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Home/Blog/What Is Brain Fog? Foods and Supplements to Help Combat It

What Is Brain Fog? Foods and Supplements to Help Combat It

By Ethan Boldt

September 19, 2023

Brain fog remedies

Feeling occasionally tired, distracted, unfocused and/or just “off”? You might have “brain fog,” a common unwanted result of our fast-paced lifestyle and a diet of ultra-processed foods.

A surprisingly high percentage of people today may lack key nutrients, consume too much sugar, not get enough sleep and endure high levels of stress from time to time. That combination can lead to brain fog, as our brains need rest, calmness, nutritional foods and more to perform optimally. 

So what can you do to help “jettison” your brain fog? And help become more clear-headed, focused and, perhaps, joyous? See below.

As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplementation. 

What Is Brain Fog?

For most, brain fog is usually dietary- and lifestyle-related and characterized by physiological, cognitive and perceptual factors, and that’s what we’re discussing here.

Rather than feeling level-headed and calm, you might feel “foggy” and anxious. Rather than feeling optimistic and motivated, you may tend towards pessimism and lack of motivation. 

Common signs of dietary- or lifestyle-related brain fog can include occasional: 

  • lowered energy or fatigue

  • irritability

  • trouble concentrating

  • forgetfulness and trouble remembering information

  • low motivation

  • anxiousness

  • confusion

  • trouble sleeping through the night 

  • difficulty exercising

Causes

Lack of sleep is a primary cause, especially if you’re getting less than seven quality hours of sleep per night. 

If you do consistently get good sleep but still struggle with brain fog signs like lowered energy and low motivation, your diet might be the primary culprit. Nutrient shortfalls, coupled with excess sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates and caffeine can majorly impact brain function. 

Prolonged periods of standing, being dehydrated and overexercising can also contribute to brain fog. 

Foods that Help Fight Brain Fog

1. Eat Complex, Unprocessed Carbohydrates Rather than Simple, Processed Ones

Refined and processed carbs release glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream more quickly, leading to symptoms like lowered energy levels, cravings and, yes, brain fog. Cutting back on packaged and processed foods that are loaded with sugar, in addition to many other artificial and harmful ingredients, is the first step to helping to combat brain fog. Sugar might make you feel energetic and happier at first, but ultimately sugar and sugar-laden foods/products rob you of steady energy and focus.

That being said, going too low in terms of natural sugar/carbohydrate intake can backfire and increase brain fog. Serotonin is the hormone that’s released when you need carbohydrates, and its main role is to keep you calm, hopeful and confident. When levels of serotonin fall too low (perhaps from a very low-carb diet), increases in negative feelings — including vulnerability, insecurity and anxiousness — can set in.

Complex, unprocessed carbohydrates help keep serotonin levels within their optimum range. Foods like sweet potatoes, yams, fruit, raw dairy and ancient grains are all good sources of serotonin-boosting carbs.

Some research shows that consuming plenty of fruit and starchy/non-starchy veggies also helps support healthy hormone levels as well as a healthy response to inflammation.  

2. Have More High-Protein Foods

We all require a steady supply of amino acids to support healthy brain function and help think clearly. Complete proteins are food sources like meat, dairy products, fish and eggs that supply all the essential amino acids we require, and these are some of the best foods to keep the brain pumping out enough of the hormones that support a positive mindset.

How much protein per day do you need? About 20 percent to 30 percent of your food intake should be quality sources of protein (grass-fed beef, cage-free eggs, pasture-raised poultry and wild fish, for example). 

3. Consume Enough Healthy Fats

We also need essential fatty acids to help support overall health, including healthy inflammation levels. Aim for about 30 percent to 40 percent healthy fats (including coconut and olive oil, avocado, and nuts/seeds) to ensure you cover your bases.

4. Address Potential Food Allergies or Sensitivities

Because the gut-brain connection can be affected by an unresolved food sensitivity, consider an elimination diet if you haven’t yet experimented with going gluten-free and conventional-dairy-free (meaning avoiding non-organic, pasteurized dairy). 

An elimination diet means removing a common food or drink, such as eggs or coffee, you often consume and wait a couple of weeks to see if any difference is experienced. 

Supplements to Consider

Supplements are not foods, but certain cognitive health supplements can promote mental clarity while promoting a healthy response to stress. They can also foster your ability to maintain a positive outlook, due to how they support homeostasis (or balance within your body). 

Here are some of the top supplements that can promote mental clarity:

(Again, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation.)

1. Multi Collagen Protein Brain Boost

Multi Collagen Protein is already known for its body-wide benefits — significant skin, joint and gut benefits courtesy of a proprietary fermented eggshell membrane collagen ingredient backed by human clinical studies plus a bovine collagen ingredient.

This new formulation adds a “brain boost” to the mix, with a superfood blend that combines organic fermented ashwagandha root, ginkgo leaves and bacopa brahmi leaves, plus organic ashwagandha root and leaf extract and organic lion’s mane extract. These powerful botanicals have been used for centuries to support concentration, focus and positivity.

In addition, Multi Collagen Protein Brain Boost can alleviate the effects of stress and tension, plus support healthy energy and more restful sleep. It's also available in capsules.

2. Ancient Herbals Ashwagandha Tablets

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that traditionally has been used to help the body adapt to fight the effects of stress, including the stress hormone cortisol. 

Brimming with flavonoids and steroidal lactones called withanolides, ashwagandha can help support a healthy response to stress, can help bolster a positive outlook, and contribute to a boost in energy levels and a positive mindset. It’s also thought to support a healthy nervous system, promote cognitive performance and support healthy cognitive function.

3. Ancient Omegas Whole Body Capsules

Omega-3 fatty acids are known as "essential fatty acids" — meaning your body doesn't naturally produce them, but does need them for overall function. That’s why getting omega-3s from your diet and/or from omega 3 supplements is crucial for overall health.

Our formula purposefully balances omega-3s with omega-6s and omega-9s to help promote healthy cognitive function and also support healthy aging in other ways, such as by promoting cardiovascular health, smooth skin and healthy joints.

4. Superfood Matcha Powder

Our superfood matcha green tea powder is made with a blend of dried matcha green tea, plus energizing coconut MCTs and adaptogenic superfoods like ashwagandha, reishi and chaga mushroom.

This combination supports healthy energy levels, reduces fatigue (thanks to inclusion of caffeine from matcha and organic coffee cherry), and contributes to mental clarity and concentration support. It can also support a healthy response to stress and promote a positive mindset.

5. Lion’s Mane Mental Clarity and Concentration Tablets

The first and only USDA Certified Organic mushroom tablets available today. This combination of organic lion’s mane and ashwagandha is designed to help clear your mind and keep you focused.

Benefits include promoting mental clarity and concentration, helping to reduce stress, promoting a positive mindset, and supporting healthy energy, a reduction in fatigue and promoting healthy cognitive function. 

6. Ancient Nutrients Vitamin B-12 Capsules

B vitamins serve as essential helpers in the conversion of food to energy. And while they do not directly provide that energy, they do assist the process.

Designed to fill the gaps in the modern diet, this vitamin B-12 supplement is expertly formulated with real food sources and optimized for absorption. These capsules support cognitive and neurological health, healthy sleep, physical performance and even healthy recovery from exercise. 

Ethan Boldt is the Vice President, Content at Ancient Nutrition. He also manages the sister website DrAxe.com that’s one of the top ranked natural websites in the world, with over 3 million unique visitors per month. Ethan grew up on a regenerative farm in Iowa and now lives in Philadelphia. He graduated from Trinity University with a Bachelor of Arts in History.

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