What You’ll Learn
- What is brain fog?
- What does mental fatigue feel like?
- What causes brain fog?
- 7 therapies to see your way through brain fog
Answer yes or no to the following questions—don’t fret, though; there’s no right or wrong, pass or fail result.
Does your mind often feel…
Scattered and unfocused?
Fatigued and in slow motion?
Unmotivated, unproductive, and uninspired?
Anxious, irritable, headachy?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, brain fog might be to blame!
What Is Brain Fog?
Brain fog is a form of mild cognitive impairment, also referred to as mental fog, mental fatigue, sluggish cognitive tempo, clouding of consciousness, fuzzy mind, and brain drain. While it is not technically considered a “medical condition,” it is undoubtedly a minor to severe malady that many of us are unfortunately battling with on a daily or regular basis. It is a syndrome that is precisely what it sounds like.
As we mentioned in Innovative Medicine’s Guide to Cognitive Health, “Brain fog is a condition marked by the feeling that your cognitive functions (i.e., thinking, understanding, remembering, concentrating, performing, etc.) are operating at a below-average or subpar level. Or, in other words, your brain feels foggy, cloudy, hazy, or like it just never got out of bed on a rainy day.
Brain fog can affect your ability to process, store, and recall information, calculate and work things out, and organize, problem solve, and plan.”
Similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, brain fog is a condition that is very difficult to diagnose formally, but is very recognizable when you actually have it.
What Does Mental Fatigue Feel Like?
Mental fog can be downright frustrating. It often includes a “wrapped in fog” like experience that feels “sludgy” or like your mind is moving through Jello—cognitive tasks are doable but seem to require ten times the amount of energy.
This form of cognitive dysfunction can lead you to feel anxious, depressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed, and irritable. It can affect not only your relationship with yourself and others but your professional life too. Brain fog is the pits! It is also an incredibly common ailment as its source can be linked to everything from NAD+ deficiency and gut health to Lyme disease and chronic stress.
It is a symptom that can only fully be treated by acknowledging and addressing the root problem(s). Imagine recognizing and remedying the source(s) to rid yourself of the symptoms? Now, that is innovative medicine!
What Causes Brain Fog?
As mentioned above, brain fog can stem from a lot of different sources. The good news is, once you identify the source(s) of your brain fog, there are steps you can take and therapies you can employ to lift the haze and return to a state of cognitive clarity. A bonus of getting to the root of your brain fog and taking action is that the rest of your body will benefit too.
Now, let’s dig down to the roots and find the source!
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Too Much Stress, Not Enough Sleep
“The human body is amazing at adapting in the face of tension. When we perceive that we’re in danger, the brain releases a cascade of neurochemicals and hormones to help us mobilize (hello, fight-or-flight mode!). But this cocktail is only meant to pump through our bodies for a limited time. These substances exhaust our brains when they stick around longer than they should,” explains neuropsychologist Jessica Caldwell, Ph.D.
In the case of chronic stress where the fight-or-flight response doesn’t turn off, and the stress hormones tap stays open, the hippocampus part of our brain gets overexerted and eventually will shrink as cells die off—this creates the perfect environment for brain fog to roll in and linger.
Stress is a silent killer. In this particular case, a killer of essential brain cells, not to mention the damage too much cortisol can commit on the rest of your body. It’s easy to understand how stress gets the best of us sometimes. Societal, professional, familial, platonic, romantic, and personal expectations and obligations keep us running hard around the clock. Our mental clarity and cognitive performance are on the line when we don’t mind our minds.
Aside from stress, sleep is one of the biggest culprits of mental fatigue. Too much stress and not enough rest often go hand and hand. The human body requires an average of eight hours of sleep every night in order for the brain and body to perform cleansing, healing, and restorative processes. If you continually deny yourself those precious and pertinent hours, a foggy brain is only one of the consequences.
Vitamin Deficiencies and Poor Diet
To fuel your brain, you need to feed your brain the right nutrient-dense foods. Your brain requires a daily concoction of omega-3 fatty acids, all the B vitamins (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12), vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, and iodine. Your brain also wants complex carbohydrates, which your body breaks down into glucose, one of your brain’s favorite sources of energy. The keyword here is complex, not simple or processed carbs.
I can tell you right now, though, you aren’t going to find these vitamins and minerals in abundance in highly processed, preservative-packed, chemical-coated, trans-fat-teeming, high-fructose corn syrup laced foods! A good rule of thumb is to avoid foods where you either can’t easily pronounce the ingredients or have no idea what the ingredients actually are. In other words, we’ve all heard of MSG, but what do you really know what monosodium glutamate is? Not brain-friendly, that’s for sure.
