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Last week I wrote a post about general fatigue and the reality of negative self-talk when we are in the throes of it. Now, I want to focus specifically on brain fog and how we can fight for our mental clarity.
Brain fog is a real thing. And, unless you have experienced it yourself, it may be hard to understand. For me, I will walk into a room and forget why I walked in there to begin with. Another time, I may completely blank on the answer to a question that I do, in fact, know. Then I may just get completely dazed and have my head in the cloud for an entire day, unable to just “snap out of it”.
What is brain fog?
Mental fatigue, or brain fog, is a common side effect to chronic illness and is often described as a cloudy mind, forgetfulness, lack of mental stamina, stumbling over words, and lack of concentration. In fact, a new research study revealed that Crohn’s patients, on average, have about a 10% slower cognitive response time than an average patient of the same age and this is a result of active inflammation in the body.
How to fight brain fog
Diet is everything
Ever heard the phrase, “You get out what you put in”? While the original author of this quote likely meant hard work, I also believe this applies to your body as well. You can’t expect to function optimally and experience peak performance if you are feeding your body garbage. Stay away from the processed foods, sugar, alcohol, fried foods, and excessive saturated fat.
For Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis patients, there is no magic one-size-fits-all diet. I wish there was! You should work with a nutritionist or dietitian to figure out which foods work for you and which ones don’t. Are you sensitive to wheat and dairy and a food allergy test confirmed it? Cut those out of your diet and don’t look back.
Bye Bye Coffee, Hello Adaptogens
This is one of the hardest ones to follow, but is the most helpful. Coffee is dehydrating and can actually cause more brain fog, rather than creating energy as most believe. In a last ditch attempt to heal my body and rid myself of perpetuating fatigue, I gave up coffee and found that I have MORE energy than when I was consuming my delicious java.
Adaptogens are natural herbs and medicinal plants that are considered safe, help to balance your hormones, and help to reduce stress. Regarding brain fog, Lion’s Mane are my favorite weapon for combating it. Lion’s Mane, a medicinal mushroom, offer many health benefits, including supporting heart health, reducing inflammation, and enhances brain function. These mushrooms, commonly found in powder form, are a true superfood.
My favorite coffee alternative? Matcha with adaptogens. Matcha is finely powdered green tea that has the compound, L-Theanine, which promotes mental clarity and focus without the crash that coffee provides. Combining Lion’s Mane with the power of matcha make my day so much better and provide me with just the right amount of energy I need to function like a real human being. Up until now, I have been creating my own combination in the morning, but now Four Sigmatic has created a matcha powder that already has Lion’s Mane in it! You can check it out here. And if you aren’t ready to quit coffee just yet, they have mushroom coffee that tastes amazing. (Be sure to use the code COLITISCOPE at checkout to receive 10% off and to be entered for a giveaway no later than Friday October 28!)
Organize your life
Make a to do list, put events in the calendar on your phone as they pop up and set reminders, keep an organized home with a place for everything, etc. When your mental battery is running on low, you will be so thankful you had these reminders in place. Unfortunately, the world does not stop when we are feeling drained, so we have to be able to continue on as normal if we can.
For me, this looks like a paper calendar, the calendar on my iPhone set with two reminders for every event, and daily to do lists. I could not function without these reminders to keep me on track. It may look completely different for you, but ultimately do whatever works best for you to stay organized and clear your mind.
Catch some zzz’s
Sleep is one of the best things you can do to improve your cognitive health. With so much going on in our bodies during a flare up of an autoimmune disease, this is prime time for our bodies to recover and begin to heal. However, this is also a catch 22 so to speak. Depending on the state of your health, Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis patients often struggle with getting enough sleep due to various reasons, some of which include medication, stress, anxiety, and pain/discomfort.
Create a bedtime routine that will set you up for a good night’s sleep. I like to eliminate the use of technology at least an hour before bed, limit my amount of liquids,dim the lights a bit, and listen to soothing music. Find what works best for optimal sleep to minimize your daytime brain fog.
It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you feel fatigued, but rest assured that adding regular exercise to your daily routine will actually boost your overall energy and reduce mental fog. As you exercise, you pump blood and oxygen into your body and allow the body to run more efficiently. Additionally, it doesn’t need to be an intense workout to reap the benefits; a long walk around the neighborhood, swimming laps, or even a yoga class can help you fight fatigue. The important thing to remember is to get your body moving.
Consult with your doctor if you have persistent brain fog, trouble concentrating, or memory loss. It is important that you work together to create a treatment plan that works best for you.
For more information on Four Sigmatic Mushroom products and start reducing brain fog, visit their website here. Be sure to use the code COLITISCOPE at checkout to receive 10% off and to be entered to win a free tin of their brand new Mushroom Matcha with Lion’s Mane, no later than Friday October 27.