We all have those days when the brain isn’t firing. You know, you’re the person at the party that can’t focus or contribute to a conversation. It can hit unexpectedly and leave you wondering why your brain can’t connect the dots. It’s called brain fog, and it’s surprisingly common.
Thankfully, brain fog doesn’t necessarily signify some kind of serious cognitive decline, nor is it a medical condition. Rather, these occasional lapses in mental capacity tend to be a symptom of something else—and a condition that’s usually fixable.
Mental fatigue—or brain fog—can be the result of stress, inadequate sleep, hormonal changes, medication, diet, or medical conditions. Taking care of brain fog often means getting to the bottom of the cause and taking adequate steps.
One cause that might not easily come to mind is your gut health. There is a growing body of research indicating a close connection between digestive health and mental health, and having a diverse and “happy” microbiome with a lower likelihood of brain fog. When the gut is happily firing, the brain seems to pick up its efficiency, helping people think clearer, feel better, and focus at a higher level. This may have something to do with the anti-inflammatory effects of a healthy gut population.
If you’ve addressed stress, sleep, and underlying medical conditions, focusing on gut health might be the next step in clearing up brain fog and getting back on track. A fiber-rich diet can help promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, as fiber is what feeds the population, while many fiber-rich items can act as both prebiotics and probiotics.
To get a better idea of how your gut might be affecting your brain health, start by tracking your eating habits for a few days. Pay attention to fiber intake, as well as noting any foods that you notice may affect your thinking/mental acuity. Try eliminating any foods that you feel are playing a role in brain fog and see what happens, while eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should ensure you’re hitting the daily recommended fiber intake of 25 grams (women) to 38 grams (men).
Brain fog can happen from time to time, and it can influence your ability to enjoy yourself and function properly. Finding the underlying issue—which may reside in your digestive function—can clear the fog so you can get back to normal.