If you ever encounter a time when your mental powers suddenly seem to go on hiatus, leaving you unable to fully concentrate, at a loss for just using the right words when in conversation, or lacking the ability to think through problems that ordinarily are a snap for you, don’t assume the worst. Don’t think you automatically are suffering from some form of dementia. The solution might be as close as your kitchen.
More than likely, what you are experiencing is “brain fog,” a (hopefully) temporary condition in which it feels like there is a giant cloud floating inside your brain, when in fact your problem might be in your stomach. What you eat (or don’t eat) can be a factor in turning your brain to gooey mush. That’s when it’s time to take stock of your diet and get serious about what kinds of foods you are eating, and which you don’t need to be putting into your mouth. You also might feel tired, even apathetic, such that even two or three cups of coffee can’t get your brain out of park.
The Brain Needs Nourishment, Too
Your brain needs TLC 24/7. As long as you are alive, it is functioning at one level or another, and your goal should be to have it hitting on all cylinders. That means consistently filling its tank with premium fuel, and that comes from putting the right foods and nutrients into your body. That calls for high-quality foods that can protect your brain from oxidative stress and inflammation that, left to their devices, can damage cells and lead to reduced cognition over time.
Think of your brain as an expensive car that requires the most premium of fuels – if you feed it something less than premium, it won’t run properly. One form of food to steer away from is refined sugar, found in many processed foods. Per health.harvard.edu, several studies have determined that there is a link between a diet loaded with refined sugars and impaired brain function. Too much sugar can lead to symptoms associated with mood disorders, even depression.
Foods and Nutrients to ‘Lift’ the Brain Fog
Brain fog, as defined by integrative medicine expert Dr. Gary Kaplan, per primewomen.com, “is characterized by cognitive impairments to memory, attention, executive function, and the speed of cognitive processing.” Although it’s not technically a medical condition, brain fog could be indicative of an underlying condition along the lines of poor nutrition, illness, unknown food sensitivities, or sleep deprivation – or a combination of two or more of those factors.
For the purpose of this blog, though, and keeping the focus on diet and nutrition, following are some foods and nutrients that might help you get clear of brain fog and restore yourself to optimal cognition:
- Salmon. This is a food that pops up on a lot of these types of lists, and for good reason. Like several other types of fatty fish, salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is found in the brain. DHA has a role in several brain functions such as neuroplasticity, neuron differentiation, neurogenesis, and membrane integrity, per deannaminich.com.
- Turmeric. Its most active key component is curcumin, an antioxidant that has been linked to the suppression of the development of plaque formations that are at the root of Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin can guard against cognitive decline, and it might even promote the production of new brain cells, per cleaneatingmag.com.
- Olive oil. The Mediterranean Diet often gets mention by health care professionals when it comes to proper feeding of the brain, and olive oil is an integral part of that diet, per healthline.com. It can help sustain memory and protect learning ability.
- Avocados. This tasty vegetable contains monounsaturated healthy fats that provide energy, helping to alleviate any lethargy you might feel as part of brain fog, per healthline.com. Additionally, avocados contain magnesium and potassium, which have been shown to enhance blood flow, something that can also help boost the brain’s functionality.
- Blueberries. They don’t just make a great ingredient for muffins, they also contain an abundance of antioxidants, which are essential for brain health, per deannaminich.com.
- Spinach. One more reason to embrace Popeye’s favorite form of cuisine. Spinach has a high concentration of the antioxidant lutein, which researchers have found able to curtail damaging effects from free radicals and inflammation in the brain. It has been found that people with mild cognitive impairment have a deficiency of lutein in their system, and that boosting lutein levels can improve learning and memory, per cleaneatingmag.com.
- Probiotics. These are good for the gut, per health.harvard.edu, flooding it with good bacteria that can fight inflammation and therefore help protect the brain by improving mood and energy, and help diminish brain fog.
- Foods to AVOID. These can actually impair cognition and thus contribute to brain fog, per primewomen.com: dairy products, processed meat, alcohol- and sugar-based drinks, artificial sweeteners, and grains and gluten.