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Why Brain Fog Happens And How To Beat It

Lots of women experience brain fog during the menopause. It’s reassuring to know we’re not alone but we could all do without it! Here registered nutritionist and menopause expert Karen Newby explains what’s going on and how to get on top of it.

Why can’t I remember what I came in here for? So many of us suffer from forgetfulness and an inability to process information during the perimenopause and beyond. Often clients have an extremely foggy head all day and then suddenly get clarity of thought at the day’s end and start doing all their admin.

Why Is This Happening To Me?

Many of my clients worry that they are getting Alzheimer’s, especially if they have a parent who has the condition. Alzheimer’s is more common in women than in men, which is why research points to oestrogen being involved; however, Alzheimer’s is also called ‘diabetes of the brain’ because sugar has a big role to play (research shows that if you have diabetes you have a 56 per cent greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s). This brain fog is likely due to dips in oestrogen – because oestrogen is neuroprotective.  Oestrogen also helps to modulate neural pathways that are involved with cognitive tasks. Imbalances have far-reaching effects on our cognitive function. This is where phytoestrogens can help, which have been shown in studies to improve memory.  According to research, this menopause blip doesn’t affect our ability for lifelong learning and cognitive ageing might indeed be malleable.  So all is not lost! I must also add that stress, gut dysbiosis, dehydration and poor diet all have their role to play.

Other factors that can exacerbate the situation include sluggish circulation. The brain cells account for 25 per cent of the body’s total oxygen consumption! The brain also dislikes toxins or sugar imbalances. Foggy head can be exacerbated by out-of-balance gut bacteria, especially if you suffer from recurrent thrush. Sleep is the main time in our twenty-four-hour clock when the brain gets a good detox.

The good news is the right foods can help you get on top of your symptoms. Here’s how.

Therapeutic Foods

  • Our brains are made up of 60 per cent fat, so eat oily fish at least two or three times a week. Opt for small fish such as mackerel, trout or salmon to minimize mercury. Plus nuts, seeds and linseed/flaxseed oil.
  • Increase phytoestrogens to help balance oestrogenic neural pathways: soya (tofu, tempeh, miso, natto, edamame beans), chickpeas, lentils, peas, ground linseed/flaxseed, sesame seeds, cashews, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, cherries, garlic, apples, apricots, soybean sprouts, alfalfa, split peas, pinto beans and red clover.
  • Phosphatidylcholine is good for the memory neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and phosphatidylserine helps brain-cell communication. Both are found in egg yolk, tofu, oily fish, beef, sardines and fatty cheese.
  • Phenylalanine converts to tyrosine for alertness, attention and focus: eat pumpkin seeds, Parmesan, soya beans, lean beef, chicken, salmon, mackerel, cod, eggs, pinto beans.
  • B vitamins…or memory vitamins: found in eggs, cereals, brown rice, fish, chicken, asparagus and dark green vegetables.
  • Amino acids, especially tryptophan and glutamine, which is the precursor of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter: all these are found in lean meat, poultry, nuts, seeds and avocado.
  • L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea (opt for decaf) that is traditionally used to enhance relaxation and improve concentration.
  • Vitamin C is a needed for good circulation and is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the free radicals that can damage brain cells. Plus vitamin C supports brain health as we age: get it in citrus fruits, parsley, and greens.
  • Antioxidants such as flavonoids to protect the brain: from artichokes, basil, berries, celery, citrus fruits, parsley and turmeric. Feed your second brain – the gut. Aim for thirty-plus unique plants per week!
  • Eat rosemary for remembrance (memory!).

Small Shifts

  • Feed your brain with freshly made juices and smoothies.
  • The brain finds it hard to deal with too much sugar.
  • Be wary of how gluten affects your concentration. We are all individual, but gluten and dairy can have an opioid-like effect on the brain.

Lifestyle Hacks

  • Keep hydrated – dehydration is linked to drops in memory and concentration
  • Exercise to help circulation and blood flow to the brain – especially inverted yoga postures.
  • Try brain games: ‘use it or lose it!’
  • Sleep is essential to clean out the brain.

Supplements To Consider 

  • Life & Soul Mini Capsules, Bare Biology
  • Everyday Plus, Cytoplan Acidophilus.
  • Saccharomyces Boulardii, Allergy Research Group (if candida is suspected)
  • Vitamin C Complex, Bionutri
  • Menopause Multinutrient, BioCare
  • Chlorella, SunChlorella

Cautionary supplement advice

If you are taking HRT or birth-control medication, or are on any other medication or under medical supervision, consult your healthcare practitioner before taking any food supplement. Please note that the supplement section is merely a selection of suggestions that might help a particular symptom – not all of them are to be taken at once. Do get in touch with a nutritional therapist registered with the British Association for Nutritional and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) for a tailored protocol, taking into account your unique health needs:


For more brilliant advice from Karen about how to boost your wellbeing check out this video. To find out more about how supplements can support your mental wellbeing  such as lifting your mood head here.

Extracted from The Natural Menopause Method by Karen Newby, published by Pavilion. For more information visit


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