Have you ever sat in a meeting wanting to chime in but feeling just too slow in connecting your thoughts with your words? Or maybe you’ve been steadily taking more and more detailed notes because you just can’t remember the conversations you had the day before? Or perhaps you just feel constantly confused and disorganized? This used to be me.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog isn’t a “medical condition” but rather a group of symptoms of a deeper underlying imbalance in your body that can affect your work performance and relationships.
Brain fog affects people in different ways. It isn’t just forgetting what you did the day before. For instance, you may feel like you can’t concentrate for long on a certain task – such as spreadsheets, reading or conversations. You may also have difficulty making small decisions. Or, you may have difficulty with linking thoughts to words like, like I used to experience. This can drive you to drink more coffee to be able to focus and eat more sugary snacks to keep you alert.
What Causes Brain Fog?
There are a number of reasons why you can be experiencing brain fog. Here are some of the most common reasons I’ve seen in my practice.
Food Sensitivities – Eating inflammatory foods or foods you’re sensitive to such as gluten, sugar and alcohol can result in brain fog for hours and days after you eat them. You may not know you have certain food sensitivities because they don’t all result in digestive disorders. Sugar and alcohol for instance can feed candida, creating an overgrowth that can cause symptoms similar to Alzheimers.  Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity has been linked to neurological disorders including depression, anxiety and psychosis. 
Vitamin Deficiencies – A healthy diet isn’t just vital for physical health: your diet also plays a significant role in mental performance. A nutritionally inadequate diet can trigger vitamin deficiencies which may lead to brain fog. B vitamins like B9 (folic acid)  and B12 , for example, help keep your brain healthy. When you’re low in these nutrients you can experience more depression, cognitive decline and symptoms of Alzheimers.
Heavy Metal Toxicity – In some cases, brain fog can be a sign of exposure to toxic heavy metals like mercury, aluminum, lead or arsenic which can trigger confusion, fatigue, or memory loss.  Additionally, certain heavy metals can mimic essential nutrient structure like iodine and selenium (nutrients the thyroid needs to function), and if they are circulating in your bloodstream, your thyroid may attract that instead in order to produce thyroid hormones.
Hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s – If your thyroid gland isn’t making enough hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism and even Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disease), can develop. Brain fog is one of the most common symptoms of this thyroid disorder, which is up to 10 times more common in women than in men. Brain fog can be caused by chronic inflammation, blood sugar dysregulation as well as inadequate thyroid hormone production that is common with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroid conditions.
Stress – Chronic stress can increase blood pressure, weaken the immune system, and trigger depression. It can also cause mental fatigue and adrenal fatigue. When your brain is exhausted, it becomes harder to think, reason, and focus.
How to Get Rid of Brain Fog
I work with clients to help rebalance their body so they don’t experience brain fog. I use functional medicine labs to get to the underlying root causes of symptoms. Once the root causes are identified, I create a personalized plan including specific protocols just for them.
That said, there are a number of things you can start doing today to regain your mental focus.
Give Your Digestion a Rest – Begin by eliminating common inflammatory foods including gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol for 3 weeks. These foods are not just inflammatory, they also harm the microglial cells lining your intestines which can increase the risk of gut permeability. When your gut lining is compromised, it can cause vitamins and minerals from your food to not be absorbed properly. Sugar and alcohol can also feed candida, causing an overgrowth leading to not just brain fog but to eczema, psoriasis and hair loss.
Take a Multivitamin – The likelihood that you’re getting adequate vitamin and minerals through your food is not great due to overfarming and the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers on crops. When looking for a good multivitamin, choose one with a full range of B vitamins and essential minerals for thyroid health (selenium, iodine and zinc). My favorite is the Daily Nutritional Support powder that I add to my morning smoothie.
Start Moving – If you aren’t getting in at least 7,000 steps per day and sweating 3 times per week (through running, resistance training or any activity you enjoy that builds strength), you aren’t moving enough to detox effectively. So, it’s no surprise that neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s dementia and even mild cognitive dysfunction are more prevalent in sedentary populations.
Focus on Sleep – Sleep is extremely important in detoxification and memory. When you go into deep sleep, your brain’s glymphatic system goes to work by flushing out endotoxins and exotoxins from the brain. When you don’t get enough deep sleep and overall sleep then your brain’s toxic load increases and you begin to have difficulty storing memories.
Interested in getting to the root cause of your brain fog? Book a chat with me by clicking here to see how I can help you achieve vibrant health.