Our bogs have talked a lot about mental health and handling stress. But what about those issues that fall outside these categories that many of us struggle with? I’m talking about brain fog. While not a medically recognized condition, people often list it as a common complaint. Brain fog can encompass, forgetfulness, being easily distracted, having a poor memory of recent events, difficulty concentrating, or feeling “spaced out.”
Causes and Contributors To Brain Fog
There are many possible causes of brain fog. These causes may also be contributors to worsening brain fog:
Poor dietary choices: particularly harmful fats, processed foods, MSG, and excess sodium.
Allergies and food intolerances: particularly with gluten and/or dairy. The gut-brain connection is at work whenever we eat an offending food and it causes inflammation in our digestive system. This inflammation is communicated to our nervous system and influences our concentration and memory
Stress: no health complaint would be complete without listing stress as an underlying cause or risk factor. Chronic stress has unprecedented systemic effects across our whole body. When our adrenal system is overstimulated (which happens when we are chronically stressed), our production of hormones becomes off-balance, causing physiological changes in our brain. These changes can lead to compromised concentration, working memory, and motivation.
Medications: pain medications, anti-anxiety medications, and sleep aids (prescription and non-prescription) can cause brain fog. Further, the interaction of various medications in the body can exacerbate brain fog symptoms.
Health conditions: type 2 diabetes, low-functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism including Hashimoto’s), high blood pressure, depression, and anemia, are some conditions that may cause brain fog.
Poor sleep: like stress, not getting adequate sleep can contribute to a host of health conditions throughout the body, including brain fog symptoms. In fact, poor sleep is associated with cognitive decline in middle-aged adults. Getting proper sleep boosts our mental clarity and energy levels, along with healthy functioning across all body systems.
Solutions For Brain Fog
It is important to determine which underlying cause is at the root of your brain fog with the help of a medical professional. However there are many ways to find relief from brain fog that will help regardless of specific causes:
Get enough sleep (7 to 9 hours) and practice healthy sleep habits: this includes avoiding blue-light screens close to bedtime, limiting daytime napping, avoiding intense work or research close to bedtime, and finish eating dinner 2-3 hours before bed.
Eat healthy fats: Omega 3 fatty acids play important roles in brain health. Saturated fat from plant products, like coconut oil, provides energy and protection to our brain. In contrast, too much saturated fat from animal products can lead to worsening memory and cognition over time.
Eat antioxidant-rich foods: These are found in green, leafy vegetables and brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants work by fighting off free-radical molecules which damage our mitochondria (the energy-producing part of our cells). Antioxidants therefore have a powerful impact on brain fog symptoms (and most any other symptoms we have!).
Exercise: aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching all stimulate our body to release hormones that improve brain health, focus, energy levels, and mood.
If you are feeling a bit forgetful, distracted, or struggle with poor attention or concentration, talk with our team at Healthy Connections! We uncover the underlying cause of symptoms and create a personalized plan that addresses your brain fog at its source. Take the guesswork out of your health concerns and start taking control today! Schedule a free discovery call with us, here!