Your brain wants fresh, clean, organic, naturally colorful foods that come straight from the earth. Your brain wants a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Your gut wants these things too.
Gut Microbial Imbalance and Inflammation
Your gut and brain have a very intimate and co-dependent relationship thanks to a direct communication line called the vagus nerve. When your gut microbiome is off, or your brain is under stress or lacking nutritional support, both experience the effects. For this reason, if your gut is out of whack, your brain function is also likely to fall off-kilter.
A diet flushed with simple carbohydrates and refined sugar has been linked to gut inflammation, low-levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which can induce memory and information retention issues, mood disorders, and the oh-so-pesky brain fog. Psychiatrist Dr. Sarkehl points out that “many of the conditions and lifestyle pressures associated with brain fog feature both inflammation and gut microbial imbalance.”
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a naturally occurring essential coenzyme needed by every single cell in your body. Without it, you’d be dead within seconds! It is also key to regulating your blood sugar and circadian rhythm and slowing down the degenerative aging process, which can trigger symptoms like loss of cognitive clarity and mental fatigue.
NAD+ enables the transfer of energy from the foods we eat to vital cell functions, and very notably in the brain. So, if you feel like you are experiencing an energy crisis with a hearty side of sluggish cognitive tempo, an NAD+ deficiency is likely part of your dilemma.
Like, swipe, check, click, comment, respond, post, tag, record, snap, search, watch, share. Time confetti, 24/7 reachability, blue light eyeball burn, Bluetooth connected, screens everywhere you look, EMF inundation—this is technology overload, and brain fog loves blue screens!
The blue light emitted from the screens we stare at for way too many hours a day can disrupt melatonin production, which directly affects our natural sleep cycle. Social media compulsivity, rabbit holes on YouTube, and mindless meandering around the infinite internet eat up time and energy that could and should be spent on more productive, beneficial, and healthy activities that don’t include close and constant contact with damaging electromagnetic fields.
Underlying Physical and Mental Conditions
Many physical and mental conditions and the medications used to treat and manage the associated symptoms can come with a side of brain fog. Mental fog has been linked to:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Postural tachycardia syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Thyroid disease
- Bipolar disorder
Remedying the root cause in this type of scenario can be quite a bit more complicated than just improving your diet. However, acknowledging that these types of conditions can contribute to brain fog will bring you a step closer to learning how to best address the symptoms of a foggy mind and what therapies will be most beneficial to your specific case.
7 Top Therapies to See Your Way Through Brain Fog
If you’re feeling fed up with being foggy, the following seven therapies and at-home daily practices are proven ways to break up the head haze. Adding one or any of the following brain fog therapies will benefit more than just your brain, as your brain is connected to every other part of your body.
See If Ozone Therapy Is Right for You
Ozone is made up of three oxygen molecules and is very unstable. It is most recognized as an oxidative stress causing gas found in all sorts of pollution and as the gas in our planet’s thin ozone layer. It is detrimental to your lungs but can be highly beneficial when introduced to other parts of your body, including your bloodstream.
Ozone therapy techniques are employed for several different reasons and have many different positive results. Unlike a drug, which forces the body to have a particular reaction, ozone helps the body rebalance, self-regulate, and return to a state of homeostasis.
Ozone therapy increases antioxidants in the body and mediates oxidative stress, a major cause of aging, inflammation, and disease. Among many other things, ozone therapy also increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is an energy source that supports a high-function brain.
This unique therapy, which is available at the New York Center of Innovative Medicine, has worked wonders for many suffering from cancer and Lyme disease, both of which can cause major mental fatigue. Positive side effects include increased energy, improved cognitive function, decreased brain fog, and reduction in inflammation in the body.
Try Emotional Freedom Training (EFT)
Emotional Freedom Training is a psycho-emotional therapy known as tapping, which employs similar techniques as acupressure but without invasive needles. Using a combination of tapping with your fingers on specific energy meridians in the body and voicing positive affirmations, emotional blocks contributing to poor cellular function are cleared. The connection between the mind and the body is entirely interdependent.
“EFT operates on the premise that no matter what part of your life needs improvement, there may be an unresolved emotional issue standing in the way. The medical profession has long known that emotional issues can dramatically affect our body chemistry, and in turn, can lead to everything from headaches and acute illness to addictions, impaired immune systems, and even more chronic diseases such as cancer,” explains the NYCIM team.
“EFT operates on the premise that no matter what part of your life needs improvement, there may be an unresolved emotional issue standing in the way. The medical profession has long known that emotional issues can dramatically affect our body chemistry, and in turn, can lead to everything from headaches and acute illness to addictions, impaired immune systems, and even more chronic diseases such as cancer,” explains the NYCIM team. And, as you’ve just learned, all of these things can also cause brain fog, as well as energy meridian blockages in and of themselves.
