Having trouble with your thinking? Forgetting names? Walking into a room to get something and forgetting what you wanted to get? If you are older, you might start wondering whether you are showing the first signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. This is extremely scary. But many of us are showing these symptoms even without having Alzheimer’s Disease. We are suffering from brain fog and there is something you can do about it.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog is a term used to describe difficult thinking where the mind feels “fuzzy” or “foggy”. Thoughts don’t come as quickly, we can’t remember names or numbers, and our thinking just feels slow and labored. The brain feels like it won’t hold focus.
Triggers for Brain Fog
Numerous factors can create brain fog and can make it a chronic condition. Some of the most important include inflammation and leaky gut.
The Damaging Role of Inflammation
Inflammation is systemic in the body. When the body is inflamed, the brain is inflamed. A major cause of inflammation in the body is consuming inflammatory foods. Some foods are inflammatory to most people – these include sugar, dairy products, gluten, and most grains. This group of inflammatory foods is pretty much the standard American diet so most people will eventually experience inflammation and brain fog because of their diet. In addition, some people are sensitive to particular foods that might not bother other people. And people with leaky gut are sensitive to numerous foods, and eating those foods produces widespread inflammation as well as brain fog.
When you have leaky gut, the intestinal walls become permeable and microscopic particles of food are able to pass through and enter directly into the blood. Since this is not supposed to occur, it triggers an immune response in the body against those particular food particles. Someone experiencing leaky gut can have multiple food and chemical sensitivities as a result of this leaky gut. There is data now showing a relationship between “leaky brain syndrome” and leaky gut. Leaky gut is linked to brain inflammation and is a primary cause of brain fog.
Candida is an overgrowth of yeast in the intestinal tract. The standard American diet which is high in sugar is a major contributor to candida infections and candida infections are major contributors to brain inflammation.
There are numerous other issues that can contribute to brain fog. Each of these need to be evaluated when someone is experiencing long term brain fog. These include thyroid issues, viruses, toxins such as heavy metal toxicity, medications that can be damaging the brain, smoking, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and stress and anxiety.
Strategies to Clear Your Thinking:
1. Reduce Inflammation
The first thing you need to do if you experience brain fog is to remove the obvious sources of inflammation in your body. A sugar-free and grain-free diet can be an excellent first step in removing inflammatory substances. If you are not sure if you are sensitive to these foods, try an experiment. Commit to going sugar and grain free for one week. Take pictures of your face before starting. During the week, you will likely experience “flu-like” symptoms. They are clues that your body is “detoxing” from inflammatory foods. After one week, take another photo of your face. What do you notice? Chances are good that your face will look entirely different and that you will lose much of the bloat and puffiness that were present in the before picture. That bloat and puffiness is evidence of inflammation from the food you were eating. The picture will show you the effect of inflammatory foods on your body but you will also start noticing the effect on your mind. Thinking will be clearer as the brain fog starts to go away.
2. The Importance of Light
Our brain needs Vitamin D and sunlight to thrive. Be sure to make time to be outside in the sunlight.
3. Are Carbs Weakening Your Mind?
Not only are some foods inflammatory by nature (sugar, grains) but excess carbohydrates are also inflammatory. Excess carbohydrate consumption leads to high blood sugar and numerous spikes in insulin as the body tries to deal with the high blood sugar which is caused by the high carbohydrate consumption. High blood sugar levels and high insulin levels are also causes of brain inflammation and brain fog. Limiting carbohydrate consumption and normalizing blood sugar levels are critical steps for reducing brain inflammation and brain fog.
4. Eating for Your Brain
Eating a diet that will normalize blood sugar, includes a wide range of nutrients, eliminates inflammatory foods, and includes adequate protein is critical for your body and critical for your brain. Following an anti-inflammatory food plan is extremely important and monitoring blood sugars can be extremely useful.
Seeds can provide fiber and healthy omega-3 fats. Fatty seafood like wild salmon is also an excellent source of essential omega-3 fats. Coconut oil has also been shown to provide medium chain fatty acids which have a positive impact on brain function.
In summary, an anti-inflammatory diet with an emphasis on meeting all of the body’s nutritional needs is extremely important in “eating for the brain.”
5. Supplements for Clear Thinking
Talk with your physician about supplements that might have a positive effect on your brain function. Many people need a good source of Omega-3 fats which can help brain function as well as reduce general body and brain inflammation. For many people, adding probiotics can reduce general inflammation and can be an important supplement for body and brain health.
6. The Importance of Exercise
Studies have shown exercise to be extremely important for brain health. In fact, in many cases exercise can be the best antidepressant for the body. It helps reduce stress and helps the body clear toxins by sweating. A regular exercise program is extremely beneficial for the brain.
7. Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner to Review Your Specific Condition
It is very important to talk to a Functional Medicine Practitioner about your brain fog. You must be checked for more severe possibilities and to exclude those before you know you are dealing with brain fog and not some more severe disorder. Describe your diet and lifestyle to the practitioner and find out which of the multiple possible causes are most likely causing your problem. By working on the root causes of brain fog with your functional medicine practitioner, you should be able to resolve this issue and experience a general improvement in your overall health as well.