Do you have brain fog?
It’s a term that’s get bandied around a great deal but what does it feel like, is it the same for everyone, is there anything we can do to avoid it?
If you’re one of the few people that has never experienced it or perhaps recognised it lets discuss some of the common symptoms. Well, I’ve been a long-time believer that We (as humans) are genetically geared to be lean and strong but also adept and cognitively alert. If this was not the case then it’s safe to say we would not have endured millions of years of evolution. Therefore, it’s not a blind leap to put the causal link between western lifestyle and brain fog. In other words our hunter/gatherer ancestors would not have suffered from brain fog. What we eat, has an profound affect on how we feel but also on the genes that are turned on or off (expressed) – this notion of epigenetics suggested that with all lifestyle choices is an opportunity to amplify ot health and longevity or not.
The western diet is entrenched in the view that our brains require carbohydrates to function and without it our ability to think and create would grind to a halt. This is not the case – our brains can thrive on ketones as well– a fuel source derived from burning fat as a primary fuel source. The problem with stoking the furnace with carbohydrates is that your body will have to shunt the glucose (what carbs are converted to) into cells for energy – either immediately or for a later date. This leads to a yo-yo’ing of blood/sugar – as carbs are ingested and blood glucose is raised – the pancreas is signalled to release insulin to shuttle glucose from the blood into cells. This process is all very natural and necessary but it can leave us experiencing a ‘high’ and a ‘low’ from elevated blood/sugar to low blood/sugar levels, the severity of this polarity is due to a number of factors. As the ‘low’ kicks in you’ll experience symptoms such as light-headedness, loss of concentration, lack of attention and hunger – this is when you’ll reach out for another carbo snack/meal and the whole cycle is repeated.
The simple fact is that we don’t need hundreds of grams of carbohydrates a day to fuel our brains.
A common scenario in the western world is that we sit at our desk in an office for long periods of time – it’s a pretty sedentary lifestyle which, as we’ve just discussed is peppered or interrupted with bouts of concentration loss. Imagine not having to loss focus and attention throughout the day or having to eat/snack every 2 hours or so. Well this is very achievable and simply requires dusting off some machinery that we all have within us. Our innate ability to burn fat as a fuel source has be superseded or overshadowed by our desire to burn carbohydrates as a direct result of the western diet paradigm. However, it’s very possible to crank-up the machinery of fat-burning and become efficient at burning fat, either dietary fat or stored fat.
When we become less dependent on carbs, we will notice that our desire to eat every 2 hours (as on a carb diet) evaporates, as does the loss is focus and attention. Your body will naturally metabolise fat in the liver and manufacture ketones – these will then be available for every cell in the body. Being non hydro-phobic (don’t repel water) the ketones are able to cross the blood/brain barrier and provide fuel for the brain. In fact ketones are the preferred fuel source for the brain.
A gentle and necessary reminder is that our food should energise and nourish us and not leave us feel sluggish or sleepy – if it does then perhaps there’s a need to review the quality of those nutrients and the breakdown of macro-nutrients too.
We can enhance of health and cognitive function by turning on certain genes that promote longevity through diet and lifestyle. The foods that will ignite our brain for cognitive function are all around us – as nature intended – it’s just a matter of plugging into those. Plenty of green leafy or above-ground veggies, healthy fats (coconut oil, ghee, tallow, lard, avocado, olive oil) and the limitation of starchy carb, refined or industrialised oils and some ethical sourced protein will shape your health and cognitive function.
You’ll be hitting those afternoon deadlines in no time!!