We’ve all felt it in some way. We misplace our keys or forget important things. It interferes with our day. But what happens when these little annoyances start to define our days? What happens when we feel as though a cloud is over our minds and thinking clearly is a struggle? It interferes with our everyday functioning and just getting through each day becomes more difficult.
Conventional medicine discounts the significance of brain fog because there is no clinical diagnosis attached to it. There are no specific tests for it and the presence of brain fog is based on a person’s subjective account and individual symptoms vary from one person to the next. It can last for hours, days, weeks, or months and can persist for years. Most conventional physicians discount it as part of the aging process. I’ve heard people in their 20’s joke that the reason they can’t find their keys is that they’re getting older. And in the middle aged and elderly, it is often defined as early Alzheimer’s, dementia or mental illness.
So what is brain fog? Why is it important? And what can we do about it?
Well, your brain is the control center of your body and when it is functioning at less than capacity, you and your body are functioning at less than capacity. Brain fog often presents itself very insidiously. The symptoms can be “mild”, such as mild memory loss (losing your keys, forgetting numbers or birthdays, etc), mental confusion, dizziness, slow thinking and a general feeling of not functioning as well as possible. Brain fog is often brought on by some type of imbalance in the body ~ nutritional, metabolic, hormonal or biochemical. This can arise from many different factors. Identifying the imbalance and the causative factors and then correcting them is the key to treating brain fog. So let’s review the causes…..
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
Your adrenals control your stress response. When your body is under stress, whether it is physical, mental, chemical or other, the adrenals kick in to stimulate your body’s survival mechanisms. Once the threat is over, the relaxation portion of your nervous system takes over. But when the stressor continues to be present, your adrenals continue to fire and relaxation (balance) never fully kicks in. This causes a tremendous amount of additional stress and your adrenals ~ and your body ~ never fully get a rest. Once your adrenals get fatigued, everything slows down to conserve energy to survive. When the liver slows down, toxins and waste products get removed more slowly and they start to accumulate. These can travel to the brain, causing brain fog. To treat this, the focus is on restoring the adrenal glands. This includes a comprehensive approach addressing nutrition, supplements and lifestyle changes. Learn about the 8 dietary changes needed if you suspect adrenal fatigue here.
Candida albicans Is a yeast that is normally present in our bodies, but in small amounts. When candida overgrowth occurs, toxic substances are produced like alcohol and acetaldehyde. These act as poisons to the nervous system. You may feel mentally confused as though you have consumed alcohol and these problems can significantly worsen from eating too many sugars, starches, carbohydrates and processed foods. These foods feed the candida (yeast) and as they grow, they can invade other parts of the body. To treat this, the balance of candida needs to be restored and their numbers decreased. This happens with dietary changes (eliminating the foods that feed it), probiotic therapy and lifestyle change. During this time that the yeast die-off is occurring, the yeast release their toxins into the bloodstream and the brain fog will most likely worsen because of this. This is short lived and to be expected. Our office utilized an advanced DNA fecal microbial test to uncover this as a cause.
Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)
Your brain uses sugar (glucose) as fuel and needs it to function properly. Your brain can’t store fuel like your muscles can, so it needs a steady supply. When your hormones are out of balance, your blood sugar levels will be affected. You may have a normal blood sugar, but still have symptoms of low blood sugar which include confusion, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, and forgetfulness. These typically occur 2-3 hours after you eat. Symptoms will improve by eating sweets, but this does not address the underlying cause. Getting the body back into balance is critical and eating real foods, making lifestyle changes and addressing any sugar imbalances is critical to correcting this.
Artificial sweeteners are neurotoxins. They are found in many foods, candies and personal care products. Read labels and avoid foods and products that contain Nutrasweet, Equal, Splenda, Canderel, Spoonful, aspartame, sucralose, aspartic acid, phenylalanine and neotame. Know what the ingredients on the label are or don’t use it.
