Emily Benitez ● February 20, 2024

Clearing the Haze: A Science-backed Guide to Combating Brain Fog

Ever find yourself in a mental fog, struggling to concentrate or feeling like your thoughts are trapped in a haze? You're not alone. Many of us have experienced what's commonly referred to as "brain fog." While it's not a scientific term, it accurately captures the feeling of mild cognitive dysfunction that can be caused by various factors.

What Does Brain Fog Feel Like?

According to Dr. Dean MacKinnon, Associate Professor of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins, brain fog is a temporary lapse in sharp thinking that we all experience at times It's that moment when our mental clarity takes a backseat, and our thoughts seem muddled. Identifying the triggers and addressing them can help lift this mental fog.

Common Causes of Brain Fog

Brain fog isn't a one-size-fits-all condition; it can stem from various sources. Some common culprits include chronic stress, hormonal changes, depression, dehydration, and a poor diet .

Taking a Real Break

Research suggests that stepping away from a task and taking a break can significantly improve performance, focus, and self-control. A genuine break allows your brain to reset, promoting better cognitive function when you return to the task at hand.

Eat (and Drink) to Feel Good

While treats like candy and chips might offer an immediate brain boost, relying on a balanced diet ensures consistent performance throughout the day. Rather than making drastic dietary changes, start by incorporating nutritious additions to your meals and snacks. Small changes can make a big difference.

Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy diet can positively impact cognitive function. For instance, Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flaxseed, and walnuts have been linked to improved cognitive performance4. Additionally, antioxidants in fruits and vegetables play a role in reducing oxidative stress, benefiting brain health.

Get Moving for Mental Clarity

Contrary to the computer analogy, your brain is intricately connected to your body. Exercise has been linked to improved brain function, so when your mind feels off, a bit of physical activity might be just what you need. Various exercises, such as aerobic and strength training, have shown positive effects on cognitive function.

Prioritize Quality Sleep

The connection between sleep and tiredness is obvious, but the impact of sleep on the brain is far-reaching. Poor sleep can impair decision-making, problem-solving, and emotional control. It's not just about feeling rested; it's about maintaining cognitive health and preventing chronic issues like high blood pressure, and heart disease.

A study published in the journal "Sleep" highlights the importance of sleep duration and quality in cognitive performance. Inadequate sleep has been associated with difficulties in attention, memory, and problem-solving.

Harness the Power of Mushrooms

Adding certain mushrooms to your daily routine, such as Reishi, Lion's Mane, and Cordyceps, has been associated with cognitive benefits. These mushrooms are rich in compounds that can support brain health and may contribute to combating brain fog. Including them in your diet could be a natural and flavorful way to enhance mental clarity.

Research on medicinal mushrooms suggests that they contain bioactive compounds with neuroprotective (means certain natural substances that can support and protect nerve cells, promoting overall brain health) and cognitive-enhancing effects. For instance, Lion's Mane mushroom has been studied for its potential to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production, supporting brain health.

Battling brain fog involves addressing various aspects of your lifestyle, from taking breaks and maintaining a balanced diet to staying active, prioritizing quality sleep, and exploring the benefits of mushrooms. Remember, your triggers will be different from others, so by understanding them and making gradual, positive changes, you can clear the mental haze and promote better cognitive well-be