Brain fog is a term that is used to describe a lack of focus and the inability to think clearly. Many people suffer from brain fog and feel like there is no hope. Is it something we have to accept or are there ways we can sharpen our minds?
What Is Brain Fog?
Brain fog isn’t necessarily a medical condition. It is actually symptoms that can adversely affect your life from how well you concentrate to being able to recall memories. When you struggle through brain fog, it can lead to mental fatigue.
Brain fog can bring on feelings such as fuzzy thinking and the inability to feel sharp in your thoughts. It is actually quite common, but it’s not normal. A lot of people that experience brain fog feel like they aren’t themselves.
Brain fog can be attributed to a number of things medically so it’s important to get checked out by your physician. A common cause of brain fog is simply not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can affect your ability to function in all areas of your life and make it difficult to focus. This leads to that common foggy feeling.
Other causes of brain fog can be due to thyroid issues or gut health. This can be diagnosed through lab work requested by your physician.
What Are The Symptoms Of Brain Fog?
We know that brain fog leaves you feeling like your thoughts and memories are muddled, but what are some other symptoms besides just a foggy brain?
A bigger part of it is just feeling very confused or even disorganized in your thoughts. It may be hard to not only focus mentally, but it can also be difficult to put your thoughts into words (1). You may stumble with trying to recall simple things and form your thoughts into a way to express it to others.
How Do You Get Rid Of Brain Fog?
Brain fog is avoidable and treatable. It isn’t a medical condition that you have to live with. It is just a symptom. So it is important to find out why you are experiencing it and then make changes to get rid of that hazy feeling that is lingering over your mind.
When you feel brain fog, it is a signal that you shouldn’t ignore. It means there is some kind of imbalance in your life that needs to be addressed. Think of it as a yellow light which means to slow down.
Here are some common causes of brain fog with some simple changes you can make to start thinking sharper.
Eating the wrong kinds of foods is one of most common causes of brain fog. But it is also one of the easiest to fix.
The first item to watch is sugar. The brain uses sugar as fuel, but refined carbohydrates causes the brain to get a burst of too much sugar and then drops. This drop leads to low glucose (sugar) levels, which can cause brain fog as well as mood swings, tiredness and mental confusion.
Secondly, we need to avoid low-fat diets. Our body needs fats, but the right kinds of fat from sources like nuts, avocados and olive oil. Fat helps the brain to produce what it needs to create essential brain chemicals.
It’s important to eat a well-rounded diet full of vitamins and minerals. Not getting enough vitamins and minerals, especially ones like vitamins B12 and D, can lead to brain fog. In some cases, taking supplements may be necessary.
Lack Of Sleep
We mentioned before how important sleep is, but did you know that when you sleep your brain is consolidating memories and processing what happened during the day? Just one night of bad sleep can affect mental performance.
To get more sleep, avoid caffeine, don’t snack before bed and try to stick to a regular routine.
It seems we are all overstressed and overworked. But it isn’t something to be proud of. Being stressed can put you at risk of a variety of brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. It can also lead to insomnia, memory loss and brain fog.
When we are stressed, our body releases the hormone known as cortisol. In small doses it can be fine for the body, but too much can cause brain cells to be damaged and interferes with their repair.
One of the best stress reductions is meditation. If sitting cross-legged and trying to think of nothing for minutes on end just stresses you out more, you can try some simple deep breathing techniques as well.
Lack Of Physical Activity
Exercise releases endorphins allowing glucose and oxygen to flow to the brain, while burning off cortisol (the stress hormone). It doesn’t take running a marathon to see a difference. Simple walking is actually one of the best exercises for the brain.
What Causes Brain Fog And Fatigue?
Besides some of the common causes that we previously mentioned, there are other causes to brain fog and fatigue that should be considered.
Changes in hormones can cause brain fog. Common ones for women are either pregnancy or menopause. In pregnancy, women experience higher levels of progesterone and estrogen which can cause issues with memory and cognitive impairment.
In menopause, there is a drop in estrogen leading to cloudy thinking, difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness.
Certain medications can leave you feeling like you have brain fog. If this is the case, talk to your doctor.
People who have fibromyalgia, anemia, diabetes, migraines or even autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis or lupus can experience brain fog. If you are chronically dehydrated, your thinking and memory recall may not be as sharp either.
Is Brain Fog A Mental Illness?
Brain fog itself isn’t a mental illness, but people with certain mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can make brain fog worse. It’s actually a double-edged sword because having brain fog that could be caused from something like lack of sleep or nutritional deficiency can exacerbate brain fog leading to depression.
What Vitamins Help Clear Brain Fog?
Brain fog can be cleared by adding a few common vitamins to your daily routine. The three most common ones are listed below.
One of the most common vitamins to help ease brain fog is vitamin B12. Being deficient in vitamin B12 can be a serious matter because it can lead to a variety of mental and neurological disorders.
Vitamin D is another vitamin that can help improve mood and eliminate brain fog. Known as the sunshine vitamin, people oftentimes don’t get enough on a daily basis especially if they don’t get enough sun exposure.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for memory and overall brain health and function. It is commonly found in fatty fish like salmon and trout, but can also be found in flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Can Exercise Cure Brain Fog?
Our body doesn’t just need nutrients to function properly. It also needs physical activity. Exercise not only strengthens the body, it can also protect the brain by enhancing cognitive health.
Exercise has been found to help promote neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to form new neural connections and adapt throughout life. As we get older, our brain naturally loses neurons, but our brain actually makes new neurons every day in the hippocampus area. This area plays an important role in learning information, storing long-term memories and even regulating emotions.
Cardiovascular exercise in particular is the most beneficial because as our heart rate and blood flow increases, more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the brain. This increase helps to create new neurons in the brain which helps the brain to function better.
Supplements That Can Help
We know that taking certain vitamins and minerals can help brain function, but there are also supplements available that can help too. One such supplement is spermidine.
Spermidine can assist the body’s natural cellular renewal process known as autophagy. Overtime, cells can become damaged. When damaged cellular components are recycled, cells have the ability to be regenerated.
When cells are healthy, they operated at the highest efficiency possible, which can help to keep brain cells healthy to alleviate brain fog