Brain fog is a serious problem. It affects your relationships, due to difficulty connecting. It affects your ability to perform well at work. You might have to settle for a job that’s way under your potential and capacity because you can’t focus.
It can affect your ability to create your own business. So many people I have talked to have great ideas for wonderful businesses that would benefit themselves financially and emotionally, and also benefit the world for the contribution – but they can’t do it because they’re not thinking clearly enough.
It’s a big cost to your system. It costs you financially in that you’re unable to do the kind of work and career that you’re really capable of. It costs you in your relationships and it costs you in your joy.
It’s well worth it to find out everything you can about how to get your brain fog lifted, so you can be fully present and live your life with passion and purpose.
Characteristics of a Foggy Brain
- When you’re speaking to someone, but it doesn’t feel like you’re really connecting.
- It feels like there’s a cloud between you and that person.
- It feels like you’re hearing their words, but they’re not sharp and it’s not crisp
- You may have memory lapses
- You might start a sentence and then suddenly you’re not really clear on how to end it because you lost your train of thought.
- When you just blank out – your brain just doesn’t feel like it’s kicked in and working at full capacity.
- When you walk into a room to get something and you forget what you went for
- When you’re speaking to someone and their words feel like they’re not really registering
- You don’t feel like you’re really fully present
- When things that you used to know pretty well like an occupation or a hobby that you now suddenly are forgetting pieces of.
- You’re just not able to access higher centers in your brain, to think clearly, to be focused, to stay on task, to start one project and then take it to completion or take it to a logical end for the day, or to start another task without being all over the place and forgetting where you left off.
All of us experience some of these things on a regular basis – that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. Sometimes it’s just as a result of being stressed, handling too much, and being in a very high-paced society.
What Causes Brain Fog?
There are a number of things that can contribute.
Stress – the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your system are high. Cortisol is secreted by your adrenal glands when you’re in a situation where your life is threatened. And we tend to be in that stress situation in our modern society on a regular basis.
Some examples are: when you listen to the news, you hear about an earthquake, the radiation spill in Japan, financial ruins, the stock market’s going to crash, the world is going to come to an end, and similar themes. Then there’s dealing with the day to day of going to work and catching the bus, getting there on time, dealing with traffic, taking your kids to appointments, or whatever – and it all builds up.
That cortisol buildup feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and as a result, the stress hormone cortisol is coursing through your system. One of its functions is actually to turn off the high centers of your brain called the wizard brain (the prefrontal cortex).
Cortisol turns off the high centers of your brain so you don’t waste a lot of brain power thinking about physics problems, solving the problems of the world or financial issues, and you can focus all your attention on the back part of your brain, the lizard brain – the survival and reptilian brain that helps get you out of trouble.
But the problem is you’re not really in physical danger on a regular basis. You’re in a kind of make believe danger – fear you’ve created in your mind, and worry about things that have not happened yet. The cortisol levels are up all the time now. And that affects your brain in a tremendously negative way.
Internal Toxins – that get into your brain and irritate the tissues. They irritate the myelin sheaths around your brain. They also irritate the neurotransmitters, the connections and synapses. And they affect your brain and the ability of those synapses to connect on as rapidly as you need to do when you’re required to think.
How do those toxins get in there? There are a number of ways – some of them even come from your gut! Your gut is supposed to have this protective mechanism, where the food comes through you and the stuff that’s not needed gets eliminated. But so much of our food is processed and there are dangerous fats in our foods. We end up with damage to our cell linings and so leaky gut develops. And that causes these feelings of brain fog, that people, right after they eat, just say that their brain went “out to lunch.”
External Toxins are the environmental toxins in our air, water, and products we use. The cleaning supplies that you might be using, air pollution, beauty products, and so forth, are adding a toxic load to your already overloaded system.
Neurotransmitters in your brain. The neurotransmitters are the chemicals that fire at connections called synapses between the nerves. There are inhibitory neurotransmitters which calm and slow things down, and there are excitatory neurotransmitters which cause you to get excited, gleeful, or blissful.. The neurotransmitters require lots of B vitamins as catalysts in order to turn amino acids into neurotransmitters.
B- Vitamins Deficiency. Our food supply is very sadly lacking in B vitamins. They’ve been processed out of many foods, and if you’re not eating a very high percentage of your diet as fresh whole foods, you’re not getting enough B vitamins. On top of that, elevated stress levels also deplete your B vitamins. So even if you are doing a good job of eating whole foods but you’re also under stress, you’re still depleting those B vitamins. And, as stated above, when you can’t make enough neurotransmitters, your brain basically goes out to lunch.
