If you find yourself more forgetful, unable to concentrate, or lacking mental clarity, you may be suffering from brain fog. This condition is called such because it literally is like a cloud that may shroud over your judgment, cognition, and comprehension. Clinically speaking, this condition is vague and subjective since it is very hard to diagnose and qualify. It is therefore hard to get statistics on the prevalence of this condition. Despite the lack of exact figures, we all probably have experienced this or know someone suffering from these symptoms at one time or another. For some, it is an intermittent and minor symptom. For others, it’s long-term and debilitating!
It is caused by a number of things:
- Toxic Accumulation in the Body
- Thyroid Imbalance
- Food Allergies
- Poor Diet
- A long list of prescription and OTC drugs
- Nutrient Deficiencies
- Viral infections
- Physical Inactivity
And this lengthy list is not even exhaustive! Brain fog is such a huge constellation of symptoms associated with numerous diseases. This includes diabetes, migraine, autoimmune diseases, and neurological disorders among others. But did you know that gallbladder, liver, and gastrointestinal diseases can also cause brain fog?
The Mind and Gut Connection
In some previous post, we have discussed the connection between the gut and cognitive health. Since the gastrointestinal tract is the seat of digestion and nutrient absorption, studies have shown that the gut can affect the brain significantly. This is why poor diet, food allergies, and vitamin deficiencies are known to be some of the causes of brain fog. Leaky gut may also be at fault for the seepage of toxins and pathogens into the system, causing inflammation and a number of disorders, like gallbladder and liver disease, with brain fog as a symptom. This leakage may also lead to the over-permeability of the brain’s protective membrane, causing brain aging and nerve damage.
Aside from the nutritional significance of the gut, the vagus nerve branching out from the brain stem to the lowest viscera of the abdomen is also known to affect brain performance. (Click here to read more about the vagus nerve and gallbladder connection) There is also the gut-brain axis (GBA), a connection between the emotional and cognitive parts of the brain with intestinal function. These mind and gut linkages are supported by numerous studies and have been proven to affect brain performance significantly. In fact, the origin of some psychiatric woes, neurodegenerative diseases, and autism can be linked to poor gut health. This means that brain degeneration and brain fog can happen not just to older adults but for children as well.
An Unhealthy Liver and Gallbladder Can Hurt the Brain
There are numerous functions that both the liver and gallbladder completes but among all of them, the most relevant to brain fog are the organs’ role in detoxification and energy production. It is the liver’s responsibility to get rid of toxins in the body. But if it is not in a good shape or if there are just too much toxins (from chemicals, metals, or pharmaceutical products) for the body to handle, the bile can become toxic.
What is Toxic Bile?
In one of our newsletters, we have discussed the problem of toxic bile. And if you are concerned with your gallbladder and liver as much as you are worried about brain fog, it is important to understand this phenomenon. All gallbladder problems and all bile issues have a toxic component. Gallstones form from what is called lithocholic (stone forming) acid which is a toxic bile salt. But before it gets that far, the imbalance in the bile acids has already been underway. People who have undergone gallbladder surgery are in much trouble because the imbalance only gets worse with more toxic bile causing all sorts of problems both upstream and down.
Toxic bile causes inflammation in the sphincters – pyloric or stomach sphincter as well as the sphincter of Oddi emptying bile into the duodenum of the small intestine. When inflamed, these muscles no longer contract as well as they normally would, which allows for the back-up of bile into the stomach and into the pancreas.
Toxic bile can cause various gallbladder diseases, GDER or gastro-(stomach) duodenal-(small intestine)-esophageal reflux, GERD, pancreatitis, and brain fog among others.
How else can the biliary system cause brain fog?
Another prime responsibility of the liver is its role in carbohydrate metabolism. Although the gallbladder by itself does not produce energy, it definitely has a significant participation in the process of breaking down food through its concentration, regulation, and secretion of the bile. A combination of toxins within the body system plus lowered energy levels are a sure recipe for disaster. This is why patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver, gallstones, diabetes, and other related diseases often experience symptoms including brain fog.
So What Can We Do About It?
Brain fog is not something that you can just turn off with a switch. Maybe it took decades of wrong choices for it to develop. So to reverse it, serious dietary, nutritional, and lifestyle changes should be made.
- Activate Your Brain
- Rest Your Brain
- Feed Your Brain
Activate Your Brain
If you’re suffering from brain fog, this will be very challenging but extremely necessary. You need to put in extra effort in strengthening your brain by learning new things, getting better at what you already know, and push yourself a little further mentally.
Rest Your Brain
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so they say. So as much as it is important to exercise your brain, take a breather too. Stress and fatigue are much more dangerous than you may know. Get enough sleep, travel, enjoy music, switch off your smartphone (limit your screen time).
Feed Your Brain
They say, garbage in, garbage out. And this applies not just with what we read, or watch, or listen to, but also with what we literally feed our brains with. As we know by now, it is important to avoid allergens to reduce and get rid of inflammation. For optimum brain health, a balanced diet with all the brain nutrients you need should be followed. The Gallbladder Diet is a good place to start if you are not sure what you can or cannot eat.
There are also a number of supplements that you can take to help prevent or manage brain fog.
- Adaptogen – Adaptogenic herbs are helpful for detoxification, better immunity and stress management. Since brain fog is also caused by hormonal imbalances, Adaptogen is a good supplement of choice.
- Bile Salts – To address bile toxicity, Bile Salts Booster needs to be part of your daily diet.
Brain fog may be a mild symptom or a major cause of worry. No matter how severe it may be, know that it’s a suffering you can avoid. It may take a while before you see changes after you have taken the above mentioned steps. It may also be possible that an underlying health condition needs to be addressed first before the foggy brain goes away. Nevertheless, it is better to take baby steps to achieve a better cognitive state than to do nothing at all. If you need more help or if you’ve got stories about how these tips have helped you, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!
Carabotti, M., Scirocco, A., Maselli, M. A., & Severi, C. (2015). The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Annals of gastroenterology: quarterly publication of the Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology, 28(2), 203.
Cutler, N. (2012) The Connection Between Brain Fog and Liver Health.
Kharrazian, D. (2016) brain fog can be related to gut health.
Trauner, M., Fickert, P., Halilbasic, E., & Moustafa, T. (2008). Lessons from the toxic bile concept for the pathogenesis and treatment of cholestatic liver diseases. Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift, 158(19-20), 542-548.