Cutting Through Brain Fog
By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor
Have you ever had the experience of being low on energy, sleep deprived, stressed, and poorly nourished; and then felt that you had difficulty concentrating, remembering, or exercising good judgment? If you answered “yes” to this question, then you probably are aware of a condition commonly known as “brain fog”. Brain fog is not a medical term, and there is no particular test to identify it or differentiate it from other conditions. Rather, it is a constellation of symptoms including mental fatigue, poor judgment, memory impairment, and other potential symptoms such as those listed below:
- Difficulty in the use and understanding of language.
- Decreased ability to make calculations and resolve problems quickly.
- Lack of concentration and mental confusion.
- Difficulty storing new information or recalling old information.
- Sleep difficulties.
These are just a few of the symptoms that get lumped together as part of the phenomenon known as brain fog.
The causes of brain fog are multiple and varied and include such things as:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome, a newly named medical condition which, in and of itself, has several contributing causes, such as viral infection.
- Hormone imbalances relating to testosterone in men and estrogen/progesterone in women.
- Thyroid hormone imbalances.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Stress, depression, and anxiety.
- Poor nutrition and dehydration.
- Chronic inflammation.
- Food allergy and sensitivity.
- Head injury.
- Substance abuse such as too much alcohol, recreational drugs, or certain medications.
- This list would not be complete without mentioning that those suffering from long COVID symptoms may also experience brain fog.
Since there are so many causes, there is no singular diagnostic test to identify the condition or its cause(s). Instead, when attempting to identify and improve brain fog, it is important to look at all the various causes and sort through which ones might be contributing. It is often the case that there are multiple causes conspiring to create the overall condition. In the absence of a singular test, or even a panel of tests, there are some basic things that a person can do to combat brain fog.
- Decrease alcohol and other drug consumption. As a side note, in this day of liberalization of THC use in Minnesota, we must be aware that, while legal, substances such as THC can, as an unintended consequence, contribute to brain fog.
- Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of pure water each day. As an example, if you are a 150-pound person, then drink 75 ounces of water.
- Eliminate as much processed and adulterated food as possible, and fortify your diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and some fruit.
- Identify and eliminate foods to which you are sensitive. Ask the doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness about our food sensitivity testing protocols.
- Get outside every day and breathe fresh air.
- Engage in regular physical exercise that oxygenates your brain.
- If you are depressed and anxious, quit binge watching TV and Internet news that does nothing but further depress you and raise your anxiety levels.
- Spend less time on your phone and computer, and more time with friends and family doing things that engage your mind and increase your enjoyment of life.
- Set up a regular sleep schedule so that you are going to bed early enough to take full advantage of the restorative powers of REM sleep. REM sleep occurs more frequently in the early hours of your sleep cycle and if you go to bed too late, you will miss out on some of your REM sleep.
- Fortify your diet with some basic nutritional supplementation such as a multiple vitamin, fish oils, magnesium, and B complex.
- Take a look at your life and scrupulously identify and work to eliminate or minimize in the toxins in your environment, your relationships, and your lifestyle. Yes, you could have a “toxic” relationship that is creating stress for you.
Anything which your brain perceives as a threat to survival will cause you to produce stress hormones. This is what is known as the “Fight/Flight” response; it is also known as the “Stress Response”. Chronic activation of the stress response will significantly contribute to brain fog. Therefore, anything that you can do to reduce physical, chemical, and mental stress will help you combat brain fog; not to mention a host of other conditions. The bottom line here is that while brain fog is a bit of a nebulous constellation of symptoms, for the most part the solution is to simply work to get healthier. That is not to say that you should fail to rule out more severe medical conditions. I am hopeful that if you apply some of the solutions above, you will begin to feel better very quickly.
If you are struggling to manage your foggy brain symptoms give us a call at Chiropractic Health and Wellness in Edina to see how we can provide holistic, drug-free treatment options to get you back to optimum health.