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Understand Your Hormones and Brain Health

By Pamela Wirth

The way we think, act, and function is all down to our cognitive functions, so it's no wonder brain health is so important. A study on "Public Perceptions of Brain Health" found that 96% value brain health as important in childhood as it is in old age. Compared to previous centuries, people now have longer lifespans, as we've properly learned to care for our cognitive functions. However, we may yet face the risk of mental diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s important to understand how your brain functions, so that you can learn how to keep your mind healthy.

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It’s through technologies that we’ve gained more insights into how mental and cognitive issues affect humans. Maryville University’s post on the future of psychiatry highlights how science has progressed in understanding the brain’s inner workings. Medical researchers analyze individuals’ DNA, look at brain scans, and analyze hormone signals to provide specialized treatment plans for each patient. These methods are also essential in bringing awareness to how both mental and physical health affect one another. In this case, science has advanced to provide a greater understanding about the influence the brain has over our physical processes, especially through the body’s hormones. If you want to learn more about your brain, here are some hormones that affect its health:

Cortisol


As the primary stress hormone, cortisol helps humans respond to stress by increasing the body’s rate in which it metabolizes glucose, reducing inflammation, and controlling blood pressure. A study on cortisol by the University of Westminster found that the hormone can either enhance or impair cognitive function. In healthy people, cortisol can be helpful in managing psychological functions, but long-term stress can have adverse effects on the hippocampus, a part of the brain essential for learning and memory. Ensuring that you take breaks and give yourself time to meditate can help you manage stress and in turn, your hormone levels.

Estrogen


Estrogen has many roles involved in the sexual and reproductive development in women, but it also has functions in maintaining brain health. The brain has many receptors for estradiol, a derivative of estrogen that usually binds to the brain to aid in learning, memory, and fine motor control. However, with older age comes a drop in estrogen levels due to menopause.

Many reports and studies have associated the detrimental neurological effects that come with menopause – particularly as menopausal women comprise over 60% of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease worldwide, as reported in a review article by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. To combat such neurodegenerative processes, many methods have been developed to delay memory loss and cognitive declines, such as menopause hormone therapy. The aforementioned study mentions how hormone therapy sessions are best maximized right at earlier ages (50-59 years old), which is right before or at the start of menopause.

Progesterone


Progesterone is a multifaceted hormone that is involved in pregnancy, regulation of the menstrual cycle, and helps improve brain function. As a neurosteroid, it influences mood and cognitive function, while promoting growth and regeneration of cells in the brain and the nervous system as well. Much like estrogen, progesterone levels shift with menopause and may result in a hormonal brain fog. There are ways to increase your progesterone levels, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise and taking supplements. As shared in Creations Magazine, Belly Great™ has ingredients such as prebiotics, probiotics, vitamin d3 and methylfolate that support proper cell division and neurologic health.

Hormones cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone play important roles in brain health, especially in improving and keeping cognitive function, memory, and even mood. The best way to keep your mind healthy is through a natural balance of these hormones.