Brain fog is caused by lifestyle: Doctor reveals how diet, stress levels and sleep affect hormones, performance and immunity

A celebrity physician has told Daily Mail online that diet, stress levels, and lack of proper sleep affect hormones, immunity, and mental performance, causing a “brain fog” that makes us forgetful and lose our focus.

New York osteopathic physician Christopher Calapai, said that any person at any age can develop brain fog with poor diet, vitamin deficiency, and excessive alcohol and caffeine intake. A gradual adjustment to these factors can make your mind sharp and at peak performance.

Our body runs on vitamins and minerals to function properly. It is especially true for our brain, the organ that needs most of the nutrients we take from our food. Choosing a proper diet of nutritious and organic foods can bring about endless benefits to the body and mind. Foods that are high in antioxidants such as artichoke, blueberries, and dark chocolate can boost mental alertness, as do salmon and spinach.

Beverages are also part of a proper diet. Your body and mind won’t work in optimal levels if you keep giving it sinful amounts of alcohol and caffeine. Studies found that binge-drinking alcoholic beverages during your teenage years can have lasting effects on the parts of the brain that support learning and memory retention. Coffee, on the other hand, can boost mental alertness in short bursts, therefore creating a tendency to keep drinking to sustain the effect for longer periods. Too much consumption of caffeine can lead to insomnia and dehydration, which are detrimental to brain function.

As previously mentioned, the brain needs nutrients to be in peak condition. A lack of essential vitamins such as thiamine (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6, or folic acid will lead to difficulty in memory retention. Supplementation on top of your diet can combat this.

Besides sustenance, our own bodily reactions can contribute to the health, or decline, of our mental capacity.

“Decrease in the production of thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones, testosterone and female hormones can alter focus and concentration,” said Dr. Calapai, whose clients include former champion boxer Mike Tyson, and actors Mickey Rourke and Steven Seagal.

Further, high levels of cortisol, or the stress hormone, can also impair proper brain function. Stress-reducing activities such as yoga and meditation may help ease stress levels and clear the mind. (Related: Got Brain Fog? 3 Top Ways to Clear Your Head Naturally.)

Stress has many causes, and not getting enough sleep is one of the major ones. It can lead to a host of health problems, including difficulty with concentration and decision-making. Experts have recommended that seven to eight hours of sleep every night is sufficient, plus avoiding alcoholic beverages and heavy meals a couple of hours before bedtime.

Did you know that electronic devices can also disrupt our sleep pattern? The light emitted by mobile phones and tablets interferes with our sleep hormone and keeps us alert for most of the night, disrupting our circadian rhythm, or body clock.

Lead author Dr. Lisa Ostrin from the University of Houston College of Optometry said: “The most important takeaway is that blue light at night time really does decrease sleep quality. Sleep is very important for the regeneration of many functions in our body.”

Medical conditions

In most cases, brain fog is caused by nutritional, metabolic, hormonal, and biochemical imbalances, which can be remedied with the tips above. However, some mental health problems are brought about by medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or other infections.

“In the younger population, brain fog could be caused by infection, including virus and bacteria,” Dr Calapai explained.

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