Many of us have on occasion been hit with brain fog, a temporary condition in which we have trouble concentrating or remembering things, perhaps even feeling a sense of haziness that tells us we aren't hitting on all cognitive cylinders. Our minds feel clouded. Staying focused suddenly becomes a challenge, and processing information becomes a chore. At times like this, we might experience worry, wondering if we are suddenly experiencing an early onset of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, when in fact it might just be a symptom of our diet, or, more specifically, what we aren't eating. Nutrition plays a huge role in our brain function, and a diet that is out of whack – maybe ‘unbalanced' would be a better word – can be a contributing factor to brain fog.
Seeing Your Physician is AdvisableIf you experience brain fog, your No. 1 goal in life immediately becomes to get the fog lifted, although this isn't the kind of fog that the sun can burn off. At such time, it is advisable to make an appointment with your physician, so you can get checked out and get a determination of what could be causing your mental haze. Other causes of brain fog can include it being a common side effect of chemotherapy, per livestrong.com. It can also occur during menopause or be a symptom of other medical conditions such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
The Fog Can Begin (and End) in the GutAs you have probably read or heard by now, the foods you eat can have a direct effect on how you feel physically. Ditto for how sharp you feel mentally, as proper nutrition and supplementation can play a key role in enhancing your gut-brain connection, leading to a healthier gut and sharper mind, per mindbodygreen.com. The function and health of the brain, and even mood, are highly influenced by the state of health of our gut bacteria, says brain health expert Dr. David Perlmutter. Nurturing our gut bacteria allows us to reap the benefits of a healthy microbiome. And that means reduced inflammation and more-balanced immunity.
Foods Good at Fighting Off the FogA relatively wide assortment of foods (‘brain food' anyone?), vitamins, and supplements are out there and waiting for you to get stocked up on, so you can be prepared to do battle with and defeat brain fog. Here are 10 suggestions, in alphabetical order:
- Avocados. These have an abundance of oleic acid, a fatty acid that protects neurons, which is basic to brain health. Avocados also enhance healthy blood flow, further contributing to healthy brain function.
- B vitamins. Think vitamin B12. Many Americans are deficient in B12, which assists in the functionality of the nervous system, and that includes the brain. A B12 deficiency can lead to issues with fatigue, memory, and even a depressed moody. A biochemical process known as methylation plays a significant role in detox pathways and brain function, per mindbodygreen.com, and it is readily supported by activated B vitamins such as B9 and B6.
- Blueberries. Among fruits and vegetables, blueberries are one of the best suppliers of antioxidants, which is why blueberries are often linked to improved memory and cognitive function, per bustle.com.
- Curcumin. This highly popular supplement has shown success in fighting inflammation, which is important to your brainpower because many brain issues are associated with what's known as ‘leaky brain,' which can stem from inflammation, per mindbodygreen.com. Curcumin is the main ingredient of turmeric, which is known to boost working memory and attention in grownups.
- Vitamin D. Otherwise known as the ‘sunshine' vitamin. Every cell of your body needs D to thrive. A D deficiency has been linked to memory loss and even Alzheimer's.
- Dark chocolate. Admit it, you were hoping for an inclusion of this on the list. You got it! Like blueberries, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants that can help enhance focus and concentration, with a bonus of stimulating the production of endorphins.
- Leafy greens. You've heard that old maxim about an apple a day, right? Well, a daily helping of leafy green veggies, presumably in the form of a salad, has been shown to render a level of mental focus comparable to someone five years younger, as concluded by research cited in Journal of Neurology, per bustle.com.
- Nuts. A UCLA study cited at bustle.com revealed that snacking on a handful of walnuts a day can aid you in memory, concentration, and how quickly your brain processes information.
- Omega-3s. Found in abundance in fish oils. The consumption of omega-3s has been linked to the growth of new neurons and microvessels, which in turn are tied into enhanced cognitive recovery.
- Prebiotic fiber. Increasing neural connections in the brain can facilitate learning as well as strengthen short-term and long-term memory. So, what does that have to do with prebiotics? Glad you asked. In short, prebiotic fiber in the form of fructo-oligosaccharides feeds a bacteria group that ferments it into butyrate, an important anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acid that positively affects gene expression in the brain, per mindbodygreen.com.