Although brain fog primarily occurs in adults, in children it can cause distractibility, inattentiveness, and lack of focus. Because of these symptoms, the condition is often mistaken for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Do you feel like you are not yourself anymore? Is concentrating at work becoming a hard task for you? Are your children constantly reminding you that you have forgotten something for the house when you shouldn’t have? If all these sound familiar to you, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing what is popularly known as brain fog.
Brain fog may be the beginning of various health conditions that you can control if diagnosed early. But it isn’t a medical condition, which means that the only line of defense against it is to do what is right for your body – leading a healthy lifestyle. So, if you are muddled in the head and don’t know exactly what you need to do to get rid of your brain fog, here are a few tips we’ve rounded up for you.
What is good for the body is also good for your brain. So besides eating clean, here are a few things that would be of help.
This herb was traditionally used as a nervine to ease anxiety and stress. It does this by increasing the levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the body which is a calming neurotransmitter. This compound also improves energy levels and mitochondrial health. By relieving anxiety and calming your nerves the herb might help you focus on your tasks better.1
How to use: Add 1 tablespoon of powdered ashwagandha root into your everyday smoothie.
This superfood derives its name from the word “strength” in the Mayan language. And strength is exactly what your brain needs when you suffer from brain fog. Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fats, which are important for brain development, neuron function, and mental clarity.2 Besides they make for the perfect alternative to seafood for vegans and vegetarians.
How to use: Sprinkle some chia seeds over a bowl of oatmeal, soak them overnight in milk and flavored yogurt for a pudding, or add a teaspoon to your smoothie.
Medium-chain triglycerides might be able to help jog your memory and help you focus. They provide your body with enough fat to convert to ketones and provide the neurons in your brain with an alternative source of energy, preventing fatigue.3 4 And research shows that MCT oil may have a therapeutic effect on patients with Alzheimer’s disease by supporting mental clarity and memory.5 That said, when you do buy MCT oil, ensure that it contains a higher concentration of short-chain fats (more C8 than C10). That is because the shorter chain fats are quickly converted by the body into fast and usable energy.
How to use: Add 1 teaspoon of MCT oil to your smoothie per day. Or add it to a glass of warm water. Be sure not to have too much because that can upset your stomach. In fact, some people experience fatigue, light-headedness, energy drops, and increased heart rate after having too much of the oil.
Maca root was used in traditional medicine to treat chronic fatigue syndrome. It enhances energy, stamina, athletic performance, and memory while regulating stress by lowering cortisol release. This might even help focus better on the tasks at hand.6
How to use: Add powdered maca root to smoothies, soups, or morning health shots. Maca is also eaten baked or roasted and used for making a fermented drink called maca chicha.
Bee pollen is harvested from flowers and packed into pellets by worker honeybees. Besides being rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids, and bioflavonoids, it has adaptogenic properties that increase memory function and improve our ability to think, learn, and concentrate.7 This ingredient is also high in vitamin B, which boosts energy levels and is vital for the functioning of neurotransmitter pathways that help you think clearly and stay energetic.
How to use: Bee pollen’s subtle and sweet flavor and makes for a good addition to smoothies. However, people with pollen allergies, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers must avoid bee pollen.
Also known as golden root or Arctic root, this herb grows at high altitudes in the Arctic regions of Asia and Eastern Europe. It has adaptogenic and antioxidant properties that stimulate cognitive function, reduce mental fatigue, and increase physical performance.8 In addition to these properties, the phytonutrients present in Rhodiola positively impact your mood and energy by regulating neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. In doing this, the herb increases dopamine sensitivity, which has been shown to improve mood. However, since it can be somewhat addictive, it’s best to take a break every two weeks to maximize its effectiveness.9
Rhodiola is available in the form of tea, capsules, and tablets. Supplements are prone to adulteration so it might be best to look for brands that have the USP or NSF seal, which are (third-party, non-profit) organizations that assure purity. Be sure to check that supplements contain 3% rosavins and 1% salidrosides which are the herb’s naturally occurring proportions of these compounds.
How to use: Take a Rhodiola capsule or tablet, or sip on a tea made from its root in the morning on an empty stomach. Or go for 400–600 mg of the powder in warm water after consulting a professional.
Proteins are essential brain foods that can improve sharpness, memory, and even give our moods a boost. Proteins affect brain performance because they supply amino acids that make the neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters carry messages or signals from the brain cells to the different parts of the body to carry out their individual tasks.10
When the proteins in your diet are low, the brain becomes low on the mood-regulating chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Eating good sources of proteins that contain tryptophan can boost the levels of serotonin and dopamine as well as boost energy, reduce anxiety, regulate pain eventually leading to mental clarity. Sources of proteins include lean meat, eggs, oily fish like salmon, nuts like almonds, seeds, dairy products like cottage cheese, tofu, beans, and legumes.
If you’ve got a gluten sensitivity, your brain fog might be due to the damage that foods with gluten cause to your body and brain. Although the exact mechanism behind this isn’t yet understood, it might do you good if you give up gluten.11
Wheat, barley, rye, and oats are some grains that contain gluten. Substitute them with rice, corn, and millets as much as possible.
