Why do we get brain fog and what can we do about it?
“What did I say now?”
At some point or the other, we all must have had these thoughts in our mind.
We all have been through there, where you go over the same passage of a book several times, yet absorb nothing of what you have read!
This so termed Mental Fog or brain fog is often described as a cloudy-headed feeling.
Brain fog or Mommy brain is not a medical condition, but a symptom of other cognitive dysfunction involving memory issues, forgetfulness, confusion, lack of clarity, poor concentration or even mental fatigue.
As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in our brain functions, that we have always take for granted.
It takes longer to learn and recollect information. We are not as quick as we would be in the earlier years of life.
Why do we get brain fog?
There are many causes of this brain fog. Identifying the underlying cause can help you begin fixing the problem.
Stress is something that we cannot run away from. It can be mental or physical.
Chronic stress increases Blood pressure, triggers depression and weakens the immune system too!!
It is responsible for that mental tiredness or fatigue. When your brain is exhausted, it becomes hard to think, reason and concentrate.
2. Electromagnetic radiation- From computer, mobile phones or tablets.
3. Hormonal changes
During pregnancy, there is an increase in the level of progesterone and oestrogen.
These fluctuating hormone levels affect memory and cause short term cognitive impairment.
Similarly, menopause causes a sudden drop in oestrogen levels causing confused and cloudy thinking, lack of focus or poor concentration
4. Lack of sleep- Sleeping too little can cause poor concentration and cloudy thoughts too!!
People who are allergic to certain foods develop brain fog after eating certain foods.
The most possible culprits include Peanuts, Dairy, Chinese preparation containing Ajinomoto (MSG).
Try avoiding such trigger foods if at all you are allergic.
Also, Vitamin B12 is known to support a healthy brain functioning. Lack of this essential vitamin can cause brain Fog
6. Medical conditions- Medical conditions that are responsible for brain fog include
Autoimmune disorders like SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), Arthritis or multiple sclerosis
Some people with disorders like Fibromyalgia experience similar Fogginess on a daily basis.
Brain fog can be a side effect of any drug or medicine that you have been taking since a long time.
Talk to your doctor if you experience brain fog. Lowering the dosage or switching to another drug may improve symptoms.
Brain fog can also be a side effect of chemo therapy too.
Carrying a baby can change your body and life in lots of ways, and chemicals released to protect and nourish your baby might bring some memory problems
Menopause, usually at the age of 50 or even less, can cause many changes in a woman. Symptoms can range from hair loss to hot flushes to brain fog also
10. Toxins, pollution, chemicals or insecticides.
What do you experience in a brain fog?
Usually there are headaches, low energy levels, mood swings, insomnia (trouble sleeping), irritability, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, depression
What can you do, if you get a brain fog?
Brain fog treatment depends on the cause. If the underlying condition is Anaemia, then iron supplements can increase RBC production and reduce brain Fog
If any autoimmune disease, then a corticosteroid or anti-inflammatory medication can help treating brain fog.
Indulge in a healthy diet by eating more veggies, fruits, healthy nuts, seeds and proteins (dals, lentils, sprouts)
Certain supplements like Fish oil, Gamma Oryzanol, Choline Bitartrate, Inositol, Ginseng extract, Soy-lecithin, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, B complex, can be prescribed by the medical practitioner.
2. Adequate Sleep
You need to sleep to help your brain work the way it should, but always remember, too much of it can make you feel foggy even.
Improving the quality of sleep can help relieve symptoms of brain fog.
Aim at getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If less in the night, prefer having a short and quick afternoon nap.
3. Managing stress
Reducing stress- mental or physical and also avoiding excessive caffeine, Smoking and alcohol.
4. Staying active
Exercising regularly. You can also engage yourself in enjoyable recreational activities or any hobbies.
Also, deep breathing and meditation can be of a great help too.
5. Brain strengthening activities
Strengthening your brain power (try volunteering or solving brain puzzles) with crosswords, Sudoku or working on a puzzle.
6. Take a break-
Spend less time on computer or mobile phones- Remind yourself to take a BREAK!!
7. Support groups
8. Self-care strategies
Following a schedule, using a reminder app or taking frequent breaks from whatever is heightening your anxiety, can help
The Foggy outlook
Everybody’s brain changes with age, and mental functioning changes along with it too!!
Mental decline is very common and the most feared consequences of ageing!!
Brain fog can be really frustrating, but relief is possible. Remember, never ignore the symptoms.
Try talking to your medical practitioner if you experience it. If left untreated, it can impact the quality of your life.
Once you address the underlying cause, you can improve your mental clarity.
In addition, it is very important to make family, friends and work colleagues aware of the difficulties that you are facing and explain how they can help you cope.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sneha Jain, Dietician
Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids . She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)
She believes in customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.