Many chemicals are added to processed food to increase its appeal. They enhance flavor, add color, make it last longer and change the texture of it. These chemicals are called excitotoxins and they excite the brain by stimulating nerve endings that they shouldn’t. MSG is one of the more commonly know excitotoxins and can be added to foods under many different names. Reading labels and avoiding foods that contain chemicals you don’t recognize or eating nutritious whole foods is important to avoid these in our bodies.
Many medications contain chemicals that affect the brain. Know what you are taking and why. Pay attention to side effects or changes in your body when you are taking them. Discuss the necessity of the medications and suspected side effects with your physician.
Most of us are aware of the important macronutrients that provide us with calories and building blocks for our bodies ~ carbohydrates, fats and proteins ~ but many of us are not aware of the micronutrients that are so critical to our bodies’ functioning. These are needed in smaller quantities than macronutrients, but they are extremely critical. They include minerals, acids, trace minerals and vitamins. By eating a diet of high quality, nutrient dense whole foods, we obtain many of these micronutrients. In America, we are a well fed country (plenty of macronutrients), but are often undernourished (not enough micronutrients). If we do not have enough micronutrients, our bodies don’t function well. For example, if we are deficient in B vitamins, our brain exhibits irritability, confusion and lethargy which mimics Alzheimers disease. Identifying and correcting nutrient deficiencies will resolve the problem.
Viral infections, as well as bacterial, can affect the brain and induce brain fog by releasing toxins into your bloodstream. Our body has to work hard to get rid of these. This can result in our supply of nutrients being depleted, affecting our brain function, as well as the toxins altering brain function. Many infections can be subclinical and low grade, such as with poorly done dental work, and these types of infections can deplete our resources and affect functioning. Many viruses will not be measurable on titres (blood work testing for the presence of the virus) but will be present and affect sensitive persons. These can include, hepatitis C, herpes, HPV, Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus and lyme, among others. Identifying and treating the disease is essential.
Mercury is a heavy metal and it is a potent neurotoxin that persists in our bodies. It can cause many neurological symptoms such as brain fog, memory loss, and tingling. Mercury is unfortunately present in our fish supply. Consuming fish that contain mercury can cause mercury to accumulate in our bodies. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends limiting fish consumption to no more than twice per week. They also advise pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with health concerns to avoid eating fish that are typically high in mercury content ~ swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel.
A common and overlooked source of mercury toxicity is in dental amalgams, those silver fillings in our mouths. These should be removed by a trained biological dentist who specializes in this procedure. The procedure releases mercury as they are removed and a specially trained dentist can limit this exposure and guide you through eliminating the mercury that is release in your body.
Mercury is also contained in various vaccines, so it is important to be aware of the ingredients. Vaccines also carry other risks, so it is important to know the risks and benefits of vaccines before considering to receive a shot.
Copper is a trace mineral that can be present in excessive quantities in the body for various reasons. Excess copper can cause mood swings, confusion, muddled thoughts and feelings of disorientation. For women, this can worsen just before and during menstruation since the increased cell activity during this time can release levels of copper in the bloodstream. Things that can cause a copper imbalance include a mostly vegetarian diet, weak adrenals, stress, zinc deficiency, birth control pills, fatigue, long history of migraines, copper IUD’s, and in some cases, drinking water from copper pipes.
Copper imbalances are difficult to diagnose. Specialized tests can identify it and then it needs to be corrected. Copper and zinc work together in the body and balance each other out. When one rises, the other falls. Changing your eating habits can help to balance this out. Good quality animal products are excellent sources of zinc, so including them in your diet every day will increase your zinc levels and lower your copper levels. Grains are higher in copper, so switching some of your grain intake to meat products will help to balance this relationship.
Other heavy metals, such as aluminum, lead and cadmium can cause brain fog. Aluminum can be found in antacids, antiperspirants, soda, vaccines and more. Identifying this as a factor, eliminating the exposure and detoxifying from the metals will improve brain fog.
