Brain Fog: Clear Your Clouded Mind
If you’ve ever experienced brain fog, you know how distressing it can be. That fuzzy-headed feeling, the inability to concentrate, can interfere with your life BIG time! The good news is that you’re not destined to suffer from brain fog. This guide will show you how to clear your clouded mind and live your best life!
What is brain fog?
Though “brain fog” is a common term, it is not a medical condition. Your doctor will never formally diagnose you with brain fog. That’s because brain fog is usually a symptom of another condition. The symptoms of brain fog include:
- Inability to focus
- Poor memory
- Inadequate problem solving skills
- Difficulty with logical thinking
- General lack of mental clarity
- Feeling disoriented
- Sense of disorganization
The severity of brain fog varies, but it almost always negatively impacts some area of your life. After all, most of your daily activities involve some degree of thought. If brain fog clouds those thoughts, it may lead to errors…and wasted time trying to fix those errors!
The sluggish sensation and experience can come from changes in blood pressure, poor sleep, diet, neurological pathology implications etc. The list is long and if you are seeking medical advice for a diagnosis or treatment of mental fatigue, please seek out a professional! Long term health care of your brain and cognitive wellbeing always pays off.
What are brain fog causes?
There are many causes of this state, including nutritional deficiencies, sleep deprivation, stress, hormonal issues. Brain fog can also be a symptom of a medical condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and migraines. Here are a few of the most common causes of brain fog along with an explanation of how they affect the brain.
Brain fog after eating
Brain fog after eating is quite common. The types of food you eat is very important for cognitive function. After all, multiple studies have shown a link between poor quality diet and cognitive dysfunction, such as that typically present in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and anxiety. 1, 2
What is a poor-quality diet?
Well…there are a few types of foods shown to be detrimental to physical and mental health. For instance, research shows that diets rich in simple sugars are associated with focus and attention difficulties and that saturated fat consumption is related to a deterioration of cognitive ability. 3
Let’s delve into this subject with an in-depth look at what a diet of simple sugars and refined starchy carbs does to your brain and body. Because there is almost no fiber to slow digestion, these foods are digested quickly. The resulting glucose is then dumped into your bloodstream, causing a spike in glucose levels.
The pancreas responds with a burst of insulin to clear excess glucose from your bloodstream. Your glucose levels then plummet, leading to physical fatigue and sluggishness. It can also cause mental sluggishness. You see, your neurons (brain cells) need glucose more than any other cell in your body. When insulin redirects glucose away from the neurons, brain fog often occurs.
Drastic fluctuations in blood glucose levels also affect neurotransmitters and hormones. For instance, a rapid spike in blood glucose can elevate levels of the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin, causing a feeling of drowsiness. This creates mental sluggishness.
Lack of sleep leads to morning brain fog
When you wake up in the morning, are you alert, ready to face the day? Or, are you bleary eyed and brain tired? There are a few reasons why you might experience brain fog in the morning. The most common reason is sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation occurs if you do not get enough sleep or you do not sleep well, ie, you wake several times during the night.
Research indicates that most people need at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. But statistics show that 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep. .4 Most people today are so busy with work, family, and social life that they neglect the importance of sleep. Or, they work the night shift and have trouble switching their sleep/wake cycle (circadian rhythm) to the new shift. Some people have a sleeping disorder, such as sleep apnea, which prevents them from getting an uninterrupted night of sleep.
But regardless of the reason for sleep deprivation, science is clear that sleep IS important, for both your physical and mental health!
A study by Michigan State University, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General found that a lack of sleep triples the number of lapses in attention. It also interferes with the individual’s ability to complete a series of steps accurately without losing their place (called “place-keeping”).
In fact, this study showed that sleep deprivation doubles the odds of making place-keeping errors. In analyzing these results, researchers concluded that sleep deprived individuals must be cautious in everything they do. They simply cannot depend upon rational thought to complete any task, especially tasks that involve following a series of steps.5
And yes, multiple research studies show that sleep deprivation negatively affects attention and memory in general and can lead to progressive cognitive decline as seen in Alzheimer’s disease.6, 7, 8
Hormonal changes can cause brain fog in pregnancy
If you’re a mom, you know that brain fog in pregnancy is real. Forgetting names, appointments, your car keys, your best friend’s name…all a perfectly normal and frustrating part of pregnancy.
There are few studies on this subject. Research studies that do exist, however, suggest that pregnancy-induced brain fog is primarily due to fluctuations in hormones. Such fluctuations seem to affect several neurotransmitter systems and temporarily alter brain structure.9, 10
This, of course, may impact memory during pregnancy.
Experiencing brain fog in menopause?
