Diet. Treatment of brain fog may center on developing general healthy dietary guidelines, in addition to making some key adjustments in your relationship with food.
Dietary recommendations for brain fog:
- Eat adequate protein. Today’s Standard American Diet (SAD) is typically high in simple carbohydrates and low in protein. Protein contains important amino acids that are essential for the production of key neurotransmitters that regulate brain function. If you’re not getting enough protein throughout the day, supplement your diet with whey protein.
- Incorporate organic virgin coconut oil into your daily recipes. Contrary to the myth that all saturated fats are bad, the truth is that the brain needs healthy saturated fat to function optimally. Read more about good fats and bad fats.
- Choose complex carbohydrates that are slow to digest and that gradually increase blood sugar levels such as brown rice, raw apples, and winter squash.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as ground flax seed, sprouted walnuts, wild-caught salmon, minimal-mercury albacore tuna, and fish oil.
- Eat dark green leafy vegetables on a daily basis to benefit from powerful antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
- Add cilantro to your diet. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cilantro may help mobilize mercury and other neurotoxic metals, pulling them out of the brain to more superficial structures where they can be more easily grabbed and excreted by chelating agents.
Foods to AVOID include:
- All foods containing refined sugar or artificial sugar-substitutes such as aspartame, Splenda®, etc. Choose a natural sweetener like Xylosweet instead.
- All simple or refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, etc.) – Read more about good carbs and bad carbs.
- Excessive caffeine intake – While moderate amounts of caffeine may be beneficial, excessive consumption of caffeine can disrupt the body’s systems, causing insomnia and irregularity (constipation or diarrhea).
- Alcoholic beverages in excess. While they may initially induce sleep, ultimately they disrupt the natural sleep cycle, leading to disturbed sleep.
- Sweetened fruit juices that spike blood sugar levels too rapidly
- Bottom crawlers such as oysters, clams, and lobster that may contain toxic levels of mercury
- Deep-sea fish such as tuna, mackerel, and swordfish that may contain toxic levels of mercury. Choose minimal-mercury albacore tuna instead.
- Farm-raised fish that contain PCBs and not enough omega-3 essential fatty acids, due to their land-based diets. Choose wild-caught salmon instead.
- Sodium nitrite (an excitotoxin) found in processed foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon.
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) (an excitotoxin) found in many foods as a flavor enhancer
- Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils/trans fats found in many processed foods, deep-fried food, fast food, and junk food – Read more about good fats and bad fats.
Other tips for brain fog sufferers:
Try blue light therapy. It is a very gentle method for resetting the body’s circadian rhythms and re-establishing natural patterns of hormone production and sleep/wake cycles.
Set very specific sleep and wake times. Adequate restorative sleep can help relieve brain fog.
Step outside and enjoy the sun. Exposure to sunlight can help balance the body’s circadian rhythms and relieve depression and associated brain fog. Sunlight is essential for vitamin D production.
Seek spiritual outlets. A positive spiritual outlook on life can enhance mental performance.
Try meditation or guided imagery to relax your mind.
Don’t smoke. Smoking contains many harmful neurotoxins (toxins that negatively affect the brain) and it constricts blood vessels, leading to poor circulation throughout the body, including the brain.
Correct vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause brain fog symptoms such as confusion and irritability. Vegetarians are especially vulnerable to B-12 deficiency, because vitamin B-12 is found primarily in animal protein.
Resolve any chronic infections. Viral, fungal and bacterial infections, such as Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, hepatitis C, and Candida (yeast overgrowth) may play a significant role in reducing brain function, and efforts should be made to eliminate chronic infections as much as possible.
Reduce heavy metal exposure. Mercury, aluminum, cadmium, and lead toxicity are the most common toxic metals found in our environment, and every effort should be made to reduce exposure, in order to maintain optimal brain function. When eating fish and seafood, make sure they come from reputable sources and that they are screened for heavy metals. Below are some things that you can do to reduce heavy metal exposure:
- Try minimal-mercury tuna or wild-caught salmon.
- Avoid cosmetics, hygiene products, and antiperspirants that contain aluminum or aluminum compounds.
- If you have “silver” dental fillings, get an evaluation from a mercury-free dentist who specializes in the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. Exposure to mercury (a neurotoxin) damages neurotransmitters along the HPA axis and can be a cause of brain fog. Find a mercury-free dentist in your area now!
Resolve mineral imbalances. Magnesium deficiency and elevated calcium levels are very common mineral imbalances that can cause brain fog. These two minerals work synergistically in order to be absorbed and utilized effectively; therefore it is imperative that you are receiving adequate supplies of both (either through adequate diet or supplementation).
Manage your chronic conditions proactively. Many chronic conditions can cause brain fog, such as uncontrolled diabetes or hypoglycemia, autoimmune disorders (fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis), parasitic infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and many others. By managing your chronic condition effectively, you can significantly reduce brain fog symptoms.
Make sure your bowels are in good working order. Digestive issues, such as leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic constipation and diarrhea, can cause sluggish elimination, buildup of toxins, and nutritional deficiencies due to reduced nutrient absorption. By keeping your digestive tract in top shape, you’ll also be helping your brain to receive the nutrients it needs for high-level functioning.
Make sure your liver and kidneys are not overloaded or congested. When your liver and kidneys are not functioning well, they are less able to clear your system of the multitude of toxins that float around in your bloodstream. When your body is overloaded with toxins, your brain suffers as well. You can take herbs that support the liver such as milk thistle, and drink plenty of purified water to help the kidneys function optimally. Dehydration may be a key factor in less-than-optimal kidney function, so water is essential to keep the kidneys in tip-top shape.
Determine if you have underlying allergies or sensitivities that may be affecting your brain. In particular, gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance may be affecting your mental acuity. Digestive enzymes are helpful to digest gluten and lactose hidden in many of today’s processed foods.
Exercise.Any form of moderate exercise can help alleviate symptoms of brain fog by stimulating the production of endorphins (hormones that aid in pain relief, relaxation, and a sense of well-being). In addition, try brain puzzles to exercise your mind. The saying “use it or lose it” applies to your brain; it’s important to stimulate your brain with creative activities, such as learning a new language, taking a class for personal fulfillment, or becoming more socially active by joining a club or membership.