So what is brain fog and how do you know you’re experiencing brain fog? The most common brain fog symptoms are forgetfulness, inability to focus, frequent confusion and lack of mental clarity. Regardless of how daunting it might sound, there are easy ways to beat it.
While brain fog isn’t an acclaimed term by science, it has become a widely known term to indicate a cloudy head or foggy mind.
While experiencing it is common, it shouldn’t really form part of your daily routine. When you feel like you just can’t think, your brain is essentially sending a signal that there is a problem.
Brain fog generally fits into one of two categories; lifestyle related or medical brain condition.
Brain Fog Cause #1: The Wrong Food Items
One of the brain fog causes is eating the wrong food in your house.
Sugar and items high in fructose boost your blood sugar level pretty high before making it fall significantly. The brain uses glucose as a chief source of fuel so this rise and fall unsettles the brain.
While low glucose results in mood swings, agitation, exhaustion, confusion and poor judgment in addition to brain fog, high glucose levels lead to resistance of insulin, and diabetes which both point toward Alzheimer’s.
According to some authors, the brain starts to “digest itself” for the raw materials it needs to create essential brain chemicals. This happens when you stop eating dietary fat. It is recommended that you eat fat from sources like nuts, olive oil, eggs and avocados. Vegetable oils aren’t included in this list.
Besides sugar, eating food that you are allergic to can also put you in a tough mental situation. While wheat, corn and soy may be pleasant to eat, these are also some of the most common food items that people are allergic to. Eggs, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts are also some other items people might be allergic to.
Wheat is also a huge culprit in contributing to brain fog. Gluten is a protein in wheat that makes dough rather stretchy, and is considered the worst culprit for brain fog, but there are over 1,000 other proteins in wheat that can trigger negative reactions too. Wheat has also been found to worsen brain disorders like schizophrenia, autism, and ADHD. However, if you stop consuming wheat altogether, you might suffer from some withdrawal symptoms.
Food additives like salt, sugar, fat are almost always added to restaurant dishes. Two of the worst kinds of additives for your brain are MSG and artificial sweeteners. Look for words like “hydrolyzed protein” to see if it contains MSG.
Drinking enough water sounds pretty easy to do but people often find it hard to actually do that on a regular basis. Studies have proved that even mild dehydration can adversely affect your attention, memory and other cognitive skills.
If you are a coffee or tea lover, you should know that caffeine found in those drinks is addictive and not having enough of it can result in withdrawal symptoms including brain fog, headache, fatigue, and even flu-like symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
If you’ve suddenly found yourself biting your nails or reading through this article super nervously, feel free to take a breath and relax. You can easily avoid most of the brain fog causes listed above by minimizing processed food and eating real food instead.
Just remember that not having dinner or having twice as much dinner as the next person on the table both can lead to a fuzzy brain so make sure you have a balanced diet!
Brain Fog Cause #2: Deficiencies in Nutrition
While you might have read that malnutrition is only a problem in parts of Africa and Asia, nutritional deficiencies exist everywhere and often disguise themselves as brain fog. Even if you are eating healthy, make sure you take the right supplements so that you have nothing to worry about.
Deficiency in Vitamin B12
You may or may not have a vitamin B12 deficiency if you find yourself often being confused. Two particularly high risk groups for this deficiency are adults who often have poor absorption, and vegetarians, since B12 is found only in animal products.
Antacids like Nexium, Pepcid, and Zantac are directly linked to vitamin B12 deficiency as stomach acid is needed to break down and absorb vitamin B12.
Deficiency in Vitamin D
Vitamin D can raise your spirits, counter brain fog and depression, improve memory, and boost your problem solving abilities. For areas in America and Europe which rarely get exposure to sun, vitamin D supplements can do the job for you brilliantly.
The further away from the equator you are the more you may need to consume Vitamin D generally.
Essential Fatty Acids in Omega-3
These fatty acids are found in huge numbers in the brain and are essential to your memory and overall brain health and function. If you don’t get much salmon or sardines, you should consider using an omega-3 supplement which will provide you all the fatty acids your brain needs, particularly those which are high in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
The Harvard School of Public Health has also recommended that all adults take a multivitamin supplement as insurance to fill any nutritional gaps. A lot of studies have found that taking a multivitamin alone can improve overall brain function and we support these recommendations. If your brain fails to receive the nutrition it needs, supplements come in super handy.
Here are some supplements that can counter and get rid of brain fog:
This is a high quality herb used in traditional Chinese medicine that increases your resilience to stress. If you feel like you are low on energy, anxious or depressed, try the arctic root as a supplement for great results.
This is a supplement that increases blood flow to your brain, increases mental energy, and protects your brain from damage and aging.
This is a traditional herbal remedy that shields your brain from everyday neurotoxins like lead, fluoride, aluminum and MSG. Gotu Kola also protects the brain from free radical damage and reduces brain inflammation.