Blood sugar imbalances. Your brain runs on glucose. In order for the rest of your cells to get the glucose, it has to go from the blood stream, through the cells, through the mitochondria to convert to energy. And you need insulin for the cells to pick up the sugar in your brain. Part of the brain can absorb glucose on its own, but several parts, including the frontal cortex (wizard brain), hippocampus (memory), hypothalamus (regulatory center) and cerebellum (balance) all need insulin.
If you’re overproducing insulin because you’re eating too many processed foods or too many very sweet fruits (like dried fruits, fruit juices, sugars, crackers, cookies, cakes, pies, etc.), you secrete too much insulin, and what happens is this sudden influx of insulin will rapidly decrease your blood sugar. When your blood sugars get too low your brain doesn’t get enough fuel and that contributes to brain fog.
Over time, you develop what’s called insulin resistance, and the parts of the brain that rely on insulin will not get enough glucose for proper function, and you’ll feel foggy!
The other things that can aggravate the brain and contribute to brain fog are the inflammatory chemicals that are produced by belly fat and by insulin.
What Are Seven Simple Solutions to Clear Brain Fog?
The solutions to brain fog, while seemingly simple, may take some time, practice and focus to implement, but the results are nothing short of miraculous.
1. Learn some de-stressing. One stress relieving practice I do myself is a simple but extremely effective process that I learned from the Institute of HeartMath. I’ve done some trainings with them; I’m a certified practitioner and I’m certified to teach their methods. Go to www.HeartMath.org and study. Get a book called Transforming Stress. This awesome book teaches you how to do the HeartMath technique. It works astoundingly well and is scientifically proven to reduce stress…fast.
2. Let go of worrying. Turn off the news and not stop paying so much attention to every natural disaster that happens throughout the world. Turn off social media if it’s too negative and tragic. Or if you are listening to the news, balance it with also reading very uplifting types of materials and focusing your attention on really good things that are happening in the world. Change your lifestyle to include more positivity.
3. Reduce toxins and your toxic load. Clean up your diet, get rid of all refined, processed foods like white flour, sugar, and chemically-laden pre-packaged foods. Eat more fresh, whole foods instead.
4. Snack healthy. If you’re really addicted to the crunch, learn how to make dehydrated crackers made with vegetables and high omega-3 seeds. It’s so much easier than you might think.
5. Drop the sugars. Beyond the obvious white sugar, also drop the agave, honey, and maple syrup, which really wreak havoc on your blood sugar balance. Also, lesson your intake of high sugar fruits like dates and bananas. When you need to sweeten, opt for low glycemic alternatives like stevia, xylitol, Lakanto, or erythritol.
6. Get off gluten! If you want to do one thing; get off gluten. I have many articles on this site and others that explain why gluten is such a key contributor to brain fog, belly fat, and overall burnout in general. Try it for a few weeks, and you will be shocked at how differently you will feel. (For about 75 percent of the people I’ve worked with, just getting off gluten clears up their brains dramatically within seven days!).
7. Chew your food. Before each meal, take some time to breathe deeply, really appreciate your meal, and chew it. That will enhance your digestion so you don’t get so many of these toxins filtering through into your blood stream.
Use these tips and you will be well on your way to lifting the foggy veil over your brain that’s keeping you from enjoying your life to the fullest!
With love and appreciation,
P.S. Don’t forget to use the social media icons to share this article with your friends and loved ones who may be suffering from this terrible-feeling condition called brain fog.
Comment Below: Share how you are doing with these tips for lifting brain fog from your life, and ask any questions.
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Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, drritamarie.com, and the experts who have contributed. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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[…] have seen people with brain fog find clarity almost immediately after eliminating gluten from their diets. I’ve had a […]
You recommend dropping, among other things, agave, and yet you recommend Stevia is lieu of sugar. The active ingredient in Stevia is agave. Also, Stevia is well know to cause mental fogginess and a Google search reveals many cases of this. Otherwise a great article.
Hi, Jerry, Stevia, is derived from a small shrub found primarily in China and South America, and is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. In its unrefined yet medicinal form it has a slight licorice taste that makes it unpleasant as a sweetener. Many years ago the Japanese discovered how to extract the two sweet elements in stevia, (rebaudioside and stevioside) from the leaf creating the safest, natural, calorie-free sweetener on the market today. There is no agave in it. If you have studies that show otherwise, we would be interested in seeing this.
If your blood sugar is unregulated, such as diabetes or insulin resistance,that is one of the causes of mental fogginess. It’s never recommended to skip meals or binge on sugar, which can trigger spikes in blood sugar and the release of pro-inflammatory stress hormones. Use naturally sugar-free stevia for a sugar craving instead.
[…] You could be one of the forty million Americans suffering from a biochemical imbalance. The feelings we experience are nothing more than chemical reactions taking place inside our bodies. Some hormones are responsible for making us feel good; some are responsible for making us feel bad. To be happy, you must have your hormones balanced. […]