Constantly forgetting little things? You could be experiencing brain fog
Plus, 5 steps to a healthier brain
“More women, than men experience brain fog,” says Dr Sabina Brennan, a neuroscientist and author of 100 Days to a Younger Brain, a book that decodes brain health and is the number one bestseller on the Nielsen BookScan 2019 list. “Although the reason for this is not well understood, women are two to three times more affected by conditions like migraine, that are associated with brain fog.
” What exactly does brain fog mean then? Usually, it is a sign of extreme mental fatigue that is caused by poor lifestyle choices like lack of sleep and an unhealthy diet, excessive stress, constantly consuming digital content, hormonal changes or side-effects of medicines. It could also be a sign of an underlying autoimmune or neurological disease. And, a few symptoms include zoning out in the middle of a conversation, indecision, lack of focus and even your routine 4pm slump.
Small lifestyle changes can have a big impact on fighting fuzzy thinking. Rather than relying on one superfood to do the trick, Dr Brennan advises adopting a holistic approach.
Steer clear of processed food, trans fats, salt and additives and instead, opt for a Mediterranean diet which, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has serious brain and memory boosting powers. She suggests loading up on vitamin C, E, and beta carotene (read: antioxidant) rich broccoli, yellow and red peppers and spinach—these prevent free radical damage to brain cells.
“Drink enough water so that your brain gets the energy and nutrients it needs to function well,” explains Dr Brennan. “Divide your weight in pounds by two and drink that many ounces of water daily.” She suggests continuing this regimen for 66 days—that’s how long it takes for your brain to build a habit.
Photograph: R. Burman
5 STEPS TO A HEALTHIER BRAIN
Take Action: “Keep a record of your symptoms to see if you can identify triggers or causes of brain fog.”
Prioritise sleep: “Adopt good sleep habits (seven-eight hours a day) and manage exposure to light and technology. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, exercise and napping in the evenings.
Find your sweet spot: “Excessive stress can impair memory function and too little leads to boredom and depression. Well-managed stress motivates us and helps us attain our goals.
Exercise more and sit less: “Working out benefits both the structure and functioning of our brain and it actually performs better when we stand. But, make sure you balance exercise with rest and relaxation.
Take time out: “Don’t overstretch or over promise and be realistic about what you can achieve.”