WHAT IS BRAIN Fatigue? EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT
What is Brain Fog, what causes it, what are the symptoms and how to naturally treat it. Did you notice, that you can hardly remember road route which you have drive though several times already; or you noticed, that you have a difficulty recalling things which you should ideally remember automatically – such as forgetting the names of your colleagues or not remembering the time you had to pick up your children from their school. If you are facing any of such problems where you tend to forget about the most common things in your routine, or you experience trouble in focusing on your work, then you are probably suffering from a condition which is commonly known as “Brain Fog”.
You may have heard the term several times, but may be unsure about what is it. To say it simply, it is a common symptom that may be attributed to growing age, mental stress or any other underlying disorder which is affecting your memory. A change in diet may also be correlated with Brain Fog. A profound understanding of this problem may help in alleviating the symptoms in the sufferer. Hence, we strive to provide all the necessary information which you should know about this common disorder.
WHAT IS BRAIN FOG also called mental fatigue?
Brain fog, as the name depicts, is a state where you feel a foggy or blurred state of your memory. Also known as “Brain Fatigue”, it is a severe state of confusion that may be triggered due to any reason at any instant.
According to preformed research, the terms used by the most people to express their perceptions about Brain Fog were: difficulty in thinking, focusing, and communicating; forgetful; cloudy; mental fatigue and difficulty finding communicating the right words.
Whereas some other people also defined this condition as: detached, lost, thoughts moving too quickly, annoying and sleepy. This condition is certainly hard to be diagnosed.
Brain fog is not an individual disease, but is rather known as a symptom. It can indicate towards any other underlying condition (the list may be too long). Moreover, it may be an indication of a severe health issue, such as Hepatitis C or more precisely, the hepatic encephalitic (or what you call the Lyme disease). It may also happen due to specific harsh therapeutic procedures, such as chemotherapy. It may also be linked to pregnancy, menopause or some other usual physical condition that may not be alarming, but needs your attention.
SYMPTOMS OF BRAIN FOG
Though the disease itself is sometimes considered as a symptom, it is a broader phase of cognitive impairment that further manifests several other symptoms with it. One cannot relate Brain fog with tiredness. Brain fatigue could occur no matter how well you have slept. If your focus becomes troubled due to sleep deprivation, you are probably tired. But when you had a good rest and are not feeling tired but you still face trouble focusing on things, then this could be an indicator that you have a Brain fog.
Below is a list of symptoms associated with Brain fog condition. If you are experiencing a majority of these signs, then you are certainly suffering from Brain fog.
- Trouble focusing
- Lack of concentration
- Low energy levels and fatigue
- Increasingly bad memory
- Inability to process information
- Delayed processing of information
- Lowered motivation to work
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN? CAUSES OF BRAIN FOG
As said above, Brain fog can be attributed to a range of reasons. Any disease, disorder or a change in routine that makes you mentally tired can eventually lead you to Brain fog. Please find below a list of common reasons that contribute to the prevalence of this phase:
1. Sleep Deprivation
One of the main reasons for Brain fog is lack of a good quality sleep. As a standard, we all need around 6 to 8 hours of good quality sleep per day (some consider 7-9 hours as the ideal duration). Our bodies essentially need some rest and the same does our brain. A continuous work will eventually make us tired and dizzy and without the rest our brain will find it difficult to function properly. It ultimately affects our memory, leaving us with a foggy brain condition.
Some people complain that they do sleep for about 6-8 hours but they still suffer from brain fog. Well, as stated above, what matters the most is getting a good quality sleep. Otherwise, regardless of how many hours you lay down on your bed, unless you make your mind stress-free and get a quality sleep, you will not experience any improvement in your health.
Stress leads to brain fog both directly and indirectly. Whether it is a physically stressed condition or mental strain it will eventually affect the performance of our brains which will lead to a Brain fog.
Stress is also a significant contributor towards lack of sleep, which consequently triggers mental fatigue and indirectly causes Brain fog.
