When talking about mental health and wellness, one of the most common complaints we hear of is generalized “brain fog”. While brain fog is not an official medical term, it is often used to describe low grade feelings of confusion, inability to focus, slow thinking response time and even lapses in memory.
These symptoms can quickly lead to frustration for those who are experiencing them, as navigating daily tasks takes more time and energy to complete. There is an overarching feeling of heaviness or a thickness in the mind where it feels like everything is moving more slowly than it should be.
The term “brain fog” is an apt description of what individuals with these symptoms are feeling. Think of our neuropathways like a highway, where information is supposed to travel at quick speeds. When “the fog” rolls in, it slows everything down, backing up “traffic” causing congestion and delays.
There are many different root causes of brain fog. Everything from simple lack of sleep to serious pathologies can all contribute to brain fog as a persistent symptom. If brain fog lasts more than a few days and the cause is unknown, it is a good idea to check in with your health care practitioner so that they can run a few tests.
Some of the most common reasons for persistent brain fog include:
- Chronic sleep issues
- Nutrient deficiencies such as B12, Iron, and omega 3s
- Hormonal changes or imbalances
- Taking certain medications
- Ingesting drugs or alcohol
- The aging processes
- Intolerances to certain foods or eating excessively ( ie a food hangover)
- Diagnoses such as ADHD, Fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders, and Alzheimer disease
- Fluctuating blood sugar levels
- Any chronic illness or stress
Because there are so many possible causes for brain fog, figuring out what the main contributing factors are for each individual may take some time. The reality is, there is often more than one contributing factor as many of these issues are interconnected on some level.
Despite the long list of different causes for brain fog, the good news is there are some general things that almost everyone can do to improve their cognitive function and alleviate mental fatigue. These recommendations are general in nature and will provide some relief to most people.
The thing that we need to remember is to focus on the things we can control and not obsessively worry about the things that we can’t control. Practically speaking, that means there are steps individuals can take to reduce the impact of their brain fog, no matter what the underlying cause may be.
1. Focus on is improving nutrient intake
Ensuring proper nutrition that includes foods containing higher amounts of B vitamins and iron as well as omega 3 fatty acids will help to promote adequate levels of these nutrients in the body. Serious deficiencies of these vital nutrients may require supplementation to increase levels back to optimum range.
At SHINE health we specifically promote the use of Omega 3 supplementation due to its overwhelmingly positive effects on both the body and the brain. Our high potency omega 3 oil contains EPA and DHA which are two fatty acids that help to lower inflammation. They have been proven to be effective in treating symptoms of ADHD, depression, and autoimmune diseases that have a high inflammatory component. Omega 3 oils work at reversing inflammatory processes that can be a contributing factor to brain fog.
2. Elimination of certain foods, alcohol and recreational drugs that can impact alertness and focus
For instance, the reduction of highly refined carbohydrates can help to stabilize blood sugars, reducing the frequency of hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes, restoring alertness and focus. In addition, the reduction of alcohol and recreational drugs can have many positive effects on alertness and focus. However, sometimes the efforts to remove these substances from the diet can create symptoms of withdrawal that include low mood, lack of energy, anxiety, or irritability.
When reducing these types of substances it can be helpful to replace them with a certain category of supplements called nootropics. Nootropics are nutrients that help to regulate mood, energy, and focus. SHINE health specializes in nootropics and has a range of different products to support your particular needs. Memory, Focus, Energy.
Nootropics can work well for individuals reducing certain foods, alcohol or other drugs because the reason many people start overusing these substances in the first place is typically a form of self-medication. When people are using food, drugs or alcohol to assist with symptoms of depression, anxiety, low energy, stress and mental fatigue, they can be replaced by nutrients that are more advantageous to health.
3. Reduce stress
Stress is one of the biggest factors in mental fatigue. When we are stressed we tend to ruminate, which means obsessively think about a situation. Stress also depletes vital nutrients more quickly which can lead to foggy thinking and inability to focus.
Adopting strategies of mindfulness and gratitude can be helpful to interrupt the pattern of obsessively thinking about stressful situations. In addition, adding certain herbs to your supplement regime, such as ashwagandha, theanine, rhodiola and ginseng can help to improve the stress response and reduce the incidence of mental fatigue. Begin your day with SHINE Unstress® to get ahead of your stress.
In conclusion, reducing brain fog requires a multifaceted strategy that includes nutrition, lifestyle and supplemental support. Knowing the root cause of your brain fog can be helpful to make sure you are taking the right approach for your particular situation, and using some of these general guidelines will work in your favour to reduce mental fatigue, increasing your alertness, focus and even productivity.
||Kathy Ryan is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with over 15 years experience in the health and wellness industry. Her primary focus has been on women's health including weight management, hormone and autoimmune issues. Over the years she has had opportunity to work with and learn from some of the leading natural health experts in these areas.|