Please take 12 minutes to watch this excellent explanation of how the menopause affects women’s brains, and how you can take steps to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Lisa’s healthy diet information can be found via this link and you can read an excerpt below.
Having tried a few different diets in the last year to try and alleviate my menopause hot flushes (paleo and keto), in May I returned to eating a plant based diet, which includes eating my beloved chickpeas and flaxseeds daily, as well as good quality carbs, such as seasonally fresh fruit and sweet potatoes. I’m now ecstatically free of ALL menopause symptoms.
So if you are yearning to sleep through the night, and be free of hot flushes, please do watch the video, read about the 8 steps, and contact me if you need help to implement them.
Based on results from rigorous research in women, these 8 steps are designed to maximize the intake of nutrients to keep the female brain young and energized, while also supporting the microbiome, protecting the heart, and reducing menopause symptoms.
Although it’s best to optimize your diet for brain health well before you experience any cognitive decline, making these changes whenever you can will put you at an advantage. Regardless of your age, genetics or medical predispositions, your quality of life can be enhanced by these practices.
Step 1: Manage your carbs
Not all carbs are created equal. These are my three golden rules:
1. Vegetables and fruits are “carbs”, and vegetables should make up half of your plate at meals.
2. Whole grains are in; refined grains (in white flour, white pasta and white bread) are out.
3. Legumes and starches like sweet potatoes are also excellent sources of good carbs.
When most people think about “carbs”, they think of bread and potatoes. But fruit and vegetables are high in healthy carbs, as well as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that reduce inflammation and promote brain resilience.
Look for these veggies: dark leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard, kale) and cruciferous veg (broccoli, cauliflower). Studies show that people who consume 1-2 servings of leafy greens each day experience fewer memory problems and cognitive decline than people who rarely eat them1. Low to medium glycemic vegetables such as onions, beets, pumpkin and carrots are also good.
Some people avoid fruits due to sugar, but many fruits are supportive of memory and mental acuity thanks to high vitamin and antioxidant content. If you are concerned about sugar, choose low glycemic fruits like berries, apples, lemons, oranges, grapefruit and even watermelon.
As a woman, keeping yourself at your best also means falling in love with fiber. Fiber has balancing effects on estrogen levels and plays a vital role in stabilizing blood sugar and insulin. Besides, fiber-rich foods digest more slowly and are more filling.
There are two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble — and we need both. Soluble fiber comes from fruit, root vegetables, small leafy greens, most legumes, and pumpkin and squash. Insoluble fiber is found in large-leaf vegs (spinach, kale, chards); crunchy, leafy veg (radicchio, arugula) and cruciferous veg (broccoli, brussels sprouts). Sweet potatoes or yams (eaten with their skin), and whole grains (with their husks) also provide hydrating, filling fiber.
Current guidelines recommend roughly 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. I’m not in total agreement — I think women should consume more fiber, but you’ve got to start somewhere. To reach 25 grams, you could eat a 1/4 cup of steel-cut oats and three dried prunes for breakfast (7 grams of fiber), spinach and kale salad with half an avocado for lunch (9 grams), and minestrone soup for dinner (12 grams), and brava, you did it. And there’s still room for your protein of choice.
As a neuroscientist and nutritionist, I’m frequently asked if whole grains are bad for your brain. My answer is: Not really. The latest science shows no conclusive evidence that eating grains increases the risk of cognitive decline or dementia.
Step 2. Get to know the phytoestrogens
“Phytoestrogen” refers to estrogen from a plant, and phytoestrogen is usable in human bodies — but with a milder effect. The two major types are: isoflavones, found mostly in soy, and lignans, abundant in seeds, whole grains and legumes, along with many fruits and vegetables.
Soy, however, has become very controversial — it’s promoted as a superfood one minute and black-listed as a cancer-causing poison the next. Over the past decade, research has begun to clarify that isoflavones do not increase breast cancer risk in women. Although more investigation is needed, a cross-analysis of studies pooling 20,000 breast cancer patients indicated that isoflavones don’t increase the odds of breast tumor recurrence, and in some cases, can even reduce mortality.
It is safer to absorb isoflavones from foods, like soy, rather than from supplements. But not all soy is good. The Japanese almost exclusively consume soy that is organic and fermented (as in miso, tempeh and natto). I think that is the only type of soy worth eating.
If soy is not your thing, lignans can also help boost estrogen. They’re found in flaxseeds, sesame seeds, chickpeas, apricots, apples, yams and olive oil.
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