What exactly is brain fog?
The term “brain fog” is used to describe several symptoms that affect mental clarity. These can include difficulty focusing on tasks, trouble recalling memories, and “fuzzy thinking”: that sense you’re going through your days feeling like there’s veil between you and your brain power.
Brain fog isn't an actual medical condition on its own, but rather a symptom of other conditions or imbalances present in the body. Because of this, people often experience a variety of other symptoms along with their brain fog, all of which can be addressed by determining the condition or imbalance at the root of these symptoms. Certain medications can also contribute to brain fog as one of their side effects.
What causes brain fog?
People can experience brain fog for a few different reasons, so it’s important to speak with your medical professional to determine what may be behind yours. Among the most common causes of brain fog are diet, underlying medical conditions, and stress. One of the first areas medical professionals help is a person’s diet and overall gut health. Brain fog can be caused by vitamin deficiencies, in particular a deficiency in vitamin B-12. In addition, one of the most common symptoms of a food sensitivity or allergy is brain fog, so medical professionals will often run tests to determine whether these may be present and contributing to a person’s symptoms. MSG, aspartame, peanuts, and dairy are common culprits; however, any food can bring on brain fog if a person is particularly sensitive to it.
Underlying medical conditions can also cause imbalances in the body that can lead to brain fog. The inflammation, energy depletion, and fluctuations in blood glucose associated with many chronic conditions can also bring about mental fatigue and brain fog. Some of these conditions include anemia, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions. If someone suspects that a health condition may be behind their consistent brain fog, it’s important that they seek professional guidance to determine if an underlying condition may be a factor.
Lastly, stress is a common contributor to a wide array of unpleasant physical symptoms, and brain fog is no exception. Why does this happen? Stress almost always increases blood pressure, uses up energy reserves, and therefore leaves us feeling fatigued. Part of this fatigue is experienced through diminished mental capacity, so we experience somewhat sluggish, dimmed brain power, like someone turned down the lights in our heads.
What can you do about brain fog?
The first and most important action to take to combat brain fog is to seek medical guidance to determine whether an underlying condition or a food sensitivity or allergy could be contributing to your brain fog. If any of these are present, the treatment of the condition or removal of the allergen may be all that’s needed for you to begin to feel like yourself again.
From there, a few tweaks to your daily habits and self-care can do wonders to improve your mental clarity:
- Prioritize sleep. Aim for at least 8 hours of shuteye per night to strengthen your memory and help you feel mentally sharp.
- Even a 10-minute walk can get your circulation going and help diminish brain fog.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. Both can cause undue stress on the body and contribute to brain fog.
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By: Margie Adelman