Picture yourself driving through an early morning fog…
The air is thick… You are disoriented and unable to see directly in front of you… The uncertainty of what dangers may loom ahead causes you stress. Now imagine navigating through the same foggy area, except this time you are outside of the car. This time the road is your head and the air is your brain….
This is brain fog.
We have all experienced battles with brain fog in our lifetime. It’s the culprit behind our inability to locate our car in a big parking lot. It’s the trigger behind our lack of focus during the workday and our loss of sleep throughout the nighttime hours. Brain fog comes in many forms and may impede in our everyday lives.
However, just as the fog can lift on any given morning, brain fog can be held at bay too. Read along to gain tips on how to combat brain fog and how to regain control of your everyday life!
What Is Brain Fog?
Let’s compare brain fog to stirring up sand with your feet at the bottom of the ocean. Particles of dust begin to float up, leaving the water cloudy and murky. Brain fog works the same way. It leaves our heads cloudy and murky.
What makes brain fog so difficult to diagnose is that it’s kind of hard to explain just exactly what brain fog is.
It’s the indescribable feeling of being “off your game.” Life is undoubtedly busy, so the chance that you will encounter brain fog at some point in your life is pretty much inevitable. So being “off-your-game” every once in awhile is fine. However, it can be life-altering if it becomes chronic.
Here are some symptoms of brain fog:
- Attacks of anxiety bouts of depression
- Depleted energy levels (such as chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Being easily distracted
- Finding yourself confused more easily
- Frequent headaches
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of motivation
- Memory loss
- Sleepless nights
- Inability to follow directions
What Causes Brain Fog?
In a nutshell, the Journal of Clinical Research Society published a study that stated, “The most frequently reported brain fog triggers were fatigue (91 %), lack of sleep (90 %), prolonged standing (87 %), dehydration (86 %), and feeling faint (85 %).”
However, those are generic answers to even bigger things that could be going on inside the body.
There are many different factors that attribute to a case of brain fog. Everyone is an individual, so there are a variety of reasons why each of us may battle this condition. It may be one major contributing factor or a bunch of little ones that add up to a clouded mind. Whatever it may be, here are some major catalysts that may cause brain fog.
1) Inflammations in the Body
Inflammation is the precursor to almost all diseases. This is no different for brain fog. As quoted in this study that examines the correlation between inflammation and brain fog, “Brain expression of proinflammatory genes was increased in the brains of deceased patients with neuropsychiatric diseases.”
Neuropsychiatric diseases include depression, Alzheimer’s Disease and chronic fatigue syndrome — all of which cite brain fog as a symptom. This study found, in particular, that inflammatory molecules such as histamine and adipocytokines stimulated microglia activation, resulting in focal brain inflammation.
Inflammatory molecules become burrowed when guts are not acidic enough to kill the foreign molecules.
The best way to curb inflammations is to eat anti-inflammatory foods, including:
- Olive oil
2) Out of Wack Hormones
As we travel down the slippery slope that is inflammatory molecules, we find they can wreak even more damage in the body. Once the immune system becomes busy fighting off as many inflammatory molecules as possible, it begins to mess with your hormones. Just ask any parent of a teenager; when hormones are out of whack, everything is off track.
For the most part, there are three key hormones that control your mood, energy levels, and focus. Brain fog negatively affects all three of those functions.
The hormones responsible for these important functions are:
- Dopamine – Responsible for joy and motivation
- Serotonin – The ability to remain calm and focused
- Cortisol – Response to stress; determines whether you “fight or flight” a situation
In order for the body to function properly, these three hormones need to keep one another in check. When you are under an intense amount of stress, cortisol levels skyrocket. If stress becomes chronic, so does cortisol production. Stress begins to outweigh the joy and calm, and all this can lead to more frequent battles with brain fog.
3) Lack of Sleep
There is no doubt that we all need a good night’s rest. Our body repairs itself best while we are expending the least amount of energy. That is when we are getting our beauty rest.
Yet, sleep is so hard to come by with all the daily burdens weighing heavily on the mind. Studies have found that as cortisol levels rise, sleep levels decrease. One study in particular was conducted where cortisol levels were measured and compared to wake times of other patients who participated. The research found that “cortisol levels were significantly higher in insomniacs compared to normal sleepers.”
A quality night of sleep is the first step to rejuvenating your body. As cells are able to repair themselves, your immune system automatically boosts. This will put less stress on your hormones and free up white cells to fight off inflammatory molecules.
How to Defeat Brain Fog
Check Your Sugar Intake
As we’ve already covered, life is fast-paced. That’s why we find it convenient to stop in drive-thrus for a fatty burger, microwave that sodium-laced TV dinner, and add far too much artificial sugars to our coffee. These sorts of foods may give us an immediate boost in happiness, but they are also creating far too much damage.
Refined sugars cause inflammation in the body. Eating more sweets than anti-inflammatory foods like salmon and kale leads to a steady increase in inflammation. This then clogs up your body and fogs up your brain.
If you do feel in need of a sugar boost, try eating fruits. Fruits also contain carbohydrates, which contrary to popular belief are not all that bad. Carbs are energy. When our body lacks energy, serotonin kicks in to replace it. As serotonin depletes, we suffer brain fog.
Just opt for healthier carbs like fruits and vegetables rather than processed breads and potato chips.
Eat Good Fats
For a hearty-meal, fats can still be on the table. It’s just important to be particular about the types of fats. Within fats are amino acids. These are the building blocks of life in our bodies and are pivotal to many functions performing properly, including the brain. Our body produces most amino acids naturally, but not all. Therefore, we need to obtain some amino acids through diet.
The way to achieve this is through protein. However, not just any protein. You want what is called a “complete protein.” All meats are complete proteins, but red meat comes with a lot of artery-clogging fats as well. Opt for leaner complete proteins such as:
- Grass-fed Chicken
Go the Natural Route
There are many ways to help alleviate symptoms that can lead to brain fog naturally. Exercise is great for hormone regulation. It produces endorphins that create a sense of happiness that motivates you to take on your day. Getting active in the workroom also gives you a sense of focus that can help clear the cobwebs.
If depression seems to be getting the best of you, let nature take its course. Go for a walk outside. In fact, Stanford University recently published a story looking at how nature may be the prescription needed to battle depression. Practicing yoga and meditation can also do wonders for clearing the mind.
Turning to plants may help as well. Lemon and lavender essential oil baths can be ideal for regulating stress while simultaneously boosting the immune system. Diffusing rosemary oil has been shown to help increase focus and memory.
Lastly, supplementing with natural enzymes and hormones may be the answer that you are looking for!
Using products like Tranquility Lab’s Sleep Fast Enhanced Melatonin Spray that contain melatonin, a natural hormone our body produces regularly, can help facilitate a good night’s rest. Capsules containing curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has the ability to alleviate inflammations in the gut that set off the brain fog process. Perhaps your body needs a boost in amino acids? Our Focusene might be what you need! Also, fish oil contains these essential building blocks and can help promote a healthy gut and brain function in one shot.
Whatever way you choose to supplement, just steer clear of man-made chemicals that have addictive properties.
Say Goodbye to Brain Fog
Brain fog is common, but there is no need for it to stick around.
Realizing that you are suffering from brain fog and making some changes to your daily life is the key to blasting the fog away.
What is the biggest brain fog moment you have had? Share your story below!