We’ve all had moments where we forgot a name, misplaced our keys, had trouble producing a word, or just felt a bit hazy. However, if your clients are having regular bouts of memory loss, feeling lost or confused, or having trouble concentrating, it could be attributed to more than just a simple slip.
Brain Fog is not a disease or disorder. It’s a result of cognitive dysfunction, or more specifically, Metabolic Chaos®. In other words, the brain is not working correctly. This doesn’t have anything to do with a person’s intelligence or IQ. That foggy-headed feeling is simply the expression of one or more imbalances within the body.
The brain is always “on”. It is constantly processing, sorting, sending and receiving messages. These messages keep your blood pumping, lungs breathing, hormones releasing, and muscles moving. All this work requires a significant amount of energy, oxygen, and nutrition. Things like inflammation, food allergies and sensitivities, as well as changes to the fuel and oxygen supply profoundly affect the brain and its ability to function.
There are many forces that can bring about symptoms of brain fog. And they all have one thing in common: Stress
As Functional Health Coaches or Practitioners, our role is to assist clients in reducing the load of stress on the body as much as possible – doing so can help eliminate the imbalances that lead to symptoms such as brain fog. And although brain fog is a symptom itself of a deeper issue, there are also symptoms that can be used to determine if it is occurring.
Some Common Symptoms of Brain Fog Include:
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Confusion and disorientation
- Short term memory loss
- Trouble “finding words” when speaking
- Feeling detached, disconnected, or spaced out
Once you’ve established that your client is experiencing brain fog, you need to investigate what’s causing it in order to make improvements. You may find some of the causes as well as the solutions very surprising.
Potential Causes of Brain Fog:
- Physical, mental, and emotional stress
- Hypoglycemia or blood sugar dysregulation
- Food Intolerances and sensitivities
- Nutrient deficiencies and mineral imbalances
- Metal toxicity
- Liver and kidney dysfunction
- Leaky gut and digestive system imbalances
- Structural misalignment
- Dehydration or insufficient oxygen
- Endocrine dysfunction and hormonal imbalances (including menopause and pregnancy)
- Candida overgrowth and parasite infections
- Serious medical conditions such as Lyme infection, brain tumors, meningitis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, autoimmune diseases, and physical head trauma
- Thyroid dysfunction
The key to restoring function and overcoming most health complaints is identifying the contributors to the problem. The same is certainly true for brain fog. Using personalized assessments and functional lab tests, FDN Practitioners identify hidden stressors, areas of dysfunction, and target opportunities to clear up those clouds.
Here are few areas where FDN Practitioner’s looks for clues:
Gut Instincts. There are very real connections between the gut and the brain. If you have a toxic bowel, chances are you will eventually end up flooding your brain with toxins. It’s that simple.
Increased intestinal permeability (Leaky gut syndrome) is a condition in which waste, bacteria, undigested foods, and other harmful substances are able to cross through the gut lining and into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, these toxic substances can travel to other organs in the body, including the brain.
Many people who experience brain fog are also prone to constipation, bloating, gas, or diarrhea. Often this means there is an imbalance between the friendly and “bad” microbes that reside in your gut. Bad bacteria can secrete toxins that enter your bloodstream and actually pass through your blood-brain barrier, muddling your thoughts and raising the risk of depression or anxiety.
Gut problems can be caused by a number of things including hormonal imbalances, bacterial or yeast overgrowth, food intolerances, toxins, and parasite infestations. Easy to use functional lab tests can help identify what’s going on and how to address it naturally, instead of just chasing symptoms.
High blood sugar is a major risk factor for the development of dementia in your later years, and even a mild elevation in blood sugar can be harmful to your brain. Low blood sugar can be equally as troubling. Brain fog, headaches, nausea, irritability, hunger and fatigue are just a few common effects of low blood sugar. Low blood sugar can be life threatening. Learning how to manage your blood sugar through diet and lifestyle is essential to having a strong head on your shoulders.
Food is nutrition. Nutrition is necessary for optimal health. However, many people have allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances to certain otherwise healthy foods. Our bodies perceive these foods as enemies and may go on the attack. The resulting elevation in antibodies and inflammation can lead to a variety of symptoms including digestive issues, fatigue, skin problems, and brain fog.
Toxic metals in our food and our environment can have a huge impact on cognitive health. Neurotoxins like copper, cadmium, and mercury can be found in many food products, household items, second-hand smoke, old dental work, and in many industries and workplaces. FDN Practitioners help you to identify heavy metals and other toxins and advise you on how to reduce toxic load on your body.
Simple Steps Clear The Fog
The good news is the brain is extremely adaptable and wants to be well. Losing mental clarity, while “common,” is not “normal” and should not be considered an inevitable consequence of growing older.
Once you have identified and reduced the sources of stress that are harming your client’s brain, then all you need to know is how to properly feed and care for it. Here are some simple steps your client can take to get their brain back on track:
- EAT REAL FOOD – Just tell your client to remember these three simple words and they will be on their way to a healthier brain (and body). Minimize consumption of packaged and processed foods. Eating real food will automatically eliminate common food additives that are known neurotoxins. Things like MSG, aspartame, and hydrolyzed vegetable oil are some of the most commonly consumed brain “poisons” and are lurking in many popular packaged foods and beverages.
- Avoid Sensitivities – Encourage your clients to avoid common food allergens such as wheat, corn, soy and dairy. Gluten, in particular has been linked to cognitive decline.
- Eat Fat – Healthy fats like coconut oil, grass-fed organic beef, and free-range egg yolks are necessary for protection and maintenance of your brain
- Drink Water – Over 60% of your brain is water. Almost every function in the body depends on the efficient flow of liquid and hydration at a cellular level. Water is needed for the transport of hormones, chemical messengers, and nutrients. Encourage your clients to drink at least half their bodyweight in ounces per day.
- Breathe Deeply – Unlike other cells in the body, the brain is extremely vulnerable to changes in oxygen supply. After just 5 minutes of oxygen deprivation, brain cells will begin to die. When under stress, people tend to take short, shallow breaths which creates a situation of air deprivation for the brain. Your clients should learn to practice mindful breathing when under stress.
- Sleep – Sleep is critical to the way our brain works in both the short and the long-term. If your clients have ongoing problems with sleep, just overcoming insomnia is a potential brain fog cure. While we sleep, the brain cleans and organizes information and well as generates brand new brain cells. Hitting the sack by 10 pm and get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep can make a huge difference.
- Explore Additional Healing Opportunities – As mentioned above, brain fog is a result of Metabolic Chaos®; complexities in one’s metabolism leading to imbalances in various bodily systems. Functional lab testing can help you explore the various body systems to identify the contributors to Metabolic Chaos® and to resolve it by using the data to guide recommendations for diet, rest, exercise, stress reduction and supplementation.
Symptoms such as brain fog are common, but not normal. Helping your client to clean up their habits and lifestyle as suggested above are important, but just the beginning on the road to optimal health. With a full assessment and specialized lab tests available as a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner, you and help your clients get rid of those hazy headed moments for good.