Do you feel like your head is usually cloudy? Or that you’re constantly feeling tired or fatigued? Do you tend to have frequent headaches? You may be experiencing dreaded “brain fog”.
Brain fog, or mental fog, is one of the most overlooked wellbeing issues, but is slowly coming to the forefront with regard to the nutrition and mental health spaces – and rightfully so! Who wants to feel like they’re repeatedly exhausted with a pounding migraine unable to concentrate? Not us!
The good news is that there are some very simple and effective nutritional hacks and lifestyle tweaks that can not only help you relieve brain fog naturally and boost your concentration and energy levels, but help reduce the recurrence of the symptom long-term. Here’s what you need to know in order to start making your day-to-day a whole lot easier.
What is brain fog?
Brain fog is often described as a cloudy-headed feeling. Though not a medical condition, brain fog is considered a cognitive dysfunction and symptom of other medical issues.
Brain fog symptoms
The most common symptoms of brain fog include poor memory, difficulty focusing or concentrating, irritability, exhaustion, struggling with articulation and more.
What causes brain fog?
Some of the most common causes of brain fog are:
• Inflammatory foods
• Impaired methylation in the body (natural detox process) and toxins
• Lack of sleep or insomnia
• Neuroinflammation from chronic inflammation in the body
• Low thyroid
• Low estrogen in women
• Adrenal fatigue or chronic stress factors
• Viral infection
• Bacterial overgrowth in the gut like SIBO or candida
• Insulin block from eating too many refined carbs
Best foods to help beat brain fog
1. Anti-inflammatory foods, like leafy greens
The most effective way to improve your cognitive health is to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet as high intakes of vitamins and minerals have been shown to benefit people’s moods and mental capabilities. Add in dark leafy vegetables and blueberries as part of a varied nutrition plan.
2. Omega 3s, like salmon
Omega 3 fatty acids play important roles in the body. They contain essential nutrients that are beneficial in preventing and managing heart disease and blood pressure, so it’s essential to have them present in your diet as the body doesn’t produce them on its own. Some popular food sources for omega 3 include fatty fish, fish oils, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
3. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables, like berries and broccoli
The more colorful the food the more the flavonoids – compounds in food that have antioxidant properties that can help get rid of toxins in the body. Foods like beets, broccoli, and berries cover essential vitamins and nutrients like magnesium, vitamin A-E, and potassium.
Turmeric’s primary compound is curcumin – a powerful and active anti-inflammatory. Many studies have shown that curcumin is far more potent than over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen (1).
Ayurvedic medicine has always put ginger at the forefront thanks to its ability to break down toxins support the body’s detoxifying process.
Lifestyle hacks to clear brain fog and boost productivity
The key to preventing brain fog is to acknowledge that it's not just what you eat. Rather, look into your lifestyle choices to understand whether you are adding fuel to the fire.
Most commonly, lack of or poor quality sleep can attribute to a decline in cognitive function. Make sure that you are developing healthier pre-bedtime rituals in order to train your body and mind that it’s time for bed. Instead of watching TV or bringing your laptop or phone to bed for a bit of social media or binge-watching, grab a book. The body produces melatonin naturally – a compound that naturally helps you sleep – and this gets disrupted and can lessen when exposed to too much blue light.
This includes lessening screen time way before even hitting the sack! Studies show that blue light can affect the quality of our rest as well as can promote heightened levels of anxiety and stress during the following day, which attribute to increased mental fog (2). If you’re at a desk job, make it a point to walk away and take breaks from your screen every hour.
And last but not least, one of the easiest ways to combat brain fog and increase concentration is to stay hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water every day to help the body clear out toxins and keep a clear head.
Remember, the gut is like our second brain – we need to nourish it with the right nutrients in order for it to travel and support the cognitive function and abilities of our main brain.
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