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How lucky are we to live in a time when the medical profession is finally - finally! - doing more research on menopause? Even as late as last year, according to theconversation.com “many medical professionals lack adequate education on menopause, leaving them ill-prepared to guide women through this transitional, important phase.”

I recently listened to a great interview on the Rich Roll podcast with Italian American neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Mosconi, author of the new book The Menopause Brain. She was shocked to discover that women outnumber men 2:1 in the Alzheimer’s population. As there’d been no research into why, she decided to get on it, discovering that menopause affects far more than fertility, with much of what’s going on having a huge impact on our brain health.

“The ebb in estrogen causes the loss of a key neuroprotective element in the female brain,” says Dr. Mosconi, “with an aggressively higher vulnerability to brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease.”

The good news? You’re already combatting many of the negative effects of that loss of estrogen by coming to Jazzercise class regularly.

“We know, for instance,” says Dr. Mosconi, “aerobic exercise is really good for cognitive health, stimulating so many different parts of your brain in different ways.”

Phew. Also? Studies show that women who exercise regularly have 50% fewer hot flashes than those who are sedentary. And? Other studies that followed women for up to 40 years found that those who had a cardiovascular style of exercise had a 30% lower risk of dementia.

Add some strength training to that - which, as you know, we do! - and you’re more inclined to have a better outlook on life, less anxiety and a more resilient metabolism. That is certainly good to know because, while our metabolism tends to be stable between the ages of 20-60, it declines after age 60.

The trick is intentionality, with lifestyle and diet. In a CTV news article on the connection between menopause and weight gain, Dr. Monica Christmas offers up five great tips:

1) She quotes American author and journalist Michael Pollan on what to eat and how: “Eat real food, not too much, and mostly plants.” Meals built on the Mediterranean diet are key here - vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains, with moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs. Treat red meat as a treat. Haha. Says Dr. Mosconi, “Of all the organs in our body, the brain is the one most easily damaged by a poor diet.”

2) “Make physical activity a way of life,” says Dr. Christmas, throwing our beloved “Jazzercise” in there as an option, along with biking, hiking and tennis. “Find something you like, take a friend and go often.” Yay! Already doing it!

3) Limit or avoid alcohol.

4) Lullaby and good night. Prioritize sleep! Dr. Mosconi points out that the poor brain has to be on high alert at all times, always working, never getting a break, until we sleep.

5) Practice self-care and self-love. Says Dr. Christmas, “For some - not all - the menopause transition can be frightening. Making time to do things that bring us joy and peace are important to overall well-being.”