Brain fog is often the result of living in the century of speed, where everything happens at a fast pace and we have to process an unbelievable quantity of information every day. It includes a multitude of manifestations, including concentration difficulties, memory impairment and a general fogginess (lack of mental clarity).
Also named as mental fatigue, brain fog is often found in people who suffer from other medical issues, including depression and anxiety. Depending on the severity of the brain fog, one might be prevented from engaging in regular activities (work, school or personal). Lifestyle changes, along with treatment or therapy for the associated conditions, can help you get rid of such problems and return to living a normal life.
What is brain fog?
In order to answer to the question – what is brain fog – you have to take a good look at the way we live nowadays. Our diet is often unhealthy, containing too many processed foods and meat filled with antibiotics. We work too much and exercise too little, switching from one task to the other, without taking a pause. And all of these things affect our brain health.
Brain fog is a common occurrence in those who suffer from vitamin, mineral or nutrient deficiency. It appears in relation with the excess consumption of sugar, sleep deprivation and chronic stress, causing us to experience low levels of energy. The brain needs rest and relaxation, as well as a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, glucose, amino acids and essential fatty acids. Often times, you can avoid brain fog by changing your lifestyle.
How does brain fog manifest?
People who suffer from brain fog often experience low levels of energy and a general state of mental fatigue. They are easily distracted and battle mood swings, finding it difficult to concentrate on daily activities and even to communicate.
As a result of the brain fog, they might also become irritable and suffer from headaches or migraines. The presence of these symptoms will cause their motivation to decrease, with depression and anxiety reinforcing the severity of the manifestations. One might also suffer from insomnia and be in a permanent state of confusion.
What are the causes of brain fog?
One of the main causes of brain fog is the chronic stress, which can lead to mental fatigue and make it harder for one to think or focus. Sleep deprivation, whether it appears on its own or as a result of co-existent conditions, can affect the functioning of the brain and increase the risk of concentration difficulties, forgetfulness, etc.
Hormonal changes have been known to trigger brain fog, including during pregnancy, menopause or even as a result of PMS. The diet is another factor contributing to the appearance of such problems. A significant problem is the vitamin B12 deficiency but both food allergies (peanut, diary) and sensitivities to artificial ingredients (MSG, aspartame) can lead to brain fog.
Brain fog can appear as a side effect of various medication, in which case it will be necessary to change the respective drug or at least lower the dosage. It can be caused by cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and appear as a result of co-existent conditions, such as: Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, anemia, diabetes, hypothyroidism and autoimmune conditions (lupus, multiple sclerosis, arthritis).
The conditions that have brain fog as one of the manifestations are generally the ones where fatigue and inflammation are primary changes. These can affect the brain and its function. Autism, Sjögren’s syndrome and dehydration can lead to this issue as well.
Alcohol and caffeine abuse can favor brain fog, as well as the excess consumption of refined carbs. Dehydration and prolonged standing are two other potential causes behind brain fog.
How is brain fog diagnosed?
In making the diagnosis of brain fog, the doctor will perform a physical exam, so as to identify conditions that might lead to such problems. You will also have a conversation with regard to your daily diet, current treatment, physical activities and mental health.
The doctor will ask about the symptoms experienced, aside from the brain fog. For example, if your nails are brittle, the skin dry, you’ve gained weight and suffer from hair loss, you might be suffering from hypothyroidism. Blood tests might be recommended, in order to see glucose levels and identify any nutritional deficiencies.
For a more advanced diagnosis, you might be recommended imaging studies, such as X-rays, CTs or MRIs. A sleep study can be performed in order to determine the cause of your insomnia, which might further lead to brain fog. You might also be advised to keep a food journal, so as to determine whether your diet is the cause of the brain fog or not (food allergy brain fog).
Management of brain fog
If you are wondering how to clear brain fog, you should start with the cause. There is no quick fix for this issue but, upon treating or addressing the cause, you might feel better. Moreover, you have to be willing to make a number of lifestyle changes, so as to eliminate the disease of being busy.
