6 Reasons You Might Be Suffering From Brain Fog & How to Lift It
If you find yourself often going about your day struggling to concentrate or think clearly, you may be suffering from brain fog. Whilst there isn’t an actual fog around your brain, it can certainly feel like there is. You might find yourself desperately searching your brain trying to grasp the right word or struggling to locate information from a conversation you had just yesterday. You may feel like your brain has somehow slowed down or left your head completely.
There are many reasons for brain fog (which is a collection of symptoms rather than a medical condition), so it’s essential to speak to a GP, who may do some tests to rule out any possible issues, such as thyroid problems, anaemia, or autoimmune disease. Once these are ruled out, it could be worth looking at your diet and your hormone levels, too, especially if you are approaching or experiencing the menopause.
Addressing the following areas can boost brain health and clear the fog: sleep, stress, nutrition, and hormones. Here we take a look at each one and identify new healthy habits that we can incorporate into our lifestyle to help beat brain fog for good.
Boost your Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a critical role in our cognitive function. It has been shown to promote better moods, concentration and memory, so we must ensure our Vitamin D levels are sitting where they should be.
The sun is our best source of Vitamin D, and since it’s challenging to get from food alone, most of the UK population is deficient. For this reason, Dr Sophie Shotter recommends that everyone should take at least 2000iu per day, however, some people require more than this. If you suspect you’re low in vitamin D, your GP may be able to test your levels.
Many scientists are now pointing to stress as a cause for most major diseases, including brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Too much of the stress hormone cortisol creates more free radicals inside the body, damaging brain cell membranes and causing them to lose function and die. High levels of stress can also lead to poor memory and mental function as they lead to exhaustion, making daily tasks feel near impossible.
Check your hormone levels
When we enter perimenopause, it can be common to start forgetting words, appointments and birthdays. Many women find that their brains don’t feel as engaged as they once did, which can really affect their ability to work and function. During perimenopause, your oestrogen levels fluctuate a lot. Oestrogen can significantly impact our cognitive function, and these fluctuations may lead to memory problems and lack of concentration that many women experience during this time.
Hormone replacement therapy can help rebalance hormones within the body, and many women find that all their symptoms improve within a few months of taking HRT or BHRT. They often find that their sleep improves, their mood is better, and their concentration and memory recovers. Many also find that their energy levels are much greater than they were before they started taking HRT.
Could you be B12 deficient?
B vitamins are essential for our nervous system, so low vitamin B12 can leave you struggling with chronic fatigue (which can contribute to symptoms such as poor concentration), along with problems with your memory and understanding. It’s relatively rare to be B12 deficient, but it does get more common with age and is common in people who don’t eat meat. B12-rich foods include red meat, poultry, and eggs, or nutritional yeast, and fortified cereals for vegans. Again, if you’re worried you may be low in B12, have a chat with your GP to discuss testing your levels.
Feed your brain
What you put into your body directly affects how your brain functions. Eat mindfully, incorporating foods such as green leafy vegetables, berries, turmeric and green tea, which are all good sources of antioxidants. Eggs, nuts, seeds, and oily fish will supply good fats like Omega 3, which is crucial in helping with mild cognitive impairment and memory loss.
Modern science is putting increasing importance on restful and adequate sleep for immunity building, stress reduction, and lowering the risk for cardiovascular problems and diabetes. If you’re not getting enough hours in, this could make you fuzzy during the day.
If you’ve been struggling to drift off recently, there are a few things you can try to help boost your melatonin levels (the sleep hormone). Start by switching off devices a couple of hours before you’re due to go to sleep. Blue light tricks the brain into thinking that it’s daytime and melatonin production is limited. Instead, spend some time before bed reading a book, meditating or enjoying a relaxing, lavender-scented bath. Relaxing activities will do wonders for boosting melatonin levels.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.