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Published on March 18, 2021

What Is Brain Fog: Why It Happens And How To Get Over It

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What Is Brain Fog: Why It Happens And How To Get Over It

There’re several factors that can contribute to brain fog and for the purpose of this article, I will not be discussing one of those factors in particular (mental disorders) as it would become quite a lengthy article. Rather, I will be focusing on the average person in society and the challenges they (or you) may face with regards to brain fog, or simply put, a lack of mental clarity and focus.

Brain fog can come in many forms and often follows certain behaviors or circumstances that we humans find ourselves in such as lack of sleep (or low quality sleep), poor nutrition and hydration, stress, anxiety, and a number of other factors. Let’s dive into some of these in more detail!

Common Causes of Brain Fog

There’re 5 common causes of brain fog:

Lack of Sleep

One of the leading causes in my opinion, this also includes low quality sleep.

During sleep, the brain reorganizes and recharges itself, further it removes toxic waste byproducts which have accumulated throughout the day. This indicates and demonstrates that quality sleep can clear the brain (fog) and help maintain its normal functionality.

Poor Hydration

According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water.[1] This to me is a no-brainer (pun intended), and that one needs to drink water frequently in order to have high mental performance and clarity. The quality of water is also important, and I suggest natural spring water or alkaline water.

Poor Nutrition

The gut is often considered a second brain. Let’s keep this one simple in saying fast food and sugar is typically not going to yield mental clarity.

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Personally, I feel clearest when eating meals consisting of high quality protein such as salmon, steak, chicken, or in the case of a less meaty dish, I’ll load up on beans and leafy greens like spinach.

Lack of Exercise

According to Scientific America, exercise increases heart rate,[2] which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the release of hormones which provide an ideal environment for the growth of brain cells.

Additionally, exercise promotes brain plasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in many important cortical areas of the brain.

Stress and Anxiety

Prolonged anxiety, stress, or panic attacks can cause your brain to release stress hormones on a regular basis. This can increase the frequency of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and depression. Needless to say brain fog follows chronic, and even acute stress or anxiety.

How to Get Over Brain Fog

There’re several approaches I personally use to get rid of brain fog, some being simple tricks or hacks and others being lifestyle adjustments. I’ll briefly touch on a few in the below breakdown. Let’s start by examining the quick hacks and then get into the lifestyle changes.

It’s important to note that supplementation can help with achieving mental clarity. I have created YouTube videos and this article about nootropics. Nootropics are an excellent way to support a lifestyle that already is conducive to mental clarity. I recommend you have a read on my previous article about brain boosters.

One of the simplest ways I have been able to overcome brain fog is by organizing. Creating lists is a great approach to organizing ones thoughts and actions. I feel much more focused after a detailed ‘to do’ listhas been created.

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I go beyond simply listing items but I create a legend of importance of those items using symbols. I use a star to indicate priority, a square box to indicate a secondary task, and a circle for quick tasks in between. Essentially, as I get through my daily or weekly list, I place a check-mark next to the completed items, or further notes if required.

1. Clean Up the Diet

The gut is comprised of 100 million neurons which is the network of nerve cells lining the digestive tract. This vast network is so extensive that it is often referred to as the ‘second brain’. This gut region of the body is technically known as the enteric nervous system, this network of neurons can often be overlooked, however it contains more nerve cells than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system.

Poor diet can lead to inflammation of the gut, which essentially means ‘second brain fog’. Inflammation is one of the leading causes of illness and disease, and is often associated to poor eating habits as well as lack of hydration. Simply put, clean up your diet and you’ll notice remarkable clarity.

I suggest applying Intermittent Fasting at least 3 days a week and see how you feel.

Some foods to consider that can help boost your brain are fatty fish, frozen blueberries (there is an added benefit of freezing blueberries to increase the anti-oxidant properties, so I suggest giving that a shot), turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and nuts (such as walnuts). Of course all of these should be taken in moderation.

2. Sleep Better

During sleep, your brain repairs and restores itself, much like the rest of your body and its DNA and cells.

