Brain Fog or ‘clouding of consciousness’ causes poor concentration and memory and difficulty processing information.
Stress and our busy modern lives can contribute to these symptoms. But research also links brain fog to diet and nutrition. Here are some simple tips which may help you prevent brain fog.
Keep blood sugar balanced
Glucose, or sugar, is your brain’s preferred fuel. Low blood sugar can slow brain function. But this doesn’t mean you should reach for the biscuits! It’s healthier to avoid dips by choosing complex carbohydrates like wholegrain rice and oats, whole fruits and vegetables and adding protein to every meal.
Eat healthy fats
Sixty percent of the dry weight of your brain is fat. So, if you’re not consuming healthy fats, your brain can start ‘eating itself’ to get the fuel it needs. Add healthy sources of fat like avocado, coconut, olive oil, nuts and seeds to your daily diet (1).
Your brain is 75% water and even mild dehydration affects the ability to concentrate and memory. Prevention is better than cure. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, sip water throughout the day. Aim for 1.5 – 2L a day and remember: herbal tea counts but caffeinated and fizzy drinks don’t! (2) (3)
Get a good night’s sleep
When we’re asleep out brain is repairing and forming new cells, so quality sleep is essential. Research shows that losing just one night’s sleep can affect your mental performance as much as if you were drunk! Make sure your room is dark, cool and quiet and try to avoid technology for at least one hour before bed to aid restful sleep (4).
Reduce inflammatory foods
Brain fog and chronic cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia have been linked to inflammation in the brain (5) (6). Limit your intake of pro-inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy, and gluten and increase naturally anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, turmeric and green veggies. Gluten sensitivity has also been linked to brain fog. Try cutting gluten out for a few weeks and see how you feel. The biggest proof a food is triggering any symptom is how you feel when you remove it! (7)
1) Kharrazian, Datis, 2013. ‘Why Isn’t My Brain Working?’ Elephant Press
2) Wilson MMG and Morley JE, 2003 ‘Impaired cognitive function and mental performance in mild dehydration’ European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57:2
3) Adan A (2012) ‘Cognitive performance and dehydration’ Journal of American College of Nutrition 31:2 pp.71-8
4) Epstein, (2014) ‘Sharpen thinking skills with a better night’s sleep’ Harvard Health Letter
5) Kharrazian, Datis, 2013. ‘Why Isn’t My Brain Working?’ Elephant Press
6) Theoharides TC, Stewart JM, et al (2015) ‘Brain “fog,” inflammation and obesity: key aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders improved by luteolin’ Fronteirs in Neuroscience
7) Lichwark IT, Newnham ED et al (2014) ‘Cognitive impairment in coeliac disease improves on a gluten-free diet and correlates with histological and serological indices of disease severity’ Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 40: 2 pp.160-70