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Understanding Brain Fog – Symptoms and Solutions

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:

Arctic Root

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.

Citicoline

This is a supplement that increases blood flow to your brain, increases mental energy, and protects your brain from damage and aging.

Gotu Kola

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

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

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.

Meditating

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.

Chemo Brain

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.

Fibro Fog

Brain fog is one of the biggest complaints of people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Lupus Fog

Lupus fog is what we call cognitive impairments that almost always appear with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Thyroid Disorders

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:

  • ADHD
  • adrenal fatigue
  • anxiety
  • brain injuries
  • candida albicans
  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • heavy metal toxicity
  • hepatitis C
  • hormonal imbalances
  • hypoglycemia
  • Lyme disease
  • menopause
  • 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.

How to Use a Symptom Diary to Get Better

Symptom Diaries for Outpatient Care

 

symptom diary

Keeping a diary of your symptoms can help you diagnose your health issues quickly, it will help you determine triggers and provide a log as a reference. TrackMyStack is the perfect tool to track your health symptoms easily. If you want to know how to use the tracking features excluding journaling click here. If you would like to learn about why it is important to track your symptoms keep reading.

The symptom logs can be printed and used by your doctor to treat your condition more accurately by having quantifiable data. A corollary to that is that it is vital to track your symptoms as you experience them during the course of your day.

The Best Part…

TrackMyStack can be accessed via your mobile device or desktop at any time with access to the Internet, so you have no reason to carry around a diary at all times. This removes the risk of losing your diary or remembering to take it everywhere you go, as your phone will most likely always be with you.

 

The Use Case for Journaling

Let’s take the case of Jessica.

Jessica is a 35-year-old who has a bipolar disorder and migraine headaches. She constantly goes in for checkups and reports daily headaches that last for days at a time.

She says she has also “noticed” an increase in symptoms such as lethargy, and anxiety. At the same time, Jessica has been changing and trying different medications, supplements and eats out during lunchtime at different places all the time.

 

With these many variables in place stating “a bit”, “every now and then” is not enough, the more precise the data, the easier it will be to diagnose her problems.

When this information is presented to a doctor, the information sounds all too vague, is confusing and can be challenging to explain correctly. To your doctor making sense of your information is not only time consuming (as you are given 15 minutes per visit) but your information will contain many errors and biases (such as recall bias).

 

The Solution? Maintain a Symptom Diary

The solution for Jessica is to maintain a simple Symptoms Diary also known as patient logs. TrackMyStack has the tools available for anyone to track symptoms and daily activities (ODL’s) in a quick, organized manner that will help with your diagnosis.

Here are 6 benefits you will gain from keeping an online symptom journal:

 

Why does this matter? Here’s the Clear Benefits:

  1. Time Savings – Your physician can quickly scan through your online diary/print out in seconds accurately, as opposed to you verbally explaining everything.
  2. Cost Savings – With more accurate information, you are less likely to go through radiographic testing or other unnecessary lab tests.
  3. Identification of Triggers – Looking at the graph can easily show clear patterns of symptoms occurring linked to your activity for that day, it is easy for physicians or yourself to discover triggers.
  4. Graphs & Reports – Linked to #1 and #3 + they can be shared and gives you a quick overview of your health.
  5. Patient Engagement & Empowerment – Once you start tracking your health actively, you are likely to start making the necessary changes to get better. You will lessen your cognitive burden and may notice therapeutic benefit as well. Remember, what get’s measured, get’s improved.
  6. Personal Health Record – Record your activity and see how you are doing compared to others just like you on TrackMyStack. Keep your data with you at all times, and be in control of your health by maintaining your own records.

 

Use the Diary to Journal Everything!

The most common types of health diaries do one thing only; TrackMyStack is the only platform that helps you manage all or any of your symptoms in a single location. To begin click here.

This includes a sleep diary (to determine your, you guessed it, sleep patterns), mood diary which we write about here, a voiding diary (to measure fluid input/output), general symptoms (any symptoms such as IBS, fatigue, gas, cardiac symptoms, neurological), exercise diary, headache diary (helps with adjusting your abortive or prophylactic treatment), and a food diary (for lifestyle modification). Along with symptoms, you can also use TrackMyStack to track your chronic conditions as well.

2 Challenges You May Encounter or Have Encountered:

#1 Non-adherence: You may feel too lazy or tired to write daily, TrackMyStack allows you to write as frequently as you want with as much information as you’d like. Obviously, however, the more frequent you write and with more detail, the better your results will be. We organize and display your diary in a structured order, so you don’t have to worry about being “neat” or following certain protocols or even remembering if you have written down all the things needed to make the entry useful.

Take a look at the screenshot below to get an idea of the steps involved in recording your daily symptoms:

symptom journal screenshot    symptom journalinghow to record symptoms
#2 Irrelevant Apps: If you are a patient, you need an app that can record your vitals, ODL’s, and symptoms; however, many food or calorie trackers or fitness apps are not right for you as they are not meant to be used as you may need to. Wellness apps are a different category than fitness apps, using the right tool for the job is key.

