. 

These changes may be so gradual that you might not notice them at first or so insignificant that you don’t pay them any attention. But is the brain fog you’ve been having really just a symptom of menopause, or something more serious?

Menopause Symptoms: An Overview

The National Institute on Aging defines menopause as a “point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period.” During the years leading up to that point, women may experience perimenopause, the life stage leading to menopause. 

Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause may include: 

  •     Hot flashes
  •     Night sweats
  •     Changes in monthly cycles
  •     Mood changes
  •     Vaginal health issues
  •     Changes in sleep patterns (add from article)

Changes in cognitive performance are another important yet often ignored symptom of menopause.

How Does Menopause Affect Cognitive Function?  

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Up to “two thirds” of menopausal women report having problems with memory, concentration, and executive function.

For a long time, we only had informal evidence of the cognitive difficulties menopausal women face. 

If you’ve been having trouble concentrating on your favorite book or struggling to remember words since beginning your menopause transition, it’s not just in your head. The fluctuating hormone levels in your brain could be the cause of concentration problems.

Is It Really Just Menopause?

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Fortunately, menopause-related brain fog is often mild and can disappear on its own with time, just like other unpleasant aspects of menopause, like hot flashes. For many women, this is a huge relief. It can be incredibly reassuring to know that there’s a reason you keep misplacing your phone or struggle to concentrate on your favorite book. 

But there’s just one problem—how do you know if your cognitive problems are really just menopause? 

The symptoms of menopause-related brain fog and other age-related cognitive disorders often overlap.

You might have been dismissing your brief lapses in memory as just another quirk of menopause when, in reality, they could be the start of early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Just because menopause can bring on cognitive problems, this doesn’t mean that your memory lapses are menopause-related. 

But how do you tell the difference? What should you look out for when it comes to lapses in your cognitive abilities?

Menopause Memory Problems vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

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Minor lapses in memory here and there happen to the best of us and are usually nothing to be concerned about. But if your cognitive problems are reaching the point they interfere with your daily quality of life, it might be time to talk to a doctor. 

Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include: 

  • Repeating questions over and over
  • Getting lost easily, even in a familiar area
  • Trouble following directions or accomplishing simple tasks
  • Difficulty remembering words, even for familiar objects
  • Problems with decision-making
  • Trouble handling money or remembering to pay bills on time
  • Significant changes in mood, personality, or behavior 

When in doubt, it’s always best to raise your concerns with your doctor rather than dismiss them as nothing. However, even if you don’t have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, there are times when menopause-related cognitive decline can linger rather than naturally fade.

How Can I Relieve Cognitive Symptoms Brought on by Menopause?

In general, living a healthy lifestyle can help you balance your hormones during menopause, alleviate cognitive symptoms. 

Nutrition

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Eat foods that promote brain health, such as whole fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and nuts. There are also foods high in estrogen sources that are worth looking into.

  • Look for foods with omega-3s, such as fish, which can boost brain power.
  • Include leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collards in your meals. These are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like folate and vitamin E.
  • Avoid eating sugar and processed foods, which can not only increase brain fog
  • Eat dairy products rich in calcium to help offset your risk of developing osteoporosis, which increases during menopause.
  • Consume foods that contain phytoestrogens—plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body—such as flaxseeds, soy, peaches, garlic.

Exercise

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Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain, and an oxygenated brain is a healthy brain.

Even a brisk walk down the block with your partner or pet can help you lift your mental fog. Exercise can also help ward off menopause-related weight gain.

Meditation

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Of course, you can also exercise your brain directly. Mindfulness exercises like meditation can increase your focus and help you concentrate on your important tasks more easily. You can even combine mindfulness with physical activities like yoga to get the best of both worlds!

Sleep

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Sleep and brain health go hand-in-hand. A lack of sleep can make you feel irritable and more forgetful than usual.

As noted earlier, shifts in sleep are common during menopause, so it’s essential to follow a regular sleep schedule and develop a bedtime routine. This may include reading a book, listening to soothing music, or taking a warm bath. Exercising and avoiding caffeine late in the day can also be helpful.