It is impossible to avoid exposure to these chemicals because they are so pervasive in our society. Therefore, we need to limit our exposure wherever we can. They are present in plastics, insecticides, cleaners, lubricants, inks, paints and more. We are exposed to plastics on a continual basis since it is in our food packaging, personal care product packaging and more. These chemicals build up in our bodies and they like areas that contain fat and our brains like fat, so they can build up there and can interfere with functioning, causing brain fog. It is important to eliminate whatever sources we can, eat well and work to improve our bodies’ abilities to detoxify.
If food is not digested properly, it can ferment or rot in the intestines. This process creates toxins which our bodies have to deal with. It stresses our ability to detoxify, or remove toxins, and the toxins can travel to our brains where it affects functioning. Normal transit time in the intestines varies, but when it exceeds 20 hours, toxins build up that our bodies need to deal with. It is like leaving your garbage in your kitchen until garbage day. Eating a good diet and paying attention to your bowel habits helps to correct this. Fermented foods will help the digestion process and restore normal bacteria balance to the gut so food will be digested more easily. In sever cases of constipation, enemas may be needed. Drinking adequate water, eating a varied diet and adding magnesium are also helpful to improve digestion.
Gluten intolerance is a huge topic in itself and probably more prevalent than we know. Gluten is a protein found in many grains that include wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, corn, and buckwheat. The gluten protein can cause an immune reaction in our bodies that can harm important parts of our intestines, called the intestinal villi. Damaged villi can allow larger molecules to pass from the intestines into the blood stream. When this happens, these molecules go to places that they shouldn’t go to. This is called a leaky gut. Not only can gluten intolerance affect the intestines but they can also affect the brain.
There are opiate receptors in our brains that will accept these proteins and when they are stimulated, brain fog can occur. Eliminating gluten containing foods is critical and focusing on healing the damage to the gut will allow balance to return to the body.
Watch Dr. Hagmeyers video that explains the most common mistakes people make when trying to go gluten free here. or click on the image below.
Electromagnetic fields are all over. Wi-fi networks, electronic devices, cell phones create electromagnetic fields. Some people are more sensitive to them than others. If you are out of balance in other areas of your body, you may become more sensitive to them. They can disturb your sleep and interfere with your general functioning. Identifying the sources of EMFs around you and avoiding them as much as possible is important. There is research being done on how to decrease the EMFs we are exposed to, so it will be interesting to see what the future will bring.
Emotional Conflict or Trauma
Any type of serious stress, whether emotional such as a divorce or physical as an accident, can cause brain fog. When our bodies are overwhelmed by a situation, they can become so imbalanced that normal functioning is not possible. Seeking help, such as seeing a counselor, and striving daily to achieve and maintain balance will improve the situation.
Cervical Spine Misalignments
For over a hundred years, people have been visiting chiropractic physicians for a variety of health complaints including fatigue, dizziness and brain fog. More and more people are using chiropractic care on a regular basis, to not only get well but more importantly to stay well. This is especially true for people who suffer with fatigue, headaches and dizziness.
The nervous system is responsible for providing energy by delivering impulses that travel from the brain, down the spinal cord, and which then branch out to all points of the body through a dense network of nerves.
The spinal column is designed to protect the spinal cord but sometimes a vertebra can become misaligned and pinch the nerves, blocking their energy impulses.
The result is physical and mental fatigue. Chiropractors call these spinal misalignments “vertebral subluxations.” This is something that can be easily corrected by a chiropractic doctor.
Brain fog can be caused by many things. It is important to identify what can be contributing to brain fog in order to correct it. Keeping our bodies in balance by proper nourishment, exercise, rest and toxin removal is critical. Chiropractic is important to remove interference in the communication from our brains to our bodies and vice versa. Keeping our brains functioning well is a task we can accomplish once we recognize that there is a problem and work daily to correct it.
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The Personal Program Recovery Program is a Natural Treatment for Brain Fog , Adrenal Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s problems. Our office utilizes nutritional supplements, Dietary modifications, Hormone and endocrine support formula, and lifestyle guidance.
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Each person suffering with Brain Fog has a different set of mechanisms or causes. Our office will customize a Restoration Program based on your testing and tailored to your individual needs.