The lights are on, but there’s nobody home.
You’re unable to concentrate for long enough – on work tasks, conversations, or even on the words you’re reading right now. You have difficulty making up your mind, small decisions are a big deal, you need more coffee to focus, more snacks to stay awake, and more booze at night for temporary relief from the fog. In more severe cases, you might have headaches, problems with your vision or even nausea.
Brain health is not only critical to mental capacity, but is also paramount to emotional wellbeing. Your feelings and your thoughts are intimately connected and they they’re connected in your brain. To feel good, you have to think good.
At Vital Health, we’re all about optimization, and we have many patients that come to us looking for better mental focus, clarity and brain power!
Here are 5 things worth considering today:
- You might be eating too much and too often.
Intermittent fasting is all the rage in the nutrition and weight loss world. Calorie restriction and longer periods between meals can also promote neurological health and decrease neurodegenerative diseases. Start with trying to extend the time between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day. Shoot for 12 hours. This promotes a process called ketogenesis, which can stimulate brain regeneration. But ketogenesis can be tricky and should be practiced under the guidance of someone who knows what they’re doing. Work with your Naturopath and coach to leverage both the timing and contents of your meals for better mental focus.
- Move it or lose it.
Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s dementia and even mild cognitive dysfunction are more prevalent in sedentary populations. Increased activity levels are clearly associated with sharper mental acuity, a better memory and an elevated mood. Exercise causes the release of helpful chemical messengers called cytokines as well as chemicals that are responsible for elation called endorphins. These chemicals bathe and rejuvenate the brain. Try to engage in some type of enjoyable movement every day. Walk, run or dance. Whatever floats your boat will surely also float your mood.
- Oh…and sleep. Cognitive abilities decrease with sleep deprivation.
The classic mistake people make with their brains, whether it’s dealing with work, school or whatever looming project deadline, is that they try to maximize their time by staying up late and/or getting up early. Be more efficient. Sleep at least 7 hours nightly, preferably 8 or even 9 when possible. The quality of your work will increase while the time it takes to produce such quality work will diminish.
- Flex your parasympathetic muscles for a change.
Incorporate more meditation and yoga into your fitness regimen. Balance active work-outs with active tune-ins. Your body doesn’t know the difference between running on a treadmill or running from danger. Many types of exercise stimulate the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for “fight or flight” responses. The parasympathetic system is engaged during rest and relaxation and helps to calm your body and your mind. And it too needs to be exercised. Stress manifests as brain fog.
- Feed your brain.
Your brain is made up of a lot of fat and protein. Does it make sense that our diets are low in both of these food groups? Not so much. Sugary processed stuff is not your brain’s fave food. Stick to plant based paleo (mostly vegetables, enough protein and always some good fats). Get plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids (for their anti-inflammatory powers), a lot of antioxidants and coenzyme Q10 (essential for optimal energetics), and boost your body’s natural energy production and regeneration with targeted essential vitamins and minerals.