Treatment for co-existent conditions
If you suffer from anemia, the doctor might recommend you to take iron supplements or consume more foods that are rich in iron (shellfish, spinach, organ meat, legumes, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa). In case of autoimmune conditions, you might be given corticosteroids or other drugs meant to suppress the immune system and bring down the associated inflammation.
Provided you suffer from depression and/or anxiety, you might be directed towards cognitive behavioral therapy or other similar therapies. These are meant to help you change your negative thought pattern into a positive one, building stress resilience and learning how to clear brain fog. For more severe cases, you might be advised to take antidepressants as well, such as Wellbutrin.
In the situation that the blood tests have revealed you suffer from a nutritional deficiency, supplements might be prescribed. You might also have to change your diet, so as to include more fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as more proteins and healthy fats. Vitamins can come from both supplements and diet, especially in case of severe nutritional deficiencies.
Herbal remedies can improve the functions of the brain, helping you say goodbye to brain fog. For example, you might consider Bacopa Monnieri, an ancient herbal remedy which is known to improve memory, concentration and brain health in general. CBD oil is especially recommended to those who suffer from brain fog as a result of insomnia, promoting restorative sleep.
Insomnia is considered one of the main factors that contribute to the appearance of brain fog. Paying attention to sleep hygiene can help you work out such problems and wake up well-rested in the morning. You should go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same hours, avoiding screen time before bed. The same goes for alcohol, caffeine or heavy meals. Also, make sure that the room in which you sleep is well-ventilated.
As stress can lead to brain fog, you have to be responsible and learn how to manage stress. You can visit a therapist and discover the most effective stress management techniques, as well as additional solutions (meditation, mindfulness etc.). A good way to release stress is through the practice of pleasant hobbies or by engaging in enjoyable activities.
Keep the brain young
Brain fog is more common in older people, but the good news is that you can improve your mental clarity easily. You can keep the brain young and free of the fogginess sensation by doing puzzles, brain games and so on. What matters is that you keep on stimulating those grey cells, improving your memory, cognition and other essential functions.
A healthy diet can help you eliminate brain fog and feel better overall. You should always opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, high quality fats and avoid foods that have been extensively processed or those rich in sugar, preservatives or artificial ingredients.
Keep in mind that your diet influences the way the brain functions and pay more attention to your meals. For the best possible state of health, you might want to consider following an anti-inflammatory diet. You should also watch your sugar intake and consume more complex carbs as part of your daily diet.
By cutting back on packaged and processed foods, you can eliminate the brain fog induced by sugar addictions. As an alternative, you can consume more brain foods, such as fatty fish, whole grains, yams, sweet potatoes and dairy. The foods rich in antioxidants can keep dementia and neurodegeneration at a safe distance, such as berries for example. Remember that the brain needs healthy fats to function – you should eat more eggs, grass fed beef, nuts and seeds, poultry, etc.
Note: if you have decided to follow the ketogenic diet, you might deal with the keto brain fog. However, this is only a temporary effect, as the body – and especially the brain – becomes accustomed to using ketone bodies instead of glucose as main fuel.
Physical exercise has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and it is beneficial for the brain, as it reduces the levels of stress hormones and fills you up with energy. It can also balance hormones and support the release of endorphins.
CareClinic, the ideal tool for managing brain fog & co-existent conditions
You can rely on the CareClinic health app to manage your brain fog and the associated conditions. Within the application, you can record the different manifestations and identify potential triggers, such as the diet, lack of physical activity or excess levels of stress.
The application is useful for recording all of the treatments, therapies and supplements recommended for the brain fog. You can set up individual reminders for both the treatment and your various appointments, so that you can get better in no time.
You might also be interested to know that the application allows you to write about your feelings, thanks to the built-in journal. This is a great feature, as you can later review these entries and find out what contributes to the brain fog in the first place.
CareClinic’s health app allows you to stay organized and in control of your health. At the end of each month, you are given a comprehensive report about your health. This report can be shared with the physician or therapist, so that adjustments or changes can be made to your treatment for brain fog.
How long does brain fog last? Well, if you address the underlying cause, you will return to normal before you even imagine. The most important thing is that you persevere and keep track of your manifestations, working together with your physician to reach an accurate diagnosis and be treated accordingly.