Today’s show is the second part of my conversation on protecting our brains with special guest Dr. Lisa Mosconi!
In my previous episode with Lisa, we talked about how while there is no such thing as a gendered brain, there are differences in the brain health risks for men and women. In today’s episode, Lisa is going to help us understand how we can mitigate these risks and start protecting our brains and boosting our brainpower—by using strategies that can be applied by anyone, no matter their gender.
An international researcher in Alzheimer’s prevention, author of the incredible new book The XX Brain, and a nutrition expert and neuroscientist, today’s guest Lisa Mosconi has years of invaluable nutrition and neuroscience knowledge from a career spent working to prevent brain deterioration.
In this episode, Lisa will take us through some extra steps we can take to protect our brains and boost our brain health, while explaining the differences between female and male brains, including differences in health risks. Lisa will tell us why we need to talk more about women’s brain health, and why we should treat our brains like our best friend.
- Women sleep worse than men overall. Women have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep.
- This is problematic because disrupted sleep is associated with a variety of health issues, and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life.
- Sleep is your brain’s chance to clear itself of toxins and other waste products, so if your sleep is impaired, your brain doesn’t get a chance to take care of itself. Over time, this leads to inflammation, oxidation, and accelerated aging.
- Stress is a major cause of all diseases and is an issue for both men and women.
- Female brains can be affected more by stress. Brain scan studies have shown that stress can increase brain shrinkage before the age of 50, but this was true only for women (not men).
- In female bodies, the stress hormone cortisol works in tandem with estrogen, so when cortisol levels go up, estrogen levels go down.
- If the body is constantly in stress, this hormone process is affected. The body will “steal” the precursor to both hormones and shift your body towards making more cortisol. When this state becomes chronic, it can starve your body of hormones that are essential to vitality and good health.
HOW TO MANAGE STRESS
- Meditation is scientifically proven to work to alleviate stress. It can lower cortisol levels and normalize brain waves, and acts as a natural antidepressant.
LISA’S ACRONYM FOR BRAIN HEALTH: MENSSANA
- Avoiding Toxins
- Endocrine disruptors are in many of the chemicals that surround us.
- Xenoestrogens mimic the actions of estrogens inside the body, but have a disrupting effect. They are especially damaging to children and women, especially pregnant women.
- You can avoid xenoestrogens by avoiding plastics. Try to stop using them for both the environment and your health.
- Most plastics contain compounds that leak into your food and beverages, especially when the plastics are heated, yet we use them all the time e.g. ready to serve foods in plastic, styrofoam containers, hot takeout foods in plastic, plastic water bottles.
- Food is a major source of pollution. Much of our food is not organic, and produce has been sprayed with pesticides, which are known to affect the body and brain.
- You can protect your brain through socialization and ensuring you feel supported.
- Women tend to give a lot of support and not get as much back, e.g. when caregiving for a family member. Caregiving can be overwhelming, and lead to isolation and stress.
- It is important for women who are providing care to acknowledge that they are not superhuman, and need help.
- We usually talk about heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, but there are so many conditions that can affect your brain health.
- For women, depression seems to be a major medical factor that can increase risk of cognitive decline and dementia in later life. This is especially true of depression in midlife.
- The root causes of depressive syndrome can vary, and it is important for you to gain an understanding of why you are experiencing symptoms. It might be genetic, situational, and for many women, it is hormonal.
- Once you understand the root causes, treatment for depression should be differentiated based on the root causes of your symptoms.
- Menopause can lead to mood swings and the symptoms of depression for some women, especially if the transition to menopause has been sudden or difficult. Remember that becoming menopausal can be a very gradual process that takes between 2-10 years for some women.
- Thyroid disease can lead to brain fog and dementia-like symptoms addressable by appropriate medical care.
- Addressing our hormones is also important for protecting our brains. Lisa’s new book, The XX Brain, explains hormonal therapy for women, and what we do and don’t know about the effects of the process on our health.
- It is up to women to make their brains part of their daily thoughts. Treat your brain like your best friend.
SHARE WITH US
- Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@jimkwik & @dr_mosconi) and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us!
- Let us know which of the pillars you are doing well with, and which one you might need to pay a little more attention to.
- Check out Lisa’s book, The XX Brain!
*Please note, this episode is educational only and is not intended to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.*
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