Brain fog is an increasing concern for many people. Definitions for brain fog vary a bit, but for the most part it includes the following: mental cloudiness, feeling like a veil is over the brain, forgetfulness, being easily distracted or difficulty concentrating, mild confusion, sometimes you have to stop for your brain to “engage,” easily overwhelmed, getting lost easily, forgetting where you put things, difficulty following directions or following a line of thought, temporary disorientation, etc. It is common with certain illnesses, such as “fibro-fog” associated with fibromyalgia. It is also associated with several classes of medications, with insomnia or sleep deprivation for any reason, with autoimmune diseases and much more. The gist of it is that your brain feels like it is cloudy. This is different from dementia, which several of the above symptoms can also be associated with.
Sometimes for fun I like to refer to it as brain “smog” because it can be caused by junk in the diet. “Smog” is fog plus pollutants in the air. In the case of “brain smog,” it is fog brought on by pollutants in the diet. The good news is that just as a good strong wind and environmental consciousness can reduce smog in the air, a good detox and conscious awareness of what you are ingesting can help clear up your mental fog.
Sugar, caffeine, preservatives, food colorings, alcohol, additives in many forms, poor dietary fats, artificial sweeteners and inflammatory foods have all been blamed. The remedy? I know this will surprise you, but… consuming healthy fats and eliminating alcohol, sugar, caffeine and all the above triggers can help immensely.
But, that is not all. Sleep is a big change that you can make to help. Most people need about 7-9 hours of sleep if they are experiencing mental fogginess. Kids need even more. The best sleep occurs between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. So, to be asleep during those hours is particularly helpful. The adage, “one hour of sleep before midnight is the equivalent to two hours after midnight,” particularly applies here.
Dehydration can be a key in alleviating feelings of fogginess. For most people, drinking half your bodyweight in ounces (never to exceed 100 ounces) is the ideal amount of water. There are some exceptions, as with kidney disease, but this is a general rule.
Allergies and chronic inflammation can contribute to brain fogginess. The “smog” of histamines, as part of the allergic mechanism and the byproducts of the inflammatory process, are to blame in many instances. Taking action to heal, not just suppress, the causes of these conditions can help in reducing “the fog.” Avoiding inflammatory foods (which vary from person to person) is helpful. For many, these include gluten/wheat, soy, pasteurized dairy products, nuts, eggs and certain seafoods. Don’t just eliminate these from your diet without testing first, as several of these — in particular, nuts, eggs and seafood — can be helpful in eliminating mental fatigue or fog.
There are many other things you can do to eliminate a foggy brain, but this should get you started!
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Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Carling is a “Health Detective.” She looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’Alene clinic. Visit Carling’s website at www.vitalhealthcda.com to learn more about Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.