What is brain fog?
Brain fog is not a medically recognized term but is a commonly used phrase that sums up feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity. Having brain fog is fairly common, but it’s not normal.
Here is a list of how some people describe brain fog:
- Your head, mind, and brain feel foggy or like in a fog.
- It feels like you have a foggy head, foggy mind.
- You have difficulty thinking, concentrating, and/or forming thoughts.
- Some people describe this symptom as being “foggy-headed” or having a “foggy head.”
- It seems as if your thoughts are illusive, and things that you once knew seem hard to comprehend or recall.
- It feels like your short-term memory isn’t as good as it used to be.
- It feels like normal intellectual tasks seem much more difficult.
- You find it hard to focus and concentrate.
- You are more forgetful (forget things that you normally wouldn’t).
- You have difficulty focusing on and carrying on conversations.
- Your thoughts seem like in a cloud.
- Your thinking isn’t as clear as it normally is.
3 Things that Could be Causing Your Brain Fog
#1: Your Diet
- Refined carbohydrates like sugar and high fructose corn syrup send your blood sugar level skyrocketing up, then crashing down.
- And since your brain uses glucose as its main source of fuel, this puts your brain on a roller coaster ride — first too much, then too little glucose.
- Low brain glucose leads to brain fog, mood swings, irritability, tiredness, mental confusion, and impaired judgment.
The low-fat diet fad has backfired, making us the fattest people who have ever walked the earth.
- Your brain is largely comprised of fat, about 60% by dry weight, and low-fat diets have been as disastrous for our brains as they’ve been for our waistlines.
- Glucose is usually the brain’s main fuel source, but our brains are quite happy to burn fat which he calls “super fuel” for the brain.
- Getting roughly 50% fat from healthy sources like nuts, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, wild salmon, eggs, and grass-fed meat is excellent for your brain.
Consuming foods you’re allergic or sensitive to can certainly put you in a mental fog.
- The average American gets two-thirds of their calories from wheat, corn, and soy, and these are among the most common food allergies.
- The other top allergy-causing foods are dairy, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts.
- If you suspect that you react adversely to any foods you normally eat, cut them out of your diet for a week or two and notice how you feel.
Anytime you eat processed food, restaurant food, or fast food, you are almost certainly getting more salt, sugar, fat, and food additives than you might think.
- Two of the worst kinds of additives for your brain are MSG and artificial sweeteners.
Drinking enough water seems like common sense, yet 75% of Americans are thought to be chronically dehydrated.
- Your brain is 75% water by volume and even mild dehydration will affect your ability to think clearly.
- It takes only 2% dehydration to affect your attention, memory and other cognitive skills.
- Ninety minutes of sweating can shrink the brain as much as one year of aging!
- The effects of dehydration on the brain can be so noticeable that they mimic the symptoms of dementia.
Coffee and tea offer a lot of health benefits and can help you stay alert and focused.
- The downside of the caffeine in these drinks is that it’s addictive.
- So if you get cut off from your supply, either on purpose or by circumstance, you can experience withdrawal symptoms that include brain fog, headache, fatigue, and even flu-like symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
- If you enjoy caffeinated drinks, as most of us do, consume moderately and strategically to avoid caffeine highs and subsequent crashes that can leave you jittery, irritable, and mentally foggy.
The Simple Solution: Eat Real Food
- You will avoid most of the brain fog causes mentioned above by minimizing processed food and eating real food instead.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, meat, eggs, and fish — NOT the processed foods that make up the majority of items in the grocery store.
- Following this one rule will reduce your load of sugar and food additives while increasing the healthy foods your brain needs to thrive.
- Food quality matters and so does food quantity.
Skipping meals can leave you with a fuzzy brain,
so can eating too much at one sitting.
#2 Too Much Stress
1. High levels of stress hormones (caused from worry, stress, fear, anger, frustration, and anxiety), because they are stimulants, cause an increase in the electrical activity in the brain. Increased electrical activity in the brain causes the brain to generate an increase in thought generation and at a faster rate. This change can cause our attention to be more easily sidetracked, which can cause split attention and focus making it seem like our thoughts are foggy.
2. Persistent anxiousness and its stress response consequences can cause persistent brain function changes. As we mentioned in point one, stress hormones suppress the rationalization areas of the brain (the cortex) and increase the activity in the fear center of the brain (the amygdala). This combination reduces the ability to logically rationalize and process information while at the same time increases the awareness of danger, fear, apprehension, gloom and doom – many describe anxiety as a sense of sudden or ongoing foreboding and doom. The more anxious we are, the more persistent these changes become. Persistent anxiousness can cause persistent brain fog and foggy head.
3. Stress responses also suppress the hippocampus – the learning and memory area of the brain. As the body’s stress elevates, the suppression it causes can make it more difficult for the brain to store and retrieve information.
4. Elevated stress taxes the body’s resources harder and faster than normal, causing it to become tired more quickly. When the body becomes tired, it has a harder time functioning normally, including processing, storing, and retrieving information.
#3 Not Enough Sleep
Here are some tips to help you get more sleep:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
- Get regular exercise, but do not exercise close to bedtime. Experts recommend allowing at least three hours between exercise and bed.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before going to sleep.
- Take time to unwind before going to sleep. Take a warm bath, read a book, drink some caffeine-free tea, and avoid any activities that can cause tension.
- Finish eating two to three hours before going to bed.
- Create a pleasant sleeping environment: make the room dark, cool, and comfortable.
- Use a sound machine, or other type of white noise device, to block out unwanted sounds.
- Do not watch TV or use the computer in bed. Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including getting regular and quality sleep, can be a challenge, especially when you are stressed with a work deadline or test. But, remember (and you need sleep to do this!), sleep is your friend. So, when it comes to learning and memory, sleep on it.
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