Like pregnancy, brain fog in menopause is related to hormonal changes. Menopause is, strictly speaking, the moment you cease having menstrual periods. This occurs when your ovaries no longer make estrogen and progesterone. But hormonal fluctuations of these two hormones plus testosterone begin several years before your periods cease. This is the transitional period called peri-menopause.
This clouded feeling is a common feature in both menopause and peri-menopause, and studies show that fluctuating hormone levels may be the primary cause.
For instance, studies show a correlation between a drop in a woman’s estrogen levels and poor performance on certain memory tasks. And guess what? Researchers discovered that these dips in estrogen levels affect the hippocampus, a region of the brain crucial for processing memories.
In a study on women aged 45-55, researchers investigated the possible effects of hormonal fluctuations during peri-menopause on memory. They discovered that on average, the women with lower levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen produced by the ovaries, did worse on memory tests. And the lower the levels, the more pronounced were the memory deficits.11, 12
Does menopause doom you to permanent brain fog, though? Not necessarily. Some studies indicate that one’s memory performance returns postmenopausal (after menopause).
Low mood and brain fog in depression
Cognitive fog is a core feature of depression, a disabling disorder that affects an estimated 17.3 million American adults in a given year.13 Brain sluggishness in depression can make it difficult to eat, sleep, and participate in any activity. It can foster confusion, making it difficult or impossible to reach decisions. Brain fog can make the simplest task — such as writing a shopping list, getting dressed, or getting out of bed — nearly impossible.
But how does depression cause brain fog?
Researchers aren’t sure. There is some evidence that frontal lobe dysfunction plays a role in major depression, which may account for some of the more distressing symptoms of this condition.14 (The frontal lobe controls the executive function of the brain that makes memory, learning, and planning possible.)
Research also suggests that brain fog in depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, usually a lack of serotonin. Or, it can be caused by psychological issues, such as ingrained feelings of shame and worthlessness often stemming from early childhood trauma.15
Whatever the reason, depression and the brain fog often accompanying it remains a challenging condition to effectively treat. Neither antidepressant medications nor psychotherapy — or a combination of both — work all the time for all people.
Chronic stress with brain fog in anxiety
Anxiety can also cause severe brain fog. Anxiety is a mental health condition with symptoms ranging from minor and brief anxiety about a certain thought or situation to a full-blown panic attack. Though anxiety usually begins with anxious thoughts, it can lead to distressing physical symptoms if the anxiety becomes severe.
With severe anxiety or a panic attack, there will usually be some degree of brain fog, too. That’s because fear triggers the “flight or fight” response. When this happens, the brain shuts down anything, including rational thought, that can slow down your efforts to save yourself. (In an emergency, your sympathetic nervous system takes over, automatically responding to the threat. Rational thought is much too slow to save your life in an emergency.)
The brain also activates stress hormones — cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine — that are designed to help you fight or flee. But if there is nothing to fight or run from, these stress hormones build up and remain in your body too long, which overwhelms the brain.16 Plus, brain fog can increase your anxiety even more because it feels scary. This can be a vicious circle.
Extreme solutions for brain fog
There are many solutions for brain fog, some of them rather extreme. These solutions vary depending on the underlying cause of brain fog, but typically include pharmaceutical drugs or unregulated stimulants. Here are some of the most common extreme solutions for brain fog.
Adderall: A prescription drug that stimulates the sympathetic and central nervous system. It is typically used legally to treat children and adults with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or narcolepsy. It is also used illegally as a stimulant. Side effects include mood changes, heart palpitations, loss of appetite, dizziness. Excessive use of Adderall can lead to addiction.
Xanax: A prescription drug that depresses normal brain activity, promoting a feeling of calmness. It is a short-acting tranquilizer that is typically used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks, preferably on a short-term basis. It is also used illegally as a tranquilizer. If taken in excess or for an extended period of time, drug dependence or addiction can occur. Side effects of Xanax include dizziness, drowsiness, slurred speech, sexual dysfunction.
Antidepressants: Prescription drugs used to treat depression and anxiety. There are several different types of antidepressants, most of which affect levels of dopamine, serotonin, or other neurotransmitters. Side effects of antidepressants include drowsiness, dizziness, reduced sex drive, headache, nausea.Though antidepressants aren’t considered an “addictive substance”, some degree of physical dependence may develop. Also, coming off an antidepressant can cause “antidepressant withdrawal” and could result in a relapse of depression. For this reason, doctors recommend that you slowly wean yourself off any antidepressant medication to avoid this problem.
Caffeine: A stimulant of the central nervous system. Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world. It is also legal and unregulated in nearly every part of the world. It can be obtained through caffeine-containing foods, such as chocolate or coffee, or caffeine supplements. Multiple research studies suggest that caffeine has the ability to increase mental alertness and enhance concentration and awareness.17 Side-effects of caffeine include insomnia, dizziness, shaking, mood changes.