3. Changes in Diet
Sometimes a slight change in the diet can significantly contribute towards the development of Brain fog. It may either be because of an allergy towards specific ingredients or due to an imbalance in the blood biochemistry. Having excessive sugar intake, mainly refined carbs causes a sudden rise in the blood sugar level. This may lead to the development of Brain fog. On the other hand, an abrupt withdrawal of carbs, especially when you are habitual of taking carb-rich meals, can also trigger Brain fog.
A low-fat diet can also contribute towards Brain fog, since our brains essentially comprise of fats too.
Some food ingredients such as Chinese salt (or MSG) and aspartame, can trigger allergy which will further stimulate the Brain fog. Furthermore, some people are allergic to dry fruits such as peanuts and others may be sensitive to dairy products – Brain fog can be a manifestation of either of these allergies as well.
Long term dehydration is also a major factor for the development of Brain fog in most patients.
People who are addicted to caffeine (either the coffee lovers or the smokers) may also suffer from Brain fog upon a sudden withdrawal of caffeine.
4. Hormonal Changes / Imbalance
Another common disorder being wide spread these days is a hormonal imbalance. A change in the normal level of hormones might also trigger the development of Brain fog.
Some hormones have an antioxidant effect such as melatonin, estrogen, progesterone, LH, and oxytocin. Any imbalance in the level of these hormones in the human body can cause cognitive impairments in which Brain fog comes first. On the other hand, the deficiency of anti-inflammatory hormones or the sudden lowering of hormones due to a brain injury can also trigger Brain fog.
A change in diet may result in hormonal imbalance, which may further trigger Brain fog. For instance – serotonin level in the blood drops significantly due to carb deficiency.
The overproduction of stress hormone ‘cortisol’ due to any reason can also make the person suffer from Brain fog.
Inflammation is the sign of a poor immune response, which can also trigger cognitive impairments and psychological disorders, such as depression, insomnia, dementia, anxiety and Alzheimer’s disease. In such cases the elevated levels of anti-inflammatory molecules such as histamines, can trigger microglia activation that further leads to mental disorders. Hence, Brain fog can be a consequence of some underlying inflammation too.
6. Other Medical Conditions
Some diseases can trigger soreness, fatigue and dizziness. In fact all the reasons mentioned above may also be the symptoms of several severe disorders. Below are listed some of the common medical ailments that could trigger Brain fog:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- Neurological disorders
- Autoimmune disorders
- Liver disorders
- Any underlying infections
7. Nutritional Deficiencies
Brain fog may also be triggered due to a lack of essential nutrients within the body. For instance, a slight decrease of one or more of the following essentials may cause cognitive impairments, together with Brain fog.
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Amino acids
8. Certain Medicines and Drugs
As Brain fog can be a result of certain medical disorders, likewise, certain medicines can also lead to the development of Brain fog as a side-effect. For instance the medication for the treatment of high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, allergy and painkillers may cause Brain fog, dizziness and confusion as a side effect.
Antibiotics that produce free radicals within the human body also cause the patient to suffer from Brain fog. Such antibiotics include fluoroquinolones, beta-lactams and aminoglycosides.
In addition, alcohol and other drugs that have a proven effect on cognitive abilities and limbic system, such as marijuana and cocaine, can also cause Brain fog.
KETONIC DIET – AVOID BRAIN FOG WHILE IN KETOSIS
Ketonc diet or “Keto” involves eating mostly fat and protein as an energy source and has been used by many for weight loss and helping patients with diabetes or epilepsy. Moreover, there is one additional great benefit, which is less talked about – ketosis for mental performance. Keto diet can be your answer if you are experiencing Brain fog.
Ketonic diet is one of the most unique than no other diet could replicate – its a diet with most unique benefits and many scientists say, that magic effects of ketonic diet are due to how it reduces insuline level, freeing fat from fat cells and has a significant metabolic advantage which results in burning more calories than on any other diet.
