Top Ingredients for Beating Brain Fog
“If you have brain fog, even coffee won’t help.” Yes, this is a saying that rings all too true with people who suffer from brain fog symptoms and their consequences. As a society, we often neglect the brain as a vital organ when we talk about wellness; after all, many of the supplements and fitness practices revolve around buzz phrases like “heart health” and even “physical endurance”. However, what about the body, mind, spirit? Don’t we look past the importance of the brain and the adequate nutrition, vitamins and minerals that could enhance its performance and longevity?
Brain fog is more common than you think nowadays—especially with people working around-the-clock, leading busier-than-ever lives and with less and less time for rest, relaxation and sleep. First, we must understand what brain fog really is before we attempt to break it down with useful ingredients to remedy it. More than likely, at some point in your life you have experienced symptoms of brain fog and its devastating consequences.
Brain fog is described as having trouble concentrating, possessing low energy or fatigue, forgetfulness, low motivation, slight depression, confusion, anxiety, trouble sleeping and even difficulty exercising. It’s as if the brain is not remembering or functioning properly. Many describe it as feeling like “your mind is filled with cotton wool.” Certainly serious medical issues can lead to brain fog, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Alzheimer’s, Celiac Disease, and Fibromyalgia. For many who are not victims of those illnesses, however, brain fog is a result of our hyper-paced industrial lifestyle.
Dr. Josh Axe, a doctor of natural medicine, claims, “Brain fog is typically rooted in a lifestyle that promotes inflammation and hormonal imbalances, exacerbated by stress. In one study, the top-ranked descriptions of brain fog were forgetfulness, difficulty focusing and thinking and communicating.” Of course, all of these symptoms can be triggered by common attributes of daily life such as prolonged standing, dehydration, fatigue, in addition to lack of sleep.
Before we delve into our four “brain superfoods,” perhaps it’s helpful to go over what foods and chemicals are, in fact, harmful to the brain. Naturally, sugary drinks with high fructose corn syrup can be damaging, as can refined carbohydrates and highly processes grains. These foods have a high-GI and high GL index that lead to brain impairment. Also, foods high in trans fats such as margarine and prepackaged cookies and cakes have been known to be less-than-stellar for our minds. Furthermore, highly processed foods like sweets, chips, and instant noodles—as well as alcohol, of course—have been proven to impair brain function and weaken judgment.
With all of this in mind, you’re probably wondering, “Okay, so all of this is bad for me, what can I consume that will actually help my brain and keep me clear-headed and sharp for my day-to-day activities, responsibilities and endeavors?” Valid question—and an important one in today’s environment—which is why we’re going to dissect four top ingredients you can incorporate into your favorite dishes, smoothies, juices, and meals in an effort to keep our brains functioning at their utmost potential!
Pure Green Rockin Beet
This Pure Green cold-pressed juice blend is sure to give your brain a boost. Why? Well, one of the main ingredients of this delicious beverage is one famous for maintaining a healthy mind—beets! Jam-packed with nitrates, which when inside the body turns into nitric oxide, can have positive effects that are long-lasting on the responsiveness of blood vessels. Beet juice can actually enhance the amount of oxygen reaching the brain and help your overall cognitive function, which can be a game-changer when battling fatigue.
Additionally, beets can help combat inflammation, lower blood pressure, improve brain neuroplasticity and even enhance athletic performance. This deep red wonder food is high in folate, potassium, Vitamin C and antioxidants. Luckily, Pure Green’s Rockin Beet contains not only beets, but carrots, apples, lemon, as well as ginger to give it a refreshing and delectable taste.
Okay, here we go—blueberries—otherwise known as “the antioxidant king”. Yep, blueberries are pretty incredible with its high amounts of fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese. It’s the high amount of antioxidants, though, that really get blueberries such great press. Of course, antioxidants prevent damage from free radicals and unstable molecules that can drastically harm cellular structures that contribute to the detrimental effects of aging and disease. Blueberries are the king—or queen—because they possess the highest antioxidant capacity of all common fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to blueberries and your brain, however, they really pack a positive and impactful punch. How so? Well, some of the antioxidants can actually store and accumulate in your brain and help improve communication between brain cells. (I know, crazy, right?) Physically, these antioxidants act against oxidative stress and inflammation, which enhance neurodegenerative diseases and brain aging. Animal studies have actually shown that blueberries help improve memory and may even delay short-term memory loss. Seriously, we should be buying this stuff by the pound, not the handful!
You can add blueberries to any smoothie or shake, as they not only create a rich blue color, but pair nicely with a plethora of other ingredients. In a smoothie, in particular, they go great with Greek or plain yogurt along with some low-fat or non-dairy milk. They blend well with any type of melon; try adding some flax seeds or a crumble topping if you’re seeking a decadent dessert-like experience.
Turmeric has been getting some serious attention as of late—and rightfully so, as it has a multitude of healthy benefits, particularly for the brain. Curcumin, which is the main ingredient in turmeric, has been proven to actually cross what is known to be the “blood-brain barrier”, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells inside there. Because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric can actually benefit memory by clearing the amyloid plaques that are notoriously prevalent with Alzheimer’s.
Furthermore, turmeric can help the brain through ameliorating some aspects of depression. For example, Curcumin increases dopamine and serotonin, which enhances mood. It can also facilitate the growth of new brain cells, paving way to real regeneration. Curcumin also increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a variety of growth hormone that aids brain cells in their growth; because of this, turmeric may help slow down age-related mental decline.
Turmeric is great on vegetables, particularly potatoes, and can be found in most Indian curries. But you don’t have to consume it with solid food to reap some of its primary benefits. Try Pure Green’s Golden Girl cold-pressed juice, consisting of pineapple, carrot, turmeric, lemon and ginger. Whoa, talk about a bright, beautiful, orange color combo—it’s certainly not to be missed!
We would be amiss not to include avocados in this brain food breakdown, as they are known to improve blood supply and oxygenation to your brain. In fact, a 2011 issue of British Journal of Neurosurgery found that a combination of avocado and soybean fats helped prevent oxidation and protected against nerve damage of animals who were exposed to low-oxygen conditions. In particular, the benefits of avocados were found in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain famous for functions such as critical thinking and planning.
Furthermore, healthy unsaturated fats like those found in avocados assist in keeping your brain membranes flexible. The fatty acids in this super food also help in protecting nerve cells in the brain known as astrocytes, which aid in supporting information-carrying nerves. Avocados are high in Vitamin A, C, B-6, Magnesium as well as fiber. They are great on top of salads and add a beautiful texture and color to any smoothie.
In the end, common brain fog—that is, brain fog not caused by serious illness—is best remedied by an increase in the hours you sleep. With more sleep, the hormones in your brain stay in balance, leading to decreased confusion, anxiety, and even irritability. Because when we falter in sleep there is a rise in cortisol levels, which makes it challenging for serotonin to function as it’s supposed to. Because of this, the consequence of bad moods and behaviors rum amuck, leading to other serious medical problems that reign pervasive throughout the busy day-to-day.
If you’re suffering from brain fog, it’s important to stop and think: What is causing these symptoms in my life? Am I taking the proper means necessary to care for myself? What else can I do to ensure better sleep, better mood and mental alacrity so I can be the best I can possibly be for my coworkers and family? In the end, incorporating these “brain foods” into your diet are a great way to help ameliorate some of these problems.
As Thomas Edison once said, “The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.” No doubt this vital organ is imperative to look after, taking all the necessary steps to keep confusing fog at bay.