As you can see, these extreme solutions can have extremely distressing, dangerous, and potentially deadly side effects. It’s much better to turn to all-natural lifestyle or nutrient solutions for brain fog.
How to get rid of brain fog – lifestyle solutions
There are several lifestyle solutions that can help you get rid of brain fog. Here are just a few of them.
Drink Lots of Water: Drinking plenty of water can help your body function properly, in general. Consider this: more than half of your body is composed of water.
Getting plenty of water helps lubricate your joints, flushes body wastes, regulates body temperature, and more. It also supports cognitive health. That’s because your brain cells need sufficient hydration to operate properly. If you lose too much water, known as dehydration, your ability to think and reason — and remember things — is compromised.
Research conducted by the World Journal of Psychiatry on more than 3,300 participants showed a link between water consumption and depression or anxiety. Specifically, those that drank more water daily had a reduced risk of suffering from these cognitive conditions…and presumably the brain fog that comes with them. And get this…those who drank the least amount of water doubled their risk of depression and anxiety! Other research has shown dehydration to be a trigger for panic attacks. So to prevent brain fog…drink up!18, 19
Get more exercise
Everyone knows that exercise is good for your physical health. But did you know it’s also great for your mental health? It’s true. Exercise is scientifically proven to lift depression and relieve anxiety. One of the reasons for this effect is that exercise increases levels of endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemicals known to trigger feelings of euphoria — naturally.20 Even moderate exercise a few times a week can relieve the brain fog caused by depression and anxiety, so brush off those walking shoes and start moving!
The amount of sleep you get and the state of your mental health is closely connected. According to Harvard Medical School, 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice are chronically sleep-deprived, compared with 10% to 18% of US adults in the general population.21
Insomnia and other sleep disorders have been shown to increase the risk of developing depression. In fact, a Michigan maintenance health organization found that those with a history of insomnia were four times more likely than normal sleepers to develop depression.22
So if you want to stave off brain fog, getting more shut-eye is a possible solution. To get more and better sleep, experts recommend avoiding all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light emitted from their screens hampers melatonin production, the hormone that regulates your wake/sleep cycle.23
Going to bed at the same time every night is also a good strategy, as it trains your body to get tired around that time.
Soak up the Sunlight
And finally, sunlight is an absolute must for improving cognitive function. The key to sunlight’s positive effect on the brain is thought to be the brain hormone serotonin. This hormone is known to improve mood and induce feelings of calmness. It can even bring mental focus. When sunlight hits the retina of your eyes, it triggers a release of serotonin. And if sunlight isn’t available, the absence of serotonin can show up as brain fog and other cognitive issues.
Decreased exposure to sunlight has been linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects many people during the winter months, when the days are shorter and sunshine is scarce. A lack of sunlight has also been linked to other types of depression, as well as anxiety.24
Soaking up the sun’s rays is a fun way to dispel brain fog. If you can’t get much sun during the Fall and Winter months, purchasing a sunlamp is a wise investment in your mental health.
Need extra help for brain fog?
These lifestyle solutions are great, but some people need a little extra help to dissolve brain fog. So, let’s talk about natural supplements and nutrients that can help overcome brain fog.
Brain fog treatment: natural ways to clear it
While there is no recommended clinical treatment for what is described as “brain fog”, there are critically important nutrients you can use to help clear the fog away.
Here are some of the most effective nutrients clinically proven to support cognitive function and help lift brain fog.
Citicoline is a brain-boosting powerhouse! You may have heard of its dietary precursor choline. The US Institute of Medicine found that choline can “alleviate or improve memory impairment.” 25
Eggs are loaded with choline, which is why they are considered a “brain food.” Well, citicoline is essential for getting enough choline to your brain, making citicoline another essential nutrient for cognitive health.
Plus, citicoline seems to increase brain chemicals, such as phosphatidylcholine, essential for proper brain function. According to a 1995 study on mice, phosphatidylcholine supplementation increased memory for mice with dementia. It was also shown to increase brain choline and acetylcholine concentrations to or above normal levels. These two chemicals are essential for proper brain function. A 2017 study even found a link between low levels of phosphatidylcholine and Alzheimer’s disease. 26, 27
Though necessary for cognitive health, citicoline is lacking in most people’s diets. That’s because not many foods contain a large amount of citicoline. The only foods rich in citicoline are organ meats, such as liver and heart, which are not eaten often by most people. To get enough citicoline to help fix brain fog, it is essential that you take a high-quality citicoline supplement daily.
