I am a thinker. Thinking is as much an activity to me as running. I can spend days alone thinking about things. My ability to think depends heavily on my memory. But a few years ago, I noticed that I was forgetting simple things. What did I have for lunch today? I dunno. Did we go to that restaurant for your birthday or our anniversary? Neither. Do you know where my sunglasses are? On your head. My memory just wasn’t as sharp as it used to be and it bothered me. So, instead of taking others’ advice to just “fugheddaboudit,” I wondered if there might be somethin’ I could doaboudit.
Oh, but to make maters worse, in a memorable parent-child moment, one of my kids said to me, “You don’t really forget things, you’re just saying that.” I cleverly replied, “No, I actually do forget and you ought to be glad.” I thought that forgetting things might be a blessing bestowed on parents who were suffering through the teenage years. Witty comebacks aside, the truth bothered me. It was time to deal.
Thinkers research before they act. I began with the only thing I thought I could immediately control: my nutrition. Kale? Tried it and actually threw up…four times. Ginkgo Baloba. Sounded like a board game. Beans? I’ll pass, thank you. While I did find foods that I love (like avocados, almonds, and whole grain pasta) the amount in which I liked to eat them made them slightly prohibitive. I was already exercising hard (lifting and running) five-six days a week so upping that was out. There had to be a better way. There was.
In walks bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) to my rescue. Before my research, I thought “testosterone” therapy was just for men and it simply increased libido and addressed erectile dysfunction. Wrong about that one. Women need testosterone, too. I also needed DIM, and compounded progesterone. Once I knew more about BHRT, I didn’t have to give it a second thought. I was in my doctor’s office lying on my side, buns up ready to “get pelleted.”
Within a few days after getting my hormones, I began remembering things. I seemed to develop an uncanny ability to remember the names of people I had met in passing. I noticed the change and so did everyone else, including my daughter who declared, “My mom remembers everyone.” (#ParentingSuccess)
How did optimizing my hormones really help my memory? Here is my over-simplified explanation of my understanding of it. Hormone optimization improves blood flow and reduces inflammation in our cells. Testosterone and estrogen increase blood flow. They dilate blood vessels that allow more oxygen to reach the brain. With oxygen, brain cells function better which help improve memory. Cells that are not inflamed function more appropriately. Estrogen production decreases as we age and doesn’t control cortisol levels (stress hormone) like it once did. This makes our neurotransmitters malfunction and change the structure of brain cells where we store memory. Hormone optimization helps reinforce the connections in the brain that are related to memory.
An important component to a better memory is adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation affects the body’s hormone production (e.g., less sleep can increase cortisol levels and cause us to get even less sleep which increases our cortisol levels… you get it). Hormone optimization increases the ability to sleep better and restores our hormone production levels without our suffering the latent effects of some prescription sleep aids.
You know, I may not be as sharp as I used to be but I think I’m doing just fine. Recently, I took a formal psychology assessment on memory and scored in the 99th percentile.
What do you think about that?