If you’re feeling confused, forgetful, or like you have an overall lack of focus, then there’s a chance you may be experiencing something called brain fog, or brain fatigue. Brain fog at work is a minor inconvenience for some but makes a huge impact on the lives of others. Many have accepted that feeling foggy headed is just a part of their lives. The good news is that it isn’t too difficult to find out what the source of your brain fatigue is, as the condition is usually related to your lifestyle, a medication you are taking or is a symptom of a medical condition.
One of the leading causes of brain fog is simply eating the wrong foods. If you eat a diet filled with sugar and processed foods or a diet that’s low in fat, then your first line of action in combating brain fatigue should be to change your diet. Reversing brain fog can be even easier than determining the source of it. Even if you are unsure of what is causing you to be so forgetful and distracted, you can still take the necessary steps to get back to the clear thinking days you once knew.
Causes and Symptoms of Brain Fog
Brain fog isn’t a medical condition, but a symptom (or side effect) of certain eating habits, medical conditions, or medications. As defined by Merriam-Webster, brain fog is “a usually temporary state of diminished mental capacity marked by an inability to concentrate or to think or reason clearly.” Some of the symptoms that characterize brain fog are:
- Trouble concentrating
- Low motivation
While the effects of brain fatigue seem to come and go, many of those living with symptoms find that they stay more often than not. No matter what’s causing you to experience this clouding of consciousness, or how severe your symptoms are, there are sure and tried methods that you can use to eliminate these symptoms once and for all.
For some people, brain fog may be caused by a disease or illness that is not so easily fixed. For others it may be a simple dietary issue that can be fixed easily. Let’s take a look at some of the causes.
Dietary/Lifestyle Causes of Brain Fog
- Diets high in sugar
- Diets low in healthy fats
- Food allergies
- Eating a lot of wheat
- Eating a lot of processed foods
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Vitamin B12 or D deficiency
- Lack of omega-3 fatty acids
- Lack of quality sleep
- Thyroid disorders
- Too much caffeine
- Hormonal Imbalances
Diseases/Illness that Cause Brain Fog
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Thyroid Disorders
Living with brain fatigue as a symptom can be highly annoying and downright scary at times. When the doctors can’t relate the memory issues to a pressing medical issue, like the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia, then it’s time to take matters into your own hands and make some serious lifestyle changes. Even when you are living with this side effect of a major medical issue, adopting a ketogenic diet can work wonders when it comes to getting back to clear thinking.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, is high in fat and low in carbs. The diet sends your body into a state of ketosis, burning fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. Between 65 and 90% of the calories you consume daily, while on the keto diet, come from fat. This is a huge range because each person is different – so calculating your individual macros before starting the keto diet is a good idea. Restricting carbs and increasing your fat intake causes your body to start producing ketones within 24 to 48 hours. Ketones are created when your body metabolizes fat for energy.
The key to being successful on the keto diet is to eat enough fat without overeating. If you don’t consume enough fat or if you overeat, then you increase the chance that you will come out of ketosis and halt your weight loss (if you choose to follow the keto diet for weight loss effects as well). If you choose to adopt the ketogenic diet you will find yourself eating a diet packed with meat, cheese, low-carb vegetables, yogurt, healthy oils, eggs, nuts and seeds. Below you can find an example of what a meal plan on the ketogenic diet could look like for a day (find more on https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto/diet-plan).
- Baked Bacon Omelet
- Latte with full fat dairy, no sugar
- Caesar Salad (no sugar added dressing)
- Pesto Chicken Casserole
How the Keto Diet Helps with Brain Fog
Eating a ketogenic diet has been known to be beneficial to those living with medical conditions such as epilepsy, autism, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s and migraine headaches. All of these medical issues affect the brain in some fashion. Studies suggest that the keto diet has neuroprotective effects and can enhance cognitive function. Furthermore, this diet can positively impact your visual attention, ability to switch tasks quickly, and your working memory.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you eat a diet that is too high in sugar then you could be causing memory and cognitive deficiencies. Sometimes, this excess sugar intake can lead to diabetes or high blood glucose levels. High blood glucose levels can cause small-vessel disease and brain atrophy!
Several foods included in the ketogenic diet are known to improve brain function. Avocados, for example, prevent blood clots in the brain and can improve memory, concentration and cognitive function. Broccoli is known to keep the memory sharp, while coconut oil is linked to multiple brain benefits.
Medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are naturally occurring fats found in a few foods, the best of which is coconut oil (https://bebrainfit.com/mct-oil-benefits-brain/). MCT oil is extracted from coconut or safflower oil. MCT oil raises your body’s level of ketones, which provides instant energy to your brain. The verdict is out and it appears that the keto diet is one of the best options for battling brain fog.
There are several other ways to combat brain fatigue if you aren’t quite ready to make the dive into a ketogenic diet, or if you want to know what else you can pair with the keto diet to further improve your brain function.
- Eat real food – less sugar, caffeine and processed foods
- Take a Vitamin B12 supplement
- Take a Vitamin D supplement
- Add Omega-3 supplements to your routine
- Use herbs like arctic root and gotu kola
- Use a natural sleep aid
- Eliminate unnecessary chemicals and toxins from your life
- Get more active
Author Bio: Janine Einhellig is owner and author at KetoDomain.com, a website focused on helping people achieve success on the ketogenic diet through information, meal plans and coaching. Janine enjoys writing and operating Keto Domain because of the great impacts the ketogenic diet can have on quality of life.