Sometimes, you really want to concentrate on a particular issue and sort it out, but your brain just feels foggy!
According to experts, when that happens, it is not the village people at work. Rather, what you eat — or neglect to eat — might be the problem! So, read on to know what foods to eat for brain power and the ones to avoid if you must maintain your ability to think clearly!
“Fog” isn’t just a weather term. It’s also used to describe cloudy thinking. And, no, it is not a mental condition, according to Courtney Barth, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition. “But it has become a popular topic, especially due to long-haul COVID-19 symptoms.”
Regardless of the source of brain fog, COVID or otherwise, Barth says it’s important to discuss and fight.
“Constantly feeling like you cannot concentrate or be productive can really affect one’s mental health, so, talking about this can help with overall support,” Barth explains.
She warns that brain fog can also interfere with work, school or just everyday life, which can be taxing.
Believe it or not, diet can play a role in brain fog too, because what you eat can affect how you think.
“Carbohydrates are our brain’s main fuel source,” Barth says. “It is recommended to consume at least 130 grams of carbohydrates a day for optimal brain function, focusing on complex carbohydrates to provide additional vitamins, minerals and fiber.”
Barth adds that other nutrients like vitamin B12 (found in animal protein) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, olive oil and avocado) can also help. Imbalanced blood sugar levels can also be a cause, particularly if brain fog appears as part of your daily “3p.m. slump.”
“Around that 2 to 3 p.m. time frame, a lot of us start to feel some brain fog or fatigue, which could be due to lower blood sugar levels. Instead of going for the coffee, try a snack that has a high-fiber carbohydrate paired with a protein source,” Barth recommends.
Finally, dehydration can affect brain fog.
“Recommendations for fluids should be individualized, but in general, women need about nine cups of fluid per day, and men about 13 cups of fluid per day,” Barth says.
Foods that can give you brain fog
Heavily processed foods are the worst foods for brain fog, according to Barth. These types of foods include chips, candy, chicken nuggets, hot dogs and fries.
“These foods tend to be higher in saturated fats, sugar and salt,” Barth says. “Overall, these foods provide little nutritional benefit, lacking the vital vitamins and minerals to support brain health. They could also cause inflammation, and chronic low-level inflammation can be detrimental to the mind and body.”
Limit these foods if brain fog is a problem or if you’re hoping to prevent it in the first place.
Food isn’t the only factor in your diet to evaluate. You’ll also want to keep an eye on what you are drinking—specifically alcohol.
“Alcohol itself provides no nutritional benefit to the body,” Barth says. “Consuming alcohol can limit one’s cognitive focus and can increase the risk of dehydration.”
Barth refers to the CDC guidelines for alcohol consumption: one drink or fewer per day for women and two drinks or fewer per day for men.