Brain Fog: How to Fix It & What Lifestyle Choices Lead to It

Brain Fog: How to Fix It & What Lifestyle Choices Lead to It

Most of us have probably felt it at one time or another: that sluggish, fuzzy, out-of-sync sensation like your brain is running a few seconds behind the rest of the world. Welcome to brain fog.

What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog isn't a specific medical condition unto itself. It isn't a recognized diagnosis like diabetes or emphysema. Brain fog is a symptom, or group of symptoms, that point to other medical conditions. Brain fog is a catch-all term used to describe problems with memory, focus, logic, and problem-solving. One symptom alone may not indicate another problem, but a collection of the symptoms may indicate a problem that needs attention.

Symptoms of Brain Fog

Brain fog is generally characterized as a type of cognitive dysfunction. The main indicators of brain fog may include:

  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Difficulty or inability to focus
  • Memory problems
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Problems following conversations
  • Difficulty paying attention to your surroundings

Mild symptoms are frequently described as simply mental fatigue. But depending on how severe the symptoms are, brain fog can interfere with school or work. 

Causes of Brain Fog

There is an ongoing debate in the medical community about the causes and risk factors that may lead to brain fog. Here are some of the main reasons a person may develop this particular disorder.

1.  Hormone Imbalances 

Any condition that results in an imbalance in hormone levels or significant fluctuations in hormones may bring on brain fog. This can include women in premenopausal or menopausal phases of their lives or men who suffer from insufficient testosterone production. It can include anyone diagnosed with problems in their thyroid gland. It isn't uncommon in pregnant women, either.

2. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

This medical condition results in a tired feeling all day, even after a person has a full eight-hour night's sleep. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome affects women and men equally.

3. Dehydration

An imbalance in the amount of fluid intake can increase your risk of developing brain fog. Dehydration, or a lack of adequate water, can leave you feeling dizzy, disoriented, and unable to think clearly.

4. Lack of Sleep

To feel your best and perform at your optimum level, you need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Getting less sleep than that can disrupt your concentration and interfere with your memory. A good night's sleep lets your brain rest and recover. Getting a full night's sleep but still don't feel rested? Talk to your healthcare provider about a sleep disorder.

5. Insufficient Vitamin B12 Levels

Vitamin B12 is a necessary nutrient. It functions in maintaining healthy blood and nerves. A lack of sufficient B12 can result in an inability to focus. If you're not getting what you should in your daily meals, consider a quality B12 supplement.

6. Lack of Healthy Fats in Your Diet

Most of us don't get enough healthy fats in our diets, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 supports brain health, including attention, memory, and mood. By making certain we're getting the healthy fats we need in our food or by supplementing our diets with a quality omega-3 supplement, we can help lower our risk for brain fog.

7. Low Carbohydrate Intake

Your brain needs carbohydrates for energy. It makes sense, therefore, that decreasing your carbohydrate intake may impact your brainpower. Brain fog can be triggered by a lack of carbohydrates in your diet, causing problems, from trouble concentrating to a general feeling of fatigue. 

Fixing Your Brain Fog

The first step to alleviating your brain fog is to talk to your doctor about it. This way, you can make certain there isn't an underlying disease process that needs to be treated. Make certain your doctor checks for hormone imbalances, especially if you're a woman reaching menopause age. If the doctor gives you the all-clear medically, then you can turn your attention to lifestyle changes that can go a long way toward fixing your foggy brain problems. 

One of the easiest to fix is brain fog that results from inadequate sleep. Burning the midnight oil deprives your brain of needed downtime—rest and recoup as needed to keep you on your A-game. That means going to bed in time to get your hours of sleep in before waking up for the new day. Try to schedule your sleep time at the same hours every day. 

If your brain fog is a result of nutritional deficiencies, making changes to your daily dietary intake should take care of the problem. Here are a few of the more common dietary tweaks that may help lessen or eliminate your brain fog:

  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.  Alcohol is a known depressant that will alter brain function over time if consumed frequently. The same goes for illicit and some prescription drugs.
  • Caffeine. Most people turn to caffeine to stimulate them physically and mentally. It can work well, but over time people develop tolerance. If they stop using caffeine, it may trigger a worse brain fog than they experienced before starting the caffeine.
  • Eat a healthy diet. It's a simple fact of life:  your brain must have energy from food to function at its best. Focus and clarity of thinking will suffer if your diet doesn't provide the nutritional elements your brain needs. You need to make certain your diet includes such foods as lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts. For specific nutrients such as vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals such as magnesium and potassium, quality supplements are available over-the-counter. 

Clearing the Fog

If you're unsure about making changes to your diet, talk it over with your healthcare provider or registered dietician. In need of quality supplements?  Tiger Fitness has the quality supplements that you need. 

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Joe - December 9, 2021

Thank you for your article. For years I suffered from brain fog, chalked it up to my thyroid issues. I addressed my thyroid issues and still had brain fog.
I researched other possible causes and stumbled across an article regarding brain fog causes. It stated that a very little known cause is, and a side effect of, sucralose.
After reading that article I tried it out. I eliminated sucralose from my diet. Within a few days my brain fog lifted and I have felt so much better than ever since then. For the record, I was using sucralose in Splenda form, to substitute for sugar. I still take some supplements that utilize sucralose as a sweetener in their products and these do not seem to cause brain fog like the sucralose in Splenda did.
Hope this helps anybody out there suffering from brain fog.

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