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How To Upgrade Your Brain At Midlife To Thrive

Do you feel like your brain has been on a downhill spiral since you turned 40? You're not alone. The mid-life crisis is real, and it's affecting more women than ever before.

But there's hope! In this episode of The Hormone Prescription Podcast, we chat with Dr. Louann Brizendine about how to upgrade your brain at midlife and thrive.

Dr. Brizendine is a leading expert on the female brain, and she shares her insights on what's going on inside our heads during this time of transition. She also gives us practical tips on how to improve our cognitive function and protect our mental health as we age.

Louann Brizendine, M.D. completed her degree in Neurobiology at UC Berkeley, graduated from Yale School of Medicine, and did her internship and residency at Harvard Medical School. She has also served on both the faculties of Harvard University and University of California at San Francisco. She founded the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic at UCSF. Her New York Times bestseller, The Female Brain, and its follow-up, The Male Brain, continue to be read around the world. Her eagerly anticipated book, THE UPGRADE: How the Female Brain Gets Stronger and Better in Midlife and Beyond, is out in April 2022. Now, as the Lynne and Marc Benioff endowed professor of clinical psychiatry at UCSF, Dr. Brizendine continues to speak, write, research, and consult.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • What's going on inside our brains during the mid-life transition

  • How to improve your cognitive function as you age

  • Tips for protecting your mental health in midlife and beyond

  • The latest research on the female brain and how it changes in midlife

  • And more!

If you're ready to learn how to upgrade your brain in midlife and thrive, this episode is for you!

(00:00): In this episode, find out why the upgrade previously known as the transition is the gateway to the best years of your life.

(00:09): So the big question is how do women over 40, like us keep weight off, have great energy balance. Our hormones in our moods feel sexy and confident and master midlife. If you're like most of us, you are not getting the answers you need and remain confused and pretty hopeless to ever feel like yourself. Again. As an OB GYN, I had to discover for myself the truth about what creates a rock, solid metabolism, lasting weight loss, and supercharged energy. After 40 in order to lose a hundred pounds and fix my fatigue. Now I'm on a mission. This podcast is designed to share the natural tools you need for impactful results. And to give you clarity on the answers to your midlife metabolism challenges, join me for tangible natural strategies to crush the hormone imbalances you are facing and help you get unstuck from the sidelines of life. My name is Dr. Kyrin Dunston welcome to the hormone prescription podcast.

(01:03): Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the hormone prescription with Dr. Kyrin. Thank you for joining me today. You're gonna love my guest today. Dr. Louann Brizendine, I'm gonna tell you a little bit about her and then we'll get started. But first let me say, she's talking about the upgrade. What is the upgrade for women? Well, it used to be called the transition, which meant all kinds of bad things, bad outcomes, things you don't want for women, but she is reframing this time of life as being the upgrade. And I love that because it's really true. You are getting an upgrade, not a downgrade, despite what you might have been told or you've been led to believe. And she's gonna tell you how to maximize that so that this can be the best time of your life. Dr. Louann has some amazing credentials. She completed her degree in neurobiology at UC Berkeley.

(01:57): She graduated from Yale school of medicine and she did her internship in residency at Harvard medical school. You can't get much better credentials than that. She served on the faculty at Harvard and university, the E of California at San Francisco. She founded the women's mood and hormone clinic at USCF. Her New York times bestseller the female brain and its follow up. The male brain continued to be read around the world. Her eagerly anticipated book, the upgrade, how the female brain gets stronger and better and midlife and beyond is now out and available. She is the Lynn and mark Benioff and do professor of clinical psychiatry at UC S F. She continues to speak right research and consult. Please help me to welcome the brilliant I'm Dr. Louann Brizendine. Welcome Dr. Louann to the podcast.

(02:50): Thank you, Dr. Kyrin, nice to meet you and see you. And I'm just delighted to be here with your audience because you know, your people are my people <laugh>

(02:59): Yes, our people are the same. <Laugh> we

(03:05): Treat the, we treat the same group of patients. I do my medical center. They say Louann treats above the neck and we treat below the waist.

(03:12): Yes. I love that. But most people think that they're such a dichotomy there. Well, above the neck and below the waist, there's no relationship, but that's exactly what you talk about in your books is how connected our female hormones are to our brain function.

(03:32): Absolutely. I don't think people know that. I think, you know, once you hear it and you understand you go like the light bulb on your head goes, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Of course the brain, the pituitary control all the other hormones in the entire body.

(03:46): It's so true. And the hormones in the brain and just all the intermixing, which I'm sure we'll get into how vital sex hormones are for cognitive function for brain function. But I wanna start just talking about your book, the upgrade, because I think this is really radical and I'm hoping you can explain to everybody, we always talk about the menopause transition. I actually talk about the menopause spectrum and how it's not a point in time, and you go through this spectrum of change, but talk about what the upgrade is and how it differs from the transition.

