Stop Brain Fog: Know the Causes, Symptoms and Solutions

confused womanWhat is brain fog? 

It’s not a medically recognized term. It’s a commonly used phrase that sums up feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity.

Basically you feel like you just can’t think, which can be very frustrating and even downright frightening.

Everyone feels a little fuzzy-headed once in a while, but if you suffer from brain fog frequently, you certainly would like to get your mental clarity back.

So, let’s take a look at the variety of possible brain fog causes there are a lot of them!

Then we’ll go into detail on the 3 main causes of brain fog and give you concrete steps to get your brain back on track fast.

An Abundance of Brain Fog Causes

Since brain fog is a catch-all symptom there are many, many things that can cause it.

Here’s a quick rundown of possibilities: 

  • You can temporarily suffer with brain fog from lack of sleep, low blood sugar, seasonal allergies, food allergies, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalance following heavy exercise. 
  • If you are a woman of  “a certain age,” brain fog is a common symptom of menopause.
  • Chemotherapy has a well-known side effect referred to as “chemo fog” or “chemo brain.”
  • Substance abuse of any kind can lead to feeling mentally frazzled.
  • Sometimes a mental fog can be a symptom of a more serious condition such as mercury poisoning, hormonal imbalance, depression, fibromyalgia, or Lyme disease.
  • Losing mental clarity is often considered a “normal” side effect of aging, but that doesn’t mean it is an inevitable consequence of growing older. 

If any of these underlying causes like they could be the cause of your brain fog, you’ll find more information on these topics in our Brain Drain Pillar of Brain Fitness

Brain Fog Cause #1 — When Food Is the Problem

One major cause of brain fog could be the food you eat.

Dietary advice has gotten ridiculously complicated. But today we’re going to make it real, real simple …


Those 3 words will take you a long way towards eating the best diet for your brain (and overall health).

If it comes in a  box or package it’s not “real” — it’s processed. Even if it’s from the “health” food store. :-?

When your brain slows down, life gets a little harder.
Discover the best ways to get your brain back on track.


That includes products made from flour (even if it’s whole wheat) or that contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Eating real food will keep you away from some of the worst offending chemicals that mess with your brain like MSG and artificial sweeteners. These are known neurotoxins which can literally excite brain cells to death.

Your brain needs all three macronutrient groups:  proteins for neurotransmitter production, complex carbohydrates for steady brain glucose levels, and healthy fats. You might not realize that your brain is largely made up of fat, especially DHA and cholesterol. 

Skipping meals can leave you in a fog. So can eating too large a meal. If you’ve ever felt like you need a nap after a big meal you know what I mean.

wheat corn and soyYou may be eating foods you’re allergic to. The most common allergens that can contribute to your lack of focus include soy, dairy, and any food that contains gluten, especially wheat.

Shockingly, the average American gets 67% of their calories from these 3 foods! (1)

If you suspect you are allergic to any foods, keep a log of what you eat and how you feel afterward.

You might be surprised to see clear patterns develop rather quickly. Cut out any questionable food for at least a week and notice if you start thinking more clearly.

If you’d like to learn more about nutrition and your brain, you’ll find dozens of excellent articles in our Nutrition Pillar of Brain Fitness

Brain Fog Cause #2 — When Lack of Sleep Is the Problem

63 million Americans complain of sleeping difficulties. If you have brain fog, it’s likely you’re one of them.

Your brain needs sleep. Sleep is critical to the way your brain works in both the short and the long-term.

While you sleep, cerebral fluid rushes in, “power washing” your brain, clearing it of debris. 

You consolidate memories while you sleep. Lack of sleep affects your ability to remember what you learned the previous day.

Every day you lose brain cells, but every night you have the opportunity to create new brain cells … provided you are getting enough high-quality uninterrupted sleep.

If you have ongoing problems with sleep, you can learn more about how to overcome insomnia in our Sleep Pillar of Brain Fitness.

When you sign up for our email course 21 Days to a Brighter Brain (see below) we spend the first 3 lessons on it. We think it’s that important.

Brain Fog Cause #3 — When Stress Is the Problem

woman stressedStress has become a weird badge of honor in our society. Being stressed is wrongly equated with being productive, popular and successful.

