Brain fog is a type of mental fatigue that can temporarily short-circuit your memory, cloud your judgment, and slow your progress in the workplace.
Rather than feeling sharp and focused, the cognitive impairment can make you feel sluggish and distracted. Under the influence of brain fog, everyday tasks can take far longer to complete than you might care to admit.
The frustration you likely feel as the fog rolls in can make the problem worse. Severe brain fog could leave you feeling lost, confused, irritable, and disoriented.
Understanding the many potential causes of brain fog and practical methods of reducing its grip could help you feel clear-headed, focused, and more productive throughout your day.
The many potential causes of brain fog
Although brain fog is recognized as a symptom of numerous health concerns, you don't need an underlying medical condition to experience its potentially detrimental effects. Impaired cognitive function has numerous potential causes, including:
Stress or anxiety
Hormonal changes or pregnancy
Lack of sleep
Medication side effects
Disease or infection
Poor liver, kidney, or thyroid function
Fibromyalgia and autoimmune disorders
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Treatment for any underlying health conditions can significantly improve mental clarity, but not always.
For example, even with treatment, 50 percent of people diagnosed with lupus, and up to 80 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia report lapses in memory, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, trouble learning new information, and difficulty holding a conversation because of reduced ability to retrieve stored information.
Lifting the fog with lifestyle modifications
Many people try to counteract the effects of brain fog with unhealthy alternatives, like caffeine, sugar, or nicotine. But, these short-term solutions tend to cause more problems with mental clarity than they solve. As the effects wear off, the crash makes brain fog worse, and the cycle continues.
If you feel that brain fog is preventing you from performing at your most optimal level, it may be helpful to know there are healthy and natural ways to improve focus and clarity.
You may find that an honest evaluation of your current habits and a few simple lifestyle modifications are all you need to keep your mind clear. Prioritizing the following healthy habits could help alleviate your brain fog.
Drinking enough fluids
Your brain is 73 percent water! Neglecting to replace as little as 1 percent of the fluids lost during the day can take a considerable toll on your cognitive abilities. That's because brain cells need adequate hydration to function at optimal levels.
If you get busy and forget to hydrate, you will likely struggle with increased fatigue, impaired memory, and a marked decline in your problem-solving skills. Attention to hydration levels is also beneficial for:
Endurance and muscle strength
Joint function and comfort
Thermoregulation and metabolism
Skin health and appearance
Although you may have grown up believing you need eight cups of water each day to be healthy, it's important to know that those recommendations are outdated.
Researchers today recommend taking in half your body weight in fluid ounces each day. While plain water is still considered the best option, you can also count your intake of fruit juices, soup, herbal teas, and sports drinks towards your daily hydration goals.
During sleep, your body is engaged in some pretty phenomenal work. If you are not devoting enough time to sleep, your brain will not have adequate time to recover and repair.
The short-term effects of sleep deprivation can include difficulty concentrating, problems with long-term or short-term memory, impaired judgment, and impulsiveness.
The long-term effects of sleep deprivation can have a considerable impact on your overall health, including:
An increased risk of high blood pressure
Atherosclerosis (hardened arteries)
Increased risk of heart attack or stroke
Food cravings and weight gain
If you've been having difficulty falling asleep or wake frequently during the night, improving your sleep hygiene can help. Consider reducing caffeine consumption, going to bed and waking at the same time each day, and limiting your use of electronic devices at least one hour before turning in for the night.
The blue light emitted from your tablet, computer screen, or cell phone is more potent than natural sunlight. This high energy light stimulates your brain and interferes with the production of melatonin, your natural sleep hormone.
Eating to fuel your brain
A diet high in processed foods and simple carbohydrates will have a negative impact on your ability to focus and think clearly. Your brain needs protein to synthesize neurotransmitters and omega-3 fatty acids to build healthy brain cells and process information.
A balanced diet focused on lean proteins, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fresh fruit will help keep vital processes working as they should. To be sure you are fueling your brain with essential nutrients, consider the value of the following suggestions:
Keep a food journal to identify nutritional gaps in your diet
Eat at least three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit daily
Choose whole grains and brown rice over refined carbohydrates
Eat lean protein and plant-based fats with every meal
If you're struggling with brain fog more often than you care to admit, you may want to consider tracking your meals and noting how you feel throughout the day.
Your food journal might lead you to previously unrecognized food sensitivities. Intolerances and sensitivities to artificial sweeteners, peanuts, MSG, dairy, and gluten, can cause brain fog.
Committing to regular exercise
Although most people understand the value of regular exercise for their overall health, many don't realize that aerobic activity, the type of movement that gets hearts pumping, increases the size of their hippocampus.
That's the area of your brain that regulates memory and thought processes. Resistance training and stretching do not have the same effect.
