Brain fog, also known as brain fatigue, often occurs because of lack of sleep, stress, certain medications, neurological disorders, and menopause. Brain fog can be a mild-to-severe episode of mental confusion that happens without warning.
People who suffer from brain fog generally experience a lack of focus, poor memory recall and reduced mental acuity. Though there are many nutrient-packed foods that can help clear brain fog, some foods are very effective. Here are six energizing foods packed with phytonutrients that relieve brain fog.
Ashawagandha (Withania somnifera) is an important herb traditionally used in many ayurvedic medicines. It is used to treat various diseases and considered as a powerful nervine tonic. Many scientific studies have shown its adaptogenic or anti-stress properties, which helps reduce stress and anxiety by increasing GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) levels.
GABA, the chief inhibitory compound in the mature vertebrate central nervous system, is a calming neurotransmitter. It also has an anxiolytic effect and improves energy levels and mitochondrial health.1 You can add 1 tablespoon of powdered ashwagandha root into your smoothie for quick relief from brain fog.
2. Chia Seeds
Originally grown in Mexico, chia means “strength” in the Mayan language. And, strength is exactly what your brain needs when you suffer from brain fog. Chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fats, which are important for brain development, neuron function, and mental clarity.2
Although omega-3 fatty acids are usually found in seafood, chia seeds are the perfect alternative for vegans and vegetarians. As these seeds can thicken the smoothie when added, it is best to begin with 1 teaspoon and then increase the quantity based on your texture preference.
3. MCT Oil
Consuming some types of fats can actually help in weight loss while boosting your brain health. MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil, also known as medium-chain fatty acids, is a fantastic supplement as your body rapidly metabolizes these fats into ketones, which effectively suppress fat deposition3.
More importantly, MCT oil can also provide the neurons with an alternative source of energy and helps in protecting the brain.4 Research shows that MCT oil may have a therapeutic effect on patients with Alzheimer’s disease by supporting mental clarity and memory.5
When you buy MCT oil, ensure that it contains a higher concentration of short-chain fats (more C8 than C10). That is because the shorter chain fats are quickly converted by the body into fast and usable energy. Adding 1 teaspoon of MCT oil to your smoothie per day is considered ideal as too much MCT can upset your stomach.
Though maca is a plant that grows in central Peru in the Andes Mountains, it is easily available in powdered form in the US. It is related to radish and its root is used to prepare medicines to treat chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and to enhance energy, stamina, athletic performance, memory and regulate cortisol release.
Maca is also eaten baked or roasted, prepared as a soup, and used for making a fermented drink called maca chicha. Maca root contains many chemicals, including fatty acids and amino acids. It has a distinct caramel and malt-like flavor and you can simply add the ground root powder into smoothies or shakes.
5. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is the pollen ball that has been harvested from flowers and packed by worker honeybees into pellets. Besides being rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids, and bioflavonoids, it has adaptogenic properties that increase memory function and improve our ability to think, learn, and concentrate.6
Bee pollen also contains high levels of vitamin B, which is vital for the body’s energy and neurotransmitter pathways that help you think clearly and stay energetic. It has a subtle and sweet flavor and makes a wonderful garnish that can also be mixed into smoothies. However, people with pollen allergies, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers must avoid bee pollen.
Rhodiola, also known as golden root or Arctic root, grows at high altitudes in the Arctic regions of Asia and Eastern Europe. It has adaptogenic and antioxidant properties that stimulate cognitive function, reduce mental fatigue, and increase physical performance.7 In addition to these properties, Rhodiola also contains antidepressant qualities.
The phytonutrients present in rhodiola8 have a positive impact on your mood and energy by regulating neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Rhodiola increases dopamine sensitivity, which has been shown to improve mood. However, since it can be somewhat addictive, it’s best to take a break every two weeks to maximize its effectiveness.
|↑1||Singh, Narendra, Mohit Bhalla, Prashanti de Jager, and Marilena Gilca. “An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.” African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 8, no. 5S (2011).|
|↑2||Bauer, Isabelle, Matthew Hughes, Renee Rowsell, Robyn Cockerell, Andrew Pipingas, Sheila Crewther, and David Crewther. “Omega‐3 supplementation improves cognition and modifies brain activation in young adults.” Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental 29, no. 2 (2014): 133-144.|
|↑3||Nagao, Koji, and Teruyoshi Yanagita. “Medium-chain fatty acids: functional lipids for the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome.” Pharmacological Research 61, no. 3 (2010): 208-212.|
|↑4||Swaminathan, Arun, and Gregory A. Jicha. “Nutrition and prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience 6 (2014).|
|↑5||Galvin, James E. “Optimizing diagnosis and management in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.” (2012).|
|↑6||Komosinska-Vassev, Katarzyna, Pawel Olczyk, Justyna Kaźmierczak, Lukasz Mencner, and Krystyna Olczyk. “Bee pollen: chemical composition and therapeutic application.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 (2015).|
|↑7||Brown, Richard P., Patricia L. Gerbarg, and Zakir Ramazanov. “Rhodiola rosea.” A phytomedicinal overview. HerbalGram 56 (2002): 40-52.|
|↑8||Rhodiola rosea. Alternative Medicine Review. Semantic Scholar.org.|