(04:24): You know, you and I speak the same language actually, because that's why I, with all my patients, I hated those words. Like the perimenopause menopause is cuz it's like, it's, those are medical diagnoses in a way. And they're just a little slice of what actually is happening. It's not the whole woman, this transition that we're going through from like about age, you know, 38 to 48 that we kind of call in the big brackets kind of AKA the perimenopause. Yeah. That's something that's happening just to kind of the, the ovaries and the follicles are, you know, starting to not be as healthy and they're starting to like die off and we lose them, but that's just, that's the medical diagnosis of that transition. So, but I called it the transition because it's, there's so much more that's going on for us women. There's all kinds of relationship, things, emotional things, things in terms of our work life things in terms of our children, that's like, there's all kinds of layers of stuff that's going on in our brain.

(05:14): So the transition, and then once you hit finish the transition, you go into what I call the upgrade and the upgrade, AKA menopause it's as you. And I know the definition of menopause actually lasts for one day, right? It's the day, 12 months after your last period is called menopause. It lasts for one day and then the next day you're in post-menopause. So, you know, it doesn't really, these words don't really kind of work for what we experience as women. And so certainly not what our women patients are experiencing. And it's so cool. I mean, once you hit the upgrade, they, after the rock and roll of the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle, the perimenopause, all of your fertility years, your brain circuits are and your body you're free of that, those waves that crash over you every month. And people don't realize that the hormones are changing, not just stuff in your ovary and your uterus, but they're changing all kinds of stuff in your brain circuits for your memory.

(06:12): Remember like three or four days before ovulation, it's a huge estrogen Sur just making you be, you wanna be kind of, you sway your hips a little more. You put a little makeup, it a little sexier. You know what you're doing is mother NA under the hood mother, nature's got you all wired hormonally to go out there looking for the best sperm. You know, those couple of days before ovulation, our sex drive goes up. We're all, you know, we're ready to rock and roll. I've got UA, our hips, actually our voice goes higher, all that stuff. We talk faster, et cetera. And then of course the PMs time comes, you're crashing. You know, you're having all of those irritability and those spurts of anger and tearfulness and my clinic, we call it the crying over dog food commercials sign, you know, we can Boohoo over anything.

(06:55): So the cool thing is, is that once you hit the upgrade, baby, that's gone and you've got all of this circuitry in there. That's working really well to just your dance card is open to add new things. You're not gonna have to struggle with your hormones being jerked around. You're not gonna be dealing with fertility hormones. You're not gonna be dealing with being pushed out there, looking for the best firm, whatever it is. You know, you've got all of this incredible space and brain power that comes and is able to like take on new project, new purpose women, lots of women, you know, in America, the biggest number of new businesses are started by women over 50.

(07:33): Yes. I always tell women that I work with that. I'm kind of sneaky. Cuz do I wanna help you with your health? Yes, but I'm really sneaky cuz I know you're sitting on gifts that you aren't using and you aren't delivering to the world cause you don't feel good. So if I can help you feel better, then you will get off your assets and give your gifts. And so I think it really aligns with what you're talking about. The upgrade <laugh> so many women see this as downgrade TBA, oh,

(08:08): That's wrong, wrong, wrong. That's no, that is so wrong. And this that's because society is still looking at it that way too. And where as these things start inside us, as soon as we start looking at ourselves as an upgrade, then society starts to follow along behind us. We have to take that for ourselves. We have to claim that territory, claim that for ourselves mm-hmm <affirmative> and it is an upgrade. And once women realize that and start seeing it as like, yes, your fertility years are over, but 50 women that are 50. Now many, a chunk of us will live to be a hundred plus you know, those women that are just starting in the early Perry, you know, a lot of those women will live to be, you know, 110, you know, there's, you've got more than half your life there. So you gotta, wow, you got this whole new chapter. I, I have a chapter in the book book that's called finding new purpose as well. I go through all the rock and roll of the, for women that are younger. I've had women in their thirties, they read this book and they go, oh God, Dr. Luann, thank you. I feel so much better. I thought it was all over when I was 40, you know, there's feeling so hopeful that there is more to it than just like things being, being over when you're 40 or 50.

(09:17): Yeah. And so what are the gifts? Why do you call it an upgrade? I get it. But I think there are a lot of women and men out there who aren't gonna get it. So what is new, better, special about this time.

(09:32): Okay. So let's go back to that jagged up and down of your hormones all during your fertility cycle, remember your brain circuits. So part of your brain circus was one of the little areas called the hippocampus, not the hippopotamus, but the hippocampus. You know, it's a really important area in your brain. If you stuck your fingers right in above your ears, by about an inch into your brain on both sides, that's where they live a little guys, the size of your, you know, your fingertips. But they're really important cuz it's the way you form all your memories. You attach your memories and it's a big memory cognition center in your brain. And every month the estrogen goes up and it sprouts like 25% different connections in that area. And then it gets all born down during the last two weeks when a progesterone comes and pours like weed, killer her on all those connections.