Ugh! Looking like my grandmother, Vanessa Ford thought to herself as her cheeks turned red as she struggled to remember a co-worker’s name during an important meeting. I’m too young to have these memory problems. What is wrong with me? The 44-year-old was worried, trying to hide her embarrassment and fear.
“Ten years ago, near my 40th birthday, I started noticing problems with my cognitive abilities. My brain was feeling cloudy and I had trouble finding the right words,” Vanessa recalls. “Over the next few years, the fuzziness worsened to the point where I often forgot why I was in a room, or who I wanted to text or what I was going to say. My short-term memory was also choppy, and it became so intense when I was 44 that I wondered if You have aphasia [the loss of the ability to express or understand language]dementia or even Alzheimer’s disease.
“But it wasn’t just the brain fog that worried me. I was also dealing with inexplicable tiredness which was much worse than the occasional feeling that I could take a nap because I didn’t sleep well, as we all feel from time to time. I was so tired that I was I struggle with drudgery during my day, not only battling brain fog and memory problems but barely able to muster the energy to move in. Some days I had to give myself a pep talk to gather energy to get out of the car and walk to the grocery store, because I felt like I was going to collapse from exhaustion Dropping several cups of coffee was the only way to avoid falling asleep in the middle of my work day, because I was getting two to four hours of terrible sleep every night. I even had a coffee maker at my desk to help me get through the day. I always laughed at the comments made. Co-workers have told me about how much coffee I drink, but I was ashamed on the inside because I needed caffeine to get through the day.
“Then, about four years ago, I had a period that lasted for three weeks, which was completely out of the ordinary for me. It was full, soaking the tampon every two hours, every day for 21 days. Due to a family history of cancer, about 2 1⁄2 Weeks later, I called my doctor in a panic and told her I thought I needed to come in for the tests.
“By the time I saw the doctor, my period had stopped and she thought I was overreacting, but she suggested taking tests anyway to make sure there wasn’t a serious problem. Then she said, ‘It’s probably just menopause.'”
“I had never heard the word perimenopause before, and while thrilled she didn’t think I had cancer, I was disappointed that she didn’t have any suggestions for relieving my symptoms. She sent me home with resources, and as I did my own research, I began to connect the dots that were Trouble sleeping, tiredness, and cognitive issues I’ve had since I turned 40 due to low estrogen levels.
“I was relieved that I did not have dementia, but was saddened to learn that vagueness could become a part of my daily life. I told myself there had to be a way to feel better.
“So I selected research options to increase estrogen levels. I learned that phytoestrogens and some strains of probiotics can help manage estrogen production. Plant estrogens are plant compounds that act like estrogen in the body, and they kind of fill in the gaps when there isn’t enough Estrogen.
“I read how probiotic strains like Lactobacillus gasseri and Bifidobacterium animalis help the body break down estrogen, which basically means that your gut recycles the estrogen, rather than passing it in waste or storing it in fat cells, so you can utilize the same estrogen again. This helps greatly with brain fog and other memory problems related to estrogen and with a host of menopausal symptoms, including anxiety, weight gain, fatigue and hot flashes!
Excited to find a possible solution, the next day I tried a probiotic supplement with these strains, plus Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus reuteri (one to try: MenoFit, buy from MenoLabs.com, $49.99), and started taking a probiotic and phytoestrogen every morning. Within a few weeks, the fog began to rise.
I was thinking clearer and fighting less to find the right word. Six weeks later, I slept peacefully for five to six hours at night. After about three months, I was amazed. My energy, focus and memory were normal!
“Today, at 49, my short-term memory and language skills are much better than they were five years ago. I credit probiotics with getting me back into my life. Without them, I would still be fighting these symptoms, and instead, I feel better than I am at Fifty years old than I was at forty!”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, first for women.
We write about products we think our readers will love. If you buy it, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.