How to Fight Brain Fog and Protect Your Brain: Your Guide to a Clearer Mind
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a conversation or task, only to feel as though you're wading through a hazy mist, struggling to concentrate or remember the simplest of things?
Or you walk into a room to get something and then forget what it was...
This sensation, often termed as 'brain fog' is more common than you might think.
'Brain fog' while not a formal medical term, paints a picture of temporary cognitive impairment that many of us can relate to.
It’s that peculiar feeling when your thoughts seem woolly and elusive; your mental gears feel as though they're packed with sludge, making it challenging to latch onto ideas or details.
It's like trying to grasp onto smoke, where your usual mental sharpness seems to be shrouded in a cloud of confusion or forgetfulness.
This foggy feeling can be triggered by numerous factors. It could be the consequence of stress, poor sleep or hormonal changes.
It could arise from an imbalanced diet, certain medications, or even dehydration.
In this article, we're going to delve into five simple, yet effective strategies to help you lift that fog, clear your mind, and protect your brain from future decline.
#1: Daily Exercise
Exercise is not just for a healthy heart and toned body, it's an essential tool for a healthy, vibrant brain.
Numerous health authorities emphasise the importance of regular physical activity for adults - be it a high intensity workout for 10-20 minutes a day, or moderate-intensity exercise spanning 20 minutes.
This is due to the dual benefits exercise offers - enhancing cerebral blood flow and stimulating the production of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
Let's delve a little deeper. Exercise increases blood flow to our brain, delivering more oxygen and nutrients that our brain cells crave.
Simultaneously, it stimulates the production of BDNF, a protein that supports the survival of existing neurons and encourages the growth of new ones.
Both of these factors contribute to improved cognitive function and clarity.
So, how intense should your workout be?
While high-intensity exercise has been proven to improve cognitive function, remember, even a brisk 10-minute walk can give your brain a much-needed boost.
A 2018 study found that even even a brisk 10-minute stroll can uplift your mood and clear mental fog.
Motivation is key. Don't let the idea of a full-blown workout intimidate you.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Whether it's following along with a free aerobics video on Youtube in the morning, a lunchtime walk, an evening run, laps in the pool or time on an exercise bike.
Every effort you make, is a victory for your brain health.
#2: Reduce Stress and Calm Your Mind
Stress: it's a constant presence in our fast-paced, hyper-connected world, and it's a major contributing factor to brain fog.
Social media, news updates, emails, instant messaging - our brains are constantly bombarded with information and distractions that can put them into overload and take a toll on our mental clarity, leading to a stressed-out mind that feels foggy and fatigued.
It's important to understand the mechanics of this stress-brain fog connection.
When we're stressed, our bodies produce an excess of cortisol, often referred to as the 'stress hormone.'
While cortisol is an essential part of our daily Wake and Sleep hormone cycle, chronicly high levels can wreak havoc on our brain, impairing memory, inhibiting the growth of new neurons, and exacerbating brain fog.
So, how do we tackle this?
Take a moment to reflect on your daily digital consumption. Are you glued to your devices even during downtime? If yes, consider setting boundaries. Dedicate specific time slots for checking emails or social media, and make it a point to disconnect from screens at least an hour before bedtime.
But reducing screen time is just one piece of the puzzle.
Incorporating calming practices into our daily routine can also have a significant impact on lowering stress and brain fog.
Guided meditation, for instance, is a powerful tool for cultivating inner peace. It's a practice that's accessible to everyone, regardless of experience.
Simply find a quiet space, put on a guided meditation track, and allow the soothing voice to lead you into a state of calm and relaxation.
Just 10-20 minutes a day can drastically reduce stress levels and help alleviate brain fog. Search Youtube or Spotify for free guided meditations or download an app such as Headspace or Waking up.
Another simple yet effective technique for calming the mind and body is slow nasal breathing.
By closing your eyes and taking deep, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, you can encourage a state of relaxation, reducing stress and promoting mental clarity in a matter of minutes.
The journey to a fog-free mind is not a sprint but a marathon, with each small, consistent step bringing you closer to a clearer, more focused mind.
It's not about achieving perfection, but making meaningful progress towards a healthier, happier state of mind.
As you navigate this journey, remember to take it slow and steady, appreciating every victory along the way.
#3: Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Often overlooked in our fast-paced society, quality sleep is a non-negotiable component of brain health.
Adequate sleep is not a luxury; it’s a biological necessity, essential for cognitive functions such as memory consolidation, attention, decision-making, and creative thinking.
When we sleep, our brains get to work on vital tasks that cannot happen while we are awake like repairing cells, consolidating memories, and flushing out toxins that build up throughout the day via the brains self cleaning Glymphatic system.
A disruption in sleep can interrupt these important processes, leading to brain fog and a decrease in cognitive abilities.
