Ever get that foggy feeling, like there are clouds in your head? Often accompanied by poor concentration, feeling confused, thinking more slowly than usual, and fuzzy thoughts. This is a common experience known as brain fog.
Some people also describe it as mental fatigue, or a lack of mental clarity, or even ‘brain overload’.
Brain fog can be caused by a variety of factors such as stress, sleep changes, medications, and nutrient deficiencies. It can cause confusion, memory issues, and a lack of focus, or be a symptom of an underlying condition.
In this article we will be discussing brain fog, how it relates to gut health, and how we can avoid it.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog is not a medical condition in itself, but is usually characterised by a variety of symptoms.
It’s a type of cognitive dysfunction involving symptoms such as memory problems, a lack of mental clarity, poor concentration, an inability to focus, and general cognitive fatigue.
If you are suffering from brain fog, you might struggle with multitasking, forget details of conversations, feel easily distracted, forget what task you want to accomplish after walking into a room, or generally feel ‘fuzzy headed’.
It can also be a symptom of autoimmune disease and can be directly linked to our gut health, and the types of foods we are consuming.
What Causes Brain Fog?
Brain fog can have a variety of causes and can be linked to our digestive health.
Brain fog can also be a symptom of leaky gut or a microbiome imbalance. When the levels of beneficial bacteria in our body are insufficient, our ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients is compromised.
If we are not digesting our food properly, this can cause fermentation in the gut, and lead to undigested food particles remaining in our bowel, leading to bloating, chronic inflammation, excessive gas, irregular bowel movements, constipation, and especially brain fog, or feeling ’foggy’ throughout the day.
It can also be linked to overworking, poor sleep, excess screen time, lack of fresh air or exercise. We need regular exercise to boost our mitochondria, oxygenate our bodies, and keep our cells firing.
Nutrient deficiencies can also increase our risk of brain fog. Taking supplements can help us avoid these deficiencies and can help support our system, giving us better mental clarity.
So what are the best supplements to take for brain fog?
6 Best Supplements for Brain Fog
1) Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, essential vitamin for immune function, brain health and joint health, and acts as an antioxidant for the body.
Low levels can impact our cognitive performance and are associated with an increase in mental health disorders and mental confusion, especially depression and low mood symptoms1.
Studies also show that vitamin D supplementation may improve overall mental health — including mood, negative thoughts, and symptoms of anxiety and depression1.
Vitamin D can also support our gut health and benefit those with autoimmune diseases by helping to regulate the intestinal barrier and support immunity within the gut. This can in turn reduce symptoms of brain fog and cognitive fatigue2.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s necessary for many vital body functions, such as enzymatic reactions, energy production, nerve function, and blood pressure regulation.
Low magnesium levels can lead to symptoms associated with brain fog such as difficulty concentrating, as well as anxiety, an inability to relax, and chronic stress.
Magnesium may help us to relax at night, sleep optimally, and reduce muscle tension and pain. This can reduce our long-term susceptibility to brain fog.
Magnesium has also been shown to improve our general cognitive function, and reaction time, decreasing our risk of cognitive decline3.
For this reason, maintaining optimal magnesium levels through supplementation may help us to improve stress-related cognitive impairment and brain fog symptoms.
Foods high in magnesium include beans, seeds, spinach, cocoa, and oats. Consume plenty of these to support your gut health!
An imbalance in our gut ecosystem has been associated with brain fog and mood disorders, through disruption to the ‘gut-brain axis’.
Probiotics improve our digestive health and increase the number of good bacteria in the gut. This reduces the risk of bacterial overgrowth, ‘leaky gut syndrome,’ and autoimmune disease and improves our ability to digest foods better. An imbalance in our gut ecosystem has been associated with brain fog and mood disorders, through the ‘gut-brain axis’.
When our gut is functioning optimally, our brain can utilise nutrients more efficiently and our risk for brain fog is significantly reduced. In other words, smooth digestion means better cognitive and brain health!
We recommend our product ‘Gut Care’. It contains 6.1 billion+ (6.1 x 109 CFU) of good bacteria to keep your gut thriving!
L-theanine is an active, non-protein amino acid. It has been known to help the brain with dopamine and serotonin re-uptake, which can help to manage our mood, mental acuity, reaction time, and memory. This in turn can reduce symptoms of brain fog and cognitive fatigue.
L-theanine can also support healthy stress and sleep levels, by modulating our cortisol (levels of stress hormone in the body), which is beneficial for reducing long-term symptoms of brain fog. L-theanine can also positively influence attention and reaction time response and promote neurological health4.
L theanine is present in tea leaves or through supplementation and is generally considered safe and well-tolerated when taken at the right dosage.
B vitamins are essential for cognitive function, memory, and quick thinking. B vitamins also play a role in maintaining our mood and sleep patterns.
Vitamin B12 supplements can help improve cognitive decline, poor memory, and fuzzy thinking. Vitamin B2 and vitamin B7 help to maintain central nervous system functioning, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6 are required to support neurotransmitters and cellular communication, and vitamin B9 eases mental fatigue.4
A B-complex vitamin will cover each B vitamin and is one of the best supplements we can take for brain fog. Foods high in B vitamins include shellfish, couscous, whole grains, fortified cereals, poultry, and dairy products.
Omega-3 fatty acids have a host of health benefits, especially for symptoms of brain fog. They are essential for the body and cannot be made, so have to be consumed through food or supplementation.
Omega 3s contain DHA docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, which is crucial for brain health and improving cognitive function.
They also have excellent anti-inflammatory properties for the gut, helping to strengthen and soothe the gut lining, whilst supporting brain health and cellular function.
Take Home Message
In summary, brain fog is a common symptom and can happen to the best of us. However, with some lifestyle changes and supplementation, we can significantly reduce it, and take steps to optimise our cognitive function.
Eating a healthy diet, taking probiotics, looking after our gut health, exercising regularly, having a good sleep routine and reducing stress can all help to reduce symptoms of brain fog.
If you are still struggling with long bouts of brain fog or it is affecting your day-to-day life, consult your GP or a qualified practitioner.