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Olwen Anderson's Blog

How to clear the mists of brain fog

Saturday, August 03, 2013
Why can’t you think? Where HAVE your brain cells gone? Feel like you have ‘brain fog’? The term is quite apt when you can’t think things through easily, as it can seem like your brain is shrouded in such a heavy mist that the grey matter between your ears isn’t functioning. Embarrassingly, brain fog can come over you at the most inopportune times, when you need all the brain power you can muster. I’m not talking about serious brain decline here, like dementia, but with a transient problem that can seem to roll through your brain like fog across a coastline. What causes this cloudiness in your thinking, and what can you do about it?

One of the most frequent causes of brain fog is actually a diminished blood glucose level, because you haven’t eaten for too long, or the last meal you ate was too sugary. Your brain is hungry for glucose all the time, and actually consumes 25% of the glucose circulating in your blood. Your brain has to be well fed, because if your brain's not working you'll die pretty soon after: It's the organ that commands your heart to keep beating, your digestion to keep absorbing nutrients, your muscles to move you. Usually your brain detects when your blood glucose level has become dangerously low, and prompts you to eat; but if you’re distracted enough you could easily miss the cues.

The most effective way to address brain fog from low glucose is to eat – but to avoid a 'sugar spike' that would let you down again fast, choose foods that won’t put you on an energy roller coaster. Select a carbohydrate source with some protein and fat included that will boost your blood glucose level, but not too quickly. Fresh fruit with several raw nuts is ideal.

Another potential cause of brain fog is a candida infection (also known as a fungal or yeast infection). Whenever you’re infected by a bacteria, virus or fungi, toxins are released, and these toxins can affect cell function, sometimes causing foggy thinking. Diagnosing and treating fungal infections requires professional assistance, however keep in mind that yeast infections thrive on sugar, so if you suspect you’ve acquired a yeast infection, first take a ruthless inventory of the sugar content of your diet. 

Hormones out of balance can affect your brain too. Many women are acutely aware of how their thinking is affected by their hormones just prior to their period, or when they’re pregnant. Like fungal infections, hormone imbalances call for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Lastly, a cause for brain fog that’s the easiest of all to remedy: dehydration. Older members of our society are especially vulnerable to the pitfalls of dehydration, as many of them may deliberately restrict their fluid intake in order to reduce the impact of bladder problems, or overnight toilet trips that disrupt sleep.

So, hopefully your brain has been focused while you read this; now you know how to prevent the dreaded brain fog descending on you again: Manage your blood glucose level carefully, drink enough water, and get professional assistance if you suspect unbalanced hormones or a fungal infection is the cause.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy this article about how to feed your brain for more brain power.

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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