Do episodes of “brain fog” mean that you are at risk for developing dementia?
Worldwide, nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. It is estimated that more than 16 million Americans will have the disease by 2050.
While “brain fog” may be a long ways from Alzheimer’s, cognitive decline seems to be on everyone’s mind. Almost daily, one of my patients will make a remark about a concern they have regarding the functioning of their brains. In the book Why Isn’t My Brain Working, Datis Kharrazian explains that, “Not all brain-based problems come down to Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, three of the more common outcomes of brain degeneration problems are fatigue, depression, and gastrointestinal problems, though they are rarely treated as such.”
Brain fog is a sign that your brain is undergoing degeneration, but brain fog and degeneration can be reversed!
What is Brain Fog?
- Inability to focus
- Forgetfulness, poor recall, or memory blocks
- Mental fatigue
- Low physical energy
- Low motivation, feeling hopeless or mildly depressed
These signs and symptoms raise concern for many women over 50, especially if they’ve seen any cognitive decline in a close relative. Several of my patients have a parent who’s been diagnosed with a type of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. If you have a relative with a cognitive disorder, should you worry?
A Healthy Lifestyle Matters More Than Your Family History
If you have inherited genes that predispose you to develop certain diseases, research has now established that the expression of those genes are directly influenced by the environment they are exposed to. The sciences of epigenetics and nutrigenomics are growing rapidly, and offer us many strategies that put the rate at which we age right into our own hands. No matter what genes you inherit from your parents, how you treat your genes and the environment you place them in will “turn them on,” or in the instance of the bad genes, “turn them off.”
Here’s what you can do to improve brain function and reverse brain fog… You’ll also be preventing brain degeneration and cognitive decline.
What Are The Best Ways to Prevent Cognitive Decline and Reverse Brain Fog?
Managing stress, exercising, and getting good, quality sleep… Always begin with these. They’re free and simple to do, but not always EASY… Of course you know I’m going to include a healthy diet. Many of the nutrients that support your brain and improve cognitive function can be found in certain foods, but to reap the greatest benefit, you’ll need to add supplementation. Even if you’re eating a healthy diet, you just can’t obtain a high enough dose of these goodies from food alone. So, what are the nutrients considered to be such good food for your brain?
There are several supplements that have been well-studied and proven effective for improving cognition. Each of these have the benefits of improving executive function, memory, motivation, creativity, and the ability to focus. Each also provides additional benefits to the other cells and organs in the body.
- Omega-3 fatty Acid
- B Complex, especially B12 and Folate
- Phosphatidyl Serine
- N-Acetyl Cysteine
- Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)
- Pre- and ProBiotics
- Vitamin D with K2
- Gingko Biloba
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Of course you can’t take all of these. Perhaps you actually could, but your body wouldn’t be able to absorb them all. So, I’m going to share my three favorites. There’s a reason I have selected these particular ones – because they have also been proven to positively affect other physiologic functions that can diminish with age. In addition to being cognitive enhancers, they also help your own insulin work better, improve your body’s fat burning ability, increase energy, support cardiovascular function, and help you sleep better…
Kind of like a BOGO sale on designer shoes!
1. Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)
This powerhouse of an amino acid is concentrated in the body’s most metabolically active organs: the brain, heart, and muscles. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. ALCAR transports fatty acids into the mitochondria where they’re burned for energy. It helps in the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter most associated with the cognitive function of memory. Studies have shown that acetyl l-carnitine is helpful in slowing brain related aging and decline.
Dietary Sources: Primarily red meat… Hence the name CARNitine.
Since it’s impossible to get a therapeutic dose of this amino acid from food, you will need to supplement to reap the full cognitive benefits.
Typical Dosage: 300-1500 mg.
Added Benefits: Gives you more energy, helps to reduce fatigue, good for your heart, aids in fat burning.
NOTE: L-carnitine is less expensive. I use this form for increasing energy, and I have a great fat-burning tea recipe with powdered L-carnitine as well. But for the cognitive benefits (especially memory), you need to make sure you spend the extra money and take acetyl l-carnitine.
Phosphatidylserine is an important building block for your brain cells. It’s a phospholipid, containing both amino acids and fatty acids. It plays a critical role in cognitive function. It has been successfully used for slowing age related cognitive decline, reducing Alzheimer’s symptoms, and minimizing the severity of depression. It has also been shown to improve attention, memory, and processing speed.
Dosage: 100 mg, taken 3 times a day.
Added Benefit: Taken at bedtime, it improves sleep because it aids in lowering cortisol.
Curcumin is known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It has been successfully used to treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and patients who’ve suffered strokes. It is a compound contained in turmeric, a spice you may be familiar with. Turmeric is used frequently in Indian cooking. Curcumin has been well studied, and it has major anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also increases levels of a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor).
For improved absorption, look for a product containing bromelain or piperine. Consuming it with fat improves the absorption. Check out my turmeric latte recipe – it has full-fat coconut oil, which tastes great in addition to increasing absorption.
So, can you just cook with turmeric? Studies are proving that Mother Nature knows what she is doing. Women have known this for eons. While studies have proven that curcumin, the compound extracted from turmeric, is tremendously effective in reducing inflammation, it turns out the whole turmeric plant is beneficial as well. So, to enjoy the full benefits, I suggest you use the spice frequently – and to obtain a therapeutic dose of curcumin, you’ll want to take a supplement in addition.
Typical Dose: 500 to 1,800 mg per day.
Added Benefits: It’s a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals, improves the function of the endothelium (the lining of the blood vessels), and reduces the symptoms of arthritis. Read More.
So, here’s what you’ve learned:
- If you’re experiencing brain fog, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re at risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s
- If a parent has Alzheimer’s, and if you’ve inherited the genes, you can reduce your risk by adopting a healthy lifestyle
- Brain fog is an indicator of brain degeneration, but it can be reversed
- To get rid of brain fog, start with exercise, stress management, quality sleep, and a healthy diet
- In addition to a good diet, there are several supplements proven to improve brain function – three were discussed in detail
Please share this article with anyone you know who may be suffering with brain fog.