Quality sleep gives an opportunity to reduce DNA damage accumulated in the brain during wakefulness. Much research around sleep and its effects on the brain has found there is a link between sleep, chromosome dynamics, neuronal activity, and DNA damage and repair with direct physiological relevance to the entire organism.[3] Getting to sleep earlier and following a healthy circadian rhythm with quality sleep and REM cycles is of the utmost importance.

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3. Exercise Often

One of the more obvious remedies is regular exercise. There’s more than just brain boosting benefits that come with exercise.

Exercising often can enlarge the areas of the brain associated with memory, task management, coordination, planning and inhibition (the anterior cingulate cortex and the supplementary motor area).[4]

What does that mean in simple terms? Less brain fog! Exercises impact in terms of enlargement means that the developed parts of the brain function faster and more efficiently. Additionally when you exercise, oxygen flow to these areas of the brain is very beneficial.

4. Reduce Anxiety with Meditation

Meditation has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression by returning one to a more harmoneous state.

Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful practice that you can adopt whereby you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.

Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

Other meditation practices I suggest investigating are movement meditation, mantra meditation, transcendental meditation, and loving-kindness meditation. Personally, I have been practising meditation while in a float-tank (sensory deprivation tank), which allows me to clear the mind totally without any detraction from the senses.

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Maintaining Mental Clarity

Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining mental clarity. I suggest creating a routine or habit of practising good nutrition (with Intermittent Fasting incorporated), sleeping well, and getting regular exercise. If you need help on how to build a routine, check out this article: What Is a Routine? 9 Ways to Define a Routine That Works

After a routine has been established, you can start to experiment with nootropic supplements – and I suggest afterwards because until you have set your optimal routine, there’s no need to start supplementing for those added benefits.

Mental clarity won’t come over-night, so be prepared to commit to yourself and your own personal growth going forward!

Conclusion

Keeping the mind clear and functioning optimally is not as challenging as it may seem, and in fact as the fog dissipates, the new norm becomes mental clarity.

When the mind is clear, it can best guide and direct your daily life in the direction the is conducive to your highest potential.

I wish you all the best on your journey of mental clarity and encourage you to reach out with updates and progress! You can contact me across the various social media channels and tag me in your posts.

Featured photo credit: Sage Friedman via unsplash.com

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Reference

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Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

7 Reasons Why Your Body Feels Heavy And Tired

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7 Reasons Why Your Body Feels Heavy And Tired

Interestingly enough, this topic about our bodies feeling heavy and tired has been assigned right around the time when I have been personally experiencing feelings of such “sluggishness.” In my case, it comes down to not exercising as much as I was a year ago, as well as being busier with work. I’m just starting to get back into a training routine after having moved and needing to set up my home gym again at my new house.

Generally speaking, when feeling heavy and tired, it comes down to bioenergetics. Bioenergetics is a field in biochemistry and cell biology that concerns energy flow through living systems.[1] The goal of bioenergetics is to describe how living organisms acquire and transform energy to perform biological work. Essentially, how we acquire, store, and utilize the energy within the body relates directly to whether we feel heavy or tired.

While bioenergetics relates primarily to the energy of the body, one’s total bandwidth of energy highly depends on one’s mental state. Here are seven reasons why your body feels heavy and tired.

1. Lack of Sleep

This is quite possibly one of the main reasons why people feel heavy and/or tired. I often feel like a broken record explaining to people the importance of quality sleep and REM specifically.

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The principle of energy conservation states that energy is neither created nor destroyed. It may transform from one type to another. Based on the energy conservation theory, we need sleep to conserve energy. When getting quality sleep, we reduce our caloric needs by spending part of our time functioning at a lower metabolism. This concept is backed by the way our metabolic rate drops during sleep.

Research suggests that eight hours of sleep for human beings can produce a daily energy savings of 35 percent over complete wakefulness. The energy conservation theory of sleep suggests that the main purpose of sleep is to reduce a person’s energy use during times of the day and night.[2]

2. Lack of Exercise

Exercise is an interesting one because when you don’t feel energized, it can be difficult to find the motivation to work out. However, if you do find it in you to exercise, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its impact on your energy levels. Technically, any form of exercise/physical activity will get the heart rate up and blood flowing. It will also result in the release of endorphins, which, in turn, are going to raise energy levels. Generally speaking, effort-backed cardiovascular exercises will strengthen your heart and give you more stamina.

