Beat Brain Fog Now!!

If you have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s you probably have had some experience with brain fog. It is one  of those things that make you think you might be a little crazy sometimes. Do you ever ask yourself, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I remember anything?”. 

Here is what people are saying about what brain fog feels like for them: 

“Brain fog means not being able to remember things like a friend's name or what I went to the store for when I only needed two things. I completely forget what I was about to say and what I was talking about. I read a book and the next day can't remember what it was about or who the characters were. I can't concentrate. I'm 45 years old and don't have Alzheimer’s.”

“Knowing what word I want to say and either nothing comes out or the wrong word comes out.”

 “I used to be very articulate and now I also know what word I want, but I can't grab onto it.”

“Slow thinking, can't quite get the words, lose focus, forget what I was doing, leave the stove on...feels like Alzheimer’s.”

“Not being able to come up with simple words to complete my sentences (ones that were familiar, yet my brain couldn't come up with them). My 2-year old was completing my sentences.”

“Feels like your thinking and trying to remembering through oatmeal or sludge.”

“Like trying to muddle through pea soup. Knowing that there is something you need to retrieve from your brain but you just can't quite get to it.”

“Walking through life in a cloud. Everything feels fuzzy and I am very forgetful. We just checked out of a hotel today and I left all of my jewelry in a drawer. It didn't come to me until I felt my neck and realized something was missing several hours later.”

“I had a very hard time following a conversation, felt like I was losing my mind. Couldn't remember things, but mostly felt completely confused! Very scary.”

“Saying a word close in sound but nowhere close in meaning from the one I am looking for. Feeling sleepy like Dorothy in the poppy field.”

“Not knowing where you are going, what you are doing, feeling like you can't connect your brain to your thoughts. People talk to you and you don't know what they said. Having issues with regular things, like driving or cooking.”

“I just can't think straight. I get things mixed up, start to tell a joke or story and can't remember how it goes, I read something but can't comprehend what I'm reading. My eyes feel very heavy and tired and I have a heavy feeling in my forehead and behind my eyes. Even the simplest tasks take too much mental effort.”

“I feel disconnected. I'm in there somewhere but I just can't grasp it and hold on. I can't get my mind to stay focused nor remember anything during brain fog spells (which is usually always). It's the feeling you get when you're running on very little sleep.”

“Saying crazy things like: go mow your bedroom floor. I meant vacuum!!!”

“A total disconnect from how you would normally be articulate... The thought process and words just don't come out as planned..an all day feeling like you haven't slept in days.. forgetful and confused at times.”

“Like I couldn't get my brain to engage...randomly losing words, thinking through mud, my critical thinking skills were completely gone. Definitely forgetful and confused.”

“Everything being slow to process is a good description. And working too hard mentally to do easy things.”

“I cant tell you what I did this morning let alone last week. I can be in the middle of a conversation and forget what we were talking about. I can be in the middle of a sentence and stop dead because I cant remember the next word I need.”

“Very lethargic. Can't focus, concentrate, and feeling like I can't fully wake up.” 

“You walk to a room to grab something and forget on the way what it was...you may never remember...starting a question to someone but forgetting the second half of the question before you finish saying "have you ever...uh..."?  Also just feeling dumb...like, man today is so hard! i can't remember, i can't multi task like i'm used to...it takes longer to compute and comprehend people's sentences…a feeling that you just wish you could crawl back into bed and try again tomorrow.”

“Feels like you're physically there, but can't mentally process everything that's happening. things go in one ear and dissolve completely before even having a chance to process. I often say it's like feeling "dumber" and "number" than usual.”

“For me it’s confusion. Almost like a wire shorting out.”

Does any of this sound like you? 

Brain fog can come in varying degrees and is different for everyone. Often you just feel so alone because no one understands. Right? 

What can you do about it? 

Brain fog is something you can control. Whatever it looks like for you there are some things you can do about it. 

First of all, having a practitioner that listens to you and believes you is key. Treating your symptoms and not just your labs is also very important. 

Second of all, what you put in to your body is of utmost important. Not only your diet, but supplementation and toxins as well. 