But in fact, stress puts you at greater risk for every major disease you hope you never get … including dreaded brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Prolonged stress leads to anxiety, depression, poor decision making, insomnia, and memory loss. Stress can literally cause your brain to shrink and that’s as harmful as it sounds.

Getting the sleep you need and eating a brain-healthy diet will help diminish stress. Two more things you can do are exercise and meditate.


Physical exercise increases endorphins and delivers more glucose and oxygen to the brain. Recent research shows that physical exercise may be the single most important thing you can do for your brain. 

When your brain slows down, life gets a little harder.
Discover the best ways to get your brain back on track.


You don’t need to knock yourself out to give your brain small energy boosts throughout the day. It turns out that the simple act of getting up off your butt can go a long way to save your brain.

Learn more about this amazing discovery in 3 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Counteract Too Much Sitting


Over 20 million Americans meditate regularly. The US Marines use meditation to help troops deal with stressful situations they face on the job. “It’s like doing pushups for the brain,” one general says.

Corporate executives at General Mills, Target, Google, Apple, Nike, HBO, Procter & Gamble, and Aetna Insurance use it to maximize their brain power.

Meditation can make you happier, smarter, and more resilient regarding life’s ups and downs. Regular meditators experience improved focus and concentration, greater creativity, stress reduction, and better sleep.

woman wearing headphonesResearch shows it can actually decrease your biological age by 12 years. (2) Wow! :-P If the drug companies could bottle the benefits of meditation they’d be ecstatic. It would be their new billion dollar pill!

Meditation the traditional way can take years to master. Who’s got the time for that?

That’s why we listen to sound technology to get the same benefits instantly. All you have to do is lay back and listen. It doesn’t get much easier than this!

Here’s a link to OmHarmonics where you can download one of my all-time favorite meditations for free. I listen to it every day.

What About Supplements?

Maybe you are already doing what you can — you eat well, sleep well, exercise, and meditate – but still aren’t operating at your best. You might then want to consider taking nutrients that are proven beneficial for brain function.

Brain supplements at the top of the list to consider are:

  • An omega-3 essential fatty acid supplement — found in high concentrations in the brain, omega-3s are crucial to memory and overall brain health and function, yet are widely lacking in our diet. (3)
  • Vitamin B12 and D — both vitamins are essential to brain health and deficiencies are common. (4, 5)
  • An antioxidant formula — prevents free radical damage to which brain cells are particularly susceptible. (6)
  • A high-quality multivitamin — fills in nutritional gaps and acts as nutritional insurance when you don’t eat as well as you should. Studies have found that this alone can improve brain function. (7
  • A supplement created specifically to boost your brain

There are many more things you can do to clear up your brain fog, but this “tip of the iceberg” information should get you started.

Like most people, we took our brains for granted … until they stopped working as well as they used to. Read about our story and how we conquered “midlife brain fog” here.

Our Best Recommendations for Brain Health & Fitness

Wellness Resources Super Brain Booster

Wellness Resources Super Brain Booster
Brain supplement

Super Brain Booster is our top pick brain supplement. Proven ingredients increase brain chemical production and circulation for a brain boost you can feel. Reported benefits include improved focus, memory, mood, and mental energy. Safe and effective formula, from a company you can trust.

Wellness Resources Daily DHA

Wellness Resources Daily DHA
Omega-3 supplement

DHA is the "gold" your brain is starving for. But most omega-3 supplements are high in EPA and low in DHA. Daily DHA flips this ratio to be high in brain-boosting DHA. Mercury-free capsules are easy to absorb and digest. If you take only one supplement for your brain, make it this!

Mindvalley OmHarmonics

Mindvalley OmHarmonics
Meditation technology program

Experience the benefits of deep meditation in a matter of minutes. Beautiful, relaxing music combined with revolutionary sound technology results in a powerfully effective meditation experience. Sign up for "The Balance", a free meditation designed to reduce stress, while increasing focus and balance in your life.

Inspire 3 Brain Evolution System

Inspire 3 Brain Evolution System
Meditation on demand

This brainwave training system uses a unique sound technology - brainwave entrainment - to reduce stress and improve thinking, memory and mood. The effect is like that of meditation, but without the frustration.

Shop for recommended brain health & fitness products and services here.

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