Brain feeling a bit foggy? Here are a few things to consider….
Dr. Denise Patterson, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor who trained at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and studied Heath Science at the University of Ontario. She helps patients take control of their health journey through individualized care based on their lifestyle, goals, health, and personality.
The body is constantly giving us clues about our overall health. While brain fog is not considered a medical condition itself, it can help give us an indication that something else is going on. Brain fog can also be referred to as mental fatigue, which can present as poor memory, lack of focus, inability to concentrate and lack of mental clarity; almost like there is a thick fog impairing your mental capabilities. While having brain fog occasionally can be normal, having it more frequently gives us reason to dive a little deeper into potential causes. Here are a few things to consider.
Sleep. Think about the body as the most complex and intricate machine ever made. All machines must have a “power down” time to rest and restore functions in order to operate optimally. The human body is no different. There are numerous biological processes that happen only when we are sleeping. For example, the brain works to consolidate your daytime experiences while you sleep as well as upregulate detoxification processes. If sleep is impaired, these processes can get “backed up” and contribute to that foggy feeling.
Stress. Stress is a normal part of life; however, chronic stress can start to negatively impact the body over time. Constantly being in a “fight or flight” state redirects energy away from various bodily functions and towards the source of stress. This process over extended periods of time can drain energy away from the brain and lead to mental fatigue.
Diet & food sensitivities. Remember the analogy of the body being a complex machine? Now think about putting crap fuel in a machine versus premium fuel – how would you expect that machine to run? Ensuring that you are having a well-balanced diet and not suffering from any nutrient deficiencies is crucial to prevent brain fog. The body is constantly undergoing thousands of chemical reactions every moment, if it does not have the fuel or co-factors needed to undergo those reactions then things can start to lag, contributing to your brain fog. Another factor to consider is food sensitivities. If you are unknowingly consuming foods that your body is sensitive to, then inflammatory pathways are up regulated, causing a strain on the body and leading to fogginess. Chat with a member of your healthcare team if you feel that these could be a factor for you; advanced bloodwork and testing may be indicated.
Hydration. Imagine a clean free flowing stream and the imagine a stagnant muddy puddle. Which one do you think would look clearer? Dehydration leads to stagnation in the body, while staying hydrated keeps things flowing smoothly; bringing good things into the body and flushing out the toxins. If you are suffering from brain fog, be mindful of your hydration levels; dehydration may be the culprit.
Hormonal changes. Hormones are the chemical messengers of ours bodies – meaning that hormones govern all of the various functions in our body. Our bodies go through many different hormonal transitions in life; for example, pregnancy, post partum, menopause, as well as varying different stages of physical, mental or emotional stress. These hormonal fluctuations can cause changes in mood or sleep patterns which can lead to brain fog.
Lack of exercise. Physical activity is vital for optimal brain function. Stagnation is associated with the development of many different health conditions, while regular physical activity is associated with better mood, optimal immune function, better digestion, improved sleep quality – just to name a few. If your brain is feeling a little cloudy, try moving your body to help lift the fog.
Medication. Some medications, either prescription or over the counter, while sometimes necessary, can lead to brain fog. Some medications have brain fog as a known side effect, while others may deplete key nutrients needed for your body to function optimally. Chat with a member of your health care team to see if your current medications are a contributing factor.
Medical conditions. There are various medical conditions that can cause mental fatigue. It is important to chat with a member of your health care team if you find that you are having brain fog consistently. Further investigations and testing may be needed to determine and treat the root cause.
Dr. Denise Patterson, ND
Note: This blog entry is for general informational purposes only, and does not constitute practice of naturopathic medicine or other professional healthcare services including the giving of medical advice. No doctor patient relationship is formed. Use of this material is at user’s own risk. Readers should not disregard or delay obtaining medical advice for any medical conditions they may have and should seek assistance from a trusted medical care professional for any condition. This blog entry does not speak on behalf of naturopathic medicine and does not represent the profession as a whole.