I’m in the process of having my home gym renovated after moving to a new house. Over the past year, I have been totally slacking with exercise and training. I can personally say that over the last year, I have had less physical energy than I did previously while training regularly. Funny enough I have been a Lifehack author for a few years now, and almost all previous articles were written while I was training regularly. I’m writing this now as someone that has not exercised enough and can provide first-hand anecdotal evidence that exercise begets more energy, period.

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3. Poor Nutrition and Hydration

The human body is primarily comprised of water (up to 60%), so naturally, a lack of hydration will deplete energy. According to studies, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.[3] If you don’t consume sufficient amounts of water (and I suggest natural spring water or alkaline water), you will likely have more issues than just a lack of energy.

In regards to nutrition, a fairly common-sense practice is to avoid excess sugar. Consuming too much sugar can harm the body and brain, often causing short bursts of energy (highs) followed by mental fogginess, and physical fatigue or crashes. Generally, sugar-based drinks, candy, and pastries put too much fuel (sugar) into your blood too quickly.

I have utilized these types of foods immediately before training for a quick source of energy. However, outside of that application, there is practically no benefit. When consuming sugar in such a way, the ensuing crash leaves you tired and hungry again. “Complex carbs,” healthy fats, and protein take longer to digest, satisfy your hunger, and thus, provide a slow, steady stream of energy.

4. Stress

Stress is surprisingly overlooked in our fast-paced society, yet it’s the number one cause of several conditions. Feeling heavy and tired is just one aspect of the symptoms of stress. Stress has been shown to affect all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.[4] Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands. This can lead to adrenal fatigue, the symptoms of which are fatigue, brain fog, intermittent “crashes” throughout the day, and much more.[5]

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It’s important to look at stress thoroughly in life and take action to mitigate it as much as possible. Personally, I spend Monday to Friday in front of dozens of devices and screens and managing large teams (15 to 30) of people. On weekends, I go for long walks in nature (known as shinrin-yoku in Japan), I use sensory deprivation tanks, and I experiment with supplementation (being a biohacker).

5. Depression or Anxiety

These two often go hand in hand with stress. It’s also overlooked much in our society, yet millions upon millions around the work experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many that are depressed report symptoms of lack of energy, enthusiasm, and generally not even wanting to get up from bed in the morning.

These are also conditions that should be examined closely within oneself and take actions to make improvements. I’m a big proponent of the use of therapeutic psychedelics, such as Psilocybin or MDMA. I’m an experienced user of mushrooms, from the psychedelic variety to the non-psychedelic. In fact, the majority of my sensory deprivation tank sessions are with the use of various strains of Psilocybin mushrooms. Much research has been coming to light around the benefits of such substances to eliminate symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more.[6]

6. Hypothyroidism

Also known as underactive thyroid disease, hypothyroidism is a health condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce sufficient levels. This condition causes the metabolism to slow down.[7] While it can also be called underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism can make you feel tired and even gain weight. A common treatment for hypothyroidism is hormone replacement therapy.

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7. Caffeine Overload

I’m writing this as someone that went from five cups of coffee a day to now three cups a week! I’ve almost fully switched to decaf. The reason I stopped consuming so much coffee is that it was affecting my mood and energy levels. Generally, excessive consumption of caffeine can also impact the adrenal gland, which, as I covered above, can almost certainly lead to low energy and random energy crashes.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing is to identify that you feel heavy or tired and take action to improve the situation. Never fall into complacency with feeling lethargic or low energy, as human beings tend to accept such conditions as the norm fairly quickly. If you’ve made it this far, you’re on the right path!

Examine various aspects of your life and where you can make room for improvement to put your mental, emotional, and physical self first. I certainly hope these seven reasons why your body feels heavy, tired, or low on energy can help you along the path to a healthy and more vibrant you.

More Tips on Restoring Energy

Featured photo credit: Zohre Nemati via unsplash.com

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