How to Reduce Brain Fog
March 9, 2023
By Susan Chance, courtesy of SBAM approved partner, ASE
Recently, I had conversations with several people about brain fog, and most of those people chalked it up to age. However, there are other causes for not being able to find your words, having trouble concentrating, or not remembering why you walked into the kitchen.
According to neuropsychologist Kamini Krishnan, PhD, “Brain fog is a sort of manifestation of some type of inflammation or chronic stress response,” and “Chronic stress can have secondary effects. It impacts your sleep, your nutrition, and your physical ability. Those secondary issues can lead to or be associated with psychiatric disorders.”
Anxiety, especially prolonged bouts of anxiety, can also cause brain fog. While anxiety can often occur with depression, it does not always. Anxiety in itself can reduce our “working memory” and an article on a study published by Frontiers in Psychology states that “anxiety disrupts performance” and “cognitive impairment can lead to increased anxiety”. Talk about a vicious cycle!
Most people have probably heard of Covid brain fog, pregnancy or mom brain, or chemo brain. Some health conditions can also cause fogginess such as blood sugar levels, nutrient deficiencies, not getting enough sleep, and even a poor diet.
So how do we deal with this? There is no shortage of medications out there, however, making some lifestyle changes can also help. So many people want a miracle cure; an easy pill to take or a quick surgery, but it is the same advice for so many conditions that could help. Exercise, make good dietary choices, work on better sleep, and exercise.
This does not mean that you should ignore a serious problem. It is always best to consult with your doctor on health-related issues. That being said, it has been shown over and over that getting even the minimum suggested amount of exercise and cleaning up your diet by staying away from processed foods, which can be high in sugar and sodium, can help with things like blood sugar levels, inflammation in the body, and energy levels.
A Harvard nutritionist, Dr. Uma Naidoo, gives a list of foods to avoid because they “weaken memory and focus:”
- Foods with high levels of added sugars
- Fried foods
- High-glycemic-load carbohydrates
While it can get a bad rap these days, religion can also help. In one article, the results of the review of 32 clinical studies showed that practicing one’s religion by doing things such as praying, meditating, reading religious texts, etc. “were associated with reduced anxiety.”
I have a drink coaster I received at our ASE holiday party that I love because it is funny, and also true. It reads, “My ability to remember song lyrics from the 80s far exceeds my ability to remember why I walked into the kitchen.” We can sit around making excuses, or we can make better choices for ourselves to show brain fog who the boss really is.
Sources: amenclinics.com; health.clevelandclinic.org; fronteirsin.org; clinmedjournals.org, cnbc.com