The Bottom Line

While menopause can leave you feeling foggy or out of sorts, you can take steps to alleviate your symptoms by investing in your health.

Keep an eye out for any cognitive problems that negatively impact your life, and contact your doctor if you feel that something is out of place. Whether you or someone you love is going through this transitionary period in life, remember to always be kind, patient, and understanding. 

To learn more about the personalized health program available at DP World’s Aviv Clinics Dubai and discover how we can help, contact the clinic.

Preserve Your Cognitive Health by Understanding the Risk Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease

We all experience lapses in memory now and then, especially as we age. For most of us, these minor cognitive issues are usually just annoyances.

It is forecasted that the UAE will see an increase of 1,795 per cent with people suffering from dementia by 2050, while other Gulf countries, such as Qatar and Bahrain, will also see a very high increase in dementia cases of 1,926 percent and 1,084 per cent, respectively.

But if your cognitive issues interfere with your daily life, they could be the beginning of something much more serious.

Read on to learn more about the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and how you can preserve your cognitive health.

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that impacts a person’s ability to think, reason, and remember.

As it progresses, Alzheimer’s can severely affect quality of life, eventually becoming completely debilitating. 

The most common type of Alzheimer’s disease is the late-onset form, when symptoms usually become more evident in [a person’s] 6th decade of life.”

The 10 Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease:

Alzheimers Disease

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, ten early warning signs of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease include:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

If you experience a cognitive problem that impacts your daily life, don’t ignore it.

Dementia is not a normal part of the aging process. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can take action against cognitive decline.

What Are Some Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease?

There’s still a lot we don’t know about how Alzheimer’s disease develops or why some people are at greater risk of developing it than others. It’s an active area of study, and researchers are discovering new things every day. 

The consensus among scientists is that a combination of age, sex, genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the greatest risk factors for Alzheimer’s: 

  • Prevalence studies demonstrated that dementia is indeed a prevalent condition in Arab countries, ranging between 1.1% and 2.3% among age groups of 50 years and older, as well as between 13.5% and 18.5% among age groups of 80 years and above. 
  • “There are more women with Alzheimer’s disease than men,” though this might be because women live longer than men. 
  • Exposure to environmental pollutants has been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Researchers note “half of individual differences in Alzheimer’s disease risk may be environmental.”
  • Studies discovered a “significantly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease with current smoking.” This risk factor offers another compelling reason to quit.

2 Protein Structures in the Brain Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists typically focus on two different protein structures in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease: Neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques. 

It’s not currently known whether the presence of these structures causes Alzheimer’s disease or if they’re simply byproducts of it. But both can impair cognitive function and can worsen as the disease progresses.

Neurofibrillary Tangles 

Neurofibrillary tangles are accumulations of a harmful protein called tau in the brain’s neurons. These tangles can inhibit the neurons’ ability to communicate, causing cognitive decline. Some studies reveal hypoxia is associated with neurofibrillary tangles.

Amyloid Plaques

Amyloid plaques are hard, insoluble clumps of beta-amyloid proteins that build up between neurons. Like neurofibrillary tangles, these plaques are toxic to brain cells and disrupt cell-to-cell communication. They can eventually result in cellular death, harming cognitive abilities even further.

New imaging technologies can reveal the presence of both protein structures, so your doctor can alert you to the presence of Alzheimer’s disease or if you’re at risk for developing it.

Is Alzheimer’s Genetic?

Both early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease have a genetic component, meaning if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, you carry a greater risk factor for developing the disease compared to someone who doesn’t have that history.

The risk factor is greater if an immediate family member suffers from the disease, such as a parent or sibling. 

Genetics are almost always the primary contributing factor of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which can “affect people in their 30s or 40s.” 

Gene Mutations

Researchers have yet to identify any specific genes responsible for the development of late-onset Alzheimer’s.

