You have a meeting scheduled for 2pm, and it is an important one. As the presenter, you want to be focused, precise and confident. However, lately you’ve been finding that brain fog has been hitting you hard – after lunch, especially.
Thinking back, you’ve had periods where you could not find the words to say, had trouble focusing, could not process information quickly and struggled to stay motivated. When you mentioned it to colleagues, they joked about ‘Brain Fog’ and said that you should join the club! Well… that 2pm meeting is not looking so great…
Brain fog is not a medical condition, rather slang for a collection of symptoms that occur commonly when our brains are not optimally functioning. These symptoms range from poor information processing, difficulty recalling information, mental fatigue, lack of focus and attention, confusion and disorganised thinking.
So, what causes of brain fog are there? I have encountered five common ones.
Where the body’s blood sugar levels drop or fluctuate to deprive the brain of fuel. Low fuel=Brain fog
- Iron Deficient Anaemia
When the body’s iron stores have dropped too low, they impact the oxygen-carrying ability of the blood. Low oxygen = Brain fog
A lack of sleep deprives the body of rest but also significantly impacts the brain’s ability to process information, recall information, and maintain attention and alertness.
- Sub-Clinical Hypothyroidism
This is a form of low thyroid hormone production that is ‘slightly low’ in other words, not optimal. When thyroid hormone runs low, it impacts energy, circulation, metabolism but affects the brain, specifically in areas relating to memory.
- Chronic Stress
Under long term stress, the hormonal and nervous systems lose the ability to cope, and act abnormally. It’s that “can’t get out of bed” feeling that happens all day. Stress hormones in and of themselves lead to many brain changes if elevated for long periods. These changes reduce information recall and executive function (the ability to make decisions, reason, strategise etc).
A common example was experienced by a client that I worked with to improve post-meal fatigue and concentration – a young person ready to skyrocket their career in investment banking. With no lack of motivation, skills or education, brain fog after eating was the only thing standing in the way of the ability to achieve their career goals. As you can imagine, this fatigue and brain fog and their chosen career were not a good match and severely affected their confidence and ability to keep up with the workload.
After much consultation and investigation, we found the root cause of the brain fog was how their body reacted to carbohydrates. The starchy foods consumed at breakfast and lunch set up what is termed reactive hypoglycaemia. After each meal, a low blood sugar event meant that the brain would lack its primary fuel to function and then go into a what they termed a ‘dumb stupor’. We went through better equipping their body to process and regulate blood sugar to the brain, finding out which starchy and carbohydrate foods fuelled their system best. This approach then enabled them to have a brain that processed and recalled information quickly, without a ‘no dip’ energy levels, to draw on to complete tasks needed to elevate their career.
It sounds like a Red Bull ad, but these results are typical when you get to the root cause of the issue that underpins the brain fog. With those root causes removed, the brain wants to function optimally.
While the causes of brain fog are so common, as the example above shows, they can be treated. If you are struggling with brain fog regularly and finding it affecting activities you value, book an appointment below, or give Adrian at Invitation to Health a call on 02 4322 0700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We have online, phone and face to face appointments available now.