Research shows that increasing cardiac output also has a significant impact on brain function in other ways. Just a few of the many ways aerobic activity can affect your brain include:
Reducing insulin resistance (improving concentration and focus)
Reducing inflammation (which can increase mental clarity)
Promoting nerve cell growth
Stimulating the release of growth factors (that benefit brain cell health)
Contributing to the growth and development of new blood vessels in the brain
It only takes six months to a year of regular aerobic activity to increase the volume of key areas in your brain. The goal is to aim for about 120 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.
If that number seems daunting, consider starting with a few minutes each day, adding five minutes to your daily goal each week.
Improving clarity and focus with natural dietary supplements
Of course, you can select the ideal foods to fuel your brain, stick to a strict sleep schedule, be diligent about exercise and hydration, and still have problems with brain fog. That likely explains why so many people turn to natural supplements to support brain health.
There are numerous herbs, adaptogens, and other botanicals shown to have a significant impact on brain fog, supplements shown to improve clarity, focus, concentration, and productivity. Consider the therapeutic potential of the following examples.
Also known as roseroot or golden root, Rhodiola rosea is a plant native to Siberia that thrives in cold, dry climates. Grown in high mountain altitudes, Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogen, a natural substance that improves your resilience to the effects of stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
In preclinical trials, Rhodiola is shown to have a positive impact on memory, learning, concentration, and mental alertness. The numerous potential benefits of this mountain herb appear to be the result of its positive impact on blood vessels, cardiovascular function, and its ability to enhance the body's natural production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Named for the cluster of tendrils that give this mushroom its unique appearance, Lion's Mane has potent anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-bacterial properties.
Research suggests that this natural dietary supplement protects biochemical pathways and promotes the production of new brain cells. It is also shown to decrease beta-amyloid plaque production, the type of plaque associated with memory.
Lion's Mane could also support your immune system, reduce the symptoms of menopause, and reduce high cholesterol levels.
Green tea enhances your ability to learn and process information. That's because green tea is a significant source of L-Theanine, an amino acid shown to provide a wide range of health and wellness benefits, including having a positive effect on your mood and the way your body responds to stress.
The EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) in green tea promotes brain cell production, even in areas of the brain affected by degenerative disease. Research investigating the benefits of green tea shows that the combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine decreased error rates, and increased attention spans more effectively than caffeine alone.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a water-soluble vitamin with numerous benefits to your central nervous system. This essential B vitamin plays a significant role in brain health, mood regulation, focus, and memory. Vitamin B6 is also essential for protein metabolism, glucose metabolism, blood cell formation, and neuron function.
That likely explains the results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In that study, test subjects showing higher levels of vitamin B6 in their blood tested better in two separate measures of memory function than subjects with lower levels of B6 in their bloodstream.
Vitamin B6 is also shown to be beneficial for alleviating nausea in early pregnancy and protecting your body from the impact of environmental hazards.
Bacopa is a perennial herb with a long history of use in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Preliminary investigations suggest this plant contains compounds (bacosides and bacopasides) that enhance communication between brain cells and repair damaged neurons.
In a report published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers analyzing previously published studies concluded that the herb has considerable potential for improving cognition.
A 2016 investigation researching the supplements effects noted test subjects showed considerable improvement in cognitive function. This report also referenced previous studies showing the significant memory-boosting effects of bacopa in animal models of Alzheimer's disease.
CBD is a plant-based cannabinoid found naturally in cannabis plants. The fog-fighting effects of CBD are explained by the way this plant-based cannabinoid interacts with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the largest regulatory system in your body.
CBD mimics the effects of the ECS messengers made in your body to relay urgent signals to key receptors throughout your body and your brain. That interaction explains CBD's analgesic, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.
Current research suggests this plant-based cannabinoid has the potential to address a multitude of factors that contribute to brain fog, the effects of stress, poor sleep, a sluggish metabolism, and more. CBD is also a significant source of omega-3 fatty acid, a heart-healthy fat essential to brain function.
Combining the therapeutic potential of CBD with natural botanicals
The quest to eliminate brain fog is a personal journey. Some people find that making healthier food choices and getting enough sleep is all they need to improve focus and concentration, while others find relief paying close attention to fluid intake and regular exercise.
But everyone is different. You can be doing everything right, taking care of yourself in the best way possible, and still find that brain fog can cloud your thoughts and stall productivity.
That's likely why so many people are interested in the therapeutic potential of natural supplements. Of the many natural supplements available to consumers today, there's considerable interest in the therapeutic potential of hemp CBD.
If you are intrigued by the fog-busting potential of hemp CBD, consider how much more potent your hemp-derived product could be if it were formulated with other herbs and botanicals selected for their ability to combat fatigue, alleviate the impact of stress, and improve clarity and focus.
FOCL Day is a premium hemp CBD product enhanced with Rhodiola Rosea, Lion's Mane, L-theanine, and other botanicals selected for their ability to boost energy, improve concentration, and enhance productivity. Starting your day with FOCL Day could be one of the easiest and most effective ways to fight your way back from the fog.
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