However, certain mutations of the  APOE gene, which are found in chromosome 19, “[remain] the strongest, genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.”

For example, the specific gene mutation APOE ε4 is linked to higher levels of amyloid plaques and is often found in people with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Your doctor may order genetic testing if you have a family history of cognitive problems or early-onset dementia. 

Remember, this doesn’t mean you’re destined to develop Alzheimer’s if a parent or sibling has had it. Some people who possess the APOE ε4 gene never develop Alzheimer’s disease, and some people with Alzheimer’s don’t have any gene mutations at all. 

Genetics is just one of many Alzheimer’s risk factors — we still need more research to get the complete picture of what the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is.

 

How Can I Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy

A specific hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) protocol shows promise as a potential preventative measure for biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease.

HBOT is a therapy that involves breathing 100% oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure.

  • Recent research illustrates a unique HBOT protocol can shrink existing amyloid plaques in the brain and even prevent new ones from forming altogether (in animal models): Repeated sessions of HBOT showed “reduced hypoxia and neuroinflammation, reduction in beta-amyloid (Aβ) plaques and phosphorylated tau, and improvement in behavioral tasks.”
  • Another study revealed HBOT improved memory recall in people who exhibited mild cognitive impairment:  “HBOT should be considered as a therapeutic approach to slow the progression or even improve the pathophysiology responsible for [Alzheimer’s] disease.”

These studies offer hope that HBOT may become a viable treatment method for preventing cognitive decline.

A treatment based on this protocol is now available only at Aviv Clinics Dubai brought to you by DP World>>

Lifestyle Habits to Safeguard Cognitive Health

While none of us can change our genetic makeup, we can change our lifestyle. Healthy habits can help lower your risk factor for nearly any disease, not just cognitive-related conditions. Lowering inflammation levels in your body can also help lower inflammation in the brain. Some of the things you can do to preserve your cognitive health include:

  • Eating a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure
  • Keeping your mind active
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation
  • Avoiding excess alcohol
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Getting plenty of restful sleep
  • Taking care of your mental health
  • Reducing stress

The Aviv Medical Program’s Fight Against Cognitive Decline

The Aviv Medical Program was founded on the unique Hyperbaric Oxygen protocol discussed in earlier research studies.

This protocol involves fluctuating oxygen levels during the HBOT sessions. Oxygen level variations trigger the body’s self-healing process

Cognitive Performance and Aging Program

The Aviv Medical Program offers a comprehensive cognitive performance and aging program. Our treatments are rooted in research and lean on a holistic and personalized approach. 

Depending on your symptoms, needs, and goals, the program can include the following: 

  • In-depth medical history review
  • Comprehensive physical and neurological exam
  • Physical therapy evaluation
  • Highly advanced brain imaging scans
  • Neurocognitive tests

During the treatment, the program can include a combination of the following:

  • Unique hyperbaric oxygen therapy session
  • Cognitive training
  • Physical training
  • Dietary coaching

Carl & Vickie Eckert Praise Their Improved Cognitive Performance as “Remarkable” – Watch their story:

Married couple Carl and Vickie both had parents with dementia and cognitive decline. They soon realized they were experiencing the same cognitive issues that manifested in their parents. 

The couple’s quality of life was not where it should have been, so they took action with the Aviv Medical Program. They call their experience with Aviv Clinics and improved cognitive performance “remarkable.” 

“This is a very viable option…knowing that I was going to have such a complete assessment only for me and my issues was just remarkable. I’m dancing, I’m hiking, I’m running again. It’s just remarkable. I don’t know how else to say it.” Vickie Eckert, former Aviv client

Lower Your Risk with Aviv Clinics Dubai

While we still have a lot to learn about the risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, anyone can lower their likelihood by taking charge of their lifestyle. 

Preserving your cognitive health starts with the choices you make every day. Partnering with Aviv Clinics Dubai brought to you by DP Worlds is just one of them. 

Contact our medical team to learn how we can help you.

