What Is Brain Fog and Why Do We Experience It?


If we think back to several years ago, we never really heard the expression “brain fog.” Although it is not a medically recognized term, you often hear people use the expression when they have feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus. There are no tests to diagnose brain fog. As a naturopath, I am seeing this expression written more and more on client’s assessments when they express what they require help with. Often, the causes are a combination of many factors including a lack of quality sleep, eating the wrong foods (especially close to bedtime), stress, medications and an overly busy schedule.

Today, people are busier than ever trying to juggle families, work, the gym, etc. We are always connected to our phones and gadgets compared to years ago when life was without computers. Our lifestyle is full and sometimes we just do not recognize signs that tell us to slow down. The symptoms of brain fog will tend to increase while exercising as that extra effort of moving the body and oxygen demands will require the vitality and focus that is lacking in the first place. 
Some symptoms of brain fatigue that you may feel while exercising are dizzy spells, lack of oxygen, inability to remember an exercise previously done, excessive thirst, and overall lack of focus. While training clients, I have experienced something as simple as a lack of good hydration to be a contributing factor to brain fog. Why? Our body is made up of two thirds water. Water lubricates our joints and facilitates proper digestion. The main point here is that when water is reduced, it needs to be replaced because an imbalance between sugar and salts can affect the way you perform.

Electrolytes become diminished, causing dizziness and a mental fog. Many people gravitate to commercial sport drinks thinking this will help their electrolyte balance but the truth is that the ingredients in these drinks can be detrimental to your health. They are too high in fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Plain water with raw honey and apple cider vinegar or coconut water is a better choice and helps tremendously. 

In reality, mental clarity and brain health go back to making good lifestyle choices. Yes, there is a lot of talk about the connection between adrenals and brain fog, but strong adrenals will again be the result of good lifestyle choices. As I talk about in my book, Lets Practice Health, there is a huge connection between gut health and the brain. Eating the right foods will result in good digestion and absorption of nutrients, and proper elimination of waste so that the cells can regenerate and perform. Yes, brain cells as well!

The best foods to consume are plant based and fermented. Juicing vegetables is also a powerful way to get minerals directly into the blood stream creating a strong focus. Taking time to breathe, relax, meditate and turning your eyes away from the computer screen are crucial. For a good night’s sleep, a dark room without cell phone connections is a must! Never eat before bed as this will just hamper digestion and keep you awake!

In conclusion, positive lifestyle changes are necessary to optimize your mitochondria. Mitochondria are the tiny organelles in your cells that are like cellular battery charges. They produce the energy (ATP) your body needs to function optimally. Your body is made up of trillions of these cells all struggling to do their job. Feed them well, treat them well and they will perform for you!

Frances Michaelson

A pioneer in the fitness industry, Frances opened the first personal training center in the West Island of Montreal in 2001. In 2008 , Frances had the “gut feeling“ that there was more to learn about health and how our bodies function, which led to further her education in the field of Naturopathy and holistic nutrition. She has since authored two books. Her latest book, "Do you Have the Guts to be Healthy" was published in March 2021. As a trainer and naturopath, she truly loves seeing people transform themselves by trusting their bodies instead of getting caught up in the medical system. Practicing health is the only way to live the gift of life well!

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