CAUSES OF BRAIN FOG - YOU'LL WANT A COFFEE FOR THIS.
Ugh, I have brain fog just trying to write this and I'm going to assume it's because it's almost 1:00pm on a hot ass Sunday
and all I've had is a protein bar and a latte and all I can think about is getting out my boogie boards and frolicking in the ocean for a hot minute.
But on a serious note...you know how some days you just feel ON? You're awake, alert, happy. witty, smart, and just all around fabulous and then other days you feel like you developed 20 forehead wrinkles over night, your eyes feel like they're about to fall out of your face, your body hurts, and you don't know what time or day it is?
Can I get an "I" for every girl who is SO FUCKING OVER the latter?
Personally I feel like I have a pretty good idea as to why some days I feel like Chrissy Teigen and other days I feel like Lindsey Lohan circa 2007, no offense.
For me I feel like the most common things are lack of QUALITY sleep with a splash of stress or anxiety so that's fun.
BUT I wanted to do some more research and really figure out what could be causing it on such a consistent basis and HOLY SHIT, there's a lot that could be contributing to it.
I feel like all of the reasons make sense but it's interesting to read through it and ask yourself if you're really taking as good of care of yourself as you think you are. I learned so many more reasons as to why some days I may not feel my best and now I'm excited to obviously share them with you and also apply them to my own life to see how much better I feel.
Also - I learned that fish oil is really helpful! SO let's get into what brain fog is, causes brain fog and then talk about what we can do to check in with ourselves and start to fix it.
What Brain Fog IS:
I mean, unfortunately, I feel like we're all WAY too familiar with what it is BUT just in case you're not...brain fog is a broad term that's used to describe feelings of fuzzy thinking, lack of focus and dimmed mental clarity.
It feels difficult to remember simple things like where you put your keys, names of people and places and even memories. Or it could be a difficulty with quickly processing information which also takes away from our understanding and focus.
It could look like a hard time navigating, calculating, problem solving, planning and organizing.
And then to top it off, if your having brain fog you're likely having a lost of second guessing plus a lack of focus and pretty much horrible mental clarity.
Safe to say we've probably all been here a time or two, ay?
Causes of Brain Fog:
Typically it's going to be due to poor life style choices, the side effect of a medication or the result of a medical condition.
Refined carbs and sugary snacks or drinks metabolize too quickly which causes our blood sugar levels to go up, up upppp. Our brains love glucose aka blood sugar SO we immediately feel energized and happy but, insulin comes in and removes the excess glucose in an attempt to bring our levels back to normal.
This decrease in blood sugar causes us to experience mood swings, irritability, brain fog an tiredness. If you are insulin resistant then brain fog may also be an issue because your brain is most likely not getting enough glucose so consider eating a diet high in fiber, protein, meats, fish and nuts.
LOW FAT DIETS -
Fat plays a big role in the quality of our brain so jumping on the band wagon of low fat diets may not be a great idea if brain fog is something that you're experiencing or wanting to avoid.
The other day I was reading Max Lugavere's Genius Foods Book and he explained that most of us are consuming a diet VERY high in Omega 6's and VERY low in Omega-3's. Like 25 TIMES more Omega 6's than 3's. NO BUENO.
Omegs - 6's are an underlying cause of inflammation which may be triggering brain fog, as well as ADHD and Anxiety. I personally just started taking 2,000mg of fish oil a day to help with my anxiety and I am SO excited to see how it nourishes me over the next month at least.
FOOD ALLERGIES -
I think it's fair to wonder that if a certain food has such a negative effect on your body, what kind of effect could it have on your brain?
Common food allergies include dairy, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts but some of the MOST popular food allergies in the U.S. are Corn, Soy and Gluten.
According to Max Lugavere's Book as well as Michael Pollen's "Debunks Food Myths", "the average American gets 2/3 of their calories from wheat, corn and soy." (STUDY)
So looking further into the effects on Brain Fog when removing those foods from your diet could be really beneficial if you ask me!
Wheat deserves it's own section haha. Remember, we're talking about foods within our diet that may be linked to some kind of brain fog right? Well schizophrenia, autism, and epilepsy are all BRAIN DISORDERS that show strong associations with the consumption of gluten.
Going gluten free also won't be the cure all for all health problems (even though everyone in LA seems to think so haha) but it is something that I think is worth experimenting with because I think our society is SO addicted to carbs in general that if we could learn to replace those calories and carbs with fiber and protein rich foods, everyone would see a reduction in their weight.
I don't personally have an issue with gluten but that's not because I went and did any kind of fancy test with my doctor. I simply did the Elimination technique that's in my Total Reset Two Week Cleanse, and I was able to enjoy a lot of healthy, un processed foods while not consuming any of the foods that people are typically sensitive to.