When we start restricting carbs in our body a couple of things start happening to meet the body’s sugar needs. Also a low carb intake triggers response in the body similar to starvation – instead of using glucose as energy, the brain pulls it from alternative energy source – fat. But before that process could start, liver has to convert them to ketone bodies. Once this is done, ketone bodies can be used as energy for body and brain, when there is a lack of glucose. When one is in ketonic state, brain used ketones to generate adenosine triphosphate ( ATP), the molecule responsible for carrying energy where it’s needed for metabolism within the cells. And in the brain, energy is everything. It helps to better protect the brain from oxidative stress which has a negative affect to mental performance, Brain fog and brain aging. The great benefits of a ketonic diet are also shown in:
- Increase in neuronal stabilisation and mental focus
- Stimulates rapid losses of body fat and LDL holesterole
- Eliminates diabetes 2 medical condition and reduces hypertension
- Treats several deseases such as variouse cancers and Alzheimer’s deseas
- Preserve lean-body mass
Some people feel significant improvements in Brain fatigue condition while going on a full-ketogenic diet and some people will still need some carbs to feel better!
PALEOLITHIC DIET – A QUICK WAY TO IMPROVE BRAIN FOG
A way to treat Brain fog could be to start eliminating the causes mentioned above – which will also help heal this ailment. Managing a diet that provides all essential nutrients, avoiding drugs, smoking and alcohol intake, refraining from the unnecessary use of medicines and taking care of overall health to prevent diseases will undoubtedly keep Brain fog away from you.
If we think about the measures, which we would need to take for the treatment of Brain fog, then we may come across a long list of Do’s and Don’ts. Nevertheless, there is one method that may eventually target many of the causative factors of Brain fog. This is the Paleolithic diet or in short the Paleo diet. When people begin with a Paleo diet, mainly to address their Brain fog, they may come across one of the following three possible situations.
Some feel that their Brain fog condition gets better or entirely treated with Paleo. This will happened most commonly. Some people never had it, but have become a victim of Brain fog after doing Paleo.
Another group of people will try Paleo to get rid of Brain fog but feel no difference.
While beginning a Paleo diet to get rid of Brain fatigue in most cases people aren’t sure what will happen to them. Below I am addressing all three situations that may occur after you begin with Paleo regime.
Case #1: How Paleo Diet Helps Alleviate Brain Fog
The most desirable scenario is when you start with Paleo and your brain gets clear of that “fog”. This is the main reason besides weight loss, which attracts people to begin with a Paleo diet.
Ever wondered how does this food regime help alleviate Brain fog? Let’s take a closer look on what we get from a Paleo diet.
1. The Gluten-Free Diet:
Sometimes Brain fog hints towards Celiac disease. Therefore, for the people suffering from Celiac disease, a gluten-free diet may sometimes significantly help in alleviating Brain fog. Another possibility is that you might be having an undiagnosed sensitivity to gluten. The Paleo diet will help you remove gluten from your daily nutrition which in turn will relieved Brain fog.
2. The Meat Factor:
If we rule out the gluten factor, then the next possible reason for Brain fog could be the lack of meat. Studies have shown that vegetarian individuals or those on a vegan diet are common Brain fog victims. The lack of essential nutrients in food such as vitamin B complex or the iron may be attributed to developing Brain fog. It is nearly possible because people suffering from Celiac Disease also have such deficiencies. Therefore, the meat intake through Paleo diet plan may have addressed those deficiencies.
3. Adequate Water and Salt Intake:
Though this hasn’t been a much-believed concept, some studies have shown that when people who are suffering from Brain fog consumed high water and salt in their regular diet, their Brain fog symptoms got improved.
4. Increased Blood Sugar:
As said above, people with low blood sugar levels tend to be frequent sufferers of Brain fog. Notably, in case of diabetic patients, a major contributor towards cognitive impairment is the low blood sugar levels – hypoglycaemia. It can even lead to Alzheimer’s disease in adverse conditions. If going Paleo helps improve your carb resistance then you may also experience cerebral improvements too.
5. Paleo Diet Can Be Anti-Inflammatory:
According to research, the symptoms of Hepatitis C are triggered initially through cerebral or systemic inflammation, before they appear on the liver. Besides, any other thing that causes systemic inflammation may also be linked to cognitive impairments in the later stages. An anti-inflammatory Paleo diet may help relieve Brain fog in such conditions.
6. That Brain-Gut Connection:
We know well that a healthy gut is essential for a healthy brain. As Paleo significantly enhances your gut flora and the intestinal environment, it also improves cognitive symptoms like Brain fog.
