Brain Fog Diet: 4 Diet Tips to Help You Reduce Brain Fog
Written by Stephen Anton PhD on July, 15th 2021
Why are so many people experiencing brain fog today and what can you do to keep your brain sharp all day long?
To answer these questions, we need to explore where this phenomenon of “brain fog” comes from, and how we can adjust our diets to help reduce it. But first, I want to share my personal experience with brain fog that led to these discoveries.
My Personal Experience with Brain Fog
I distinctly remember experiencing brain fog during a very important day in my life, approximately 15 years ago now. You see, this was the day I was interviewing for my first job, as a postdoctoral fellow. On this day, I woke up a bit groggy since I was recovering from a sleep debt. So, I was already not feeling 100%. But it was the breakfast I had that morning, which contributed to me experiencing brain fog on this important day!
1. Focus on Healthy Fats and Protein
It was after these two meals that I realized how sensitive my body and brain were to what I ate, and how specific macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) affected my brain function. Specifically, I realized the importance of having healthy proteins and fats with each meal.
When we consume a high carbohydrate meal, without adequate protein or fat, we typically feel good at first due to the rapid rise in glucose that follows. But what goes up quickly also comes down quickly. And the rapid drop in glucose is what often contributes to brain fog shortly following these meals. The brain is left in an energy crisis and struggles to focus and remember things.
In contrast, you can achieve a state of post-prandial wellness where you feel great for several hours following each meal, provided the meal contains the right balance of macronutrients and in the quantity that is right for your body (typically this means stopping when you are 75% full).
2. Aim for High Quality Foods
Of course, the macronutrient composition of meals is not the only factor that affects brain function. The truth is not all proteins, fats and carbs are created equal. The source matters!
Although protein is the number one food that helps me feel sharp throughout the day, the quality of the protein makes a huge difference in how I feel. For example, grass fed meats “light up” my brain for hours afterwards, and the effects are much more powerful than when I consume corn fed meat or processed meats.
The same goes for fish. Wild caught salmon is going to have a much more energizing effect on my mind body than farm raised salmon or imitation crab meat for that matter. Consuming wild caught fish is a great way to quickly remove or avoid brain fog. Similarly, eggs from free range chicken are going to have a much stronger, more powerful effect than eggs from chickens who are cooped up in cages.
3. Limit Consumption of Artificial Ingredients
Another driver of brain fog is, unfortunately, the unhealthy additives that are now widely used in our food supply. This is just one more reason to pay attention to everything we’re putting in our bodies.
For example, most coffees are loaded with pesticides, unless they are produced organically. So, choose organic and single source whenever possible. These coffees may cost more but are well worth it.
Additionally, many foods and beverages now contain artificial sweeteners or trans fats that can greatly enhance their taste but also wreak havoc on our metabolic processes, and place undue stress on our neurons. You can identify such foods based on what is written on food labels.
Examples of common types of artificial ingredients include: acesulfame potassium, aspartame, Nutrasweet, Equal, sucralose, partially hydrogenated oils, mannitol, and sorbitol.
4. Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Of course, there is another important contributing factor to brain fog, alcohol. If you are regularly consuming high amounts of alcohol, particularly close to bedtime, it will likely impair the quality of your sleep. And just like food quality, sleep quality can have profound effects on brain function.
For that matter, both recreational drugs and medications can disrupt mind-body homeostasis and can contribute to brain fog. Of course, if you need medications to treat a condition, then by all means take it.
Bonus: Be Aware of Digital Drain
In today’s age, there is more than one factor contributing to brain fog. As mentioned above, the quality of our sleep makes a huge difference, as does our activity levels throughout the day (most of us sit way too much).
But one factor that we may not be as aware of is the potential negative impact that screen time can have on our brain function. Many of us spend the majority of our time looking at computer screens, and when we are not doing this, we are often looking at our phone or television screens. This means are brains are constantly being bombarded with electromagnetic radiation waves.
The cumulative effect of all this screen time can add up and tire out the brain, particularly when paired with prolonged sitting or excessive alcohol consumption.
Of course, many of the activities described above are fun to do, and it’s understandable that at some point you will want to enjoy a “cheat” meal or watch a movie with a glass of wine or two.
How to Restore Brain Function Quickly
By combining the tips mentioned above, you will be able to decrease and ultimately eliminate brain fog.
If you want to expedite the process, there are a few “super foods” that can help you restore brain function quickly. Below are my top three recommendations: