Uncovering the Hidden Contributors of Brain Fog and How to Address Them
I’m enjoying the frosty and unusually sunny view of Lake Washington from my Mercer Island office window this morning, quietly sipping on hot lemon ginger tea. It’s a nice respite as this has been a particularly busy start of the year for me. I have welcomed a record number of new clients, mostly exhausted middle-aged women entrepreneurs, into my Energy & Gut Health Reset Program. The updated program is helping them to stop feeling sluggish and unable to concentrate with brain fog, along with digestion and weight problems, by restoring their energy and focus to get stuff done.
As I’m gearing up for a short trip to Los Angeles to visit family, with a million and one tasks to do, I’ve been noticing how the old sense of overwhelm from too much to do is gone. I’m not losing track of things or my mind.
I can handle stress with ease. Nothing throws me off balance, and all because I don’t have brain fog anymore.
But that wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t very long ago that I was suffering from brain fog; forgetting things, getting overwhelmed with too much to do, lacking motivation, being unable to make decisions quickly, losing focus, and simply feeling mentally tapped out.
I wasn’t ready to just chalk up my reduced mental clarity to getting older or having Alzheimer’s disease run in my family! This week’s blog is about my story of brain fog, figuring out what was contributing to it, and what I’ve done to get my cognition and peace of mind back, so you can too if you’re also dealing with brain fog.
I never would have said I had brain fog, not until now at least.
“Brain fog” is a term that is not typically recognized by most traditional health professionals, yet it is extremely prevalent.
Brain fog is a phrase that basically sums up a collection of symptoms or feelings that can include:
- Forgetfulness or confusion
- Trouble concentrating
- Lack of focus or mental clarity
- Inability to handle stressful situations
- Difficulty recalling words or putting words together
- Feeling “frazzled”
- Mental fatigue, feeling mentally slow
- Feeling “less productive” than before
- Unable to retain information
- Difficulty multitasking, losing track, easily distracted
- Trouble decision-making or problem-solving
- Struggling creatively
All of which are very common but NOT NORMAL.
As someone who has always excelled in any job I ever had, who is hard-working and tends to have multiple projects going on at the same time, I never stopped for a moment to think I might be suffering from brain fog.
I simply kept pushing through, working towards my personal and business goals, thinking it was normal to need so many lists or post-it notes lying around to keep everything straight.
It wasn’t until my brain fog lifted that I realized it had been there.
These days I’m sharp as a tack, super clear, mentally tough and I’m bursting with creativity. I’m managing multiple program and workshop launches at one time, I hardly need a list for the little things anymore, I can easily recall details, I’m knocking out tasks left and right without feeling physically or mentally exhausted, and I have energy to spare for social activities.
I am 100% back to being my go-getter self and I am more productive than ever before!
Sometimes we only know what we know until we experience something different. It took getting out of the fog for me to realize I had been in it for so long.
The fog crept up on me the same way it slowly rolls in off the coastline. Super stealthy, low to the ground, until wham! You can’t even see two feet in front of you.
I had become so used to living in the fog, I didn’t even know it existed. I adapted to my less efficient ways of functioning and thinking by creating more lists, using more post-it notes, engaging in fewer social activities, and taking on less work.
Some of which I needed to do to heal, but before I knew I needed that, I adapted because I couldn’t keep up.
Typically, we tend to brush off symptoms like brain fog and associate them with “just getting older.” But what we don’t realize is that these symptoms are NOT a part of getting older, rather they are a sign that something isn’t right in our body.
These subtle signs of brain fog can actually be early indicators of brain inflammation and left unattended to, they can increase our risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s, other degenerative diseases, and larger-scale health conditions such as autoimmunity or even cancer.
Continue reading as I help you uncover what might be contributing to your brain fog and how to lift it.
Just like any other dysfunction, disease, or condition, inflammation is at the core of brain fog.
It is believed that high levels of inflammation alter 3 primary hormones that dictate brain function:
- Serotonin – your happy hormone
- Dopamine – your well-being hormone
- Cortisol – your stress, anti-inflammatory, energy, blood sugar, and sleep cycle-balancing hormone
And inflammation in the gut particularly has a huge effect on brain function since it can directly interfere with the gut-brain axis.
The key to lifting brain fog is figuring out what’s fueling the inflammatory fire.
Inflammatory factors can be different for everyone. For me, in my time of brain fog, emotional adrenal stress from caregiving my father with dementia and dealing with a messy divorce and financial worries were huge inflammatory factors along with an underactive thyroid, food sensitivities, and a variety of intestinal parasites, bacteria, and yeast overgrowth.
For others, brain fog and inflammation might be fueled by:
- Eating inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, and alcohol
- Unknown food sensitivities or reactions (not allergies)
- Hidden heavy metals, chemicals, or other toxic contaminants like mold
- A leaky and inflamed gut
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Various hormone imbalances
- Side effects of autoimmunity
- Overexercising when the body is already depleted
For some, lifting the fog can be as simple as avoiding the top 5 inflammatory foods, eating organic, and getting to bed by 10 pm.
And as I discovered, even once you start to lift the fog, there is an endless possibility for how much better you can actually feel.
Remember, you only know what you know until you know something different. If you want to feel exceptional, then lifting the fog may just be the start of it, and clearing the fog completely is your end goal.
Here are my 6 steps to bust through brain fog so you can think clearly and feel like yourself again…
- Avoid the top 6 inflammatory foods: gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, caffeine, and alcohol
- Be asleep by 10 pm to balance cortisol and the circadian rhythm
- Exercise at an intensity that is invigorating but not exhausting
- Give your brain a break with a daily dose of meditation or deep breathing
- Investigate and eliminate toxins in your home and work environment
- Test your hormone, gut, and liver function for hidden sources of inflammation and healing opportunities
I realize ditching the coffee might seem counterintuitive and shocking coming from someone living in the Seattle area, and I was super skeptical too when I was told by my trusted health advisor to do this! But my poor adrenals and the rest of my HPA-Axis (Hypothalamus–Pituitary–Adrenal) neuroendocrine system needed a break from the java jolt overstimulation to fully recover, and I honestly started to feel better without it and less drained. I’m a big fan of the great coffee here in the PNW, but I limit myself to just one cup in the morning and will completely refrain when I feel myself starting to lose focus and get back into brain fog mode.
If you take action in these 6 areas and find yourself still struggling with brain fog, then it just means you might need to dig deeper, investigate further and identify other contributing factors for inflammation like I did.
Don’t just push through and see signs of brain fog as “getting older” OR let them get diagnosed as something else paired with a quick-fix medication, leaving you settling for a lower quality of life, or just getting by but still not feeling like yourself.
Do me a favor… don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve when it comes to your health and well-being.
Don’t let the signs your body is giving you go unnoticed!
If you need help getting your hands on the right lab tests and resources to lift your brain fog so you can restore your get-stuff-done vitality, and take back control of your energy, digestive health, and weight, then Schedule your Free no-obligation Health Discovery Session with me today!