 

And Finally, What is TrackMyStack and What it Isn’t…

The risk-reward ratio for using a symptom diary is heavily skewed, TrackMyStack is a simple, effective clinical tool that augments the diagnosis as part of outpatient care without any risk to you. You are free to share as much or as little as you right, TrackMyStack also does not diagnose or recommend any treatments. It is a tool used to track your activity that can then be shared with your primary care provider to assist them and yourself determine ways to improve your health.

The cost of starting your stack and journaling are minimal, you need 20 seconds to sign up, and about a minute each time you experience a symptom or “flare up”. TrackMyStack can be upgraded to Pro if you need to use advanced features or to generally support the development of our platform. We have over 5,000 members that are actively monitoring their health, privately and openly.

Your data can help other people solve the same problems as you and vice versa, where you can use other people’s experiences to augment your own diagnosis.

When logging your symptoms in an organized manner you are committing to being a healthier you and are demonstrating that you are proactive in taking control of your health, your family will thank you for it, so will your physician, and not to mention your body. Get tracking today for free, click here.

diary for symptoms

Practicing Gratitude

How To Practice Gratitude

Being grateful
Being grateful

We have already discussed the benefits associated with writing and maintaining a gratitude journal. Those who regularly take time to write a journal entry daily on things they are thankful for experience many more positive feelings of emotion, they sleep much better, feel more alive, and generally express much more compassion and kindness. There have been studies done that state that they can even have a stronger immune system.

The feeling of gratitude should not be contained only for large occasions in one’s life but should and can be felt for smaller things in life as well. Even these small feelings of gratitude can lead to the above mentioned effects, claims UC David psychologist Robert Emmons. It is important to write regularly (as brief as it may need to be) on things for which you are thankful.

Since the benefits are many, I will quickly suggest ways in which you can start a gratitude journal and maintain the habit long term.

 

Variety of Thanks

Sometimes writing the same thing day after day or week after week can keep your brain from being thankful about other fresh grateful moments. You can consider writing about other things you may be grateful for, or writing the task in more detail to vary your entry for additional ‘unrealized gratefulness’. Think about what you are grateful for a bit more by asking yourself “why” up to three times. When focusing on new things around you, you will massively enhance your gratitude regimen. Doing this will slowly change the way you think about different situations in real life for the better.

You Need Momentum

gratitude thankfulness journal
“A Offline” Thankfulness Journal

Once you realize the benefits of maintaining a gratitude journal, you will want to start immediately. However the key to maintaining a journal effectively is Momentum. You need to make sure you set aside at least 5 minutes a day to write what you are thankful for, for the day. If you feel like you will be tired at night time, perhaps do a entry when you get home (from work, from school, etc), or the day after (in the morning). Keep in mind that although the task sounds simple, being consistent can be difficult, and so plan ahead and perhaps schedule your writing on your calendar (or better yet, consider adding ‘Write an Entry for my Gratitude Journal’ as part of your ‘Stack’ and set it as a reminder). 

 

The Gratitude Jar

Another common practice done by many is the Gratitude Jar, which involves writing your grateful movements on a sticky note or any piece of paper and dropping it in the jar to be reviewed at a later time. You will obviously not be able to keep track of your entries (in a ascending manner, like you would in a regular journal), but the goal here is to fill up the jar by an arbitrary time (New Years, Christmas, Birthday) at which point you can review what you were grateful for. The reason for keeping a jar and not tracking your gratitude using an app like TrackMyStack is that it keeps things more fun and exciting, see point above on keeping momentum.

Being Thankful of People

Humans are social creatures and as such it is known that if we interact with other’s, our level of happiness increases. It is no different when comes to writing your journal entries, if you focus on non material things and focus on people you are thankful to have in your life, you will see greater benefits from writing your journal. Also, consider telling your friend’s and family and having them start a journal of their own on TMS, or just let your friend know your thankful for having them in your life and why. This may lead to even greater moments of thankfulness down the line with the person.

Remember to keep ‘practicing gratitude’ fun and easy! Keeping a journal digitally has the added benefit of being able to be edited from anywhere. TrackMyStack does a great job of helping you maintain a daily gratitude journal! click here to start daily gratitude journal.

The Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Cognitive Benefits & Beyond

improve-brain-power-with-fasting

Intermittent energy restriction (IER) involves intermittently limiting energy intake levels.  There are many ways to restrict calories, one method involves limiting your calorie intake to about 500 kcal a day for days to three days a week. In another method, you must consume all your daily food within an 8 hour window every day, the last way is to simply fast for 24 to 36 hours without any food. In this article, I will discuss if there is any evidence that states cognition is improved via fasting and any other interesting thing I found while doing my research that you may like as well. Let’s start by getting to know some terminology so the article makes much more sense for you.

Table of Contents
1. Key Terms & Differences
2. How It Works
3. Overall Benefits of IF
4. Results Breakdown
5. Dealing with the onset of Hunger & Brain Fog
6. Disclaimer Clauses
7. Another form of IF, BulletProof
8. Closing Thoughts

Key Terms & Differences

Intermittent fasting (IF) may sound technical. But all it really means is going for extended periods without eating anything if possible. Throughout the world tribes experience one form of IF or another. Among them, many show no signs of age-associated problems like diabetes, cancer, neurodegeneration,  cardiovascular disease, or hypertension.