This might be a good place for you to start as well if you feel like your diet could be cleaned up and if you want to try and pin point the foods that irritate you personally.
What I DID notice though when I went on a very low carb diet for 30 days (50g of carbs or less) was that I consumed less calories, felt more full, and looked leaner!
So when I was going to the Academy at Show Up Fitness in West Hollywood to become a personal trainer, I LEARNED SO MUCH! But! One thing that really stuck with me was when my coach said "it only takes 2% dehydration to affect your attention, memory, and other cognitive skills". (STUDY)
WHAT! That's insane to me. To think that if you're feeling a little off, it could simply be that you are the slightest bit dehydrated and all you need is more water. But most of us think we need coffee or a nap or that our life is just too hectic. Next time you're not feeling 100, ask yourself, have I had enough water today?
Dehydration can result in fatigue, light headedness, confusion, anxiety, dizziness, and could be causing your brain fog.
CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL WITH DRAWL -
These are clearly 2 things that are known to be so addicting that people feel inclined to take a coffee or alch detox for days, weeks, or even months at a time. This is great but don't be surprised by the headaches, brain fog, mood swings, and fatigue that shows up after about 1 day of detoxing.
YEEEUP. Go figure. Being less than satisfactory in any of the nutrients below could be what's causing your brain fog.
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3's
Lack Of Quality Sleep
Ouf. This was a rough one for me when I was getting 4-6 hours of sleep almost nightly due to working like a psycho person and going to school and training and health coaching, let me tell ya.
Lack of sleep causes memory issues, mood changes, and trouble with thinking and concentration. Your brain function is completely altered and I think it effects more of us than we even realize. I know a lot of people get romantic with the idea of "grinding" and "hustling" and just being super fucking busy but honestly, it's not cool IF you are not able to take care of yourself along the way.
When I was really busy it was interesting to see how many people were saying, "Well you're doing so well and working so hard!", "You're killing it!!" And I was like, "I feel like I'm killing myself lolz".
But really. I didn't feel cool. I didn't feel like I was being the best version of myself or feel like I was actually even doing that great of a job because I was SO exhausted all the time that I was just a boring person to be around.
We actually form connections during sleep that help us process and remember new information so a lack of sleep can impact both short and long term memory.
Chronic sleep loss can lead to anxiety and depression which I think explains why I had my first panic attack during those busy months. PLUS concentration, creativity, and problem solving skills all decline.
"Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication. After 17-19 hours without sleep, performance was equivalent or worse than that of a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%. After longer periods with out sleep, performance reached levels equivalent to a blood alch concentration of 0.1%." (STUDY)
This is why sometimes when you're super tired and pull a weird night where you're in bed by like 5:00 am and up at 8:00am - you feel hungover.
Ohhh, I am all too familiar with this. Chronic stress leads to insomnia, memory loss, anxiety, weight gain, and depression AND it puts you at a greater risk for diseases that you want to avoid like dementia and Alzheimer's. So if you're stressed because of work for example, it makes it hard to sleep, which compounds into feeling massive brain fog. See how easy it is to feel like we're always a little off?
Being Physically Inactive:
Lack of movement has so many negative effects on the brain. This research argues that physical exercise may be the single most important thing that you can do for your brain. When we exercise, we bring more oxygen to the brain and reduce cortisol all while stimulating new brain function. SO GO MOVE. Especially during those times where you feel like you're tired and don't know why, or when you just want to crawl into bed.
I PROMISE YOU WILL FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. Just get that blood flowing!
AGH, okay so that's a lot right? I mean, for me I usually always assumed that it was stress or lack of sleep like I explained before but I came to realize that I haven't been eating much fat lately, and especially with how hot it's been I need to be drinking MORE water than usual. If you feel like you're suffering from Brain Fog, try going through the list of natural remedies below and seeing if anything could use more attention in your life.
Tips For Getting Rid Of Brain Fog
+ Eliminate processed foods and if you consume any foods that you know irritate you, eliminate those all well.
+ Start getting some more healthy fats in your diet. I LOVE THIS FISH OIL. And as always, be cautious that you're not trying a million new fatty snacks all at once because they can pack a lot of calories. Instead, just try adding a little olive oil or avocado to your next meal and take a fish oil supplement. We want to increase brain function, not gain weight.
+ Get high quality sleep. Check out my blog (5 Sleeping Tips for Students and Women Who Are Busy AF!) to see how I managed to get the best sleep that i could even though my schedule was insane.
+ Try meditating to reduce stress.
+ Get a check up to see if you have any unknown medical conditions.
If you guys have any more tips please leave them below!