So, what is 'adequate sleep'?
While it can vary somewhat among individuals, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for adults.
Struggling to hit these numbers consistently? You're not alone.
Many factors, including stress, lifestyle, and certain medical conditions, can interfere with a good night's sleep.
Here are some tips to help improve your sleep hygiene: Establish a consistent sleep schedule. Our bodies crave routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps to regulate your body's internal clock and can aid in better sleep quality.
Create an environment conducive to sleep. This means a cool, dark, and quiet space.
Make your bedroom a screen-free zone. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body's production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake close to bedtime. Both substances can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and the quality of sleep you get.
Make sure you are getting enough Magnesium this essential mineral has been shown to help calm our brain and promote better sleep quality and duration.
Sleep, much like reducing stress and incorporating daily exercise, is part of the marathon to achieve and maintain mental clarity.
Prioritizing sleep is not about being lazy or indulgent—it's about giving your brain the downtime it needs to function optimally.
Every good night's sleep is a victory on the journey to a fog-free mind.
#4: Balance Your Blood Sugar
Our brains are energy-hungry organs, consuming about 20% of the body's total energy and relying on a constant supply of glucose - our body's primary source of energy.
Maintaining a balanced blood sugar level is crucial to ensuring your brain gets the fuel it needs to function optimally.
When your blood sugar levels swing like a pendulum, spiking high and crashing low, it can cause brain fog, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
When we consume a diet rich in processed sugars and simple carbohydrates, we expose our body to a roller coaster of blood glucose spikes followed by rapid crashes.
This can leave us feeling mentally foggy, tired and irritable.
Furthermore, consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance. In this state, our body's cells become less responsive to insulin, a hormone that helps glucose enter the cells. This leads to an excess of glucose in the bloodstream, promoting inflammation and potentially damaging our brain cells over time.
So, how can we achieve balanced blood sugar levels for optimal brain health?
Aiming for a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods that are low on the GI (glycemic index) can be key.
Foods high in fibre, protein, and healthy fats can help keep our blood sugar levels stable and sustain our energy throughout the day.
These foods release glucose into the bloodstream more slowly and steadily, helping avoid the peaks and troughs of blood sugar.
Regular meals and healthy snacks like nuts, seeds and fruit can also help keep your blood sugar levels steady.
Instead of skipping meals or relying on sugary snacks to get you through the day, make a conscious effort to eat balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals.
Finally, remember that hydration is key. Dehydration can cause a multitude of symptoms, including fatigue and brain fog, and it can also negatively impact your blood sugar levels.
So make sure you're drinking plenty of water throughout the day and monitoring the colour of your urine to gage how hydrated you really are.
Balancing your blood sugar is not a quick fix, it's a lifestyle.
Making a commitment to maintaining balanced blood sugar levels translates into clearer thinking, better mood, and improved brain health.
#5: Ensure You're Getting the Right Amount of Omega-3
The importance of Omega-3 fatty acids for brain health is widely recognised.
Omega-3s play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our brain cells and promoting effective brain communication.
Our brains are made up of about 60% fat, and a significant portion of that fat is Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly one called DHA.
This vital nutrient helps keep the lining of brain cells flexible, making it easier for cells to communicate with one another.
It's this seamless communication that facilitates clear thinking, memory retrieval, and overall cognitive function.
Furthermore, research indicates a deficiency in Omega-3 can contribute to mental fatigue, poor memory, mood swings or depression, and indeed, that foggy feeling we're all too familiar with.
A recent groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Nutrients found the level of DHA (Omega-3 fatty acid) found in someone's red blood cells was closely related to their risk of developing Alzheimers.
Those with the highest DHA levels had a staggering 49% lower risk of Alzheimers compared to the lowest DHA group
So, how do we ensure we are getting enough Omega-3 to safeguard our brains from fog and promote optimal health?
If you're a seafood fan, you're in luck.
Cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines, are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Regularly incorporating these into your diet can help boost your Omega-3 intake.
For those who don't eat fish or are vegetarian, alternatives are available. Chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts contain plant-based sources of Omega-3.
While they contain a type of Omega-3 called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is not as potent as the Omega-3s found in fish, our bodies can convert a small portion into DHA.
Adding a high quality Omega-3 supplement to your diet is a great way to ensure you are getting the right amount each day to support your brain health.
When chosing a supplement make sure that it contains a high amount of DHA upwards of 500mg per serving to support your brain health.
Our Wild Omega-3 fish oil is made from wild caught fish and is in the most natural and bioavailable Tryglyceride form.
Most importantly the oil is easily smell and taste testable so you know the oil is fresh and not rancid (unlike 80% of the supplements tested in a recent study).
Ensuring you can receive all of the Omega-3 brain benefits without any worry and regardless of your diet.