Brain Fog: What Is It?
We’ve all experienced brain fog at some point or another in our lives. That annoying, debilitating feeling of just not being able to think or focus. Thoughts and facts are hard to pull from the brain, and a swirling cloud of pressure seems to block our brain’s path to reality.
Some of us experience it more than others, but nobody should have to go through it. But what exactly is brain fog? What does it look like? And, more importantly, what can we do to support our brains so that it doesn’t happen to us?
Those are the questions that this article seeks to answer. Brain fog gets in the way of our lives, and by understanding it a little bit better, we can take one step closer to overcoming it. So let’s get take a closer look at it.
What Exactly Is Brain Fog?
Most people use the phrase “brain fog” to describe a state where it feels difficult to focus on a certain task or recall information from your memory and all-around reduces mental clarity and cognition.
Generally speaking, the term brain fog describes what it is like to have neuroinflammation. Low levels of neuroinflammation that are maintained for long periods can cause things like brain fog and other symptoms relating to cognition such as mood disorders, fatigue, and even pain.
But it is a real symptom, and there is often a deeper issue involved that is causing it. But sometimes, it’s just part of being a human with ever-changing hormone levels, diets, and amounts of sleep.
What Causes Brain Fog?
Again, the experience of brain fog is mostly brought about by neuroinflammation. But what is neuroinflammation? How is it related to the cognitive dysfunction of brain fog? And what causes it?
Neuroinflammation is an immune response in the brain. At low levels, it is completely normal and helps support your brain's health. But certain situations can cause this immune response to be elevated for too long, which can cause adverse symptoms. Here are some of the things that can cause neuroinflammation.
Lack of Sleep
Perhaps one of the more common causes of brain fog is a lack of sleep. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your brain health. Not only does sleep help to regulate your hormone levels and cycles, but it is also a time for the brain to rest, reset, and cleanse itself from waste and toxins.
If you have sub-par sleeping habits and your body regularly gets too little sleep, your brain won’t be able to properly cleanse itself from the waste that builds up in it. In that case, your immune system has to kick in to finish the job, which can cause neuroinflammation.
So make sure you get enough sleep to support a healthy brain. You should be getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. And remember, sleeping poorly all week and then sleeping in on the weekends doesn’t make up for all the damage; it’s still making you sleep-deprived!
Eating habits are directly tied to so many aspects of our health, including our brain health. When it comes to inflammation in the brain, what you do (and don’t) put in your body makes all the difference.
For starters, there are lots of foods that can increase inflammation markers in the brain and work to trigger inflammation. Foods with processed sugars, trans fats, and refined carbohydrates can all cause an increase in neuroinflammation.
On the other end of the spectrum, foods with omega-3s and other unsaturated fats such as oily fish, almonds, avocados, and more all help to regulate and support the body’s inflammatory responses and keep them at a normal, healthy level.
Stress and Mental Disorders
Many different mental health conditions out there can contribute to brain fog. Things like depression and anxiety can alter the brain and reduce its functionality. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol for long periods can contribute to brain fog by keeping your neurons from functioning at optimal levels.
Other disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome can contribute to brain fog. This type of cognitive impairment goes beyond just a sleepy or foggy brain and affects your body's energy levels.
There are a whole host of illnesses and medical conditions that have brain fog as a potential symptom. Alterations in the blood sugar from diabetes could be a common cause, as could fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and more.
These things mess with the natural state of your blood sugar, hormones, and immune system, which can all contribute to brain fog.
There are so many changes that happen to your body and brain when you go through menopause. Hormone levels are rapidly changing, which can cause chain reactions that affect a variety of areas in your life. One of the potential side effects is brain fog.
Your brain is sensitive and needs a certain hormone level to function properly. When hormonal changes and imbalances arise, inflammation can ensue, causing brain fog, forgetfulness, tiredness, and more.
What Can You Do About It?
If it seems like a lot of things could be causing your brain fog, that’s exactly the case It isn’t a normal condition, but it is a common one. And that begs the question, is there anything we can do to support the wellness of our brains to reduce the hold that brain fog has over us? The answer is yes!
Sleep and Nutrition
Living a healthier lifestyle is one of the first things you can do to keep your brain healthy and work to keep your mind clear. Quality sleep lets your brain rid itself of toxins and reset its hormone cycles. A well-rested brain is better equipped to think critically, engage in multitasking, recall information, and focus on the task at hand.
A well-fed brain is also absolutely critical. Get those overly processed sugars and trans fats out of your diet. They can be doing you more harm than you know! And replace those harmful foods with nutritious foods that help support a healthy inflammatory response instead of an overactive one. A healthy diet is absolutely vital!
Treat Your Health Conditions
As we mentioned before, there is a wide array of different physical and mental health conditions that could be causing your brain fog. If that sounds like you, one of the best things you can do for your brain fog is treat your illness.
Work with your doctor and find the right treatment plan. Fight the problem at its source so you can live a healthier life that is free from the symptoms that affect your day-to-day. Doing what you can from a healthcare perspective is one of the best things you can do to support your cognitive function.
In recent years, scientists have begun to discover that there are natural foods out there, like certain species of functional mushrooms, that are loaded with nutrients that can support the health of your brain in ways you wouldn’t believe.
Mushrooms like Lion’s Mane can support the nerve growth factor protein levels in the brain, keeping your neurons healthy and happy. Mushrooms like Reishi can help to support your hormonal systems for balance. Mushrooms like cordyceps help to dilate your arteries and produce fuel for your cells, supporting blood flow and oxygen levels throughout the body.
Supplements powered by these functional mushrooms can help support your nervous system and the systems surrounding it. This can help support your cognition, recall, focus, and much more. They’re a great way to help out your brain in a meaningful way on a daily basis.
The Woes of Brain Fog
Brain fog gets in the way. It can hinder your performance at work, get in the way of your relationships, and keep you from living the life that you want to live. But it’s not a life sentence. You can kick brain fog to the curb and support your brain function if you take care of your body with a healthy lifestyle, medical care, and the right natural remedies.
For more about how you can help your brain on a daily basis, check out Earth & Star for adaptogenic supplements that suit your lifestyle.
5 Stunning Health Benefits Of Medicinal Mushrooms | Food Revolution
Brain Fog: A Bit of Clarity Regarding Etiology, Prognosis, and Treatment | PubMed
Could It Be Brain Fog? | Vail Health
Eight Top Foods to Prevent Brain Inflammation | Mindd
Neuroinflammation: The Devil is in the Details | PubMed Central