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August 19, 2021


Allison Tallman, RDN
What Is Brain Fog? - An Introduction

Fact Checked By Allison Tallman, RDN
 August 19, 2021

Brain Fog

Imagine: it’s a Monday morning and you’re ready to start your workweek on the right foot.

You have a big project due in a couple of days so you know you have a ton of work to do.

But when you get to your desk and turn on your computer, you just …. can’t work.

You can’t concentrate. You can’t focus on your task at hand for very long. You can’t be productive to save your life.

In a word, you’re experiencing brain fog. Sound familiar?

Brain fog is a common issue that has gotten in the way of many productive workdays.

Luckily, there are ways that you can fix it so you can get back to work.

Here’s how to clear up that pesky brain fog with targeted nutrients and supplements.


First, What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is a general term that refers to a series of symptoms that impair your ability to concentrate and think clearly.

Brain fog can manifest in a couple of different ways: you might have a hard time concentrating or experience lapses in memory.

You might struggle to learn or comprehend. Your focus could be off, and your attention span might only last a couple of minutes at most.

You could feel more easily irritated or anxious.

No matter what your specific case of brain fog feels like, one thing is consistent: your brain just doesn’t can’t seem to function at its full potential.

Unfortunately, this can make the difference between a productive day and a frustrating one.

What Causes Brain Fog?

There are multiple reasons you could be experiencing brain fog, and pinpointing what’s causing yours is the first step to fixing it.

Here are a couple of potential culprits that could be behind your brain fog:

  • Sleep deprivation: If you’ve ever had a sleepless night, you know that fatigue and impaired cognitive abilities soon follow.

    One study found that sleep deprivation can actually affect the way your brain cells communicate, which could explain why you feel so foggy if you don’t get your eight hours (1).

  • Chronic stress: Being stressed out could also be a big reason for your brain fog.

    Your body has a “fight or flight” response that prioritizes your survival in the case of stressful situations, so it redirects your energy to functions like running away rather than critical thinking.

    This can be a good thing in those situations - after all, it can literally save your life. Unfortunately, your body can’t tell the difference between a predator hunting it down and an important board meeting, so chronic stress from work and other life pressures can lead to a foggy brain (2).

  • Hormones: Your cognitive impairment could also be due to hormone changes.

    For example, many menopausal women report brain fog, and scientists believe this could be due to the natural decline of the hormone estrogen that happens during this life stage.

    Estrogen is a neuroprotective hormone that plays a role in shielding your brain from damage, hence the resulting drop in cognitive function when estrogen levels decline (3).

But if you can rule out these causes and other potential medical conditions, your brain fog could be due to poor nutrition.

Luckily, this means that you might be able to address some of the root causes of your brain fog simply by taking a closer look at your current eating patterns.

How Changing Your Diet Could Help

Your health starts from the inside out, and your brain function is no different.

Just like every other system in your body, your brain needs a ton of nutrients in order to stay sharp, so a poor diet can affect your thinking and concentration abilities.

Luckily, eating a healthy and balanced diet is one of the simplest actions that you can take to address your lapses in memory and focus.

Some brain-boosting nutrients that you might be needing more of include:

  • Omega-3s: These essential fatty acids play a huge role in the structure of your brain and protecting it from damage.

If you’re dealing with a consistent case of brain fog, you’ll want to include more of these healthy fats in your diet.

You should pay considerable attention to your intake of the omega-3 DHA, which is necessary for normal brain function and can be found in fatty fish (or fish oil pills) (4).

  • Vitamins/minerals: These essential micronutrients also help your brain function normally, and any deficiencies could very well be contributing to your lack of focus.

    For example, studies have found that low levels of Vitamin B-12 correlate with low cognitive function, while a deficiency of the mineral magnesium could be linked to fatigue and difficulty concentrating (5, 6).

    The best way to ensure that you’re getting all of your necessary nutrients is to eat a balanced diet with plenty of variety.

  • Carbohydrates: Even though carbs often get a bad reputation in the health and wellness world, they’re actually very important.

    Glucose, the broken-down version of carbohydrates, is actually your brain’s preferred source of energy. Concentrate on eating high-quality carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables.

Besides your basic nutrients, you might also consider adding a brain-boosting nootropic supplement like Clinical Effect’s Ideal Brain to your daily routine (7).

Nootropics, or “smart drugs,” are supplements with brain-boosting nutrients that can enhance your cognitive functions (8).

They can do this in a variety of ways, including increasing blood flow to your brain or by managing your stress response, to allow you to dedicate your brain energy to the things that matter.

There are several kinds of nootropic compounds including adaptogens, which are herbs that can reduce your stress hormones, as well as caffeine, and essential vitamins and minerals your brain needs to function normally.

Final Thoughts

Your brain is arguably the most important system in your body.

Not only does it manage all of your bodily systems behind the scenes, like your heart and your metabolism, but it’s also responsible for how productive you are and how much you can accomplish in a day.

Don’t let brain fog get in the way of your focus - with a couple of simple changes to your diet, your brain can have all of the tools it needs to stay sharp.