6 Foods experts suggest to combat brain fog at work

Our brains are one of the hardest workers in our body, sending signals all across our systems so that they function correctly. But strained and overtired brains struggle to think clearly and process information – especially if someone has brain fog.

Also called cognitive deficit, brain fog can affect a person at any stage of adulthood. This is a recognized condition in which people struggle to think as clearly and sharply as before, as if their thoughts have been fogged over.

So, what exactly is brain fog, and how do you combat it?

What is brain fog?

Brain fog is a condition wherein a person thinks slowly and sluggishly. While brain fog is not an official clinical diagnosis, it is a useful catch-all term for clouded thinking and feeling “spaced out.” Symptoms of brain fog include [1]:

  • Distractedness and poor concentration
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Unclear thinking

People who have brain fog may also suffer headaches.

There are many causes of brain fog – sleep deprivation, concussion, and illness are some of them. This cognitive dysfunction will usually resolve once a person resumes healthier habits such as better sleep or more consistent exercise and diet.

Stress at work can also contribute to brain fog as a symptom of burnout. If you’re constantly working overtime or pulling all-nighters, or otherwise overworked with little proper rest, you could eventually develop brain fog. This can impact your productivity and output.

What is the cure for brain fog?

What is the cure for brain fog?

There might not be a do-all cure for brain fog, but you can mitigate its effects and boost your mental alertness in various ways. Besides vitamin supplements, you can make some lifestyle adjustments to improve your cognitive function.

Exercise

Aerobic activity, such as taking a 30-minute walk, increases the amount of oxygen directed to your brain. This boosts its function and makes you feel more energized. Mix things up and do yoga, cycling, and even pilates – anything that gets your blood flowing and your brain going.

Sleep

In sleep, your body recovers and recharges itself. Your brain signals different bodily systems to heal as you rest, and it also takes a break in your snoozing. It’s essential that you get enough sleep for your age range to keep your brain at peak performance.

Diet

Ideally, you should minimize processed and sugary foods to improve your diet. You can also consult a registered dietitian to see what foods and drinks you should consume to improve your overall health.

However, some foods you can add to your diet right now will help you fight the effects of brain fog and boost your brain functions.

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What foods get rid of brain fog?

Besides other conventional ways of combating brain fog and increasing your energy, you can adjust your diet and incorporate foods that boost your brain.

Pack a lunch for when you go to the office or prep a hearty meal if you work from home – and add one or two of these foods to fight the cognitive deficit.

Salmon and tuna

Research has shown that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon or tuna help fight fatigue and give you better quality sleep.

These fish are rich in polyunsaturated fat that boosts your brain power, making you think clearer and remember things better [2]. Omega-3 may even help combat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia [3].

You can consume salmon in many ways – raw (as sashimi), smoked, fried, and baked. Or even mix it in with other anti-brain fog foods like arugula and avocado (see below).

Salmon and tuna

Berries

Berries like blueberries have been shown to increase the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that encourages the production and growth of new neurons in your brain.

Berries can also be powerful sources of antioxidants, which help combat free radicals that destroy cells and cause neurological degeneration [4].

Try making berry smoothies in the morning or eating them with other beneficial foods like yogurt and whole-grain cereals. You can also use them to top waffles and pancakes or make tasty desserts!

Nuts

Walnuts have a high concentration of DHA (a fatty acid), which is key to several critical brain functions. Most other nuts are good sources of antioxidants, but walnuts are more potent than pistachios and peanuts.

Besides this, walnuts have anti-inflammatory properties and contain plenty of magnesium which boosts memory and information processing [5].

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Leafy greens

Dark leafy greens, especially. Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value beyond fiber, but greens like spinach and kale contain plenty of vitamin C and iron.

This means they help combat fatigue, especially when caused by iron deficiency – which can lead to tiredness and brain fog.

Dark leafy greens also contain nitrates that improve blood flow throughout your body, including to your brain [6].

Coffee and tea

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases alertness, improves memory recall, and allows you to focus better.

It also improves your mood, which puts you in a better emotional position to perform better at work. Tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but both are beneficial in moderate quantities [7].

Start your day with a cup or two of coffee, or have some tea by you while you work. You can also take coffee breaks if your office allows. Just try not to drink past 3:00 PM – you may have difficulty sleeping later that night.

Avocado

Avocados are superfoods for a reason. They contain plenty of monounsaturated fats, which give a person plenty of energy throughout the day. Avocados also contain lutein, a carotenoid, which improves a person’s cognitive function and thinking [8].

You can incorporate avocados into your diet in many ways – on toast, plain, in a salad, or smoothie. But try not to eat more than half an avocado per meal.

Managing brain fog alongside work

Try as we might, sometimes work stress creeps up on us as our workload increases or a large project suddenly gets assigned. Overwork without proper rest can lead to brain fog, impacting productivity.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat and manage brain fog as you recover. Eating fatty fish rich in omega-3, nuts, and leafy greens – as well as a hearty cup of coffee – can boost your cognitive functions.

Besides that, they’ll make a great meal at any time of day, so you can eat healthy and delicious food while feeling the positive mental effects.

Is brain fog caused by not eating?

Regarding brain fog, what you eat (or don’t eat) can play a significant role. Skipping meals or not nourishing your body properly can indeed lead to that frustrating feeling of mental fogginess.

Here’s a simple breakdown of how skipping meals and poor nutrition can contribute to brain fog:

  • Energy dips: Your brain relies on a steady supply of glucose (sugar) for fuel. When you skip meals or go for extended periods without eating, your blood sugar levels drop. This can leave you feeling tired, unfocused, and mentally drained.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: A balanced diet provides essential vitamins and minerals that support cognitive function. Skipping meals can result in nutrient deficiencies, depriving your brain of the necessary building blocks for optimal performance.
  • Dehydration: Sometimes, we mistake thirst for hunger. Not drinking enough water throughout the day can lead to dehydration, impairing cognitive function and contributing to brain fog.
  • Blood sugar spikes and crashes: Consuming sugary, high-carb snacks or drinks can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, followed by crashes. These fluctuations can leave you feeling mentally sluggish and irritable.

To combat brain fog caused by not eating, prioritize regular, balanced meals and stay hydrated. Incorporating the brain-boosting foods we discussed earlier can also help maintain mental clarity and focus throughout the day.

Final takeaways

Combatting brain fog is achievable by making simple but impactful changes to your diet. Incorporating brain-boosting foods can enhance focus, concentration, and overall brain health.

Additionally, avoiding skipping meals, maintaining stable blood sugar levels, and staying hydrated are crucial steps to prevent brain fog caused by poor nutrition.

By prioritizing your dietary choices and embracing a holistic approach to mental clarity, you can boost productivity and well-being in your work and daily life.

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[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/covid-brain-fog#about
[2] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.329.375&rep=rep1&type=pdf
[3] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2484683
[4] https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-2015/brain-diet.html
[5] https://www.vogue.in/wellness/content/best-foods-to-improve-memory-and-focus-diet-tips
[6] https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/brain-food-for-fatigue#4.-Dark-leafy-greens
[7] https://www1.maine.gov/mdot/challengeme/_assets/docs/
Food%20For%20Thought%20Lunch%20&%20Learn.pdf

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3545982/

The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.