As menopause happens estrogen levels fall, and the body reacts to that in different ways. Hot flashes, night sweats, and brain fog are so common it is almost like we just accept the symptoms without wondering why they occur. We suffer and think it’s normal. But why is it that lower estrogen levels necessarily provoke hot flashes and night sweats? And why do we become forgetful all of a sudden?
Well, the very short version is, from what I can gather, brain fog and overheating comes from energy shortage of the brain. With lower estrogen levels, less glucose (energy) enters the brain, and we react as a way to protect our precious headquarter. We are all different, so we react to the lower estrogen levels differently from each other and also over time. As other situations can also impact the brain’s ability to function, we can sometimes get completely overwhelmed by the strength of the symptoms.
No need to suffer in silence
So, what can we do? Hormone Replacement Therapy is one thing. It works because it mimics the body’s own estrogen and as such help with the transport of glucose and once again the brain is fueled properly. Another way is to try and up the levels of estrogen by eating foods that are naturally rich in substances that are similar to estrogen, phytoestrogen (mimics estrogen when processed in the body). Such foods are for example products made out of soy beans, flax seed, beans, sesame seeds, dried fruits, nuts, bran, alfalfa sprouts, chick peas and olive and olive oils.
That makes sense then that many testify to the notion that they feel a lot better and experience fewer symptoms of menopause when they eat a plant based diet.
Nature taking its course
If, however, we don’t wish to raise the estrogen levels but wish nature to take its course, or we just don’t like vegetables all that much we can by pass the problem with falling estrogen level and brain fuel altogether by going keto. On a ketogenic diet (very low carb) the brain is fueled by ketones, and just a minor part comes from glucose. In that case, it doesn’t matter that the estrogen level is low, the brain gets what it needs anyway. Not only does it get what it needs; it thrives.
In my book “Sailing through Menopause” I give an introduction to the ketogenic way of dealing with menopause. I present research and examples on how it works and why brain health is so important as we go through menopause and get older (the same goes for men). At least for me, it is a digital process. If my brain is properly fueled by enough ketones I have no symptoms at all of menopause, my brain is sharp, my memory is good, I have lots of energy, I sleep well, my mood is level, etc., I am like I have pretty much always been. But if I stray and don’t eat for ketones my hot flashes, anxiety attacks, and night sweats return almost immediately.
Lots more research is needed
An extra bonus is that if the brain experiences an energy shortage which isn’t estrogen related, the ketones might help with that as well. Research shows for example that the aging brain in general, both in men and women, have a harder time processing glucose for energy.
I find it fascinating that there might be a real reason behind the symptoms, the body’s self-defense system kicks off to protect the brain. Not a lot of resources are being spent on menopause research, so there isn’t a lot of evidence yet but what little there is, is very interesting. And personally, I don’t have time to wait until there is compelling evidence.
I am not a medically trained professional. If you suffer from any medical conditions consult with your physician before making any changes to your lifestyle.