Do you have trouble concentrating from time to time? Or do you find you occasionally have a hard time thinking clearly or even relaxing your mind?
Brain fog can get the best of any of us, but what could be causing your brain to feel sluggish—and your thinking to sometimes get mushy—might surprise you.
4 common causes for sluggish thinking
The body releases cortisol during stress; small bursts can help us manage things during these times. The problem comes in when the body is in a constant stressed-out state.1
If a pregnant woman were stressed from poverty, for example, cortisol could ‘“get through the placenta into the fetus, potentially influencing her baby’s brain and tampering with its circuitry.” After birth, the child’s cortisol could, then, continue to sabotage brain development.
If you find yourself feeling stressed these stress-relieving foods could help…
When you’re feeling stressed your blood pressure rises making you feel even more stressed. Studies show antioxidant rich walnuts can help promote healthy blood pressure and circulation.
Fish is the classic brain food so eating more salmon can promote brain health to start with. But fish has also been linked to a reduction in metabolic stress with one study showing that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish helped reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
Like the omega-3s, garlic has been shown to be able to help lower cortisol levels.
If you’re already a chocolate fan you can probably confirm that chocolate has the ability to help relieve stress and boost mood. Just make sure the chocolate you choose is low in sugar and organic to get all the benefits without the risks.
Nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds are naturally rich in phenols, which have been shown to help control glucose and guard against oxidative stress and high blood pressure.
2. Air Pollution:
Research suggests traffic pollution could be responsible for lower memory test scores and slower cognitive development in kids.2
But, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) aren’t only from traffic pollution; they’re also products of everything from burning coal to tobacco smoke, so avoiding them completely might be easier said than done.
You can definitely take steps to limit your exposure though…
- Check your local Air Quality Index and on days that the AQI is bad choose more indoor activities.
- If you like to exercise outside try moving your workouts to the morning when the air quality tends to be better.
- Avoid heavy traffic and try moving your commute to off hours whenever possible. If you do find yourself stuck in traffic switch the fan in your car to re-circulate to avoid drawing in the exhaust filled air.
- Don’t smoke and avoid places that allow smoking.
3. BPA Exposure:
BPA is such a nasty toxin that many manufacturers have started making BPA-free products; however, some studies say its substitute bisphenol-S, or BPS, could be just as bad for your brain health, suggesting BPA/BPS exposure could be linked to altered brain growth and hyperactivity.3
Use ceramic, glass or stainless steel food containers to avoid plastics whenever possible.
And always be careful when buying food; there are still a lot of canned goods out there with BPA in the linings.4 A number of companies offer BPA-free cans now, search online to locate some sold in your area.
A new study suggests type 2 diabetes “is associated with worse performance on cognitive tests measuring abilities involved in the control of emotions, behaviors and thought.”5
Because doctors encourage self-management (diet, blood sugar, medication) and many patients already burn out when it comes to managing the disease, this loss of executive function is worrisome, to say the least.
Lower your risk of diabetes by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and eggs.6,7 Consider switching to a low carbohydrate diet which can help lower blood sugar.
And add more beneficial herbs like rosemary and oregano to your meals which could help with blood-sugar control.8
Tips to help boost brain function
If you have addressed these four cause of brain fog, or you simply find yourself feeling a bit foggy from time to time, there are a few other easy tricks you can try.
First things first: get outdoors. One study even found being outside was linked to positive cognitive development in kids.9 But more outdoor fun is a great idea for all ages!
Another easy thing is taking probiotics. There’s lots of research that suggests our gut health is directly connected to our mental health.10
Exercise is also a great way to rev up the creative and analytical thinking skills.
What would you do when your brain gets a little foggy? Tell us about it in the comments.
1. National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain: Working Paper 3. Updated Edition. National Scientific Council on the Developing Child.
2. Sunyer, J. et al. Association between Traffic-Related Air Pollution in Schools and Cognitive Development in Primary School Children: A Prospective Cohort Study.PLOS Medicine.
3. Kinch, C. D. et al. Low-dose exposure to bisphenol A and replacement bisphenol S induces precocious hypothalamic neurogenesis in embryonic zebrafish. PNAS.
4. Environmental Working Group. BPA in Canned Food. Environmental Working Group.
5. Vincent, C. & Hall, P. A. Executive Function in Adults With Type 2 Diabetes: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychosomatic Medicine.
6. American Diabetes Association. Improving diet quality reduces risk for type 2 diabetes. ScienceDaily.
7. Virtanen J. K. et al. Egg consumption and risk of incident type 2 diabetes in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
8. Heden, T. D. et al. Post-dinner resistance exercise improves postprandial risk factors more effectively than pre-dinner resistance exercise in patients with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Applied Physiology. 118
9. Dadvand, P. et al. Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. PNAS.
10. Reardon, S. Gut-brain link grabs neuroscientists. Nature. 515 (7526).
Dr. Edward F. Group III has his Naturopathic Doctorate, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Nutritionist certifications, and is a Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Functional Medicine. He founded Global Healing Center Inc. in 1998 which has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.
A dynamic author and speaker, Dr. Group focuses solely on spreading the message of health and wellness to the global community with the philosophy of full body cleansing, most importantly colon cleansing, consuming pure clean organic food, water, air, exercise and nutritional supplementation. Visit GlobalHealingCenter.com to learn more about living green and healthy!
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