Brain Fog Is Real, Here’s Why
A doctor and nutritionist weigh in on how to get some clarity.
It isn’t a coincidence that right around that 3 PM mark we all collectively hit this big, unclimbable, hazy wall. Eyes glazed over to the point where they can’t focus on the myriad of screens (probably from staring at said screens for hours), heavy forehead that makes you feel like a dippy bird, that hard-to-describe lethargy that hits just as the very last drop of your morning triple-shot espresso has been used up as fuel... It’s not like we have the luxury of calling quits on the day because we’re feeling a bit foggy.
Turns out there are a few easy things you can do to avoid and undo brain fatigue. We asked naturopath Dr. Candice Todd of Eat Train Live, and nutritionist Keri Glassman from Nutritious Life, to weigh in. Bookmark this for when you just can’t.
What is Brain Fog?
“In short, many describe brain fog as a feeling of clouded thinking. Characteristic symptoms of brain fog include lack of focus, poor memory recall, and forgetfulness, confusion, and decreased mental alertness. It is a hugely common phenomenon and, for many, affects the quality of day-to-day life,” explains Dr. Todd.
What Causes It?
“Brain fog can be attributed to a number of causes. Some of the big ones include lack of sleep, poor nutrition, food sensitivities, and stress,” says Dr. Todd.
4 Ways to De-Fog
1. Eat good food: “Your brain thrives off of an adequate supply of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, so ditch the sugar and fuel your brain with nutrient-packed whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and organic meat, poultry, and fish whenever possible,” says Dr. Todd.
“Matcha Tea, which is shown to contribute to improved mental alertness and clarity. It has naturally occurring caffeine and l-theanine (an amino acid found in plants) that help give you an alert but calm vibe.
“The omega-3s in salmon help improve your mood and your overall brain function to keep you focused and sharp. High levels of omega-3s may also stimulate brain activity by increasing cell receptor activity to serotonin; lower levels [are] linked to depression.
“Eggs are rich in choline ([a] fat-like B-complex vitamin) that are linked to memory recall in some studies; choline is a precursor to the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter important in the body for brain and memory function.
“Farro, a whole grain that is digested slowly, which boosts blood sugar over time and gives your brain a steady supply of glucose, rather than a quick sugar spike leading to an afternoon crash,” outlines Glassman.
2. Get quality sleep: “You can’t expect your brain to perform at its best if you are tired. Seven to eight hours is an ideal amount of sleep to get in order to combat fatigue,” recommends Dr. Todd.
3. Relax: “Stress is one of the top contributors to brain fog, so make sure that you incorporate your ‘me-time’ to relax and unwind. Deep breathing is a simple, yet effective way to get back into balance,” Dr. Todd continues.
4. Get moving: “Not only is exercise first-line therapy for stress management, it also improves circulation to ensure adequate blood flow to the brain,” explains Dr. Todd.
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