Even though I consider myself fairly healthy and conscious of what I put in my body, there are still positive steps I can continue to make in my life, diet-wise. One particular aspect that I’ve been thinking about often is “brain fogginess,” and the lack of having a sharp focus. In a nutshell, some foods just really mess up our memory and our mentality.
Obviously I’m not a doctor, and I’m also not saying nobody should ever eat these foods, but these are the things that I (and many others) have discovered cause brain fogginess when consumed too frequently. There is a scientific reason for why this can happen, so I’m going to go into that in more detail as well.
Soda & Sugary Drinks
Now, I’m not saying I think people should never enjoy these foods (in fact, I definitely eat at least half of them,) but they have given me something to think about in regards to my own health and how I can cut back in moderation. Unsurprisingly, soda, fruit juices, and other sugary drinks are linked to dementia and the reduction of brain function, even with people without diabetes. I’ve personally never been a huge soda drinker myself, but I would agree that I tend to feel sluggish after consuming too much sugar (particularly in sports drinks and fruit juices.) One way I like to incorporate fruity tastes into my drinks is to make my own low-sugar smoothies, or, even easier, just add raw fruit to your water. Strawberry water is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s a great health alternative to artificial fruit drinks.
Again unsurprisingly, refined carbs are yet another culprit of brain fogginess and sluggishness. Similarly to sugary drinks, refined carbs (such as white flour) can spike your blood sugar and cause you to crash shortly after consuming them. Conducted studies have shown that refined carbs can indeed have a poor effect on your memory, and long-term, it can even increase your chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. That doesn’t mean I intend on cutting pizza out of my diet any time soon (nor would I expect anyone else too,) but it is inspiring me to think more critically about the alterations I can make. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains are all healthier alternatives to refined carbs, and honestly, I think whole grain bread tastes pretty damn good.
Artificial Trans Fat
You’re probably noticing a trend here; foods that are highly processed or full of sugar and carbs are probably not the most brain-healthy foods. This includes all the typical junk foods; chips, instant noodles, microwave popcorn, etc. Even ready-made meals that market themselves as being natural and full of wholesome ingredients can be highly processed and full of trans fat, so just keep that in mind when grocery shopping. I still enjoy a Lean Cuisine from time to time, especially since they’re cheap and easy to prepare, but I still try to remain mindful of how eating these foods will mess with my focus in the days that follow.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener, often found in food and beverages under the brand names “NutraSweet” and “Equal.” Even though the market likes to push artificial sweeteners as a weight loss aid, this particular sweetener is actually extremely controversial. Consumption of aspartame has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems, although there’s no conclusive research on this product. Nonetheless, unless you have a pressing medical treatment such as diabetes (which forces one to utilize artificial sweeteners,) consider opting for natural, raw sugar instead.
Unfortunately, but probably unsurprisingly, dairy is one of the most notorious foods to cause brain fogginess, tiredness, and inattentiveness. While many of us are not allergic to us, there’s a fairly good chance you may be sensitive to it. I definitely think I am sensitive to dairy products, especially cheese, since I completely cut it out of my diet for a full year and then suddenly resumed eating it again. While I still love cheese and plan on continuing to eat it, it’s a good idea to remember that there are healthy alternatives, too. Little switches, such as drinking almond milk instead of cow’s milk, can make a huge difference in how you feel and how you sustain your energy.
What can I do about brain fog?
Even though you’re bound to experience brain fogginess from time to time, there are still steps you can take to keep yourself sharp and happy. One important thing I like to utilize is my intake of vitamin B12. Because it’s predominantly found in meats and eggs, us vegetarians have to ensure that we are still maintaining a healthy B12 intake to sustain or energy and focus levels. Another way to keep your mind feeling sharp is to eat dark, leafy greens, such as spinach and kale. And, of course, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and keeping your brain stimulated!