Brain health is vital to a great quality of life. Have you noticed that your thinking seems cloudy lately or that you’re having a hard time concentrating on everyday tasks? You may not feel like yourself when your brain isn’t functioning like it should. It can seem nearly impossible to check items off your to do list, and your emotional wellbeing can suffer when you just can’t focus or find clarity to complete your work or fully enjoy your hobbies and loved ones.
Brain fog is a word used to describe a general feeling of mental fuzziness or impairment. It is a symptom associated with several medical conditions, which makes sense since your brain health is linked with everything else in your body. If one part suffers, the rest are sure to struggle too.
That’s why at Tri-Cities Functional Medicine we take a holistic approach to addressing brain fog. The first steps are to investigate the factors affecting your health and figure out the cause of your symptoms. From here, we can treat what’s making you feel unwell and help your brain function as it should.
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Five Ways You Can Boost Your Brain Health
You may not think about your brain health as much as you do your heart or gut health, but your brain is truly the powerhouse of your body. It helps you make decisions, remember important details, perform physical actions, and communicate with others. Your functional medicine doctor can help you prevent brain fog and maintain full cognitive functioning. Here are a few natural ways to improve your brain health and start feeling productive again.
1. Decrease Stress
If you feel stressed all the time, anxious thoughts may be constantly running in the foreground of your brain, making it difficult to focus on and complete tasks. This can also lead to mental exhaustion, which can leave you feeling unmotivated and physically tired. Rather than try to persevere through feeling this way, take time to unwind and reset.
If you notice stress disrupting your workday and limiting your productivity, heed what your brain and body are telling you and take a break. You can take this time to do something you enjoy, like read a book, go on a walk, or do some gardening. It can also help to incorporate meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or light stretching into your routine.
2. Get Regular Sleep
You don’t need us to tell you that getting poor sleep at night can seriously decrease your brain power. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to be irritable or moody, have difficulties making decisions and remembering things, struggle to adapt to major changes, and make impulsive decisions. If you consistently feel like your brain health is suffering, it’s worth taking a look at your sleep routine.
For adults, getting enough sleep at night means snoozing around seven to nine hours a night. This can vary slightly from person to person, depending on activity level and other factors. The key is to find just the right amount of sleep for you — not too much or too little.
If you’re struggling to settle down at night or work sleep into your busy schedule, here are some tips:
- Limit your caffeine intake. Make sure your last cup of coffee or tea for the day is at least six hours before bedtime.
- Try to cut out long, daytime naps. If you do you feel the need to nap every once in a while, try not to exceed a quick 30 minutes.
- Watch your blue light exposure, especially at night. Use blue light blocking settings on your devices and consider wearing a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Set boundaries with device use at night — it’s best to power down completely in the two hours before bed.
- Start a nighttime routine. A bedtime routine isn’t just beneficial for children. Prepare your mind and body for sleep every night by treating yourself to a few wind-down activities, like reading a chapter of your favorite book, listening to some relaxing music, or taking a warm shower.
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Your mind and body follow a 24-hour circadian rhythm and thrive on consistency. Set a time in your daily schedule for sleep, aiming to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
3. Get Moving (Preferably Outside)
While there are certainly times your body needs to slow down and rest to allow your brain to recharge, it’s just as important to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Getting your body moving gets your blood pumping and increases circulation to your brain.
To double the benefit, take your workout outside. Natural light and sunshine have significant benefits, and a change of scenery can reduce stress and help you focus when you get back to work. Even if you just go out for a 30-minute walk around the block, you’ll likely return with a refreshed, clear mind.
4. Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet, consisting of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, helps support better brain and gut health. You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B12, which is found in most dairy products, eggs, poultry, fish, and other animal products. If you’re on a vegan diet, you may need to take a B12 supplement to make sure you’re getting enough of this essential nutrient, because this plays an important role in supporting a healthy brain. Our team can help you find the right balance.
You’ll also need to cut out or limit foods and drinks that are bad for brain health, which include:
- Highly processed food
- Sugary foods and drinks (especially those with added sugar)
- Trans-fats foods
- Most alcoholic beverages
- Refined carbohydrates, like white bread and rice
- Conventionally raised red meat
- High-mercury fish
5. Look at What Medicine You’re Taking
If your brain fog symptoms started around the same time you were prescribed a new medicine, it could be a side effect of the drug. There are also certain over-the-counter medicines that can have the same effect. It’s worth starting a conversation with your doctor about medicines you are taking and ruling out if any could have a negative effect on your brain health. Adjustments in dosage or changing medications may help.
Functional Medicine Can Help Brain Health
While all of these changes can help boost your overall brain health, it’s important to remember that brain fog is often a symptom of another, more serious condition. These can include:
Our functional medicine doctor, Dr. Radawi, can help you learn what’s causing your fuzzy thinking and develop a treatment plan to pull it up from its roots. Talking through your health history and lifestyle and ordering the proper diagnostic tests will help him identify the factors keeping you from thriving.
From here, he can talk you through what your personalized treatment plan will look like, which may include dietary and lifestyle changes, stress management, detoxification, and supplements and vitamins. With the right strategy in place, you can regain your health and begin to think clearly again.
Ready to meet with Dr. Radawi? Start with a free Discovery Call.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.