Brain fog is usually described as a "cloudy mind", difficulty focusing, thinking and communicating, being distracted or forgetful, and the feeling of constant fatigue. Other brain fog symptoms usually include:
- Low energy
- Trouble concentrating, remembering information
- Low motivation, feeling hopeless or mildly depressed
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Difficulty exercising
CAUSES OF BRAIN FOG
Lack of sleep
Brain fog can be originated from lack of sleep because it raises cortisol levels, the "stress hormone". We all need between about seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night to think clearly - and children and teenagers usually need even more.
If you consistently get good sleep but still struggle with brain fog symptoms, chances are this might have something to do with your diet. Vitamins and minerals deficiencies, along with sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, and caffeine overdose can impact brain function. Also, people most likely to suffer from brain fog include those with gluten intolerance or food sensitivities. Read my blog about the differences between a food allergy, food sensitivity, and food intolerance here.
Brain fog is believed to be caused by high levels of inflammation caused by low-grade overactivity of the immune system. Inflammation also changes to three primary hormones that determine your mood, energy, and focus dopamine, serotonin, and cortisol.
Some prescription medication
Certain medications can lead to brain fog, including antidepressants, stimulants, sleep aids, and antipsychotics. Some medications can increase brain inflammation and impair hormone function. If you regularly take prescription medications and feel brain fog symptoms, talk to your doctor about what you can do to minimize them.
Cut your Sugar Intake
Cutting back on sugar and processed foods that are full of it is the first step to fix brain fog. Sugar might make you feel energetic at first, but ultimately you need steady energy and focus. While refined sugar raises inflammation, quality carbs from things like fruits and vegetables do the opposite.
Address Any Food Allergies or Sensitivities
When people suffer from food sensitivity they experience gut-related damage that affects brain function. Despite what most people think, food-related reactions like the symptoms of lactose or gluten intolerance are more than just digestive problems. An allergy or food sensitivity triggers inflammatory reactions, which affect many aspects of your health, from nutrient absorption to hormone synthesizing. If you think you have an unresolved sensitivity consider an elimination diet.
Eat Enough Healthy Carbs
Serotonin is the hormone that is released when you eat carbohydrates, and its main role is to keep you calm, hopeful, and confident. Eat complex, unprocessed carbohydrates throughout the day in appropriate quantities. Also, consuming plenty of fruit (low in sugar) and starchy/non-starchy vegetables help hormones balance and reduce inflammation.
Eat your veggies
Vegetables are full of antioxidants and vitamins that fight oxidative stress and brain damage. Flavonoids, chemicals found in colorful vegetables, are proven to help with memory and memory decline. Also, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Research suggests these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline.
Get Enough Protein
We all require a steady supply of amino acids in order to make all of the brain chemicals we need to think clearly. Protein deficiency is caused by a lack of certain amino acids, specifically the kinds that are called "essential amino acids," because the body cannot make them on its own. Complete proteins are food sources like meat, dairy products, fish, and eggs that supply all the essential amino acids we require, and these are the best way to keep the brain pumping out enough of the hormones that support a positive mindset.
You need plenty of healthy fats to produce adequate "happiness" hormones and fight inflammation. Higher inflammation levels are partially caused by imbalances in fatty acids and linked to depression, cognitive decline, weight gain, and many other disorders. You can find some anti-inflammatory healthy fatty acids from things like wild-caught fish, grass-fed eggs or beef, certain nuts/seeds, and coconut and olive oil, avocado.
Manage Stress Levels
High amounts of stress increase the production of cortisol, which can lead to feeling "wired but tired," weight gain, suffering hormonal imbalances, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. You should try to put aside time every day for practices that help you to lower stress levels like meditating, exercising, reading, and spending more time in nature.
You can also combat stress by regularly doing things that you love, which increases the brain's production of the "happy hormone" dopamine. Dopamine is the primary chemical that makes you feel pleasure, excitement, and motivation. Make it a priority to do something fun every day if you can, even if it's only for a short period of time.
Get Enough Sleep
One of the fastest and more reliable ways to improve brain function is to get better sleep. The hormones in your brain stay in balance when your body gets adequate rest every night, at least seven hours for most adults. You're also better able to manage your hunger, food cravings, and emotions when well-rested, which can benefit your weight and health in multiple ways.
Exercising but not overtraining
Exercise lowers inflammation, helps bust stress, and increases energy levels. Exercise also releases natural endorphins, boosting your stamina and lifting your mood. However, too much exercise poses risks for hormonal imbalance and even more fatigue. For most people, moderate and regular exercise can help balance hormones, improve insulin resistance, and help you to get better sleep.
Regulate Hormonal Imbalances
Low thyroid function, adrenal insufficiency, and chronic fatigue syndrome can all increase symptoms of brain fog. These hormonal imbalances are mostly caused by the same factors as inflammation: a poor diet, possible sensitivities and intolerances, stress, and not getting enough rest. Read my blood about how to balance hormones naturally here.
There is no substitute for a healthy diet, regular rest, and exercise. However, certain supplements can help you to clear up brain fog while you are establishing a healthy diet and lifestyle changes.
- B Vitamins: deficiencies can leave you feeling sluggish and moody. Taking a B complex supplement can make sure you're in the optimal range.
- Good fats and Omega- 3s: are effective at helping lower inflammation. Omega-3s balance the ratio of fatty acids in your diet and support brain health.
- Magnesium: it is one of the most important minerals for our bodies, and its deficiency can lead to anxiety, high blood pressure, fatigue, and migraines. Magnesium is also a very powerful relaxer for the body and the mind.
- Adaptogen Herbs: This healing herbs help lowering cortisol levels and support your body to deal with fatigue and stress. Some of my favorite adaptogens herbs are Holy basil, Ginseng, and Ashwagandha.
Let me help you to create a nutritional and lifestyle plan to achieve your health goals.