Magnesium threonate supplements are one of the best forms of countering brain fog. The research on this type of Magnesium is lacking and the web is full of anecdotal evidence on Threonate being the best for cognition, however, there are very few studies on this.
Vinpocetine enters the brain to increase blood flow at an amazing rate, decreases brain inflammation, and protects against radical damage.
Lumonol – A commercial brain enhancement supplement, that contains most of the ingredients above.
Brain Fog Cause #3: Insomnia and Lack of Sleep
While you are asleep, cerebral fluid washes your brain and cleans up the debris. At night, your brain gets the opportunity to memorize everything you have learned and lack of sleep can disrupt your memory, concentration, mental stress and cognitive skills.
There are reports that NALT helps ‘clear your brain’ and studies done to back this up, however more research is needed.
Brain Fog Cause #4: Lots of Stress
Stress is often associated with productivity and hard work however people tend to forget that stress makes your body more prone to diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Prolonged stress leads to anxiety, depression, poor decision making, insomnia, and memory loss. Brain cells commit “suicide” under stress.
Meditation is a great technique to counter and reduce stress levels in your body. If you meditate, you benefit from improved focus and concentration, greater creativity, stress reduction, and even better sleep (try this exercise, insomniacs!).
Physical and Mental Relaxation Techniques
While meditation is a popular way to get rid of stress, brainwave entrainment technology is an impressive shortcut to get similar benefits quickly and easily where you simply put on your headset and listen. Diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, self-hypnosis, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and autogenic training are also all good techniques for countering stress.
Brain Fog Cause #5: Lack of Physical Exercise
Physical exercise not only increases endorphins and pumps more glucose and oxygen to the brain but also burns off the stress hormone cortisol and stimulates new brain cell formation.
Walking might also be one of the easiest and best ways to tackle stress.
Brain Fog Cause #6: Germs and Toxins
Sure, outdoor pollution can cause cognitive problems but indoor air pollution is often ten times higher and dangerous to you. Toxins like formaldehyde and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) outgas from your carpet, furniture, and mattress.
Molds, dust, pet dander, pollen, perfume, air fresheners, cigarette smoke, and household cleaners get trapped inside your home and induce brain fog, tiredness and memory loss.
Switch to natural cleaning products and personal care products, don’t smoke inside, unplug the air fresheners, and run a HEPA air filter in your bedroom to lighten your toxin load while you sleep!
Brain Fog Cause #7: Health Disorders and Conditions
If you ask a doctor what causes brain fog, you won’t be content with the answer you get. There is no clinical definition of brain fog but your doctor can test you for underlying health conditions that could be the source of your problem.
A common side effect of chemotherapy is one form of brain fog known as “chemo fog” or “chemo brain” which is caused by a combination of the disease itself, treatments, sleep problems, hormonal changes, depression, and stress.
Brain fog is one of the biggest complaints of people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Lupus fog is what we call cognitive impairments that almost always appear with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Hypothyroid (low) and hyperthyroid (high) conditions can cause brain fog.
Other Brain Fog Causes
There are lots of diseases that list brain fog as a symptom:
- adrenal fatigue
- brain injuries
- candida albicans
- chronic pain
- irritable bowel syndrome
- heavy metal toxicity
- hepatitis C
- hormonal imbalances
- Lyme disease
- multiple sclerosis
- neurodegenerative disorders
- neurotransmitter imbalance
- nutritional deficiency
- rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- seasonal allergies
- substance abuse
- substance withdrawal
Brain Fog Cause #8: Over the Counter Medications
Brain fog is a widely known side effect of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, especially Statin cholesterol-lowering drugs and prescription sleeping pills which cause memory loss.
However, lots of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs also block acetylcholine including Benadryl (for allergies), Pepcid AC (for acid reflux), and Tylenol PM (for pain and insomnia).
Finding the Solution That Best Suits You
There is no standard method that works for every individual who seeks to get rid of brain fog. Here are some helpful pointers that you should bear in mind:
- Study your diet to see if any specific foods or food additives that might be causing brain fog.
- Include lots of healthy fats into your diet!
- Get proper sleep regularly.
- Exercise even if it means walking for fifteen minutes every day.
- Make good use of multivitamin supplements to assist your brain’s nutritional needs.
- Take an omega-3 supplement.
- Visit a doctor if you are experiencing side effects from prescriptions.
Brain Fog: Conclusion
Sometimes, brain fog is caused by lifestyle factors like diet, stress, or lack of sleep and exercise while other times, it is caused by various health condition or medications/prescriptions.
The best thing you can do to take care of your body and yourself is to be proactive in having a healthy lifestyle. You can also learn more about nootropic supplements that can give you a kickstart on your journey to lessen brain fog.