​What is Brain Fog?

Nov 22, 2021

Brain fog is a term used to describe the feeling of being mentally fuzzy or sluggish. Having brain fog can affect your ability to focus and you’ll likely find it difficult to think clearly or with clarity. Mental impairment, mental fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, feeling scatter-brained… however you describe brain fog, it’s you, or rather your brain, just not at its best.

What causes brain fog?

Brain fog isn’t a medical condition in itself, but rather a symptom of another health condition or something else you’re having to contend with.

The term crops up a lot where it’s used to capture cognitive difficulties described by people with chronic fatigue syndrome, patients undergoing chemotherapy (so-called ‘chemobrain’), women during pregnancy (pregnancy brain), and women approaching and going through menopause.

And of course you don’t have to fall into one of these groups. Brain fog can also be caused by stress, poor diet or nutrient deficiency, lack of sleep, and in some instances, can occur when on medication, in which case you would need to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare professional or doctor.

Brain fog and COVID-19

There is also some speculation that brain fog can be caused by COVID-19, especially long COVID, and scientists point to both a physical and a psychological link. Whilst the Coronavirus can cause inflammation in the brain, affecting the ability of neurons to communicate with each other, the stress, anxiety and isolation of the pandemic can also contribute to symptoms of brain fog.

Treating brain fog

The good news? Once you’ve established why your brain is feeling foggy, you can start to address the underlying problem or problems - there are often several factors at play, and work to fix the fog:

  • Sleep – make sure you get at least eight hours sleep, more if you can, and be sure you’re getting good quality sleep.
  • Stay on top of stress – a healthy diet, fresh, energy-giving whole foods, taking time out and making time for yourself, will help you do this.
  • Boost your B vitamins – they’re important for managing stress, yes, but they’re also important for healthy brain function, B12 especially, with low levels of B12 being directly linked to brain fog. Our Jan de Vries B-Complex One A Day combines vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folic acid and B12 to support the nervous system and promote energy metabolism.
  • Watch for allergy and food triggers - if you have food allergies or sensitivities, brain fog may develop after eating certain foods. Aspartame, peanuts and dairy are all common trigger foods.
  • Meditate – meditation can help to relax your body and quieten your mind, and often encourages you to focus on your breathing, which in turn has a calming effect.
  • Distract your brain - make an effort to try new things or do things differently; this helps to create new neurological pathways, which stimulates your brain.
  • Avoid multi-tasking – you might feel like you’re being twice as productive, but if you’re trying to do two activities that require conscious thought, you’re likely to drain your mental energy twice as quickly. Focus on one thing at a time.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs – both impair your senses and adversely affect your brain.
  • Stay connected – being socially active, engaging in activities with other people, face-to-face and in person when safe to do so, can help to improve mood, memory and mind.
  • Exercise regularly – it’s probably THE best thing you can do to support your physical and mental health.