7. Improvement In Any Serious Underlying Disorder:
It is entirely possible that the Paleo diet might have helped improve certain primary illnesses that cause Brain fog. As mentioned earlier, such diseases that trigger Brain fog include Chronic Fatigue Symptoms (CFS), hypothyroid disorders, fibromyalgia or the initial phase of liver failure. It is proven that all these diseases get better with Paleo diet. Hence, you may also experience an improvement in Brain fog.
Case #2: How Paleo Can Sometime Trigger Brain Fog
Sometimes you come across certain situations that you have never thought of and Brain fog triggered by Paleo diet is one of such condition.
To begin with, let me explain that the initial phase of Paleo diet may sometimes cause this ‘foggy’ brain condition as you instantly switch from your regular junk diet to low carbs. It comes as a ‘shock’ to your body and the brain, causing it to behave differently.
Is It A ‘Detox’ Phase?
A general perception about the Brain fog that starts or continues after switching to a Paleo diet is that it is a ‘detox’ phase. Though there have been proven evidence about this detox phase after withdrawing addictions (such as nicotine, alcohol or other addictive substances) that also leads to other cognitive impairments. As far as we know, there haven’t yet been done researched studies about this ‘detox’ phase – what happened after we start withdrawing carbs. In fact, some studies have shown that going gluten-free causes immediate improvements in Brain fog without any detox effect.
The detox effect can be attributed to a build up of toxin during liver disorders, such as cirrhosis. But that is entirely associatedwith the ‘toxins’, and not to the ‘withdrawal’ of toxic substances by going Paleo. In fact, liver cirrhosis can be fatal. Thus you should consult a doctor, instead of going on detox supplements yourself.
Some common situations manifested during the early Paleo stages which elicit Brain fog are briefly mentioned here.
A sudden switch to low-carb diet may sometimes cause flu-like symptoms. This condition can easily be avoided since going Paleo doesn’t mean entirely adapting low carbs. To prevent Brain fog and other flu-like symptoms try switching to high-carb Paleo diet at first and then gradually move towards the low-carb foods so that your body becomes adapted to it.
It is entirely impossible to stay healthy by cutting down all starch at once, and not balancing your diet with alternative resources. Withdrawing sugar, grains, and legumes without adding meat, good fats and vegetables will only lead you to starvation and calorie deficiency, ultimately causing Brain fog and cognitive disorders.
If you are neither having a carb or calorie deficiency and are still suffering from Brain fog despite crossing the transition phase, then there could be some other reasons for it. You should consider seeing a doctor or a nutritionist to know the causes.
Case #3: No Effect On Brain Fog Before And After Starting Paleo Diet
You suffered Brain fog before beginning your Paleo diet and you are still suffering from it and didn’t notice any improvements. There could be few reasons for this persistent Brain fog symptom:
The first thing that becomes evident over here is that your diet was not the stimulant for Brain fog. Had it been the reason, then there would have been some effect on the Brain fog symptom.
We know that Brain fog may occur due to any reason. These risk factors can either be the serious ones or the usual problems. Some of these can be treated easily, while some others may not. Of course Paleo diet has wonderful health effects; but you need to be aware, that it cant instantly eliminate the Brain fog and other underlying cognitive symptoms within the blink of an eye.
Brain fog undoubtedly hints towards several fatal disorders. Thus, if you are combating Brain fog for some time and are experiencing no improvements with Paleo diet, you should consider visiting a doctor.
IN A NUTSHELL
Brain fog is difficult to be identified as it is a symptom of a range of several mild to severe adverse health conditions. It seems there can be just ‘any’ reason that can develop Brain fog. Therefore, if you are facing this problem for quite some time, then I would suggest following:
- Try to figure out the possible triggering factor for your Brain fog, such as lack of sleep of a change in your diet.
- Begin a broad scope natural treatment regime, such as Paleo diet.
If you feel no improvements with both the methods mentioned above, then it is better to consult your physician for a thorough check-up. You may be suffering from a chronic disease that is stimulating your Brain fog.