We've all misplaced our keys, forgotten someone's name, or walked into a room and blanked on why we were there in the first place. And it's easy to see why, with all of life's distractions constantly coming our way. But when occasional forgetfulness turns into a consistent state of memory loss, something else might be at play.
While it's not an official medical condition, brain fog is very common. Fortunately, it's also very fixable. If you're dealing with persistent mental cloudiness, try these strategies for a clearer head—and a happier life.
Causes of brain fog
There are multiple causes of brain fog, and research is showing that most people who experience brain fog have multiple factors at play. This is why it's best to pursue a natural, holistic approach to overcoming it.
Perhaps most significant is inflammation—another condition that can't be easily pinpointed but that's closely tied to most health issues. Many studies have linked it to brain-related diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia. Luckily, inflammation is most commonly associated with lifestyle—meaning you have control over how you manage it.
Aside from inflammation, the most common causes of brain fog include:
- Poor diet
- Lack of sleep
- Hormonal changes
- Exposure to toxic metals
- Food sensitivities
When one or all of these factors come into play, the brain can't possibly function at its best. Without the nutrients it needs to fully function, brain cells and neurons become damaged, and mental functioning is reduced. It's a cyclical pattern—but one you can stop with a few proven strategies.
Fight brain fog naturally
Fighting brain fog first involves determining what might be causing it. Do you get enough quality sleep? Are you going through menopause? Do you drink too much alcohol? Are processed foods a regular part of your diet?
Once you've pinpointed the potential cause or causes, you can work to incorporate one or several of these strategies into your daily life. Then you can hopefully clear your mind.
- Clean up your diet. Eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible—give the 80/20 rule a shot—and make sure you're getting enough brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and D, magnesium, and iron.
- Aim for quality sleep. Avoid excessive alcohol, processed foods and blue light especially around bedtime, and invest in a sound machine or other type of sleep aid to ensure you're getting as much quality sleep as possible.
- Get ahead of hormonal changes. Try seed cycling to balance hormones, especially if you're experiencing menopause symptoms.
- Exercise: Release endorphins naturally with regular, varied movement.
- Check your medications. There are certain drugs—especially those that treat allergies and depression—that can lead to brain fog by blocking the neurotransmitter that's related to brain activity.
- Manage stress. This might be the most difficult to tackle, but it's important not only for brain health but also overall mental and physical health. Make self-care a non-negotiable priority.
- Use an air filter. Remove potentially harmful particles from your home to clear the air—and your brain as well.
- Pinpoint food sensitivities. Try an elimination diet to uncover whether certain foods are causing your brain fog.
Perhaps the best thing you can do, though, is to train your brain. Do daily crossword puzzles, play trivia games, or use one of the many apps that are specifically targeted toward improving brain function. It won't even feel like work!