Caloric restriction (CR), researchers define caloric restriction as reducing food intake while avoiding malnutrition. In animal studies, this usually means consuming 30-40% fewer calories than the standard daily requirement. That’s the equivalent of limiting daily intake to around 1,200 calories for women and 1,400 for men. CR is very different for men and women, which I explain more about below. CR has prolonged life in dogs, rodents, worms, flies, yeast,  bugs, and non-human primates by 30 to 50% (evidence below).

Alternate Day Fasts Alternative day fasting (ADF), as the name implies you do this every other day or Every other day Fast (EODF).

24 Hour Fasts, done few times a week to achieve the same results, may be more difficult for beginners.

16/8 Fasts (Time Restricted Feeding) is what we will be discussing when referring to IF below.

How It Works

  • The best way to begin fasting is by giving your body 12 to 16 hours between dinner and breakfast every single day. This allows 4 hours to complete digestion and 8 hours for the liver to complete its detoxification cycle.
  • That mean’s give yourself eight hours or more of ‘feeding time’. The rest is a no ‘feed zone’.
  • Tip: Have Plenty of Water, Skipping breakfast is a simple way to do IF. Many people do IF to go into Ketosis (fat burning mode) to shed fat and get your brain running on ketones for energy (This actually takes a few weeks for your body to get use to.)

Ketosis is characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the blood/body associated with fat metabolism. Meaning you are obtaining your energy from fat rather then glycogen (think carbs). The brain prefers to run on fat (via ketone bodies) , these energy molecules become fuel for our brains after being converted from fat by the liver. This can only happen when insulin your bloodstream is low, the lower it is the higher the ketone production. You can be in different levels of Ketosis but scientifically if you are at 1.5 – 3 mmol/L it is considered the optimal state but from a nutritional standpoint 0.5-1.5mmol/L is considered good enough.

Benefits to the Brain from Intermittent Fasting

Brain health is very much dependent on neuronal autophagy (the act of self eating, this is when cells recycle waste and repair themselves). Without the process of autophagy, brains do not develop properly and function as intended.  Take a look at the results of the study: Energy intake, meal frequency, and health: a neurobiological perspective. The results state:

In humans, excessive energy intake is associated with increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers and is a major cause of disability and death in industrialized countries. On the other hand, the influence of meal frequency on human health and longevity is unclear.

Both caloric (energy) restriction (CR) and reduced meal frequency/intermittent fasting can suppress the development of various diseases and can increase life span in rodents by mechanisms involving reduced oxidative damage and increased stress resistance.

Many of the beneficial effects of CR and fasting appear to be mediated by the nervous system. For example, intermittent fasting results in increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which increases the resistance of neurons in the brain to dysfunction and degeneration in animal models of neurodegenerative disorders; BDNF signaling may also mediate beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on glucose regulation and cardiovascular function.

So basically, there is a increase in BDNF, but since the study was not conducted on humans, we can’t definitively state that it can increase human lifespan or overall health. BDNF is a protein that interacts with neurons in the hippocampus, responsible for regulating memory and learning. It helps neurons survive and grow new neurons via neurogenesis and increases the development of synapses between neurons.  Sounds like something those looking to keep their brain healthy and functioning optimally may want. Being low on this stuff has been linked to many diseases such as Alzheimer’s. BDNF is naturally occurring and has been extensively tested on mice and in each case it has shown to significantly improve the learning capacity, working memory (Working memory is how many pieces of information you can juggle in your mind at any given time) and cell signalling [reference].

Other Benefits:

  1. Lose Weight (Shed Fat) – Easier to maintain low body fat, via insulin sensitivity for skeletal muscles. Might be better, burning fat, using fat rather then carbohydrate.
  2. Longevity (Mediated mostly by AMPK pathways). Helps deplete damaged mitochondria and is anti-inflammatory, although not proven definitively.
  3. Blood Pressure Regulation
  4. Bodybuilding – Increase mTOR.
  5. Increased Growth Hormone – Fasting for more than 6 hours begins the cleansing phase.  The cleansing phase is catabolic in nature in that it tears down old damaged cells.  These genetic repair mechanisms are turned on through the release of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH also improves skin function, reduces wrinkles & heals cuts and burns faster. Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that men, who had fasted for 24 hours, had a 2000% increase in circulating HGH. Women who were tested had a 1300% increase in HGH.
  6. Save Time (and money?) in the morning
  7. For Epilepsy – Decreased, Normal brains, when overfed, can experience another kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function, Mattson and another researcher reported in January in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.”(source)

Breakdown of Results on Cognition from IF

When it comes to IF and the it’s benefits, I repeatedly came across the name Mark Mattson. Mark Mattson (a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute of Health (NIH) research is cited in most if not all ‘important’ papers discussing IF online. His research states (in short): Fasting reduces oxidative stress, cognitive decline and mitochondrial dysfunction that normally results from brain trauma, so when researches put rats on a 24 hour fast it proved to provide neuroprotective results.

