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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Cloudy Brain Fog

Oct 31, 2016 03:36PM
by Dr. Isabel Sharkar
Brain fog is common and affects thousands of people, both children and adults. It has become an undesirable side-effect of our fast-paced, modern lifestyle. Forgetfulness, confusion, trouble concentrating, communicating and remembering information, disorganization, hard time finding the right words to finish a thought, mental cloudiness and fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), irritability, insomnia, moodiness, depression, anxiety and generally feeling “off” are all but a few symptoms of brain fog. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, brain fog is not easily diagnosed and has a surplus of reasons for its existence. Brain fog is rooted in a lifestyle that promotes inflammation and hormonal imbalances, exacerbated by physical and emotional stress. Inflammation, at the root of most diseases, is caused by low-grade over-activity of the immune system and is tied to mental disorders like depression, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

As seen in pregnancy brain and menopause, changes to the three primary hormones that determine your mood (dopamine), energy (serotonin) and focus (cortisol) may lead to brain fog. Additionally, low thyroid function, adrenal insufficiency, CFS, dehydration, heavy metal exposure, infected root canals, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), bowel toxicity, constipation, Candida overgrowth and imbalance, parasites, Lyme disease and viral infections may all affect the brain, weaken the mind and contribute to brain fog.

Nutritional and biochemical imbalances affect the brain and central nervous system (CNS) of the body. Leaky gut can lead to leaky brain, which makes a clean diet a necessity. Processed food, factory-farmed meats, nutrient deficiencies, sugar overload, alcohol consumption (which suppresses the CNS), refined carbohydrates, caffeine overdose (stresses the adrenals), gluten and other food sensitivities and food additives all need to be managed.

To get a head start on alleviating brain fog, start tidying up your diet. Cut out refined processed sugar and gluten, test for food sensitivities and follow a strict elimination diet. Stay away from low-fat diets, grains and GMO foods. The human body requires a steady supply of amino acids and essential fatty acids to make all the brain chemicals needed to think clearly, so eat plenty of healthy fats and grass-fed organic protein. Also, load up on organic veggies and fruits as they realign hormones and reduce inflammation. Remember how your gut and brain are intertwined and powerfully connected? Your gut is your second brain.

Exercise to produce natural endorphins and break a sweat to releases toxins from your body. Moderate and regular exercise can help balance hormones, improve insulin resistance and help you sleep better. Get a hold of stress by engaging in relaxation practices like deep breathing, massage, meditation, journaling, praying, reading and yoga. Spend time outdoors every day in nature. Improve your sleep hygiene and get adequate rest every night. Most importantly, to release dopamine and enhance your mood—do something fun every day and laugh out loud!

Isabel Sharkar, ND, is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic, in Georgetown. For more information, call 202-298-9131 or visit


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