Brain Fog? 10 Tips to Sharpen Your Mind
Regardless of its cause, brain fog is the dazed and confused, frustrated feeling of being off your game. The silver lining to this “clouding of consciousness” is that it can be prevented, improved and eliminated with lifestyle changes.
Here are 10 great ways to help channel your inner productive person – the tack-sharp, upbeat alter ego and take control of brain fog:
Matcha stands at the tippity top of the antioxidant food chain, packing the punch of 10 cups of regular green tea. Two of its compounds, ECGC, and l-theanine, are unique to green tea and take down free radicals that cause oxidative damage and brain inflammation. This green beauty improves memory, boosts serotonin and other happy chemicals, and acts as an adaptogen to lower stress, which improves concentration and focus. Not a tea lover? There are hundreds of recipes online for cooking and baking with matcha.
Saunas create “heat stress.” It’s a healthy challenge with benefits similar to those of moderate aerobic exercise; get the heart pumping, raise endorphins, and lower levels of cortisol and other bad-stress hormones. Whether by dry or wet heat, saunas improve working memory and alertness and detoxify the body by sweating. Go for 30-minutes at least 3 times a week.
Getting hot has its benefits, so does getting cold. “Therapeutic hypothermia” or “therapeutic cooling” has an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effect on all of our cells, but especially brain cells, whose ability to grow new connections, form memories and lift mood, all respond to cold stimulation. As soon as you exit the sauna, or are done with your daily hot shower, take the polar bear challenge by showering in ice cold water for at least 3 minutes. Some health clubs offer cold plunge pools.
Sugar is brain poison, causing insulin resistance that disturbs neurological function. Healthy fats produce ketones, or brain food, that reverses symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders and improves mental function in otherwise healthy people. Ketosis, the process of using fat for energy, clears brain fog by up-regulating GABA, the chill-out neurotransmitter, and supporting an enzyme that clears toxic ammonia from the brain. Warning: combining a ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting may lead to euphoria.
You have to be down with stinky, slimy and gooey, but if you can make the leap, fermented soy is a blood thinner that improves blood circulation to the brain and boosts the immune system, fighting fatigue and that out-of-body, disassociated feeling. Aim for a half cup of organic natto twice weekly.
Inhaling or diffusing essential oils can be used to target specific aspects of brain fog. Lavender oil is calming and relaxing, inducing a rest-and-digest state that lowers stress and fights insomnia. For improved brain performance, peppermint oil is a mental stimulant that enhances focus; rosemary oil helps recall and concentration. Put one drop of oil on a cotton ball and let diffuse.
Negative electrons are strongly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; excessive positive charges are linked to health problems. Electronics are the guilty-as-charged, responsible for the overwhelming positive ions we carry. Electronic voltage can be somewhat mitigated by grounding, making direct contact with the earth, which transfers its surface negative charge to the body. Go barefoot in the grass, or if not possible, investigate grounding products.
Walnuts trigger nerve cell signals in the hippocampus, the brain center for learning, memory, and neuroplasticity. Walnuts are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids which are must-have for brain health. Eat a handful of walnuts at bedtime to boost melatonin, the sleep hormone, and improve the quality and quantity of sleep.
Also known as “low-level light therapy,” photobiomod can be done with a laser or LED light. Applying light to the head has been used to treat neurodegenerative diseases, and is under investigation for improving cognitive function in otherwise healthy people. Light emitting helmets or “brain caps” worn on a regular schedule are a work in progress, worth keeping an eye on.
Thousands of studies and thousands of years of tradition back up the use of turmeric as a nootropic, the so-called “smart supplements” that enhance brain function. Turmeric crosses the blood-brain barrier to work its magic directly where it’s needed, in the gray matter. Include 1 ½ teaspoons daily in diet, or, take an unprocessed, organic, whole food turmeric supplement. Avoid curcumin supplements because they are processed, often super concentrated, and don’t offer the benefit of the whole root.
Brain fog is not a medically accepted diagnosis or condition, and there’s no specific test for it, but it’s real and affects people of all ages. The root cause(s) are different for each of us, which means proactive change has to be individualized for each specific case. It’s worth the trouble!