This study discusses how Human (and non-human) studies show that IER increases synaptic plasticity (marker of learning and memory), enhances performance on memory tests in the elderly, leads to the growth of new neurons, decreases risk for neurodegenerative diseases.

  1. GeoMetric Memory – Worse
  2. Spatial MemoryLack of effect
  3. Reaction Time – Increased
  4. Processing Speed – Decreased
  5. Psychomotor abilities – Improved (Psychomotor abilities is the ability to manipulate and control physical objects.). Study on mice and rats, results seen when rats reached Ketosis. Key take aways from this study you may find interesting:
    1. With EODF implemented after rat cervical spinal cord injury was neuroprotective, promoted plasticity, and improved behavioral recovery. Without causing weight loss, EODF improved gait-pattern, forelimb function during ladder-crossing, and vertical exploration. In agreement, EODF preserved neuronal integrity, dramatically reduced lesion volume by >50%, and increased sprouting of corticospinal axons. As expected, blood beta-hydroxybutyrate levels, a ketone known to be neuroprotective, were increased by 2-3 fold on the fasting days.
    2. In addition, we found increased ratios of full-length to truncated trkB (receptor for brain-derived neurotrophic factor) in the spinal cord by 2-6 folds at both 5 days (lesion site) and 3 weeks after injury (caudal to lesion site) which may further enhance neuroprotection and plasticity.
  6. Depression – Decreased – Anti depressants are known to increase BND signaling and synthesis in the hippocampus. Most of the studies have been done on rodents but it is plausible that intermittent fasting may help alleviate depression to an extent.

Dealing with Brain Fog & Hunger

brain-fog-from-fasting

To reduce “brain fog” (Brain fog may be described as feelings of mental confusion or lack of mental clarity. While on the diet, there are two options, one is to have a low calorie drink (less than 50kcal, if your energy level is dropping and ketone energy just isn’t doing it for you, and consume it with nootropics which may potentially help with brain fog.) Consume water. Keep in mind the mind-numbing hunger feeling subsides over time, in up to 6 weeks (on 5:2 diet — 5 days off, 2 days on with CR).

Supplements & Drugs that May Help

If you are trying IF and just feel like your brain fog is not subsiding, and you are just feeling too drained, you may want to consider taking supplements that may help, some can think it is a form of cheating, but it is up to you to decide if you want to go this route.

First one would be a drug called Modafinil will suppress your diet and provide you the mild CNS stimulation you may need to ‘get work done’. I will leave you to check out the link to learn more about this one, and its similar compounds like Adrafinil or Armodafinil (Provigil).

Number two is taking nootropics such as Phenylpiracetam, Caffeine (pill, and definitely not with sugar and creamer or milk!), one will give you a jolt of energy and the other will keep your brain focused. Some people on reddit and around the web have provided anecdotal evidence of ALCAR being effective to stave off hunger, other’s have even recommended a herbal tea’s known as Kratom.

Disclaimer

Note on these supplements: The benefits should be worth your time and counteract any negatives.

As for women: Research has stated that in the long run, IF can disregulate a women’s reproductive system, but these aren’t conclusive. If you are a women, you should listen to your body and tread carefully, also watching out for signs of hypothryoidism and amenorrhea.

Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting

A new type of fast, since we are fans of Bulletproof we are mentioning it here. You could try another coffee company and any other MCT Oil (or better) just make sure you consume the right one (as described in the video). Bulletproof has been known to be somewhat of a “reliable source” for us and that is why it is being recommended and we do get referral fee if you use the link below (with no added cost to you!).

Steps:

  1. 8:00 AM: Drink Bulletproof Coffee.
  2. 2:00 PM: Break fast with foods from the Bulletproof Diet.
  3. 8:00 PM: Eat your last meal before beginning the fast.

What You Need (click to buy):

  1. Bulletproof Coffee – Said to be very low in mycotoxins and considered a premium coffee.
  2. Brain Octane Oil (18X of MCT) or MCT Oil – Ketone Energy
  3. Grass Fed Butter – Anchor brand works and use very low amounts.

My take: Although not a real fast to get your body running on ketones, this does get’s you into a mild ketosis, and maybe more ‘practical’ for most people, but needs more research. However it is simple enough to try and many communities online swear by it.

Closing Thoughts

  • Most fasters do allow themselves coffee, teas and other non-caloric beverages during the fasting. Generally acknowledged that drinking a beverage with fewer than 50 calories will keep you in a fasting state.
  • Many do not claim to really notice an increase in ability to comprehend data faster, but many have reported the ability to focus and pay attention better when on IF. (Reddit)
  • Anecdotal Evidence by members of “The fast Diet” 5:2 diet however state that they noticed up to a 50% improvement in memory. For both of these we don’t know if the member’s have any sort of memory problems, and of other confounding variables.

Additional Tools

TrackMyStack (TMS) – If you want to really try Intermittent Fasting and want a measurable way to record your general health (and performance, or ODL’s) consider using a Stack Journal to do so.  You can’t see what’s working and what’s not if you are not actively quantifying your mood, side effects, anxiety etc and we are the perfect platform to do so. I have a journal which I have been using for the past month and it shows me that I have been able to put off eating for longer amounts of time because now based on my diet, I feel satiated for longer amounts of time and my mood is generally better as well. It’s not just me that is tracking this stuff, check out this super in-depth stack of a user trying to increase BDNF.