Folate (vitamin B-9) is known as an essential early pregnancy vitamin. That’s because folate has been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine. It supports fetal brain development.
But what you may not know is that folate is important for brain health into adulthood…and even into old age! According to King’s College neurologists, research strongly suggests that folate impacts mood and cognitive function, especially in older people. Plus, there is scientific evidence that a deficiency of folate increases the risk of vascular dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease! 28, 29
That’s a good reason to make sure you get enough folate. As such, there’s only one problem. Most people have a genetic polymorphism preventing them from producing the enzyme necessary for absorbing folate — MTHFR. This means you can’t even absorb the folate (folic acid) found in most supplements. And even if you are able to absorb folate, it’s difficult to get this nutrient through your diet. This is because folate is easily destroyed during cooking.
The only way you can really get enough of this nutrient is to find a highly absorbable form of folate.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring antioxidant. CoQ10 lives within your mitochondria, the energy centers of your cells. CoQ10 spurs energy production in every cell of your body, but particularly in your heart and your brain. This means that CoQ10 helps energize your brain!
Though your body makes this nutrient, levels of CoQ10 decrease with age. Plus, certain medicines, such as statins, are known to reduce the amount of CoQ10 in the body. Low levels of CoQ10 have been linked with many conditions and diseases, including neurological conditions! This is a good enough reason to make sure you have enough CoQ10.
Unfortunately, CoQ10 is another nutrient that most people are chronically deficient in. To support brain health and fix brain fog, it is essential that you supplement with the right kind at the right dosage of CoQ10.
L-Carnitine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine
L-Carnitine is an amino acid that plays a critical role in energy production. It actually brings fuel into your heart and brain cells to be burned for energy. Therefore, like CoQ10, l-carnitine energizes your brain!
And while l-carnitine brings fuel into your cells, acetyl-l-carnitine supports brain health. As a result, acetyl-l-carnitine is a brain cholinergic that mimics the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is incredibly important in improving memory and brain health.
Acetyl-l-carnitine stands out amongst other cholinergic because it is a powerful antioxidant and can pass the blood brain barrier. That means this transformative amino acid goes straight to your brain, where it helps improve memory, mood, cognition and learning.
A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Neurology & Neurotherapy showed positive brain health benefits of acetyl-l-carnitine. Researchers conducted an experiment on 90 healthy volunteers, aged 22 to 66 years. Researchers instructed these volunteers to take acetyl-l-carnitine supplements daily for 28 days. This study demonstrated that those who took acetyl-l-carnitine showed an improvement in attention, speed, and quality of attention.30
Another study published in the journal Dementia and Neurocognitive Disorders specifically analyzed the effects of acetyl-l-carnitine supplementation on those with a confirmed diagnosis of dementia. Moving forward, researchers gave these patients, aged 55 to 80 years, 1500 mg of acetyl-l-carnitine for 28 days.
At the end of the study, researchers concluded that all patients showed an improvement in cognition and memory.31
Given these results, l-carnitine and acetyl-l-carnitine should be a part of any brain-boosting supplement!
Top Rated Brain Fog Supplement – Vitaae™
Given all this research, we’ve concluded that the top-rated brain fog supplement is Vitaae™!
Vitaae™ contains a synergistic blend of nutrients proven to support brain health, thereby reducing or eliminating brain fog. Only the best, most effective, and deeply studied breakthrough new nutrients are used in this one-of-a-kind formula. This is the first and only time all of these rare forms of these powerful brain-boosting nutrients have been put into one convenient and affordable package:
Cognizin® Citicoline: Vitaae™ brings you the superior, patented form of citicoline that Harvard researchers found increased attention and motor speed. Our favorite part of the study was the direct effect that Cognizin® had on participants’ brain energy levels, with a 13.6% increase in ATP energy levels and brain utilization… along with a 50% increase on attention and motor speed tests!32, 33
Brain-Boosting Folate: Vitaae™ contains a patented form of folate clinically proven to be up to 7 times more bioavailable than the folate supplements found on store shelves! As a result, with Vitaae™, you’ll get more than enough folate to boost your brain power!
CoQ10: This new patented form of CoQ10 in Vitaae™ is the only form available that offers 100% “assured bioavailability” to everyone. That means it is clinically proven to give you superior bioavailability, 24-hour time release benefits, and universally enhanced absorption!
L-Carnitine/Acetyl-L-Carnitine: Vitaae™ contains the therapeutic doses of these nutrients shown in studies to increase brain function and increase overall energy levels. It can also help you lose weight!
Vitaae™ contains other brain-boosting nutrients as well, making this a complete brain health formula.
So…say “GOODBYE” to that irritating, energy-zapping brain fog and say “HELLO” to a clear mind with Vitaae™!
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