Brain Fog: Inflammation is to Blame
April 10, 2019
Feeling fuzzy, groggy, or confused? Just not able to concentrate or remember?
Some call that feeling of living in a hazy reality, where you feel disoriented, scattered and dull “brain fog.” It’s likely a sign of inflammation, according to Brittani Moeller, DO, a family medicine provider with CHI Health.
“Fifty percent of our brain is made up of immune-based microglial cells. When activated, these cells feed inflammatory messages to the brain,” Moeller said. “Inflammation in the brain causes neurons to fire more slowly, slowing down mental acuity, recall and reflexes. Sluggish neurons also shut down the production of energy in the cells. This means that cells fatigue easier and you may lose your ability to focus for long periods of time.”
So how can you boost your energy, clarity and motivation … essentially clear the fog?
“Some medications are effective in reducing inflammation, but limiting the inflammatory triggers is key. This isn’t just in the brain, but your whole body,” Moeller said.
- Reducing stress and getting adequate sleep makes it easier to fight off infection and inflammation.
- Take your blood sugar seriously. Skipping meals or binging on sugar can trigger spikes in blood sugar and the release of pro-inflammatory stress hormones.
- Prevent infections (get your flu shot!) which tap into the stress response system and slowly drain energy.
- Adopt a healthy diet of vegetables, lean meat and good fats like fish oils or nuts. Culprits of increased inflammation include gluten, MSG, aspartame, food high in sugars and bad fats. It may be necessary to cut one or many things from your diet.
- Changing hormones (common in pregnancy and menopause) can activate microglial cells. If you think this applies to you, talk with your doctor.