I wish you the best of luck, IF is something anyone can try and play around with without harming themselves too much (or needing much to start). Remember, there are many types of fasts that can be undertaken if one does not fit to your liking. You may will experience grumpiness and headaches at first, but with some will power it can be overcome.

Most studies as referenced to, do link to non-humans trials but some have been tested on humans and the results are somewhat similar. The supplements mentioned above and Bulletproof intermittent fasting are some ways people cope and try out IF and you are welcome to try them (but I recommend only do so after you have attempted ‘regular’ IF.). Go ahead and get started, create a TMS account and track your progress towards better health cognitive health.

– TrackMyStack Editorial Staff
Jeff & Asher

Why You Should Keep a Health Diary

Health Diaries

Keeping a health diary can be therapeutic, it can help you track how medication, supplements and your general lifestyle can be affecting your mood, your weight, sleep and overall health & fitness. It also makes it easy for you to discover triggers that may be leading to your flare-ups/symptoms.

Over time you can learn and see the pros and cons of particular treatment, realize your true adherence levels and use the journal to keep your caregiver, family and yourself aligned with your health goals. Your ultimate goal should be to:

  1. Analyze – The health problem
  2. Plan – Based on treatment provided by a caregiver
  3. Track – Build your treatment stack
  4. Maintain – Daily posts to your journal

Over time you can see how other patients just like you based on their treatment. Use it as a place for self-expression and update it whenever you can as we are mobile friendly and available on the web.

It only takes a few minutes to get started and especially if you have a health condition, there is no reason not to maintain one.

Instead of maintaining all your notes in your head, you can offload all your health concerns in one place, that is safe and secure. We provide the ability to graph various confounding factors and measurements from various aspects of your life.

A health diary is not limited to tracking your medicine intake, supplement intake, or sleep, there are various items being tracked by our members.

Keep in mind as part of maintaining a high adherence rate, we have information pages to educate you on drugs, supplements, vitamins, and herbs — it doesn’t stop with simply using TrackMyStack as a medicine reminding app.

List of Health Diaries You Can Maintain with TrackMyStack

  • Nutrition Diary
  • Workout Diary
  • Food Allergy Diary
  • Blood Pressure Diary
  • Cardiovascular Disease Diary
  • Weight Loss Diary + Weight Gain (Muscle)
  • Gluten-Free Diary
  • Sexual Health Diary
  • Infant/Baby Health Diary
  • Maternal Health Diary
  • Diabetes Diary

We have a list of main goals that we allow you to track, the top categories are:

  1. Cognitive Enhancement or Tracking Your Nootropics
  2. Increased Energy – Get natural energy levels up
  3. Mood Diary – Mood tracking to feel better, and less depressed, see what the trigger is, and how you felt throughout the month.
  4. Stress Journal – Manage and cope with stress.
  5. Improved Sleep – Record when you slept, and for how long, and if a supplement or drug was useful.
  6. Weight Loss – Track your weight loss journey from start to finish by recording your weight and taking pictures to see a measurable difference.
  7. Build Muscle – Record your daily supplement intake and sleep patterns.
  8. Increase Testosterone – Many things can lead to dropped levels, follow your treatment plan to improve your natural levels.
  9. Pre workout Stacks – Sometimes you need to “get in the zone” before hitting the weights, see which N.O. concoction is effective, other than the obvious.
  10. General Health Tracker – To be used for all chronic conditions, such as: Diabetes, ADHD, among others.
  11. Social Anxiety – There are things people are doing to improve, use their journal as a cornerstone to build your own regimen.
  12. Anti Aging – Some people abide by their supplements and fitness routine as the fountain of youth, see what their entire ‘health stack’ is.
  13. Prenatal & Baby Diary – For your sake and the sake of your new loved one.

Take a look at these two screenshots from a patients health diary that can be viewed by his family, himself and caregiver at any time from any device for free.

health-journal-screenshot  quantified-self-stack-log

Tracking your progress is the first step in managing your health, To get started instantly click here.

Supplements Everyone Should Take

Health-Supplements-To-Take

Supplements are an addition to a optimal diet, thus there is no best supplement for anyone. However, there are supplements such as Vitamin C or Magnesium that everyone probably lacks in. Below is a re-print of a pretty well summarized post as to what you can take, originally found on PasteBin.

Vitamin B1 – Thiamin – 20mg/day – performs decarboxylation reactions; required for complete catabolism of sugars and keto acids; destroyed by alcohol use; deficiency produces neurasthenia, neurodegeneration, and metabolic syndrome.

Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin – 20mg/day – forms FAD, a ubiquitous cofactor used for 2-electron reductions, including the enzyme that detoxifies aminochromes. Along with NADH, needed to extract metabolic energy from foods

Vitamin B3 – Niacinamide or Niacin – 250 or 500mg/day (up to 2g/day; requirement is substantially increased during stressful conditions, eg. schizophrenia, and liver disease) – Precursor to NAD and NADPH, the most fundamental cofactors in living organisms. Functional deficiency affects all life processes. NADH is used to extract high-energy electrons from food-derived carbohydrates and proteins. NADPH is widely used by proteins in biosynthetic electron transfer reactions and is part of some antioxidant enzymes. Supplementation has been repeatedly found to have significant benefits in many (perhaps most) degenerative diseases. Niacinamide inhibits the breakdown of NAD.

Vitamin B5 – Pantothenate – 25mg/day – part of Coenzyme A; essential for fat metabolism and oxidative respiration; excessiely excreted in metabolic syndrome.

Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate – 15mg/day – prone to oxidative destruction, especially when B3 is deficient; central to amino acid metabolism; deficiency arrests ‘non-essential’ protein synthesis; opioid addiction depletes vitamin B6.

Vitamin B9 – TetraHydroMethylFolate – 200ug/day – required to remethylate S-Adenosyl-Methionine; most people are functionally deficient; requirement increased by B12 deficiency; opioid addiction depletes folic acid.

Vitamin B12 – Methylcobalamin – 1000ug/day – normally produced by gut bacteria, which are impaired in everyone; required to recycle folic acid to allow for methylation; deficiency is associated with neurodegeneration.

Perhaps consider a High Bioavailable version of Vitamin B, click here to see one we recommend ($20).

Na-R-ALA – 10-100mg/day; along with thiamin (Alpha Lipoic Acid), oxidizes pyruvate produced by glycolysis; water/fat soluble antioxidant that recycles endogenous antioxidants; effective and non-toxic heavy metal chelator; low plasma levels are indicative of metabolic syndrome/diabetes; supplementation restores insulin sensitivity in diabetes and associated conditions (eg schizophrenia).

Vitamin D3 – Cholecalciferol – 5000 IU/day in winter, less with more sunlight exposure – produced from cholesterol by UV light in human skin. Mushroom skin produces the related compound Ergocalciferol, Vitamin D2, which can partially substitute for our own D3. Prevents calcium accumulation in soft tissue, plasma; prevents osteoporosis, may alleviate depression.

Vitamin E – d-Tocopherols – 30IU/day – up to 400IU/day depending on meat and PUFA consumption. Supplementation is not required if you eat only fruit. In most cases, avoid taking over 400IU/day. Best is to take a,b,g, and d (‘mixed’) tocopherols and tocotrienols rather than just a-tocopherol. Required for the hydrogenation of excess unsaturated fats and the prevention of their oxidation; spares and restores CoQ10. Antagonizes some of the effects of estrogen.

Magnesium – Magnesium Glycinate/chelate – 50-200mg/day Mg – required for ATP synthesis and retention; required for calcium absorption and utilization; prevents muscle cramping and bruxism. Consider L-Threonate for cognitive enhancement as it passes the BBB more easily into the brain.

Vitamin K2 – Menaquinone – 2mg/day – required for protein carboxylation; prevents bone demineralization and soft-tissue calcification; necessary for proper vitamin D and calcium metabolism; required for effective blood clotting. Vitamin D supplementation necessitates vitamin K supplementation. MK4 is the most active form of vitamin K in non-hepatic tissues.

Zinc – Zinc Picolinate/chelate – ~10mg/day of zinc – required for some antioxidant enzymes (Zn-SOD); required for insulin synthesis; various metabolic roles. Required for MAP binding to microtubules, and hence the structural integrity of neuronal dendrites. Disruption of Zn metabolism by aluminium is related to alzheimerism. Consider ZMA.

Selenium – Selenomethionine – 100ug/day – required for some antioxidant enzymes (GPx); required for the conversion of thyroid hormone to its active form (T3). Deficiency is associated with schizophrenia and diabetes.

Chlorella/Spirulina – 1-20g/day – single celled algae; extremely high in nearly all vitamins and minerals, as well as a wide variety of other biological molecules – good for detoxification. Can be eaten in unlimited amounts, like food.

Vitamin C – Preferably Magnesium, Potassium, or Sodium ascorbate – 10g/day; up to 300g/day for severe degenerative diseases – Apes cannot synthesize vitamin C and require enormous amounts from our diets. Required for many reduction/hydroxylation reactions (eg, synthesis of collagen, norepinephrine, carnitine). Spares and restores other antioxidants such as vitamin E and ALA. Subclinical deficiency impairs capillary integrity and catecholamine metabolism; promotes CVD, cancer, parkinsonism, schizophrenia, diabetes, and most other degenerative diseases. Cannot be obtained in even close to sufficient amounts, even on an all-fruit diet, since domesticated fruits are much lower in vitamin C and flavonoids than wild ones. Large (25g+) doses can be used to overcome opiate addiction, and to relieve pain. Adverse effects are extremely uncommon, with the exception of gastrointestinal discomfort at very high doses (which may itself be therapeutic).

Flavonoids – >500mg/day – catechol flavonoids are required for vitamin C activity; flavonoids improve the efficiency of many metabolic processes; substantially expand the protective capabilities of endogenous antioxidants; largely responsible for the health benefits of many foods. Berries, tea, chocolate, onions, and wine are well-studied sources.

