You have trouble paying attention…
You have a harder time making decisions…
You keep losing your keys….
Early Alzheimers? Nope.
Adult ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)? No.
It’s “Baby Brain”, and finally, there’s good evidence that it’s real.#BabyBrain is real--here's what you can do about it! #pregnancy #pregnancynutrition bit.ly/2EYMMfW Click To Tweet
Pregnant women often complain about “baby brain” or “pregnancy brain”, the phenomenon that makes your usually perfect memory a thing of the past. According to a new study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, there are significant decreases in general cognitive functioning, memory, and executive functioning during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. But unfortunately for us, it starts declining between the first and second trimesters. It’s good that all those changes are just not all “in our head.” But that begs the question…
What Can You Do to Help “Baby Brain”?
No, there’s not a cure-all for baby brain, but there are definitely things you can do to help your boost your brain functioning in other ways:
Eat Brain-Boosting Foods
There are many foods that are linked with brain health and thus, better brain functioning.
- Go for Omega-3 fats: Omega3 fats like DHA and EPA have many pregnancy benefits–brain function is just one of them. To get your DHA from food, check out my post: Seafood Sources of DHA. If you’re not a seafood fan, check out foods that are fortified like milk, yogurt and eggs, or think about a supplement.
- Get enough choline. Choline is a B vitamin helpful for your baby’s brain AND yours! Vital to developing the hippocampus, the memory center of your baby’s brain, choline supports communication between neurons in the brain. Dietary intake directly affects the amount available to the brain. Best sources include eggs and lean beef. Average intake of choline is well below the recommended intake–and prenatal vitamins usually DON’T contain it. (After an extensive search, I found that no popular name brands of Prenatal supplements contained much choline. Heivy Prenatals with DHA has 150 mg. and Expecta Prenatals contains only 50 mg.)
- Eat less saturated fat. Trans and saturated fats affect the brain in two ways: They affect circulation to the brain by increasing plaque in arteries and they also directly affect cognition. Even worse, when rats were given “junk food” diet, full of saturated fat and sucrose, cognitive function declined in just 3 weeks.
- Eat more curry. A fairly new “thing” on the nutrition horizon is curcumin. A spice found in curry, curcumin has been shown to reduce memory deficits in animals with Alzheimers, and protect the brain from free radicals.
- Eat an antioxidant-rich diet with plenty of flavanols. This includes plenty of fruits and veggies, especially citrus fruits. Check out my post: 15 Foods to Eat for Baby Brain!
Just Say No. Easier said than done when you’re balancing life with a career and kids, or just kids. But the truth is, the more “balls” of life you’re juggling, the easier it is to become distracted and forgetful. Say no to unnecessary commitments, prioritize activities and ask yourself: in five years, will this matter?
Track your focus and match activities to it. Are you more energetic and less forgetful in the morning? Schedule those tasks that need more focus then. Are you worthless in the afternoon? See if you can schedule in a power nap. Try to save the more “fluff” jobs when you’re less energetic, and thus not thinking as well. Use exercise and healthy snacks to help treat energy slumps.
It may not make sense that by being more active, you can be less tired, but it’s true. While exercise is recommended for most pregnant women anyway, it’s a secret weapon against “Baby Brain.”
Exercise may increase the size of areas of the brain in charge of memory and thinking. Exercise also improves mood and sleep and decreases anxiety and stress–which can all affect brain function. You don’t have to become a gym rat–just brisk walking 120 minutes a week may be enough. That’s just half an hour, 4 days a week. Other aerobic activities are great too–cycling, stepping, etc. If you’re new to exercise, try just 10 or 15 minutes a day and of course, get your health provider’s blessing first.
Boost Your Energy by Timing Your Meals
The energy highs and lows of pregnancy can derail the strongest of women, so don’t fret. What and when you eat can make a big difference to brain function.
- Don’t run on empty. Your brain runs on glucose so you need a steady supply of that energy to work well.
- Think “balance”. Have some protein and carbs at each meal.
- Eat every 3 hours, even if it’s just a light snack. This will help boost your energy throughout the day.
- Have a high protein snack at bedtime, to avoid morning sickness and to keep you going.
Check out my post: 15 Foods to Eat for Baby Brain!