Brain Fog, could be the beginning of autoimmunity?
I have patients in my clinic coming with different health problems, but one they themselves overlook or accept it at part of ageing is BRAIN FOG! This condition can potentially cause major disruption in daily life. Its most commonly associated with, chronic fatigue. These patients when asked describe it as living in a haze, poor focus, concentration, poor emotional response, Instead of being engaged in the present moment, they feel like they’re watching life from a distance. Their thinking is no longer sharp, and their brilliant minds sluggish!
In functional medicine, goal is to get to the root of the reason.
We need inflammation to fight off infection and to heal , however too much inflammation can cause blood-brain barrier (BBB) to be more permeable, leading to brain inflammation. This neuro-inflammation is sometimes called “leaky brain syndrome,” and this inflammatory oxidative stress (OS) in the hypothalamus of the brain is the underlying cause of brain fog. But what causes the inflammation that leads to brain fog?
Following 10 contributing factors can cause Brain Fog:
Toxins such as mold and heavy metals are two factors, often overlooked, that I’ve found contribute to brain fog in my patients, when they are detoxed they report feeling better in terms of their focus and attention and emotional responses.
2. Leaky gut syndrome
Gut-brain connection is real. leaky brain syndrome is closely associated with leaky gut, and an increase in gut bacterial, fungal, viral growth affects brain inflammation.
3. Candida overgrowth
Excess yeast in the gut microbiota, specifically those yeasts that are in the candida family, increase the inflammatory cells , which can contribute to too much inflammation in the body and brain.
4. Histamine intolerance
People with the gut problems are more prone to condition called histamine intolerance. This happens when the body doesn’t break down the histamine properly, or overreacts to its presence, which causes a release of superoxide, a nasty free radical that causes a lot of inflammatory damage that can affect the brain.
5. Inflammatory foods
Inflammatory foods such as sugar , gluten (wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and oats) and casein (milk products) are inflammatory for most people.
6. Poor sleep
Sleep loss decreases the inflammation-fighting antioxidant glutathione, which increases oxidative stress in the hypothalamus, causing brain fog.
7. Thyroid problems
Thyroid hormone imbalances have been shown to cause inflammatory-immune responses.
8. Adrenal fatigue
Dysfunction in your adrenal-based circadian rhythm can manifest as adrenal fatigue, when the stress hormone cortisol runs wild, depressing immune system. As with thyroid issues brain fog can be both the cause and the effect of adrenal fatigue due to this particular brain-hormone connection.
9. Viral infections
Low-grade chronic viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are linked to a wide range of inflammatory problems like chronic fatigue syndrome. One of the many issues viral infection causes is to block the body’s vitamin D receptors, so body can’t use the vitamin D a particularly associated with EBV.
10. Methylation impairments
Methylation is a biochemical process that happens 1 billion times every second in the body. Organs, including brain, depend on methylation for health and detoxification. Many people have genetic methylation mutations, such as the MTHFR mutation, This defect impedes the detoxification pathways increasing the systemic inflammation.
How to Prevent Brain Fog?
Here are 6 crucial points to look at:
1. Find out inflammation levels:
Test for inflammatory markers.
2. Check chronic infections:
Yeast, Candida, Lyme, EBV underlying causes of inflammation
3. Support methylation.
Methylation runs primarily on B vitamins, so taking activated B vitamins, like B12,B9 and B6 , will support this crucial process.
Check your heavy metal load and work on detoxing with oral supplements, IV detox therapies , Far infrared saunas etc.
5. Know your food intolerances and remove them:
Gluten, Lactose or any other specific food Intolerance.
6. Practice Calming activities such as Yoga, Meditation etc.
Dr Kalpana Shekhawat-M.D
Functional Medicine Specialist