Brain Fog: Top 6 Causes & What to Do About it

Written by Chris Eddy

What allows our brain to work quickly and efficiently is energy supply and conduction. Brain fog is that feeling that you just can’t remember that thing you were about to say, that person’s name,  that lag in reaction time.

Brain Fog Symptoms

  • Can’t find the right word
  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Mixing your words in a sentence
  • Poor short term memory
  • Poor concentration when listening, reading or following a movie
  •  Tired in the morning


1.     Poor Energy Supply: It mostly comes down to bad diet. Although the brain is 2% of the body’s weight, it uses 20% of the body’s energy. The brain needs either glucose or ketones and medium chain fatty acids.  You put fish and chip oil in your Ferrari and you won’t get far.

2.   Poor Digestion: Gut fermentation and bacterial ecology have a huge effect on brain function. An imbalance in intestinal bacteria effects our metabolism, leading to leaky gut (an over permeable intestinal wall), which leads to bad fuel for the brain and unwanted by products like lactic acid, alcohol, hydrogen sulphide and toxins.

3.   Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Vitamin B12 deficiency can develop from a number of ways. Autoimmune diseases like pernicious anemia, low dietary intake especially vegetarians, malabsoption, low stomach acid (especially when taking protein pump inhibitors), Inflammatory Bowel Disease like Crohn’s, intestinal parasites and alcoholism.

4.      Blood Pressure, Oxygen Saturation  & Circulation: Firstly there needs to be good blood volume and a strong heart to pump the oxygenated blood to the brain. Low blood pressure, lack of fitness or lung conditions can lead to brain fog.

5.      Poor Mitochondrial Function: All the cells in our body have their own little battery packs to make them work. These batteries are called mitochondrion. Fuel and oxygen enter the body and are then converted into usable energy called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), this happens in the mitochondrion.

6.      Inflammation: From allergies or systemic inflammation from poor diet and lack of self -care.


High Octane Fuel

Diet is a very broad topic. What is good and what is bad is not so straight forward. The best thing is to talk to your trusted practitioner to review your diet to make positive changes.

A few tips that I find will help: Reduce phlegmy foods that leave a residue. The worst offenders I find are dairy, sugar and wheat. If you cut out just these three you would probably be off to a good start.

Get rid of oils with poor nutritional value like, seed oils and margarines. Replace these with ghee, grass fed butter, olive oil, Omega 3 oils from wild fish, MCT oil and coconut oil.

Cardiac Output

Make sure you get plenty of exercise to oxygenate your blood and help your metabolism.  Your medical practitioner can arrange a cardiac output test for you. Low cardiac output may require CoQ10, nutrients, Chinese herbs and acupuncture.


Phlegm is a unique Chinese medical term. Phlegm and dampness can be considered ‘residue’ that congeals and stagnates in the body. Phlegm and dampness result from poor digestion, foods that make the body phlegmy (runny nose and heaviness).  Phlegm can be treated by diet modification, Chinese herbs and acupuncture.

Chinese Medicine

The Chinese identified ‘foggy headedness’ thousands of years ago. They categorised it as ‘phlegm misting the mind’. This normally occurred from a rich unbalanced diet and was treated by formulas such as Er Chen Tang 二陳湯which contains herbs such as red tangerine peel and fresh ginger.

About the Author

If you would like to book in to see us, please click HERE for the Melbourne CBD practice, or HERE, for the Northcote practice.

Chris Eddy has over 17 years clinical experience and 7 years lecturing experience at RMIT university.

Chris Eddy

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