Eating wheat and gluten makes Hashimoto’s and the symptoms that come with it much much worse.  Processed foods and foods of convenience are one of the biggest things that contribute to your symptoms getting worse or remaining terrible. The reason for this is that the structure of gluten in your body resembles that of your thyroid gland and your immune system can easily mistake the gluten proteins you consumed for the thyroid gland itself. Gluten is also one of the causes of increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut which puts your immune system on high alert. 

 

You must balance your blood sugar. How do you know if your blood sugar needs balancing? Do you crave sugar? Do you feel tired after a meal? Do you have that afternoon slump? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you probably need to have some tweaking done to your diet. Maybe you are not digesting fat well and your body is overwhelmed with carbohydrates. It is helpful to have someone analyze your diet by completing a food journal for three days to a week.  Your brain needs glucose (sugar) to run but it is the kind of glucose you give it that makes a difference. It can use the sugars in vegetables for energy too which is more beneficial to your body as a whole. 

 

You may need to repair your gut. If you have increased intestinal permeability then you more than likely have some inflammation going on in your system. Removing other inflammatory foods is a great start to gut repair.  You kind of have to be your own food detective here. You can have food sensitivity testing done but if you are on a budget, do an elimination diet like the Autoimmune Protocol and gradually add back in to your diet one food at a time until you figure out which ones you react to. If you react, you know you should not eat that food again. You may also want to take some nutritional supplementation to help your body heal. 

What is your stress level like? How are your adrenal glands? Anyone who suffers from inflammation will have adrenal stress. Taking adaptogenic herbs are often quite helpful in helping your body heal from adrenal fatigue along with getting good rest and reducing that which stresses not only your body but your mind too. Did you know your nervous system doesn’t really know the difference between physical and emotional stress. It is all stress and your hormones act the same either way. The adrenals are heavily involved in your brains chemistry. If they are busy working on inflammation or balancing your blood sugar then they cannot help your brain work properly. 

What is your digestion like? Most people that are hypothyroid or have Hashimoto’s usually are not making enough stomach acid. This is significant because if you don’t have enough stomach acid in your stomach is affects digestion through the rest of your digestive tract. You won’t be absorbing nutrients like B12, iron and calcium. You can then have inflammation or infections in your intestines. You can also become protein deficient when you don’t have enough stomach acid. If your digestion is not optimal you can be deficient in fats as well which are important for brain function and health. 

You may be having trouble detoxifying chemicals and toxins in your body. Most detoxification happens in the liver. The liver is also a player in blood sugar regulation. It cannot work to detoxify chemicals or even hormones if it is busy working on blood sugar. Take a look at the cleaning products you use. Are they “clean”? Do you use air fresheners? Hair care products and make up are full of chemicals too. It only takes about 22 second for chemicals on your skin to be absorbed in to your blood stream. All of those things need to be detoxified by your liver. 

Brain fog can be a sign that you are not getting enough nutrients and oxygen to your brain. One way to increase blood flow to the brain is to get some exercise.  You don’t have to go crazy with exercise here. Don’t start running or anything like that. Go for a walk. Regularly. Go for a bike ride. Hang out in nature. Just get moving. It may seem like the last thing you want to do but you will feel so good. Walking is healing for your adrenal glands too. You will find you start to feel better all around if you get out and move. 

Getting good sleep is super important to brain fog. If you’re not sleeping good or for at least seven to eight hours a night then you may experience regular brain fog. What can you do to help yourself sleep better?  You can make sure you are digesting your food, especially your protein. You also may not be eating enough. You will wake up if your body is in need of glucose for energy. Your melatonin production can be delayed if you expose yourself to the blue lights in computers, cell phones and televisions at night. Getting blue blocking glasses like these help if you are not willing to step away from electronics when it gets dark outside. 

Share this post with anyone you know that is suffering from brain fog or contact me today for help finding what your body needs to find balance. 

In health, 

Stephanie

What is Nutrition? Part One.

I invited a friend and her family to our Thanksgiving dinner and she jokingly asked if we were having a Tofu Turkey for dinner. I laughed but inside I was a little irritated. Then I got to thinking and realized she had no idea what healthy food or nutrition meant to me. Everyone has their own idea of what it means to be healthy and what good nutrition is. Everyone thinks their way is the right way. For years I thought I was being healthy by eating whole grains and staying away from saturated fat. Once I learned some of the science behind why I eat the way I do, I realized just how wrong I was. I had been riding the blood sugar roller coaster for years. I had been doing cardio three days a week and not losing any weight and I did not feel good. 

