Brain Fog And How to Deal With It
Do you experience brain fog on a regular basis? Lots of us do, and it decreases our quality of life to varying degrees. It’s kind of a perplexing state of mind. We want to focus but can’t. We want to think clearly and make the decisions that are right for us, but those clear-minded, confident conclusions elude us. Brain fog is an issue of cognition. It’s not a straightforward medical condition. This makes it even more confusing.
Which is why I want to spend some time defining brain fog, and coming up with effective ways to deal with it.
If you have brain fog, you probably have a really hard time getting your work done. Concentrating on your projects for than just a few minutes can feel nearly impossible. Your mind might feel foggy. You might feel like there’s a general haze hanging over your head. Maybe you feel mentally tired, or downright exhausted. You might be overly forgetful, and have a difficult time performing the mental tasks that used to come easily.
What causes brain fog?
Speaking from experience, I can say for a fact that stress and anxiety cause brain fog. There’s no clear thinking going on when you’re in a state of anxiety. And you certainly don’t have the wherewithal to get any kind of quality work done. Stress is the worst, and it’s one of the most common causes of modern our day mental ills. If you’re wondering why this happens, here’s the gist of it: your hormones become imbalanced. Cortisol rises, and your fight or flight response kicks in. Your body wants to flee or freeze. There’s no room for clarity of thought when this happens.
You can probably relate. We all deal with periods in our lives that are super stressful. You probably know just how “brain dead” you felt. Of course, the antidote is to relieve your stress through healthy means. I love using essential oils to decrease stress. I also like listening to a guided meditation, or flamenco music, as this is the kind of music that speaks to my soul. Taking hot baths with an aromatic bath bomb is a great way to alleviate stress at the end of the day. Having a regular yoga and/or meditation practice is also incredibly beneficial.
Meditation for brain fog
And because meditation is a healing technique that focuses directly on the mind, I would say this is probably one of the most effective ways to alleviate brain fog.
I suggest starting slow. You might want to try a mere 5 minutes of meditation. Any style will do. Slowly, you’ll build up to a longer practice. Before long, you’ll find yourself meditating for 20-30 minutes each morning. I fell in love with meditation, and I hope you do, too.
Spend time in nature
Nature is a natural sedative. I say spend as much time outdoors as you possibly can—even in the winter. My other job (besides writing) is dog walking and pet sitting. Walking my furry charges is infinitely relaxing, and I do it nearly every day, and sometimes with multiple furry families. Get outside for a morning walk as soon as the sun rises. Getting sun early in the morning helps set your internal clock, which will help you sleep better at night. Which leads me to sleep...
Make sleep a priority
When you sleep each night, your brain gets a deep cleaning. Sleeping is a time to naturally restore your mind. And this happens each and every night. Which is why you need to make good sleep a priority to clear the fog. Think about how difficult it is to think straight when you’re sleep deprived. It’s really hard! If you happen to have sleep issues, make sure you address them—naturally, and without a pharmaceutical sleeping pill, ideally.
Of course, there are times that call for quick fixes. But, over the long run, you’ll want to find natural ways to get good sleep. I love sleeping with a lavender infused cotton pad next to my pillow. I also use white noise and try to go to bed at roughly the same time each night. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part, this is key for proper rest. Make your dreamtime a luxurious ritual, and if sleep eludes you some nights, that’s normal. No need to be too anxious about it, which only exacerbates the issue.
Ditch your car
About ten years ago, I ditched my car. And, I don’t live in a great city for public transport. But, I’ve managed to walk and bike most places I go. I get rides from friends and family when need be, call an Uber, or take a bus. This care-free, car-free lifestyle has forced me to move my body way more than when I drove everywhere. It’s better for the environment and better for your health. All that walking and biking clears brain fog as the process is a natural contemplation/meditation in nature. And, I love it.
Address hormonal imbalances
Hormonal imbalances often disrupt sleep. Most of us gals know that during our PMS time, sleep is often compromised. And, this happens for men, too. Balanced hormones equal a balanced and clear mind. Imbalanced hormones make for foggy thinking. If you sense that something’s up with your hormones, ask your doctor, or look into natural ways to balance your hormones.
Eat right to think right
Everything you eat impacts the health of your brain. Too much sugar and processed foods can easily lead to brain fog. This is due to the overgrowth of unhealthy gut bacteria that happens when you’re overloaded with sugar. Ever had candida? If so, you may have experienced brain fog, too. If you have food allergies you’re not aware of, you might be experiencing brain fog and need to do an elimination diet. Some of the most common food allergens are peanuts, aspartame, MSG, gluten, and conventional dairy. Make sure you’re eating a colorful diet—one that’s nutrient-dense as opposed to nutrient-poor. And eat your omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fatty fish or a supplement. Your brain will thank you.