Regularly eating refined carbs can fry your brain. In fact, studies have found that doing so can cause cognitive impairment and pose a barrier to your learning abilities.12
So how does one tell if a product is refined? Most products that contain “flour” or “wheat flour” in the ingredient list often contain processed carbs. Corn syrup, honey, and maple syrup can also have adulterants that carry refined carbs. Instead, opt for carbs from whole grains and locally-produced foods. Stay away from artificial and added sugar.
Here’s an unfortunate nemesis to our health that we all love. Ironically, although we consume caffeine to stimulate us, it can trigger a brain fog. In fact, over time, caffeine increases our resistance to itself by increasing the number of adenosine (a chemical that triggers sleep and slows our bodies down) receptors in the brain. Thus, our dependency on caffeine increases and we rely on it to function. And if you’re addicted to your caffeine, there’s a good chance that, in a few years, you will experience brain fog more often than not. So while caffeine may not directly cause brain fog, becoming addicted to it certainly does.13
What can you have instead of caffeine? Reduce your dependence with the help of tea and chocolate.
Being under the influence can make your thoughts fuzzy. Alcohol can cross the blood-brain barrier more efficiently than even medication. This is why it affects our balance, motor function, verbal center, and even our sense of judgement. And while the effects are short-lived, they’re worth avoiding if you’re trying not to get a brain fog.14
So avoid alcohol consumption when you have a big event or presentation coming up. When consuming for recreation, keep the quantities moderate. Additionally, choose drinks with a lower percentage of alcohol (like wine or beer) to prevent severe effects on the body.
Artificial sweeteners are pasted across the “do not consume” lists in several health food articles and for good reason. Artificial sweeteners can cause a spike in blood glucose levels, resulting in brain fog. If abused, some sweeteners can also cause brain tumors.15
Substitute them with natural sweeteners like jaggery. Use unadulterated natural sweeteners to give you not just the taste but a host of other nutrients as well.
Your digestive system is way more important than you might believe. In fact, it is closely linked to the brain. This is because a majority of the mood-regulating chemical serotonin, which is responsible for happiness and other positive moods, is produced in the gut. The chemical also synthesizes vitamin B12, which is important for the development of the brain and nerve cells. Certain studies have shown that people with chronic digestive issues respond slower than people without them.16
Therefore, it is important to know what you are allergic to and which foods can cause you uneasiness or discomfort. Having foods that you are allergic or intolerant to can cause stress and can make thinking and focusing hard for you.
If you are unable to figure out the food causing you your tummy troubles, go for an elimination diet if the issue is not too serious. If your allergic reactions are severe like an inability to breathe, visit your doctor at the earliest.
Stress is almost inevitable in our lives today. However, if you are not managing stress the right way, it may cause you fatigue and even brain fog leaving you feeling like you are a different person. Therefore, if stress is causing your brain fog symptoms, try to make these changes to your lifestyle.
Exercising regularly is one of the best remedies to combat stress. Vigorous exercises produce endorphins – chemical substances that help you relax. Some people find it refreshing to include some physical activity in the morning before they start their day while others find it relaxing to exercise after a long day at work.
Walking is a good way to start some physical activity if you are not moving enough. It is a low-risk activity that requires minimal athletic ability and puts very little stress on the body. For others who find walking too boring, joining Zumba classes can do the deal. Those who find it difficult to head to the gym or classes can work out in their own personal space. Just to be more motivated, drag your friends into your fitness routine.
Yoga is another way you can fight stress and keep your mind focused and clear. Yoga uses certain specific movements, muscle contractions, controlled breathing, and attention to provide your body and mind some peace. Yoga can help you tone your body, increase your flexibility at the same time improve your mental clarity and concentration.
There are many yogasanas or yoga postures and pranayama or breathing exercises that you can practice every day to relax your mind and body, improving your concentration to do daily tasks. However, if you are new to yoga, it is always better to have a yoga instructor to guide your movements because even the trivial things are important and may have adverse effects if they are not carried out the right way.
Sleep is absolutely necessary for every individual to rest the body and the mind and to wake up with maximum energy the following morning. Sleep deprivation can lead to stress and this can have negative effects on the brain function and can also lead to moodiness, irritability, and may even speed up your aging process.
The lack of sleep not only affects your energy levels and your mind but can also affect your food habits. For instance, the lack of sleep can lead to hormonal changes that may cause unwanted weight gain. Therefore, it is important for an average adult to get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. The number of hours may increase for children or other individuals that require more rest due to their daily physical activities. Some people, especially those in a sedentary lifestyle, require only five to six hours of sleep.
Studies have also shown that a lack of proper sleep causes an elevation in cortisol levels.17 Cortisol levels decrease the function of mood-regulating chemicals like dopamine and serotonin and therefore, your body becomes more prone to mood swings and irritability. This, in turn, causes you to feel like you cannot decide anything and keeps your brain feeling fogged.
Don’t limit yourself to only these lifestyle changes. You can calm your body and mind in other easy ways. Listening to your favorite music, planning a vacation with your loved ones, maintaining a journal, body baths, etc are ways you can calm both your body and mind thereby getting rid of a brain fog that you may experience.
So, if you ever feel absent-minded or cannot make decisions well, you know that your brain is fogged and feels scattered. You need to heal your body and mind and that will happen if you eat healthy and live healthy. A healthy lifestyle can clear your cloudy thoughts getting you back on track to face your everyday tasks and challenges.