Losing one’s train of thought mid-sentence, forgetting where one’s phone or keys have been placed, and not remembering where one parked are all common occurrences. Brain fog has happened to everyone, and most likely more than once. However, there are those who experience this phenomenon on a more frequent basis. Scientists have now linked frequent occurrences of brain fog to various aspects of one’s health and lifestyle.
According to ProHealth, brain fog is “is a constellation of symptoms that include reduced cognition, inability to concentrate and multitask, as well as loss of short and long term memory.” As Maddy Hornig, MD, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, described to Prevention, “It’s a vague sense of what you’re trying to retrieve, but you can’t focus in on it…and the effort to harness the thought can be as draining as physical activity.”
If lack of sleep is not a factor, then the following could be the reason for your consistent brain fog:
In a study by Zheng Wang, PhD, of Ohio State University, and her colleagues, it was concluded that multitasking is a detriment to productivity and cognitive performance. However, people continue to do so, because it gives them a feeling of accomplishment.
In order to mitigate multitasking and its detrimental effects on cognitive performance, the study suggests de-cluttering the workspace. This entails removing unneeded visual stimuli and closing unnecessary tabs in one’s browser. Doing so can lead to a more focused mind.
Rheumatologist Robert Lahita, MD, PhD, informed Prevention that there is evidence indicating that obesity increases the risk of cognitive decline. However, taking in the proper amount of nutrients, especially iron, which is linked to memory and attention, is important. Diets rich in protein can easily assist in reaching one’s daily needed amount of iron. Ultimately, proper diet and exercise can stave off weight gain, which increases the likelihood of preventing brain fog.
For women, brain fog can represent an early symptom of menopause. As highlighted by his interview with Prevention, Lahita, stated, “Hormones shape the brain…it would make sense for vascillating [sic] estrogen levels to cause shifts in cognition.” In a four-year study done by the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, “perimenopause was associated with a transient decrement in processing speed and verbal memory that resolved in postmenopause.” Although forgetfulness may be a normal occurrence for women in the pre-menopausal stage, there are ways to combat the fog.
According to the Huffington Post, playing memory games is a great way to rebalance the brain, by strengthening one’s processing skills and creating new connections. Additionally, providing the body with the proper nutrients and a consistent form of exercise are crucial to effective cognitive abilities. Diets high in vitamins B, C, D, and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, aid in brain health. Similarly, as indicated by the Huffington Post, “physical exercise influences the delivery of neurochemicals throughout the brain that regulate memory.” In this way, clean eating and regular exercise not only keep the pounds off, but also strengthen the mind.