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Food and Your Memory in Menopause

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Food and Your Memory in Menopause

Can you change how well your brain works during menopause by what you eat?  One study says yes – at least a little.

African Americans, white, Chinese and Japanese women were followed during menopause and their diet was recorded as well as tests of their brain function called cognitive testing.

In this report, the researchers reported how much phytoestrogen (plant estrogens) the women ate. Phytoestrogens include isoflavones (in foods like soy) coumestrol (found in soy, legumes, brussels sprouts and spinach) and lignans (found in flaxseeds and sesame seeds, wheat, rye, oats, barley and some fruits like apricots).

The researchers did cognitive testing which is a way of telling how well the person’s brain is working. Here is what they found.

Asian women consumed 10 to 25 times as much coumestrol and isoflavone as the non-Asian women. The Asian women who ate more isoflavones could process information faster. The same was true for the non-Asians who ate the highest levels of isoflavones.

But during that same time, the high isoflavone eaters performed worse on verbal memory.

In late perimenopause, the women who ate the most lignans did better in verbal memory.

Coumestrol had no affect on cognitive performance.

To me these results are encouraging. They suggest that the food we eat can have an impact on our brains and how well we think and recall. It is still early in stages of good science to evaluate, as Hippocrates said, food as medicine and medicine as food. But we are getting there.

For the meantime, isoflavones appear a good food to incorporate in the diet of women in perimenopause and menopause and eating whole foods and avoiding fast food is a great prescription for health till we find out more details.

Click here for my book The Soy Solution for Menopause and get lots of information from science to recipes. Click here for my book, Eat to Defeat Menopause for lots of great recipes and health info.

Dr. Mache Seibel, Founder of My Menopause Magazine
Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Founder My Menopause Magazine

PS: Find more information of this type in My Menopause Magazine, available for the iPad in the Apple Newsstand.

“It’s better to stay well than to get well!”  Mache Seibel, MD.

Dr. Machelle (Mache) Seibel is America’s health expert, addressing the critical needs of consumers from stress and weight control to menopause and beyond. He served on the Harvard Medical School faculty for almost 20 years and is a pioneer in many areas of women’s health and more. He works with companies and organizations to bring exciting educational content to consumers. His professional experiences include:

– Host for PBS and NBC TV episodes, frequent media expert;

– Repeatedly voted into Best Doctors in America;

– Past Editor-in-Chief of the medical journal Sexuality, Reproduction & Menopause;

– Distinguished Alumnus Award, the University of Texas Medical Branch’s highest honor 2008;

– Multiple national awards for research, writing, music writing and patient education;

– Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School 2004-present;

– Director, Complicated Menopause Program, University of Massachusetts Medical School 2004-2011;

– Founder of HealthRock®, reshaping health education with health songs and entertainment;

– Past Medical Director, Inverness Medical Innovations (now Alere);

– Corporate Consultant and Corporate Health Expert Nationally and Internationally;

– Author/editor 14 books, over 200 scientific articles;

– American Cancer Society New England Division Medical Advisory Network;

– Advisory board of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s HealthCorps initiative to fight childhood obesity; and

– Nationally known guest speaker, key note speaker.

Visit his award-winning website and sign up for his free monthly newsletter.

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