I have not felt good for so long I am not sure I remember what it feels like to feel really good but that is a whole other series of posts to come. I have had glimpses of what it feels like but they sure don’t last long. Hashimoto’s and thyroid problems are fickle that way. You never know what you are going to get from one day to the next. My poor family can attest to that. Mom is a freak. No doubt about it. Some days are good, more days are not. It gets a little old after awhile (I am 13 years into a hypothyroid diagnosis and 4 years in to a Hashimoto’s diagnosis), ask anyone who lives with me. 

So, I thought I would explain in a series of posts what good Nutrition means to me. What it means to not only eat healthy, but be healthy. Being healthy involves food but it also is your mind and your spirit no matter what kind of body you have. Just so you know, being thin does not equal being healthy. You must be fit and what that is for you is different than what it is for me. 

 

What does NUTRITION mean?  It can mean giving your body the food it needs to maintain health. It also can mean the science of food and how it interacts with the organism consuming it. In this case, your body. 

Nutrients are the components of food that are essential for life. They provide us with energy, structure and ensure all of the systems in our body are working properly. 

What is essential to life must be provided by the food we consume or our diet. There are several nutrients we need but today I will focus on water. 

We are approximately 60% water. WOW! That’s a lot. Water is said to be THE most important nutrient for our body. We can only go a few days without it. Water is in every tissue in our body. Every cell and all your body fluids should have a high volume of water. 

What exactly does it do for us? Why do we need it?

Well, it helps you breathe easier. It helps you regulate your body temperature. Water helps your cells talk to each other. It removes waste (through sweat and elimination). It carries nutrients throughout your body. It helps you heal and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. 

 

Your body can only make about 8% of the water it needs- the rest is up to you and what you put in your mouth. We do not (at least we are not supposed to) store water so we must consume it. 

Your body can only make about 8% of the water it needs- the rest is up to you and what you put in your mouth. We do not (at least we are not supposed to) store water so we must consume it. 

How much water should you consume?  The standard eight 8oz glasses or 64oz is not always true. There are some very well respected health care practitioners that would say, drink when you are thirsty but I really believe it is a little too late by the time you are thirsty- you are probably a little dehydrated by then. Consumption of water is individualized. The Nutritional Therapy Association recommends taking your body weight and dividing that in half and drinking that many ounces per day.  So if you are 200lbs you would drink 100oz of water per day. HOLY COW that is a lot of water. Don’t chug it all at once though, your body can only use about 4oz every 15 minutes or so. You also need to keep in mind the time of year, how much you are sweating in the day among other things. If you are working out and sweating a ton then you might drink more than that. If it is winter and you are sitting around most of the day then 100oz might be too much. You can get water from your food too. Bone broth, veggies, fruits. These all contain water and they are good for you. Double benefit. Kill two birds with one stone! Yes!

Of course I would not worry myself trying to get all that water in during your day. If you are just starting to drink more water and less of something less hydrating (pop, coffee, juice boxes) then just take those baby steps baby! You can do it!! Try replacing one of those other favorite beverages with an equal amount of water and increase it gradually. Your body will thank you! 

What if you hate the taste of water!? I’m a water snob, always have been. I like a good crisp tasting water. I also like it with a splash of lemon and a pinch of salt!  I like it warm with steeped ginger and turmeric. You can add sliced cucumber which is really good too. Try it! You might be surprised. Whatever you do, don’t use those chemical laden squirt bottles full of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. It totally defeats the purpose. 

 

Adding that pinch of Celtic Sea Salt or Redmond Real Salt is great for adding electrolytes and your adrenal glands will love you for it. 

If you drink diuretics like coffee, some teas, pop or store bought juice then you need to drink 1.5 oz of water for every ounce of the diuretic. A 12 oz can of pop means you need to drink 18oz of water to make up for it. 

The quality of your water is important too. Filtered water is great because you have some of the chemicals removed from the water. 

What does it look like when you are dehydrated? Early signs of dehydration are fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression, cravings, cramps, headaches and hunger. That’s right, if you think you are hungry you might just be thirsty. Drink up!