Reishi/Cordyceps/Lion’s Mane – 1-5g/day – medicinal mushrooms; contain a multitude of natural nootropics, including noopept-like substances; broadly effective at preventing and reversing brain damage.
If you had to choose six of these, they’d be Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and vitamin K. They are inexpensive and nearly everyone is functionally deficient in them. Everything listed should be taken by anyone living in civilization who seeks to avoid disease and prevent aging.

For Vitamin C, try to find one that also includes flavonoids. For B3, niacin works about as well as niacinamide but also produces flushing and has blood lipid- and cholesterol-lowering effects.

Medication Tracker

vs our electronic medical log
Printable vs our electronic medical log

Not just another Medicine Organizer App

Tracking your medication intake is the single most important thing you can do to recover from any condition or symptoms you may be going through. Skipping a dose or worse yet not remembering can have detrimental consequences on your health and even other’s around you. If a dose is skipped or forgotten, it can throw your treatment into limbo and you may need to consult your primary care provider to assist you in determining how to get back on track.

However, there is a solution, a simple way to remain on track and remember if you have taken your medication or not and how it made you feel and what symptoms you experienced through taking the medication stack prescribed to you. The solution if it doesn’t seem obvious, is TrackMyStack. Below we will show you how our simple app lets you manage your pain, anxiety, stress, mood, and helps you save your thoughts in a log which can be exported or printed and presented to your caregiver, clearly showing the pills you took (the adherence to it), the exact time, the symptoms you felt and an arbitrary description of how you are or anything else you would like to note.

On top of this, you can do this for as many different conditions, symptoms, or health goals you may have all for free. It is absolutely amazing to discover a pattern which can change your life for the better. There is a saying that you can not improve that you cannot measure — at least in some way. Once you realize the and notice the difference (and perhaps get over the burden of recording your daily activities in the log, you can rest easy knowing — you are taking everything in your power to improve your health).

A stack is inherently designed in such a way that you can’t just “record your mood or anxiety”, the medication tracking component or “Stacking” aspect inherently makes you take ACTION against your symptom or condition. It does not need to be drugs or symptoms, but the creation of a stack is necessary to record your progress. Below we will quickly show you a few screenshots on how to go about record taking your medication in 3 simple steps.

Step 1 – Get Started – To Register: click here.

Involves creating a stack, you select your goal, describe it and add any supplements or medications or therapies involved in your treatment. You should look at a stack as a virtual “medicine organizer” that will keep things simple for you and even let people that care about you quickly check up on your adherence levels remotely over the internet. See below:

medication-tracking

Step 2 – Quickly Fill Your Stack

Involves typing in your supplements, prescription/OTC medicine, or anything you would like to track. We help auto-fill your pills, saving you time and also give you a recommendation and select the unit of measurement, so inputting and getting started is as painless as possible. A recent addition also provides recommendations based on existing treatments/stacks on what you can add to your stack that is effective for existing patients. Even though we provide the example with supplements, drugs, patches, drops, ointments, injections, herbal, vitamin, diet supplement and anything else you are doing can be added.

track-medicine

Step 3 – Recording Entries

We are working on an android and apple apps that will remind you to take your medicine at the right times. The screenshot below skips the first part of the log where you can write your notes about taking this dose, however, it does not show you how you can record a multitude of other things such as your energy levels, focus, memory, and mood. By default all medicine in the stack is set to on to speed up the process of making a post.

Once the entry is saved it can be viewed on your StackLog which shows your Adherence level and your notes, and not included in this entry is how you may also attach an image to your medication log.

medication-journal-app

The Output of the Medicine Schedule

The medicine schedule can be printed and looks great. It can be better than typing it out in excel or spending time making your own chart, and this way you can quickly edit or modify it whenever and from wherever. You can further make it and easily share it with your health provider as well, you can even ask your pharmacist or care provider to make the schedule or chart stack for you and put it in private mode if you think that is a better option. Below is what the chart looks like once it has been created, keep in mind this is not the stackLog which keeps a record of when you took your medication.

medicine chart

We make it easy for you to learn more about the supplement or drug you may be taking, we also allow you if it’s a supplement and legally allow you to buy it from a high-quality reliable source online. Additionally, if you feel like someone else’s stack makes sense for your health goal, and there are no interactions with your existing stack (as confirmed by preferably a pharmacist), you can order the stack directly from Amazon with the click of a button.

The Result of using us a Pill Reminder App

The graphs that are generated as mentioned earlier provide a comprehensive way to quickly understand what is causing your symptoms, aside from you printing out this medical log for your doctor, you may also get comments and recommendations from the community who is going through the exact same thing as you. The online version can fully be utilized as an app as the site is mobile friendly.

One main thing to keep in mind is the fact that the site is more than just a simple pill tracking or medicine reminder app. The site will help you remember what you need to take, it will record the progress of your treatment to measure effectiveness, but it will also work to help you learn more about yourself and your treatment via graphs, charts, logs, images and via the community.