A healthy gut equals a healthy mind
Many people report that once they take gluten out of their diet, they have much more energy and think so much more clearly. What’s up with that? Well, our brains are intimately connected to our tummies. There’s something called the gut-brain axis. It’s a biochemical communication system between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. This connection has been known for quite awhile. But, as more studies come to the fore, we’re finding that the microflora of our gut impacts the brain, and thus, our behavior. A healthy gut would then equate to a healthy brain.
Which begs the question, how do we make sure our tummy is healthy? First off, we eliminate sugar, or most sugars. Too much sugar disrupts the balance of our gut microbiome. It makes unhealthy bacteria grow in the tummy, which can lead to all sorts of problems. We also must learn how to manage stress levels, as stress also causes an imbalance in our gut microbiota. So, think about the many ways you can effectively reduce stress in your life. The one tool you have with you all the time is your breath. Learn how to breathe deeply, and you can access your breath as needed.
If you think you’re dealing with a gut issue, you’ll want to look into prebiotic and probiotic foods, as well as supplementation. Fermented foods are really good for your gut. And the best ones to eat are:
Top foods for gut health:
- Pickled veggies
- Apple cider vinegar
- Sourdough bread
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
- Whole grains
Supplement with a probiotic
If you don’t take probiotics, you’ve no doubt heard of them by now. The word probiotic comes from Latin. Roughly translated, it means, for life. Probiotics supplements are supplements that contain living microorganisms that your tummy needs. They can positively transform the composition of your gut flora, acting as a reset button if your gut has been overloaded with unhealthy bacteria. If you have trouble with bowel movements, your gut bacteria may very well need this kind of reset. Other signs that point to gut problems are: skin rashes like eczema, yeast infections, loss of energy, depression, autoimmune issues, hormonal problems, and even allergies.
A vast array of probiotic supplements flood the shelves of health stores and supermarkets today. But, how do you know which ones are best? Not all supplements are created equal, and because this is about your intestinal flora, you need the highest quality available. Some standout probiotics in my book are the ones that are the most expensive. You get what you pay for. Look for these words on the label: lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, saccharomyces, and strep. thermophilus. Billions of bacteria are better than millions. And the more diverse the strains of bacteria, the better.
Beware of probiotic supplements that contain dairy, fillers, and binders. If the products contain cornstarch or lactose, I say steer clear. If it contains 15 million CFU’s of lactobacillus, and 15 million CFU’s of Bifidobacterium, that’s a very good sign. Make sure you have plenty of time before the product expires. Products kept on shelves beyond their expiration dates are bad news for your gut.
At Applied Science Nutrition, we provide a probiotic supplement of the highest quality. It’s called Total Gut Solution, and it may just be the perfect supplement for you if you’re looking to give your precious body everything it needs for optimal gut health.
Make sure you don’t have an underlying medical issue
If you have an underlying medical condition you’re not aware of, you’ll want to address it. Brain fog can be the result of the following diseases:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic dehydration
Supplements can be great for brain fog
Unfortunately, most of us are deficient in certain vitamins—especially vitamin B12, and vitamin D. These deficiencies just so happen to lead to brain fog. So, make sure you’re getting enough. If you have a sneaking suspicion that you’re not, simply begin taking a high quality supplement. Get out in the sun for Vitamin D. And eat your nutritional yeast for vitamin B 12. Herbal supplements can also help you maintain a clear head and eliminate brain fog. If herbs are your thing, or if you’d like to give some a shot, you’ll want to look into the following:
- Gingko biloba
- Lion’s mane mushrooms
- Rhodiola rosea
- Brahmi (bacopi monnieri)
- Gotu kola
Yet another trick for brain health involves your morning coffee and a stick of grass-fed butter, coconut oil, MCT oil, or ghee. Instead of adding half and half to your coffee, or drinking it black, you’re going to add a tablespoon of one of the above healthy fats to each cup. This is called bulletproof coffee, and it’s known to have a myriad of health benefits because:
- Coffee is full of antioxidants
- Grass-fed butter contains antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which are really beneficial for the brain
- Many people report having more energy and better mental focus drinking bulletproof coffee
As you can see, brain fog is a very real condition—one that’s tied to various systems in your body. As such, you’ll want to pay attention to your cognitive health. If you sense your brain is in a fog more often that not, it’s time to address the issue. If brain fog is only a semi occasional occurrence, there’s no need to be concerned. This is normal. Just pay attention to your state of mind, integrate healthy habits to support brain health, and the fog will lift in no time!