Clear your energetic pathways to clear to mind!
Take a Digital Detox
Your brain badly needs a break from blue light and the overstimulating bombardment of newsfeeds and other people’s social media-polished lives. Keeping your ringer and notifications on all day and all night translates to keeping your brain plugged in and bleeding valuable anti-fog fluid. Combat symptoms of brain fog by limiting the amount of time you spend plugged in. A very effective way to do this is by taking a digital detox: every day, a few times a week, once a month, whatever suits you will undoubtedly be brain beneficial.
There is only one rule when taking a digital detox, and as you can probably guess, it’s to abstain entirely from the use of technology. You can do this by creating a technology-free zone or time frame, dedicating a day to being digitally-free, or book a full-on digital detox retreat. A comfortable place to start, though, is by designating your bedroom as a no-technology sanctuary.
Treat Your Brain to a Daily NAD+ Boost
While you naturally produce NAD+, age, poor diet, use of drugs and alcohol, stress, environmental toxins, and inflammation all contribute to its decline. So, it’s safe to say that most of us are NAD+ deficient to some degree, and will become more so as we get older. The factors that contribute to NAD+ deficiency are also some of the primary triggers of brain fog. Oddly enough, two prevalent symptoms of NAD+ deficiency are loss of mental clarity and mental fatigue.
A very simple solution is to start taking a complete brain supplement that’s capable of boosting your NAD+ levels and unclogging the brain drain. Nadovim is the first nutraceutical whole-brain supplement with NAD+ as the primary ingredient. It has been exclusively formulated for Innovative Medicine by none other than the innovative medicine man himself, Dr. Thomas K. Szulc.
Nadovim is the first nutraceutical whole-brain supplement with NAD+ as the primary ingredient. It has been exclusively formulated for Innovative Medicine by none other than the innovative medicine man himself, Dr. Thomas K. Szulc.
Take Up Intermittent Fasting
Fasting is a practice that has been used for thousands of years in all different cultures for all different reasons. Many turn to intermittent fasting for weight loss, as well as a detoxification method. It is also a powerful way to improve brain function.
“Taking a break from eating allows your body to clear out cellular debris more easily (including old proteins that are detrimental to your brain) and put all of its energy toward repairing itself,” explains Heather Lowery, PA-C.
There is no one-size-fits-all fasting approach. In fact, there are multiple ways to go about it, and the best approach is the one that works with your lifestyle. Whether you fast 16 hours and eat during an eight-hour window every day, spontaneously skip a meal a couple of times a week, complete a 24-hour fast twice a week, or alternate days of eating normally and eating 500-600 calories, the idea is that your body gets a break from constantly digesting so that it can perform other necessary functions with more ease and focus.
Balance Your Belly
The gut microbiome is a delicate ecosystem of both good and bad bacteria. It is home to 100 million neurons and is often referred to as our second brain. A healthy gut-brain relationship is reliant on factors from both the belly and the brain. Keeping your gut microbiome happy and balanced isn’t hard but requires a level of conscious commitment to ensuring the good bacteria are well-fed and cared for. Diet is a key player here, which needs to include probiotics, either from certain foods or supplements.
The best natural probiotics source is fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt, and kefir (a cultured, fermented milk product similar to yogurt). Foods dense in fiber also help keep all those important microorganisms in your belly happy and multiplying.
Practice Healthy Mind, Body, Soul Habits
Self-care is a form of therapy where a little goes a long way. Minding your mind, body, and soul’s needs wholly benefit your mind, body, and soul! Too easy, right? This type of care includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, plenty of hydration, mindful breathing practices, sufficient sleep, the right supplements, and time outdoors and in nature.
We all know the adage moms say, “treat others the way you want to be treated,” well in line with that, make your brain mantra, “treat your brain the way you want it to treat you.” If you deprive it of sleep, mental and physical stimulation, water, the right nutrients, and fresh air, you can bet it will respond like it’s tired, out of shape, thirsty, depleted, and stuffy because it is.
A Fog-free Day Is on the Horizon
Brain fog, while not life-threatening, is certainly life-altering, and in some instances, rather debilitating. Whether you’re dealing with a diaphanous haze or a thick miasma worthy of a foghorn accompaniment, brain fog isn’t something you have to accept as an inevitable outcome.
As you’ve learned, many factors can cause mental fatigue, but there are also many ways to ward it off. The first step to eliminating or reducing brain fog is identifying the source and working your way up and through the web of roots. In fact, this approach should be employed with any and all maladies—as that’s the Innovative Medicine way!
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