In conclusion, TrackMyStack can be referred to as a simple Health Tracker for managing conditions and symptoms to not only dose safely but also to validate its effectiveness. It is perfect for children, adults and especially the elderly. We hope it helps you become a better you. To get started instantly click here.

How To Keep a Mood Diary Online To Feel Happy Again

Need a Simple Mood Tracking Diary?

mood scale

TrackMyStack is the best mood tracking app available online for free.

Do you frequently feel stressed, sad, anxious, or even unmotivated?

CBT or Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you identify negative thinking patterns.

Using the TrackMyStack thought mood diary, you may post check-ins which can include information on negative emotions you may be experiencing, analyze flaws in the way you think and change your thoughts accordingly.

We help you understand, evaluate and change your thoughts and feelings for the better.

 

 

Who Needs to track their Mood?

Perfect for people with mental disorders such as bipolar disorders or even kids and adults that simply want to see when they are stressed and want to measure it throughout the day.

Our platform has a scale from 1 to 10, from NOT HAPPY to EXTREMELY HAPPY to record mood and other measurements.

You can also use the notes area to record any other feelings such as how optimistic, sad, grateful your day is going as well.

We help you maintain a mood journal by providing you with four simple tools:

  • A Health Journal where you can record your mood but also any other symptoms, conditions you may have.
    • The Health Journal also enables you to record your nutrition & food, exercises, and keep notes with images.
  • A Stack that holds your Supplements & Drugs, where you can save your dosage, and set up reminders so you remember to take the items you need
  • Reports & Calendars, you can view your health over time in beautiful charts and see your reminders in a clean calendar
  • We not only let you connect with other users just like you, but we also let you see what others are doing to reach better health outcomes!

To get started with your mood journal right away click here.

We are always here to help you get better, so if you have any questions or concerns or feature requests, you may contact us.

 

What’s wrong with just using a mood tracking worksheet?

Keeping track of your mood via offline methods such as bullet PDFS, forms, journals or printing templates is a thing of the past, firstly, it needs to always be at hand, it is never 100% accurate, it can’t be accessed from everywhere and lastly it cannot provide graphs, charts and dig up statistical significant data from all your logging.

Using a spreadsheet software such as excel was the upgrade from a physical mood journal, but excel has limitations in that unless if your main file is stored on the cloud, you would have entries in various areas. TrackMyStack allows you to have your mood diary on the cloud, password protected or available to the public to give you feedback. It is better to have other’s there to help when needed.

 

What Do I Write In my Mood Diary?

With TrackMyStack you can “check-in” with your current mood as many times as you would like, whether it is hourly, daily, monthly or weekly!

It is the perfect, self-help tool that anyone with any mood disorders should use. The reports generated after multiple check-ins should be printed and shared with your caregiver or you can just monitor your own health and see what may be triggering your mood issues. You can try to answer some of the following questions consistently:

  1. What happened? Who were you with and where did this happen?
  2. What was going through your mind at the time? Can you describe how you felt and or have images?
  3. What were you doing before this incident?
  4. What did you do after you felt this way?

If you feel like you are ready to begin, click here.

 

Do I need a wearable device to track my mood?

It is optional, although we don’t suppose integrations with monitors of any kind, this data can be used and inputted manually by you on to TrackMyStack.

 

How do I maintain a mood journal?

The steps to maintaining a mood journey are:

  1. Create a stack of any medication or supplement you may be taking. If none, you still need to create a stack.
  2. Any “Check-in” posts now can be seen as a mood entry. You can leave most fields empty and select your mood from 1-10 at any time of the day, as many times as you would like daily/hourly etc. All For Free. We provide graphs and charts to see how you did that can be organized by different periods.
  3. If your stack is public you can optionally get feedback on your posts in your feed or on your stack. Be sure to cheer up others, it can good to be part of someone’s support network.

 

Is it available on iPhone, iPad/iOS, and Android?

Not yet but our website is mobile friendly which means after you have created a stack, we advise you to bookmark the “Check-in Post” page, so you can quickly and easily add your mood updates.

We are in the process of releasing an app in the coming months that will be as good as some of the other apps out there but with the synergistic medical/supplement/stack component attached to it. You can take a look at other applications such as t2 mood tracker or DBSA wellness tracker till then.

What else can you track?

  • Track Key Health Trends
  • Overall mood
  • Well-being
  • Period/Ovulation
  • Mood disorder symptoms
  • Lifestyle (including sleep, exercise, etc.)
  • Medication (any drug and quantitively record side effects)
  • Physical health
  • Track and & Manage any chronic pain
  • Track Symptoms & Conditions: Anxiety, Depression, Aspergers, etc.

Other organizations such as DBSA, BBR Foundation (Formerly: NARSAD), ADAA, MHA have their own wellness or tracking software, however, it is not as comprehensive as ours, and above that, some members of these nonprofit organizations have recommended our platform for many members.

Read to Begin?

We continue to work together with other organizations helping people with anxiety and other mental disorders. The main purpose of keeping a mood diary is to gradually change how you feel to situations over time which will help you make lasting changes in the way you think and behave.

You may begin for free by creating a stack, then checking-in to your health journal with your mood. If you like the platform you may upgrade to premium for additional options.

To get started using the mood tracker, click here