Brain fog. It’s a commonly used phrase that sums up feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity.
Basically you feel like you just can’t think, which can be very frustrating and even downright frightening.
Everyone feels a little fuzzy-headed once in a while, but if you suffer from brain fog frequently, you certainly would like to get your mental clarity back.
So, let’s take a look at the variety of possible brain fog causes — there are a lot of them!
Then I’ll go into detail on the 3 major causes of brain fog and give you concrete steps to get your brain back on track fast.
An Abundance of Causes
Since brain fog is a catch-all symptom there are many, many things that can cause it.
Here’s a quick rundown of possibilities:
- You can temporarily suffer with brain fog from lack of sleep, low blood sugar, seasonal allergies, food allergies, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalance following heavy exercise.
- If you are a woman of “a certain age,” brain fog is a common symptom of menopause.
- Brain fog can be caused by medications. Click here for list of medications that are known culprits.
- Chemotherapy has a well-known side effect referred to as “chemo fog” or “chemo brain.”
- Toxins and pollution of all kinds can affect your thinking. This includes air pollution, fluoride in our water supply, and EMF (electromagnetic frequency) pollution from cell phones and wifi.
- Substance abuse of any kind can lead to being mentally unclear.
- Sometimes a mental fog can be a symptom of a more serious condition such as mercury poisoning, hormonal imbalance, depression, fibromyalgia, or Lyme disease.
- Losing mental clarity is often considered a “normal” side effect of aging, but that doesn’t mean it is an inevitable consequence of growing older.
Clicking on the links above will take you to related articles on either Natural News or my blog Be Brain Fit.
Brain Fog Culprit #1 — When Food Is the Problem
One major cause of brain fog could be the food you eat.
Dietary advice has gotten ridiculously complicated. But today we’re going to make it real, real simple …
EAT REAL FOOD.
Those 3 words will take you a long way towards eating the best diet for your brain (and overall health).
If it comes in a box or package it’s not “real” — it’s processed. Even if it’s from the “health” food store.
Many “health food” snacks still contain things you want to avoid like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, and flour (even if it’s whole wheat).
Eating unprocessed food will keep you away from some of the worst offending chemicals that mess with your brain like MSG and artificial sweeteners. These are known neurotoxins which can literally excite brain cells to death.
Your brain needs all three macronutrient groups: proteins for neurotransmitter production, complex carbohydrates for steady brain glucose levels, and healthy fats. Your brain needs fat. It’s largely made up of fat, especially DHA (and omega-3 fatty acid) and cholesterol.
Skipping meals can leave you in a fog. So can eating too large a meal. If you’ve ever felt like you need a nap after a big meal you know what I mean.
You may be eating foods you’re allergic to. The most common allergens that can contribute to your lack of focus include soy, dairy, and any food that contains gluten, especially wheat. Shockingly, the average American gets 70% of their calories from these 3 foods!
If you suspect you are allergic to any foods, keep a log of what you eat and how you feel afterward.
You might be surprised to see clear patterns develop rather quickly. Cut out any questionable food for at least a week and notice if you start thinking more clearly.
Brain Fog Culprit #2 — When Lack of Sleep Is the Problem
63 million Americans complain of sleeping difficulties. If you have brain fog, it’s likely you’re one of them.
Your brain needs sleep. Sleep is critical to the way your brain works in both the short and the long-term.
While you sleep, cerebral fluid rushes in, “power washing” your brain, clearing it of debris.
You consolidate memories while you sleep. Lack of sleep affects your ability to remember what you learned the previous day.
Every day you lose brain cells, but every night you have the opportunity to create new brain cells … provided you are getting enough high-quality uninterrupted sleep.
Brain Fog Culprit #3 — When Stress Is the Problem
Stress has become a weird badge of honor in our society. Being stressed is wrongly equated with being productive, popular and successful.
But in fact, stress puts you at greater risk for every major disease you hope you never get … including dreaded brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Prolonged stress leads to anxiety, depression, poor decision making, insomnia, and memory loss. Stress can literally cause your brain to shrink and that’s as harmful as it sounds.
Getting the sleep you need and eating a brain-healthy diet will help diminish stress. Two more things you can do are exercise and meditate.
Physical exercise increases endorphins and delivers more glucose and oxygen to the brain. Recent research shows that physical exercise may be the single most important thing you can do for your brain.
You don’t need to knock yourself out to give your brain small energy boosts throughout the day. It turns out that the simple act of getting up off your butt can go a long way to get your brain out of its fog.
Over 20 million Americans meditate regularly. The US Marines use meditation to help troops deal with stressful situations they face on the job. “It’s like doing pushups for the brain,” one general says.
Corporate executives at General Mills, Target, Google, Apple, Nike, HBO, Procter & Gamble, and Aetna Insurance use it to maximize their brain power.
Meditation can make you happier, smarter, and more resilient regarding life’s ups and downs. Regular meditators experience improved focus and concentration, greater creativity, stress reduction, and better sleep.
Research shows it can actually decrease your biological age by 12 years. Wow! If the drug companies could bottle the benefits of meditation they’d be ecstatic. It would be their new billion dollar pill!
Meditation the traditional way can take years to master. Who’s got the time for that?
That’s why I listen to sound technology to get the same benefits instantly. All you have to do is lay back and listen. It doesn’t get much easier than this!
Here’s a link to OmHarmonics where you can download one of my all-time favorite meditations for free.
What About Supplements?
Maybe you are already doing what you can — you eat well, sleep well, exercise, and meditate — but still aren’t operating at your best. You might then want to consider taking nutrients that are proven beneficial for brain function.
Supplements at the top of the list to consider are:
- An omega-3 essential fatty acid supplement — found in high concentrations in the brain, omega-3s are crucial to memory and overall brain health and function, yet are widely lacking in our diet.
- Vitamin D and B12 — both vitamins are essential to brain health and deficiencies are common.
- An antioxidant formula — prevents free radical damage to which brain cells are particularly susceptible.
- A high-quality multivitamin — fills in nutritional gaps and acts as nutritional insurance when you don’t eat as well as you should. Studies have found that this alone can improve brain function.
- A supplement created specifically to boost your brain.
There are many more things you can do for your brain fog, but this “tip of the iceberg” information should get you started.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Deane Alban holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years. She teaches the best ways to stay mentally sharp for life at her website BeBrainFit.com. Brain fog, “senior moments”, and fuzzy thinking are signs your brain is not working as well as it should. Discover how to nourish your brain and optimize your brainpower — sign up for her email series 21 Days to a Brighter Brain here.
Like most people, I took my brain for granted … until it stopped working as well as it used to. Read about my story and how I conquered “midlife brain fog” here.