The Effect of Coffee on Brain Health

Pour-over, solo, drip, French-pressed – however you enjoy your coffee, it may be doing more for you than just getting you going in the morning. Drinking coffee may also protect you from a variety of health conditions, so long as it is consumed in moderation.

For decades, coffee had a poor reputation because of early studies that deemed it a carcinogen and linked it to an increased risk for heart disease. Recent research now suggests that drinking coffee, including decaffeinated coffee, may actually provide a variety of health benefits when consumed in moderation.

The Benefits of Coffee on Brain Health

Some of coffee’s health benefits are commonly known, including that it boosts metabolism and increases energy levels. Lesser known, but perhaps more important benefits of coffee are that it also:

Beyond brain health, moderate consumption of coffee also helps reduce the risk of some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Coffee’s Key Ingredients 

Caffeine is just one of about 1,000 chemicals found in coffee beans, but is the best known. A stimulant, caffeine delivers a boost of energy and helps provide focus. It locks into the adenosine receptors in the brain, which cause drowsiness, and counteracts the sleepiness response by blocking the function of the receptors. Instead of feeling drowsy, caffeine stimulates the brain’s production of norepinephrine and dopamine, which is what leads to increased focus and alertness.

In addition to caffeine, coffee also contains beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants, which fight inflammation and protect against some diseases.

Polyphenols are organic compounds found in the coffee plant. They contain anti-inflammatory properties that have the potential to prevent or reduce the risk of certain cancers and other chronic health conditions. Some polyphenols may also protect against neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. Consuming polyphenols also may help regulate metabolism, weight, and cell production.

Other beneficial components in coffee include vitamin B2 (riboflavin); vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid); vitamin B1 (thiamine); vitamin B3 (niacin); folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium; and phosphorus.

Coffee beans also are enriched so that when they are ground, blended, and consumed, provide some pre- and probiotic properties for good gut health.

Effect of Coffee on Brain

The Cons of Drinking Coffee

While coffee has many health benefits, it can also have some negative effects. For example, it can:

  • Disrupt sleep
  • Cause anxiety and jitteriness
  • Lead to an addiction to caffeine
  • Cause withdrawal symptoms (headache, fatigue, brain fog, and irritability) when abstaining
  • Increase feelings of anxiety and agitation in those with anxiety disorders

Moderating consumption is key to enjoying its benefits.

How Much Coffee Should You Drink? 

As with most foods, coffee is a healthy beverage when consumed in moderation. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than five cups a day or on average 400 mg of caffeine. Another reason for moderate consumption is because too much, especially after mid-day, could interfere with getting a good night’s sleep and may create feelings of anxiety.

Optimizing the Benefits of Coffee 

While coffee has many health benefits, adding refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and/or creamers add calories and create an unhealthy beverage.

“The extra calories, sugar, and saturated fat in a coffee house beverage loaded with whipped cream and flavored syrup might offset any health benefits found in a basic black coffee.” – Harvard School of Public Health

Effect of Coffee on the Brain - brewing coffee

How you brew your coffee also affects the health benefits it imparts.

For example, using a paper filter or checking coffee pods for built-in filters helps prevent the passage of unhealthy chemicals present in coffee as it filters. Some of these chemicals can raise levels of LDL, or the “bad” cholesterol.

The Bottom Line 

Coffee has many health benefits, when drunk in moderation. Using high quality beans, brewing it with a paper filter, and limiting additions such as refined sugars and creamers, can optimize the impact of coffee on your brain health.

Aviv Clinics Dubai – brought to you by DP World  delivers a highly effective, science-based treatment protocol to enhance overall brain performance, extend healthspan, and improve the cognitive and physical symptoms of conditions such as mild cognitive decline, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease. The Aviv Medical Program’s intensive treatment protocol uses hyperbaric oxygen therapy and includes nutrition management and dietitian support to optimize your diet for better brain health. Based on over a decade of research and development, the Aviv Medical Program is comprehensive and customized to your needs.

Contact us to learn more.