Brain Fog- Yes, You Can Conquer It!

May 5, 2024 | Health & Well-Being

Brain Fog- Yes, You Can Conquer It!If you’ve found yourself wondering, “What is brain fog?”, you’re not alone. Oh, come on admit it- we all have experienced this at one time or another. The issue is increasingly common. Besides aging, reports show that as many as one in four people who contracted COVID-19 notice an increase of brain fog.

When you picture what brain fog looks like, you may think of those moments when you can’t put together a sentence or you lose your train of thought. Or maybe it’s a general malaise, a lack of focus. Yep, brain fog is perplexing, even to those in medicine, and it’s unique to each person who suffers from it.

What’s actually happening in your brain when you have brain fog?
The cognitive functions affected by brain fog are all regulated by the frontal lobe, the processing center of the brain, which is—evolutionarily speaking—a larger, newer region that develops only in humans and is responsible for our more advanced cognitive abilities. It is the last brain network to develop (it doesn’t fully mature until you’re 25 years old!), and it remains fluid and vulnerable to change throughout your life

What causes brain fog?
The frontal lobe doesn’t work smoothly when we’re in pain, overwhelmed, or sick. Plus, brain fog is a term patients use to refer to cognitive difficulties that can also be associated with central nervous system disorders like multiple sclerosis, medications like topiramate, and treatments such as chemotherapy.

The assumed culprit behind all the probs? The enemy within, so to speak: inflammation. When that internal fire rages (from, say, chemo), it impedes your brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of your body, according to recent research inCell.

How do you know if you actually have brain fog?
The main criterion to consider is whether you’re having difficulty returning to a baseline level of functioning. This will look different for everyone. You start at any age unable to connect the dots at times in thought and conversation. Maybe you don’t remember what transpired a day ago regarding a certain event or situation, important or otherwise. When this happens, we tend to not be able to fill in the missing pieces. Regardless of age, or medical conditions, this is something that everyone experiences. It’s just that we find it embarrassing or frustrating. It makes us question our mental acuity and abilities.

Is there any way to get rid of brain fog?
Truth be told, there is no quick cure for brain fog, but experts recommend adopting specific lifestyle tweaks to address the fixable causes in addition to strategies to cope with long-term ones.

First, take care of obvious needs, like sleep and ongoing pain, and see if the fog lifts. When sleep is good, we feel clear-headed, efficient, and quick. Sleep needs vary, but generally, you need between seven and nine hours. (We know, you’ve heard this before! But in this case, it’s imperative to actually do it.) And let’s talk about nutrition – a huge factor in this conversation.
(See below).

How do you clear up brain fog?
Even if doctors can’t find a physical cause for your brain fog, there are steps you can take to manage it. Start with short-term adaptive strategies to manage everyday tasks. Write notes and set alarms so that you don’t miss appointments. Take regular breaks during long projects so you’re better able to maintain focus and finish tasks. You might also try tracking your daily activities, using an app on your phone or just a notebook to figure out what times of day you feel most energetic and clearheaded. Then, reserve this time to do more difficult or complicated tasks.

Your health care provider may also suggest making lifestyle changes to improve your overall health and energy. A doctor will encourage cardiovascular exercise, a good diet, sleep and social activities that are known to be beneficial for the brain.

Physical activity can help improve your ability to focus, as well as increase neural connectivity and memory formation in the brain. If you don’t feel up for rigorous workouts, try doing them in small chunks so you can slowly build up your aerobic fitness. Make sure you stay hydrated and eat a variety of foods high in vitamins and antioxidants. And reach out to friends and family for support. Studies have shown that maintaining a rich social network not only helps reduce stress during difficult times, it can also enhance intellectual stimulation and improve your brain health.

Feed your brain.
Nutrition, nutrition, and better nutrition- pay attention to this detail. Your brain is made up of a lot of fat and protein. Does it make sense that our diets are low in both of these food groups? Not so much. Sugary processed food stuff is not your brain’s best friend. Stick to plant-based where you can, like Paleo (mostly vegetables, enough protein, and always some good fats). Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids (for their anti-inflammatory powers), a lot of antioxidants and coenzyme Q10 (essential for energy) and boost your body’s natural energy production and regeneration with essential vitamins and minerals.

 

 

*Portions of article sourced from: Womens Health Magazine

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